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’s 5:30pm on the 24th of January. And it just hit me. Today marks 5 years since d-day–Lily’s Rett diagnosis day.
What a 5 years it’s been. What a roller-coaster. But I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I’ve got the sweetest, coolest almost 8 year old I know. She is my joy, my inspiration.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy. Every day I say to her when she’s having a tough moment–like trying to walk in the morning or crying uncontrollably in the middle of the night–that I can’t fix things. But that I can make them better. With love and comfort and compassion. But I can’t fix it. I can’t fix it.
That sucks. No one should ever have to see their child suffer so much. Every day. Every day. I’ll say it again: every day.
And we are so fortunate right now as Lily is going through a relatively stable period. And the ‘relatively’ is truly that. I am not trying to sugarcoat any of it: our ‘normal’ is anything but that.
So it’s been 5 years. And we’re getting closer to the ‘cure’ but it’s still not here. And every day as Lily grows and Rett continues to ravage her body, that ‘cure’ looks less and less like a cure for her. At this point I’ll take whatever it is we can get. Just to let her have the ability to breathe with ease, to wake up and not be in pain… I’ll take it.
I can’t believe she’s going to be 8 in a few weeks. I can’t believe how much she’s grown and changed. I can’t believe how much I’ve transformed because of her. And for that, I am grateful.
In so many ways, she’s such a ‘normal’ kid. She’s been putting together weekly hair menus letting me know how she wants her hair done every day. How freaking cute is that? Currently she’s all about pigtails. As you can see from the menu and hairstyle:
Her birthday is on the 8th of February. And I wish I could give you a list of things she wants as presents. But I don’t have one because she cannot tell me outright. So if you want to do something for her, consider making a donation to Rett Syndrome research. Not only will it go to her future, but the future of all her other Rett sisters and brothers.
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!!!