This week we’ve been down in South Florida visiting family and friends. We’ve been able to accomplish so much in such little time… like mommy getting to see not one, but THREE of her high school friends. And of course spending as much time with our family as we can. And swimming. And eating. And having dance parties. And swimming some more.
The weather has mostly been sweltering. But it hasn’t stopped this kid from picking up new skills in the water. She is doing all sorts of amazing things independently in the pool. And the ocean (with the courtesy of her swimmies). Here are a few shots from our visit.
C & L
Last Friday was a pretty big day for us girls. You already caught a glimpse of Wonder Woman and heard that she was having a tough morning. But so many other things happened on Friday. Even though this kid was feeling like crap in the a.m., she still made it to a dentist appointment. She was brave, but man she hates going to the dentist. Who doesn’t?
Then it was to school for super hero day, then PT and afterwards, I took her for a haircut.
She’s been wanting, and needing one for some time. And a few weeks back we had an appointment, but that was the day Lily fell at school and had to get 4 staples to hold her scalp together. Oh, that was a fun day indeed. However, I digress…
As many of you may know her hair is quite a topic of interest. We have had many conversations and even more debates about what she wants to do with it. For a while we were creating a weekly hair menu where she would plot out every hairstyle for each day of the week (see below).
But the debates about her haircut were always the most interesting. She would tell me, incessantly, that she wants bangs and short hair. To which I would reply, ‘short hair in the summer isn’t a great idea’ and wax on as to why. Her response was always quite diplomatic, ‘I can see your point’ she would navigate to on her Tobii (completely independently I must add); not that she agreed with me, but that she understood my reasons why.
In the end, she won. Mainly because the person cutting her hair cut it much shorter than was discussed. But Lily has been so pleased with the result. She told her teacher yesterday that her hair is ‘better and different’. Why yes it is, smart, sweet, stylish child of mine.
Lily’s 8th birthday was such a success. In the lead up to her birthday (and the subsequent week), she was ecstatic. Birthday parties, Valentines Day and Hawaii? All in one month? It was almost too much.
But not really – seeing her so happy and (mostly) healthy – especially at this time of year – is such a relief.
We are day 3 into our Hawaiian adventure and this kid hasn’t stopped beaming. Thank you Make-a-Wish! Here are a few shots… leaving for Honolulu at JFK, getting a tour of the cockpit with the captain of the plane at landing, riding a limo (with Urszula), relaxing at the pool/beach and partying it up at a luau! More photos to come.
This kid turned 8 today. Can’t begin to explain how proud I am to be her mom. In anticipation of her upcoming Make-A-Wish trip to Hawaii, we celebrated with a luau!
The party was a success. It started with a ballet class taught by New York City Ballet (check out Lily independently getting her feet into 5th position in the second set of photos) and then the luau at school with pizza, cupcakes, giggles and dancing. Lots of dancing!!! After school we had a play date with her friend Xan, followed by dinner at her favorite restaurant. And then we went home, exhausted, full and happy.
It has been too long since I’ve written. Life has taken over lately and putting my thought to words has taken a bit of a backseat. Mainly it’s because I’m struggling with the reality of Lily getting older (she’ll be eight in February) and of what Rett Syndrome can continue to take away from her. And not having any way to stop this.
Don’t get me wrong, our lives are full of so much beauty and love and laughter. Lily is in ‘good’ health. Stephen and I are also. And we both have great jobs and live in a beautiful home and can afford to live a comfortable life. Lily goes to a nurturing school down the street where she’s got wonderful teachers and therapists. At home she’s got amazing caregivers and therapists. We’ve got a fantastic house cleaner (who Stephen thinks is one of the most important people in my life – he’s probably right!). But there is always this nagging feeling tugging at me. Worrying about Lily and her future and her health.
‘They’ are saying that in 3-5 years there will be a cure. In just a few short months, the first brave Rett girls (and their families) will be participating in the first human gene therapy trial to try to reverse Rett.
Best case scenario is that Lily will be 10 by the time a cure may be available to her. But as every day goes by, and Rett continues to do its horrific thing, what that ‘cure’ can look like becomes less and less optimistic. I try not to think about it too much.
But we just saw the Rett specialist a few weeks back and earlier this week was the Reverse Rett Gala here in NYC. And there’s been some big press about it recently. So it’s top of mind. How could it not be?
I need to find a way to push this all away and focus again on all the good that we have right here and right now.
Wish me luck.
A few random photos from the past few months (from top to bottom): Lily on her first day of 2nd grade, hiking with the mom in the Catskills, Sunday dinner at Grandma’s in Florida, Halloween (Lily is wearing my Halloween costume made by my dad almost 40 years ago, Stephen and I on a weekend getaway, making pesto with Grandma at our new apartment
My heart is bursting with pride. Sharing a note Lily’s teacher wrote today along with some pictures…
This kiddo had an amazing day! She’s been very interested in notes and letters (wanting to keep re-reading the notes you send in her lunchbox, very proud of the card she wrote for Christine’s birthday, etc). So yesterday and today we started talking more about letters. We talked about parts of a letter (greeting, body, closing) and Lily helped me sequence a letter that I wrote to Ms. Ariel. She was very into the activity (wanted it to be a secret and a surprise, and asked for “more” when the activity was complete). Then, she worked on her own letter. Christine, we sent it home in her backpack. We were blown away… she wrote it almost completely by herself, with nothing but some verbal prompts (e.g. “don’t forget, a greeting is like a hello…”). She chose who the letter was for, what she wanted to say, and how she wanted to close out the letter. It was really great practice (writing work and using the Tobii), so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more letters in the upcoming weeks.
Today we also read a few more chapters of Junie B Jones and she was laughing hysterically at the silly parts. In one of the chapters, Junie is sharpening pencils (and attempts to sharpen a crayon in a pencil sharpener, which doesn’t go so well). Lily requested, “my turn,” so I took her to the office to sharpen a pencil. She seemed to think it was great fun! She once again did a fabulous job asking comprehension questions during the read aloud, and seemed very engaged. Once again, she was a total cuddle bunny today. At the end of the day, she kept going back and forth between me and Ariel, squealing, and leaning in for hugs. She also put her arm around each of us at least once, which was so exciting! She was very, very happy this afternoon.
See you soon,
P.S. Lily and I had matching shirts on today, which she seemed to think was pretty funny!
The past few months have been extremely stressful so writing posts has not been a top priority. However, I didn’t want to leave you hanging for too long. I’m proud to say that Lily has been showing improvement in many areas. Her appetite has come back (for the most part), her peeing has normalized (for the most part) and her gross motor function/walking has also returned (for the most part). Her breathing is still an issue though that too seems to have gotten better.
I have been obsessed – OBSESSED – with her caloric intake. And I’m pleased to say that a steady diet of pizza, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, rice pudding and vanilla yogurt coupled with her morning smoothies (which has a pediasure base and some raw veggies that I slip in) has helped her fill out and get stronger. She still has more weight to gain but many days I’m finding myself not completely stressed and uptight about her eating. It’s helped that most days she’s opening her mouth for food and is genuinely interested in eating again, though her former diet of uber-healthy food has screeched to a halt. Whatever. The kid is eating.
But I can’t completely relax. We still have days that are difficult for her. Really difficult. Heart-breakingly difficult. And I’m trying to shake the hangover of what she went through these past few months but I can’t completely. Rett Sydrome is always lurking around and we just never know when it will pounce. I can’t make this the focus of my attention as it will destroy me.
So I remain in hope. And there’s good reason. Last month two significant announcements were made about Rett research. One was regarding a research trial on a drug that ameliorates a handful of painful symptoms in our girls. And the other was regarding the path toward a cure using gene therapy. Awareness-raising and fundraising are now more important than ever.
Until the cure comes, us warriors will continue to battle against the day to day struggles of Rett Syndrome, and we’re going to do our best to have as much fun along the way.
C and L
Spring Break 2017 in South Florida with Grandma and her cousins!
I know it’s been a while dear reader. But Lily and I have been busy ladies! Starting a new school, finding a new home have been huge endeavors.
This past weekend we moved our lives from Brooklyn back to Manhattan. We will miss Brooklyn terribly. But our lives will be so much easier. We are now eight short blocks away from Lily’s new school and 30 blocks away from the office. No longer do we have hour long (or longer) commutes. We also don’t have a third bedroom, but there’s always a compromise!
No less than 12 people physically, and at least half a dozen virtually helped us girls move our home this past weekend. And many brought, or sent flowers to make our pretty new home even prettier. Thank you is an understatement!!
We are the luckiest, most loved girls in Manhattan.
Scenes from a move
The below poem was written by a young woman named Gaby Valner who has Rett Syndrome. She also has a blog and has been published in the huffingtonpost.com
A Mind Comes to Light
From the foggy deep,
A mind chained and bound
Finds the light, a flickering dim glow.
To add to the infant flame
the mind uses kindling –
soon, a fluorescent glow burns bright.
From the foggy deep,
A mind emerges.
I’m filled with such hope, reading about this young woman’s life, her struggles, her joy. And it makes it feel that much more of an imperative to find the ‘perfect’ preschool for Lily.
I’ve toured one school so far – and have been blown away by it (not just because of their indoor sensory gym and location!). There are a few more tours coming up these next weeks… So many places are already full for September. Here’s a link to the school which is on the top of my list (for those interested!):
Fingers crossed that we are back in Manhattan in the fall!
We have another busy week ahead of us. Lily’s 3 year check up with the pediatrician is on Tuesday, the follow-up with her neurologist is on Thursday and the much-anticipated visit to the Rett Clinic is on Friday (which is likely to be a 3+ hour appointment).
This kid knows how to keep her momma busy.
The progress that Lily has been making lately is awesome. She’s so much stronger on her legs – she’s been running down the hall, pounding those little feet on the floor, while giggling. She’s dancing (even doing assisted spins!) and she’s so much more interested in her surroundings (you should have seen her face yesterday when we were driving home from New Jersey – she was mesmerized by all the lights, and especially the Holland Tunnel).
However, her ability to meaningfully use her hands is not going as great. It’s getting harder and harder for her to hold her bottle. But you should see her throw a ball, or spike a balloon. The pride she has on her face when we’re playing together is priceless. (I’m sure the pride on my face is priceless too!)
Here are a few photos of us from the past two days. Desiree (the nanny) and Hamida (the speech therapist) both called me out for dressing us in the same outfits. This was truly unintentional. But I am my father’s daughter after all.