A friendly reminder

Please don’t tell me you are “sorry”. When you find out someone’s child is disabled (i.e., has Autism, Rett syndrome, Down’s syndrome, etc.) do not say you are “sorry” – we understand you mean well, but it is incredibly upsetting to hear. Our child is still our child. She has not died and we are not at all sorry she exists. We are madly in love with her. As you are with your child. Every accomplishment, development, laugh, makes our hearts sing! Just as your child’s accomplishments, development, happiness, makes your heart sing. Every tear she sheds breaks our hearts. Just as your child’s tears breaks yours.

Granted, ours is not a life we likely would have chosen. And we have had to drastically shift our expectations (like continental – tectonic plate shifts). And we have had to come to terms with a life completely different than the one we had expected to lead. And it is a challenge. And it is not one we would ever expect you to understand. And it is not one we would ever want you to lead…it is hard. And we are NOT sorry. Our child gives us unspeakable joy and you saying you are sorry about her is heart breaking and painful to hear. We only wish you could see her as we see her and enjoy her as we enjoy her…So do not tell us you are sorry.

Just that.

Lifted, almost verbatim, from Jocelyn Gould Turken, super Mom and autism advocate. ❤️

Lily was featured in this years NYC Disability Pride Parade. This kid is making headlines. And changing perceptions about what it is like to live with a disability. She is my hero.
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Let the holidays begin!

Lily goes to a 12 month program which is super important for girls with Rett – consistent therapy (physical, occupational and speech) helps Lily maintain her skills, and learn new ones.  Yesterday was her last day of summer school and tomorrow begins her whirlwind travels.

I was initially overwhelmed about trying to plan out Lily’s four week hiatus – will she be well enough to travel?  Will I be strong enough (emotionally and physically) to handle traveling with her (even if she is well enough)???  Where will we go and what will we do?

There were so many questions and concerns ravaging my brain.  I was frozen.  I couldn’t make any decisions.  And as many of you know, this is not characteristic of me.  I’m (very) action-oriented.  According to Stephen, I’m hyper-productive.  I never stop strategizing and planning and executing on plans.

But first, I had to make peace with a few things before I could even begin mapping out our plans.  The main issue was this: if I wanted to truly enjoy my vacation with Lily, I needed to bring a caregiver along.  Could I take care of Lily on my own?  Sure.  Would I be completely exhausted and malnourished in the process?  Yes.

Needing help was feeling like defeat to me.  Especially when it comes to caring for my own kid.  I’m not going to say I’m entirely over that feeling of defeat BUT I can now look at the upcoming few weeks with the knowledge that both Lily and I will have a fun, safe and restful time.

 

 

Fearless

Hanging out at mom’s office in midtown Manhattan after a harrowing experience.

Lily’s fearlessness is something I always intuitively recognized, but it came to the forefront a few weeks back when I was packing up the taxi to take her to my office for the day.  Her hand slipped from my grip for a split second and she darted out into the middle of Amsterdam Avenue as the stoplight was just about to turn green.  I was able to grab her before anything bad happened but I was completely rattled.  She, on the other hand, was not.

Maybe fearless isn’t the right term – it’s more of a lack of understanding of consequences when engaging in certain activities.  Lily is learning to read and write and do math and all the other things that a typical 7-year old would be learning in school.  She’s really smart.  But there’s this missing filter that I find to be quite baffling.

When I’m baffled by something, I turn to research, which includes reaching out to other Rett parents to hear their experiences.  Turns out that this missing fear filter is all too common for ambulatory Rett girls.  I received over 40 comments on the Rett family support group from parents telling me stories of their ambulatory kiddos darting off in the middle of busy airports or fleeing playgrounds or even worse.

Fearlessness isn’t necessarily something that would spring to mind when thinking of a child with Rett Syndrome, is it?  But from what I’ve experienced – and heard from other parents – this is a Rett symptom that is VERY REAL.  I’ve not read about it in any literature or in any research papers.  There are so many other crazy symptoms to keep an eye out for, this is one that’s just been overlooked.

So how am I managing this?  Well, other than taking a healthy dose of Xanax to calm my nerves,  I’ve spoken to school about my concerns and they are adding goals to her IEP about helping her better understand dangerous activities and why she should not be engaging in them.

Also, we’ve found an outlet for her fearlessness: rock climbing!  For the past two weeks Lily’s dad has taken her to Brooklyn Boulders, an indoor rock climbing gym, where she scales the walls.  Literally!  Yesterday this kid rang the bell twice, which in rock-climbing lingo means she climbed to the tippy top of the wall.

On one hand, I’m eternally grateful that I have a child with Rett Syndrome who rock climbs fearlessly.  I know too many Rett moms who would be overjoyed with seeing their sweetie take a few steps.  So I don’t take my child’s abilities lightly.  However, managing her lack of a fear filter – especially as she gets older – is something that her nannies, therapists, teachers, relatives, friends and parents will ALL have to stay on top of.  So, I thank you all in advance for helping us navigate this dangerous and little known Rett symptom.

With love and gratitude,

C & L

       Rock climbing with her dad in Brooklyn!

 

As time goes by

Lily and I just got back from a week in Florida visiting our family. It was a good trip. But a tough one. It’s not as easy to travel with her now. She’s bigger. Her symptoms have evolved. And caring for her has gotten more complex.

I’m exhausted. Lily is too. But damned if we’re going to let Rett Syndrome keep us away from our family.

Here are a few photos of our vacation. There were a lot of smiles. But there were definitely a lot of tears and frustration and really hard days and very scary moments too. They just don’t make for good pictures. So I’m only going to share the happy ones.

I’m also going to share an article from another special needs mom who writes about the isolation and exhaustion that comes with being on this path. Thank you Amy from Raising the Extraordinary for so beautifully and eloquently explaining what this journey is like for us moms.

And thank you Florida family for loving and supporting me and my girl so very much.

Celebrating

Lily had such an amazing birthday. The entire school was excited for her birthday. Even the janitor wished her a happy birthday when we walked through the front door that morning. She had the best day ever – dancing and eating cake with her friends, teachers, therapists and parents.

When she got home from school, we opened her awesome presents and then went to dinner at one of her favorite places – Playa Betty, with Mommy, Shamekia and Stephen!

The next day I took her for another birthday present – a haircut! She’s been obsessing over bangs and medium length hair so we went to Marco down in Soho for a new look!!!

It was only fitting given the recent poem she wrote about her birthday…

AND we raised close to $6500 for Rett Syndrome Research!!! Thank you to all who donated and helped make my kids birthday so very special.

Lily’s turning seven!

On February 8th, Lily is going to be seven years old.  In honor of her upcoming birthday and my unwavering desire to obliterate Rett Syndrome, I am launching our second annual fundraising campaign. A generous (and anonymous) donor and I have committed to matching up to a total of $1500 raised on her RettGive.org page between today and the 8th.

I’m so proud of this kid – she literally smiles in the face of adversity. I see it every day when she’s struggling to stand, walk or breathe.  I see how hard she works to do – well – almost anything.  I pray for the day when Rett Syndrome will be just a painful memory.

For those who have already donated… from the bottom of my heart, thank you! Your support and love is palpable.  For those who’ve not gotten around to it yet, or don’t feel that giving $10 or $20 will make a difference, believe me when I say that every dollar counts.

Lily is the bravest, sweetest, smartest, hardest working almost 7 year old that I know. And I know that one day in the near future she, and her Rett sisters and brothers, will be cured.  But without funding, it will remain a pipedream.

Until that day happens, I will continue to fundraise and advocate and fight. For her.

Heartening news on the research front

For those of you who have donated to Rett Syndrome Research Trust and wondered where your dollars are going, read this heartening article about two pioneering scientists who have just joined our mission to obliterate Rett Syndrome – BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU.
And as a reminder….”Rett is not neurodegenerative and preclinical research has shown that the disorder is dramatically reversible once protein levels are restored. Thus, therapeutics … have the potential to provide profound benefit and potentially cure Rett Syndrome.”
For those who haven’t yet donated, click here to support groundbreaking scientific research so that Lily and her Rett sisters can be rid of this shitty disorder.
Thank you.
Lily crimp

Fiercely determined, and beautiful.