I grabbed my baby and scooped her up into my arms, as she wailed that soul-shattering sound a baby makes when she’s in pain. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to stop the therapist from doing her work.
“Don’t you want your child to be able to play on the playground with the other kids when she grows up?
She hurled those words at me with an exhausted scowl.
I’ll never forget that deliberate threat. It pierced a part of my heart that never fully healed. Her response continued to echo through my thoughts for the rest of the grueling session, as I nodded and allowed her to manipulate my baby’s arms and force the exercises needed to strengthen them . I hated every minute of it. But I hated more, the idea of my grown girl, unable to play on the playground like a normal child with the rest of her peers. That imagery haunted me for years to come, and her threatening words replayed over and over again in my head, as we navigated many more tumultuous turns in my child’s development and health.
It’s amazing to me, what we remember and what we don’t. I recall this exact session, where it was and how I felt- and yet I know it must have been after our ongoing sessions downtown at Children’s Hospital- where I witnessed the same ongoing battle with a different therapist who claimed she had never seen a baby scream and cry the way mine did. I vividly recall the countless trips driving into the city, parking in the garage, and pushing my baby in the stroller through the corridors of the hospital and up the elevator to the therapy unit. My stomach in knots every single time. I remember calling my best friend, with defeating updates on how the latest assessment revealed her lacking development. I have defining memories of that therapist referring me to sensory integration assessments and the ongoing fear of my baby not being ‘normal’.
But I can’t recall exactly when this particular home care therapy session happened. I don’t remember how old my girl was, or where this occurred on the timeline of those first years. Yet, vivid moments like this therapist’s remark -still rise with clarity years later.
Some things stick.
They can be the really harrowing events or the celebrated highlights in our lives, either way-
They stick in our memories and never ever fade. They are as vivid to us now, as the day the moment occurred.
This was one of those times…
I can’t remember exactly how many professionals we saw through the years, for what issues. It’s all a blurry foggy mess. I do remember moments like these, where I felt so defeated and emotionally drained, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and sob. Sob for my baby, for me, and for this traumatic life we were living. Eventually we moved on- to more issues that developed and more challenges we faced in trying to rectify them all. It seemed as though when one was just being defined, a new one was emerging. I was drowning in a relentless battle to make my baby well, help her to be whole, and it would take many more doctors visits and diagnoses to put all the pieces of her puzzle together. Many of those issues are still unexplainable, but after a decade of those ongoing turns in her merciless medical mysteries, problems were solved or somehow miraculously cured. In time, we eventually landed with answers and treatments and some procedures to make my baby well.
She is whole. She is healthy.
I thank God every single day for that.
It could have turned out differently, and I have mentally journeyed down all those paths we didn’t have to take. I often wonder about many untraveled roads I can’t even create in my mind- those unpredictable alleys and byways that I will never know- but I’m grateful for the unknown just the same. Each day I embrace the victory that rises in my daughter, and celebrate the glorious triumphant markings of who she is now- and all she can do.
Not only can she can play on the playground like a boss…
But those arms? They can push through water with a fierce strength and determination I never could have predicted or planned.
*Take THAT, therapist.*
I wish I’d known how this would all pan out. I wish I had the ability to see my future 12-year-old thriving with the endurance and physical might of a true athlete. I wish I had the knowledge and the foresight that despite so many debilitating challenges she had to overcome, she would make it through to the other side and not only be okay- but be a mighty warrior. A healthy, energetic, strong human being with a spirit to match.
The words of that frustrated therapist will always be embedded in the history of our struggles to get well… But I’ve learned much since that difficult day.
I’ve realized that no matter who tells you what, no matter how messages are delivered or opinions are declared- those voices will never be stronger than your own voice, unless you allow them to be. There will always be people and professionals in our lives that offer counsel and many we seek for that help we so desperately need. Even in our weakest moments, our most vulnerable and desperate places- we still get to choose how much power other people hold in our lives.
That was a hard lesson for me to learn, and I wish I could go back and revisit that dramatic day in our downstairs den. I would change how I allowed that therapist’s influence to set fire to my worries and singe my strength for years to come. I would take back the power of her authority and the might of her message… And find a fresh new view trusting in my girl’s own story. I would not have let her voice be so loud that it silenced my own and blinded my perspective.
She almost stole my hope.
Friends, don’t let anyone ever do that.
Great message. I, too, have similar memories, although luckily for us they are few and far between. I think that my reluctance to make my DD sleep in her own bed for years is a result of the PICU doctor who told me that something would have to change for my DD (who was 5 months old and on a ventilator and six or seven medications via IV at the time) because they couldn’t continue the “hand-holding” she required. It still sticks with me that every child who is sick or anxious or in pain deserves as much hand holding as they need. Hope and love and encouragement are oh-so-important to us all. Thanks for sharing.
OH Sue… how I passionately agree with you. I would think the hand holding is more critical than anything else to help keep her well. Physical touch is incredibly powerful and a sure healing agent for us all.
I’m so so glad those memories are few and far between.
Janine Huldie says
Aw, I am so glad this therapist never did steal your hope and your girl truly has indeed grown into a lovely young lady and I do believe that you most certainly had something to do with that as you are an amazing mom through and through. Hugs always!
Janine, you are just such an incredibly encouraging! Thank you, my friend. Hugs right back! XOXO
Kristi Campbell says
Oh Chris. I so so get this. All of it. I didn’t really know though how much The People had told you to give up hope. I was there, mama, and I’m so sorry that you were too. We’re getting there in spite and because though, right? SO SO GLAD you wrote this and shared it. ALSO FRIST (unless I spent too much time reading which I do because adore you).
Oooh, I love that. “We’re getting there in spite and because though, right?” And I must say that all ALL of that is behind us now… I can’t even tell you how grateful I am for THAT.
I love that you spent too much time reading… oh, how I love that. *NOTSNOOZING* 🙂
Kristi Campbell says
OMG THIRD???? I am slow.
Hee hee… ya snooze… 😉
Lux G. says
Wonderful message. It’s so important not to put our hope (or happiness) into others because they’re just as imperfect as we are. We need to be more firm with our hold of hope because without it, we will lose our will to live or try again.
AMEN Lux! You share such a GREAT response to this message. Thank you, my friend. YES.
Cass is AMAZING. Silly therapist. So sad she put you through that – incredibly unprofessional of her, and utterly without compassion. Idiot. Hope she’s learned better now.
I really don’t think she realized how awful it really was. She was a seemingly superficial type of woman and was trying to motivate me to let go and allow her to work with Cass. That is not the best way to do that. 🙁
Kenya G. Johnson says
If you had known you wouldn’t have held tight to that memory and had this story to tell. What a wonderful message for someone who might be right where you were then. I was reading and saying does Chris have more than one daughter, is this the swimmer she’s talking about? WOW!!! Take that therapist is right! Yeah they might know what they are doing but they aren’t always people people.
Exactly, Kenya! Much like some doctors and even teachers… sigh. And YES this is my ONE HEALTHY GIRL!! 🙂
My Inner Chick says
“Don’t you want your child to be able to play on the playground with the other kids when she grows up?”
WRONG Therapist. In fact, she shouldn’t be a therapist at all.
O, my heart. I’ve felt this before. This pain.
I just love how you spread “HOPE & Love & Encouragement” into the universe, Chris.
Cassidy is a blessing from our Father.
And SO ARE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUU!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Luv U
LOVE your passion, oh how I love love love your PASSION!! Her words shouldn’t have had that much power over me… I take responsibility too. I do often wonder if she ever realized how awful that was for me to hear…
But people are human, and I offer her grace. LORD knows I have said things that stung to others too- without realizing the sting. I think as a therapist, working in that area- there needs to be the highest discernment.
I’m just so grateful we can live in the GOOD and GLORIOUS moments of NOW.
Julie Jo Severson says
Christine, you have truly been through the ringer on so many fronts, many opportunities for you to have thrown in the towel, saying “life sucks,” and “how can any of this be part of God’s marvelous “plan”?” You are a beacon of light and hope because you’ve persevered through so much. The angst you felt back then pours from your words beautifully, and as always, pulled at and resonated with me. You’re so wonderful, Christine. “Take, that!”
Thank you so so much, for your amazing encouragement and support, my friend. I’m just SO grateful we have such amazing blessings in our lives now. SO so grateful to call this the PAST. 🙂
I understand that she was trying to help your daughter, but that sounds like an incredibly insensitive thing to say, and could have been put so much more gently. Even “I can see how much this must be hurting you to watch your daughter and how much it is hurting her physically now, but just imagine how it will help her as she gets older.” I can see why something like this would stick with you all these years later. Words have the ability to both help and harm. I’m glad you you didn’t give up hope!
Yes, Bev. Thanks for understanding… <3
Oh wow – I got such a thrill watching her swim!! I wanted to stand up and cheer for her myself. What a proud mom I bet you are! 🙂
And I so needed the words to not let someone else voice drown out my own. Perfect timing today my friend. Thank you for that.
I love that this was what you needed to read, Leslie. I need this reminder myself- at varying times with various people. <3 Thank you for watching my girl swim and being so supportive of her!! I'm so grateful for you.
I don’t think we moms give ourselves enough credit – we have that innate sense of what’s right for our children. I hope this therapist has grown and learned and does a better job these days! I loved seeing the video of your daughter swimming. My younger son is also a swimmer, and there is nothing stronger than a swimmer! So glad to have found your blog. I had a great time clicking around!
I really hope she has grown and learned how to better communicate with parents and becomes more sensitive to their fragility. I really appreciate you coming over to read this and watch Cass swim, Lana! I love that your son swims as well! They are FIERCELY strong! 🙂
This is amazing. I’ve gone through similar with my sons learning disabilities – I’ll be damned if I’ll stop hoping
YES. Don’t ever stop hoping!! <3
Yes, Cassidy is supremely amazing. Healthy and whole and strong.
My sister wrote a similar post on FB tonight. I love this. It was about her pregnancy and people stealing her joy with advice she didn’t ask for, and telling her how huge she looks. Not helping!
It’s a joyous time, or most likely – it has the makings of holding a lot of joy. No one can take that away!
OH gosh, why do people do that? Ugh. I hope your sister is able to be ‘impenetrable’ during this joyous and miraculous new experience for her! I’m so sad she had to post anything like that at all. Have people not learned yet? 🙁
One of my favorite quotes/sayings is, “Without hope, the heart would break.” I remember the hours/days/years spent in therapy with the boys when they were babies and toddlers and I remember the fear and the tears and some therapists said things that destroyed me and I always wondered if they thought before they spoke? Did they realize the power their words had to destroy dreams? I don’t miss those days – at all…
Oh Allie, I can’t even imagine all you went through with the boys! I’m so sad you experienced some of this pain too, my friend. I really don’t think some of them understood how vulnerable parents are when their kids are suffering or struggling. That should be the most important factor in helping them help their children get well. I don’t miss those days- at all, either.
This is amazing. We are our children’s biggest advocates!
Thanks so much Kisma! And ABSOLUTELY. 🙂
Those are wise and true words! Your story has touched me and I know I will come back to your mantra often. Thank you Christine.
Thank you so much for reading it, Nicki. It’s something we all need to remember, often. <3
Sue Theimer says
Everything happens for a reason, EVERYTHING! Who’s reason, God’s reason. God gave Cassidy just the mother she needed to grow whole! I LOVE Cassidy singing; I LOVE Cassidy swimming; I LOVE Cassidy!!!!!
Thanks mom, so much! XO I LOVE Cassidy singing and swimming and just being her amazing self too! God has a mighty plan for her, I believe. 🙂
Hi Chris! I’ve had my share of therapists with one of my foster children. I always felt so dependent on them, because I just never really understood what was going on. (And I’m a nurse!) Feeling like a victim, and a confused victim at that, is a terrible torture.
Good for you for learning that people shouldn’t steal our joy. And ever though the road to joy is bumpy with heartache, the goal line is in sight. You made it, and you made it for your precious little one. A little one who is an amazing athlete!!
I’m honestly so grateful for many other wonderful people who helped us along the way, but it’s amazing how you really do feel like a ‘victim’- confused and scared. I’m so glad our path was blessed with healing and health eventually!
Lynn J Simpson says
Very inspiring! And loved the video. The word Hope has been a precious one for me and I am not sure why entirely, yet know God has a reason. My facebook inspiration page is called Inspiring Hope even! Even if our ‘hopes’ do not seem to be happening, may we trust that even a better plan is unfolding.
I love the word hope too, Lynn. Hope and mercy… I live and breathe off of them. <3
Trust that a better plan is unfolding. Yes. Always that. As hard as it may be sometimes, always that. His plan- His purpose.
Quirky Chrissy says
It sounds like the therapy sessions were so heartbreaking to partake in, but I’m so so so glad it worked out the way it did.
It’s kind of amazing the way we remember certain things like that without precisely remembering the when.
Thanks so much for reading this story, Chrissy. I truly appreciate it, and oh yes- it’s fascinating how our memory works, isn’t it?
Lisa @ The Meaning of Me says
How easy it is to let other people color our fears, isn’t it? I understand that. But what you’ve reminded me here is that no matter what we do or don’t know about how life will turn out, nobody gives our kids the strength they need like we do. It’s a good thing they don’t know how far down we have to dig some days, right? 😀 You are always an inspiration, my dear friend. And that was a kick-ass swim!!!
Oh Lisa, you are sooo right!! I let people “color my fears” often… and as far as Cass goes, She has come SO FAR and is an amazing swimmer- even better? She is incredibly determined and dedicated to this sport and being the best she can be. Oh, how I love her fight! It’s been there from the beginning. I’m so grateful for that… 🙂
Those voices will never be as strong as your own, unless you allow them to be. YES. So true, Chris.
Parenting brings so much worry – even knowing that the worry rarely serves a useful purpose.
Your girl swims like a champ – she’s a rockstar, just like her mama.
Aw! Thanks my friend. Parenting does bring on so much worry, especially when there are serious problems going on. I’m just so grateful we are through that awful time. My girl has grown into such a strong wonderful person. I’m so proud of her!!
Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom says
Yay for you and Cassidy! A hopeful, listen-to-your-gut message indeed.
Thanks Katy. I’m so proud of her… 🙂
And she is a warrior and strong and filled with a never give up attitude because she learned it from you! You did the bravest thing of all back then…you didn’t give up and look how it paid off!
Thanks my friend… You’re so sweet. I really barely held on, it was Cass who had the stamina and the spirit to endure. 🙂
Andrea Stunz says
What an incredible story of fighting for your girl! The therapist’s comment was not loving but it lit a fire in you. Sometimes the harshest comments are the ones that spur the greatest growth.
Yes, that comment really weakened me at first. But it was such a strong reminder through the years that my girl was growing and WILL be able to play on that playground. Now looking back, I’m celebrating the joy of proving her wrong! That is a wonderful thing. 🙂