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
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.
Lifted, almost verbatim, from Jocelyn Gould Turken, super Mom and autism advocate. ❤️
Tomorrow the movers are coming to pack up and gather all of our stuff and then on Friday we’re in our new home. It all sounds so simple!
Regardless of the general moving stress, we are all super excited. This is a big change for me and Lily though we’ll still be staying on the UWS. It’s been just the two of us for the past six years. But we are both really excited to start this new chapter, combining homes with Stephen into a beautiful new place which is conveniently located right next to Lily’s school. I kid you not.
Lily is beaming and giggling and talking about her new bedroom and what she wants it to look like. Every time anyone speaks to her about it she just lights up. This kid is just amazing. So open-minded and invested in this new adventure. It’s almost exceeding the buildup to Christmas.
She independently navigated this page the other day when talking to Elaine, her speech therapist. (FYI this is a complex sentence to structure using Tobii/PODD so it’s pretty mind blowing.)
And then this is what she said she wants for the color of her room:
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.
As you know, the east coast was hit with quite the storm. Lily and I hunkered down and did our best to enjoy her day off from school.
We played dress-up, read books, watched movies and even went outside for a nanosecond. She doesn’t like the cold or the snow. She too must be a Floridian at heart like her momma.
Winters are not easy for Rett girls. Not only is it more isolating than usual, but also they struggle more with their health. Peeing, sleeping, breathing and eating have become concerns again in this house. For the most part, she’s staying positive. But she’s had more than a few moments of feeling miserable and sad. I’ve seen many more tears than usual these past few weeks.
We are both trying to keep our spirits up. It’s not so difficult to do as we are heading to Florida to visit our family next week. We are both excited to feel sun on our skin and sand under our feet. And of course see our relatives!!!
Lily is ready to get back to school. She’s been sobbing intermittently for the past few days. Likely because she’s been cooped up and is missing her friends. Or maybe today it’s because she’s not peed in over 18 hours. There’s a lot of calculated guessing when it comes to figuring out what’s going on with her.
Anyway, it was pretty apparent when she came home to me yesterday evening that she wanted to go outside.
This is how she tells me she wants to go out… she stares at the doorknob wishing it to open
But as it’s currently hovering around 15 degrees Fahrenheit and she has zero body fat, there was no chance that we were going to venture out in the dark last night.
Our first 20 or so minutes at the museum were tense. She was not pleased. But we finally made our way to the Native American section which she loves; she eventually perked up – her favorite music, Snapchat filters and bead displays helped. Lily spent about an hour roaming about looking at furs and feathers while I played bodyguard, blocking her from other museum patrons.
So the museum was mostly good, though exhausting as I had to carry her for much of it. And the other half was spent chasing after her.
Next on our agenda – lunch! The restaurant was 4 short blocks from the museum so I decided that we should walk. I mean… she was busting to get outside last night, right? Well it turns out that Lily likes the cold and snow even less than me. After about a half a block of walking/carrying, she burst into tears. Thankfully a taxi driver took pity on us and took us three(!) blocks to our restaurant. He was very kind and laughed along with me at my kids over-reaction to the snow.
Thankfully she ate her lunch – in between sobs – and I got mine packed to go. We braved the short block and a half to our home – amidst the sobs – and now we are home. And it’s only 2pm. And she’s still not peed.
Wish us luck.
This is what she currently thinks of winter break.
Even though our mornings start with me saying “Lily – breathe” “Scoot forward angel face” “Stand up – you can do it!” “Keep your feet under you baby girl” “Walk forward” “Lily relax your muscles” “Lily open your mouth sweetie” “Swallow your food honey” “Lily you need to eat something before going to school”, they are also filled with so much love and many giggles.
Her struggles continue. Some of her symptoms are getting worse. Some are easing up. But she still manages to put a smile on her face and bravely move forward with her day. I do my best to follow suit.
I’m grateful that this girl continues to persevere in the face of so much adversity. A lesser person would crumble. I’ve crumbled. But I dust myself off and remember that Lily needs me. I do not have the luxury of losing my shit completely. Though I do lose it momentarily, and preferably when she’s not around.
I am her voice (though she’s getting quite fluent with the Tobii), I am her arms, sometimes her legs, oftentimes her nurse, her doctor and always her advocate. Oh yes, and I’m her mommy. So we do our best to have as much fun as possible in between (and sometimes during) all those doctors and hospital appointments.
It’s the season of giving. And my ask to you is this: if you are considering making a charitable donation in the coming weeks, please consider giving to the Rett Syndrome Research Trust. We are SO very close to a cure; every dollar raised inches us to our goal. And all of our Rett sweeties and their families could use a miracle right about now.