Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Fast Forward Button

I've been reading a book about brain plasticity called The Brain that Changes Itself, and it is amazing. But I don't want to talk about the book (I'll save that for another post, after I've finished the book), I want to talk about the way it makes me feel.

Not only does this book talk about all the fascinating things science has learned about the brain and how it rewires its neurons, but it's full of success stories. Most of the stories involve either stroke victims or people with Cerebral Palsy. And, while it's encouraging to hear stories about children who were a lot like Sadie at her age that grow up to play sports with other kids and become independent little people, it also makes me eager and impatient.

Sadie will be 17 months tomorrow, she is a full-on toddler, her body looks like a little kid's, her voice is that of a little girl, and seeing all those teeth when she smiles always reminds me of how big she is. But she's still so much like an infant. She can hardly roll over, she can't sit, she still doesn't grab things with her hands consistently, and being on her tummy gets really frustrating for her after a few minutes. In so many ways it's really sad. But when I read these stories, it just makes me want a fast forward button. I KNOW Sadie will crawl and walk and eventually learn to talk. I KNOW Sadie will learn to go to sleep on her own, and I KNOW that she'll eventually get this eating thing down. And someday she'll have all her teeth and Brian and I will dance a little jig! But I want her to do these things NOOOOWWWWW!! (that's me whining)

When progress is in such tiny little increments, it's hard to get excited about it. A couple of weeks ago, we realized that Sadie can balance herself front to back when in sitting position (or being held), which is a HUGE deal! But 2 weeks later, that's all we're still talking about. There hasn't been anything else to get excited about since then.

I can't wait to tell our story about how Sadie was almost dead, the doctors told us she'd be a vegetable, they let us take her home because she was supposed to die. And now she does all these things that normal kids her age do. But we're not there yet, so far we only have the first part of the story...and it's an amazing part. But I want to know how it ends, because I have a longing in my heart like I've never felt before for my kid to dance with me to the baby beluga song, for my kid to walk to the mailbox with Daddy instead of being carried, to sing songs together in the car, all the things most parents take for granted. It's really hard to be patient when I can't wait to baby proof the house, to help her with her math homework, and then to hear her talk on the phone to her friends about boys.

Being a parent is so strange (in a good way), especially when your child has special needs. I have feelings and longings and desires for my child that I never thought I could ever feel so intensely. But, if I've learned nothing else, I HAVE learned that the brain is an amazing thing, made by God, that has the ability to shock and amaze even those who call themselves experts. And Sadie's brain is the most amazing I've ever loved.

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