Monday, January 12, 2015

Lesson Learned

 Two years ago, I dreamed of doing what I did today. I heard there was a performance at the community center and Naama wanted to go. I didn't have to figure out how I was going to get there with her on my own. We had to rush, but I hopped in a cab with her and we made it!! I was so happy to see her jumping and playing with other kids on the gymboree, but I was even happier that I was able to bring her there.

After a fun afternoon at the community center, Naama's friend's mother offered us a ride home instead of us taking a cab home. As we walked out into the night, I realized we had to cross the street to get to her car which made me uneasy, because I wasn't sure Naama was going to remain holding my hand as we crossed the street and I can't just pick her up. 

As we walked to the crosswalk, I slid my arms into the straps of my bag to get the bag on my back, but the straps got stuck on my coat, trapping my arms halfway behind me. I couldn't wiggle free and I couldn't remember the mom's name to ask her for help, because we never really talked much. She is an Israeli who understands little to no English and while I speak and understand Hebrew well, I feel there's still a cultural divide between Israelis and foreigners, so our conversations usually never went beyond a smile and hello and goodbye as we dropped our kids off at school and then rushed to get our day started, so I just continued walking behind this woman, her daughter and Naama. 

Thankfully, the mom, her daughter and Naama were holding hands, so I wasn't too worried about Naama's safety, though I must've  looked like such an idiot walking with my hands stuck halfway behind my back  AND walking with a CP limp. My predicament would've been laughable if I wasn't worried about how I, in my awkward situation was going to cross the street safely with Naama. Before I knew it, we were crossing at the crosswalk. Naama was holding on tightly to her friend's hand, who in turn was holding her mother's hand, but Naama still refused to take my hand as well. I don't know why I bothered asking her to take my hand since they were literally tied halfway behind my back, so its not like she could've held my hand anyway! 

In my sorry state, I just walked beside Naama, which worked until we got to the other side of the street and I had to step onto the curb. Because I was suddenly without arms, I couldn't hold on to the utility pole in front of me to maintain my balance as I stepped onto the curb, which is what I would normally do. I didn't ask the mom for help because obviously I didn't want her leaving the kids to help me, so I figured here goes nothing and I stepped up on to the curb knowing I was going to fall. I'm not in the best shape, therefore my balance isn't as strong as it used to be, so stepping on to a curb is daunting for me anytime, now add having my arms tied halfway behind my back and I knew a part of me was going to hit the utility pole,  I just didn't know which body part and I hoped it wouldn't hurt too much! To avoid smacking my face into the pole, I turned my head as I felt myself losing my balance and I smacked my ear on the utility pole as I fell on the curb. 

I was down, BUT I was on the curb!!! As I sat up, the mom bent down to help me. Wonderful. This kind of thing never happens to me when I'm alone, it happens in front of other people and this woman is 9 months pregnant and I have her bending to help me. Great start to possibly making a new friend. I quickly glanced to my right, looking for Naama. Thankfully she and her friend were standing on the curb watching me. 

As I was getting my bearings, a man got out of his car to help me. I asked him to take my bag off my arms. He asked if I was ok and if I needed a doctor. As I got to my feet, I assured him I was fine. I wasn't exactly gonna start explaining my disabled situation. I thanked him and we continued to make our way to the mom's car. She apologized for the car being just a bit further away. I assured her it was fine. In my world, I fall, I get back up and life goes on, but I understand how others can worry when they see someone fall. 

As she drove, I explained what happened, but I also told her that I walk the way I do because I've been disabled since birth. She started to ask questions, but her daughter started talking to her, so our conversation ended and she dropped us off a few minutes later. I was mentally kicking myself for changing my plan and accepting a ride from this woman. I had a safe plan: to get in a cab right outside the community center, no crossing streets or anything like that with Naama, but it was nice of this woman to offer us a ride and I didn't want to refuse, but I learned my lesson: never deviate from a safe plan when I'm out alone with Naama.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Taking Chances

Naama was holding my right hand as we walked home today from her new daycare across the street from our building. It was after 2 p.m. and the sun was shining strongly. Naama asked to walk in the shade which was on my left side. I let her hand go so she could transfer sides. Once in the shade, Naama attempted to take my left hand, which is my weaker hand. I suddenly remembered I couldn't safely walk this way with Naama.

"This hand is hard for mommy to hold your hand with and walk at the same time," I said.

Being 2.5 years old, that wasn't an acceptable answer for Naama and she again tried to take my left hand in hers. Walking while holding Naama's hand in my left hand throws my gait off. Afraid I'd lose my balance or trip over myself if I walked with Naama holding my left hand, I again explained to her that even though she didn't want to walk in the sun, she had to take my right hand. Naama grumbled and started walking ahead of me and before I knew it, she had run across the street to the park by our building. Thankfully, that street isn't a busy main street, but being a residential street, there are plenty of cars up and down that small brick lined street. Thankfully for me at that moment, no one happened to be driving on that street.

I quickly reached Naama, grabbed her by the arm and reprimanded her for running into the street. She knows running onto the street can give her a very big boo boo and she's usually very good about waiting for me or my husband to cross the street with her, so I was more surprised than angry at her behavior, and I realized because the street was brick lined and not asphalt, she probably didn't realize she was running onto a street, but I still yelled at her.


At that moment, a car drove toward us, which illustrated my point perfectly.
"You see?! I said, pointing to the moving car. If that car had been there when you ran into the street, you could've gotten a big big boo boo!

"I'm sorry mommy," Naama said.

I accepted her apology, gave her hugs and kisses and dropped the subject, but I couldn't stop beating myself up.

When Naama started this new daycare a few days ago, I told myself I'd walk her over in the stroller because even though the daycare is across the street and Naama is really good about holding my hand to cross the street, you never know....but I let the stroller idea slide because I saw how well she listened to my husband and myself regarding hand holding while crossing on the first 2 days, so I felt silly walking Naama such a short distance in the stroller, but today proved I need to listen to myself. I can't leave my comfort zone when caring for Naama. I know what works for me as a mother with Cerebral Palsy, and silly or not, I have to stick to it. The consequences could be immeasurable if I deviate from my comfort zone even just a bit. Naama is a very special, precious soul. She's my gift from G-d whom I cherish every second and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize the beautiful soul I have been given to mother.

Knowing Naama wouldn't agree to sit in the stroller, I came up with a compromise which worked beautifully. I would wheel her over to the daycare and once we reached the ramp leading up to the daycare, I'd let her out so she could run up the ramp. Naama loved that idea and once we reached the ramp, she took off like lightning, her little legs running happily and safely up to her daycare as I followed behind her.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Under fire

If anyone would've told me I'd have to grab a sleeping Naama from her crib and run to our safe room because of a nighttime air raid siren, I'd have laughed in their face!

When Naama was a newborn, I was so unsure of myself around her because of my disability that I didn't even pick her up on my own until she was 13 weeks old, and now at 2.5 years old, I can get her to our safe room in time when a rocket siren sounds! My how far I've come, huh?

With balance issues from Cerebral Palsy, there was NO WAY I could lift Naama from her crib really quickly, especially if her crib bars were pulled all the way up, but that's exactly what I had to do on July 7th, when the air raid siren wailed at 8:30 pm.

That night, Mary Poppins left at 8pm. My husband had called earlier telling me he wasn't far from home. With Naama sound asleep, I started washing dishes while listening to the radio on my phone. Suddenly I heard a loud siren. I quickly turned away from the dishes and looked out the window frozen in confusion, shock and fear. I knew what the air raid siren sounded like only from daytime drills the Israeli army periodically conducted.

They NEVER conduct drills at night.

Oh God! This is real! 

The rockets raining down on southern coastal Israeli cities were now reaching my area, about 40 kilometers from Jerusalem.

Getting Naama to our reinforced room was all I could think about. I dropped the dish in the sink and ran as fast as I could down the hall to Naama's room

"Get up Naama... get up my baby, hurry hurry," I blurted as I ran to her crib. As the siren continued wailing, I remembered I had 90 seconds from the siren to get to our safe room and secure it, so I didn't think twice about grabbing a dazed Naama from her crib even though the crib bars were up. I had never taken Naama out of her crib this way. I was always too afraid I'd lose my balance and fall if I didn't lower the bars first, so I was surprised how easily I dragged her out of her bed. As I set her on her feet, my phone fell out of my hand and slid under her crib. I quickly retrieved my phone and we ran out of Naama's room towards the neighboring room, which is our reinforced room/ home office.

As I entered our safe room, I turned around expecting to see Naama following me, but the poor kid was so disoriented and freaked out by the wailing siren, that she was running in a circle towards the living room. The siren was still blaring, but I was running out of time to secure the safe room.

I was scared, but I held myself back from bursting into tears because I had to think clearly.


Thankfully Naama listened to me and quickly ran into the room. Doggie however wasn't listening to my call, so I let him fend for himself as I pulled the heavy door shut.

"Sit on the floor," I said to Naama, as I ran over to the window to slide the iron plate across the window.
I pulled and pulled at the lever but the iron plate wasn't sliding across, so I just shut the window and Naama and I sat as far away from the window as possible.

I pulled Naama onto my lap and I was finally able to catch my breath, but I very quickly realized how stifling it was in the room, which was sealed except for air conditioning vents, but the AC wasn't on, so there was NO air in the room. I made a mental note to get a fan in there ASAP. Following an air raid siren, we were supposed to stay in the safe room for ten minutes in case a rocket hit, but I think Naama and I lasted 5 minutes in there without air!

To pass the time, I cuddled with Naama and told her everything was going to be just fine.

"The loud noises woke me up mommy."

"I know. I'm sorry."

Later that night, people were saying that the siren in our area had been a false alarm. God I hoped so! Once was enough! But unfortunately that first siren was no false alarm. The next night, around the same time as the previous night, the air raid siren pierced the nighttime silence as I was taking something out of the fridge. The siren is so loud and jolting that I lost my balance, fell backwards, and slammed my head against the kitchen cabinet. Not having time to think about the pain, I quickly got up and ran towards the safe room.

"GET NAAMA!!" I yelled to my husband as I ran. He quickly brought Naama into the room and handed her to me, so he could secure the room.

My husband and I looked at each other and spoke with our eyes. It looked as if Hamas' rockets from Gaza were REALLY targeting us in central Israel as well now too. We heard and felt the booms of rocket interceptions by the Iron Dome. This was unbelievable!

Several people on Facebook suggested the siren sound be changed to something calming like Enya, or a song by Michael Jackson, so we could dance our way to the safe room. After slamming my head on the cabinet because of the jolting sounding siren, I totally agreed with people's suggestions.

"I vote for the calming siren," I said to my husband as I touched the bump on my head.

Now that I put a fan in the safe room, we sat in there for the required time as we watched the news. It felt strange to me that a room in our apartment was suddenly transformed into a room that could save our lives.

The next day, as I walked Naama to daycare, I didn't realize how tense and scared I was about being outside until I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I neared a school and residential buildings I could run into for shelter if need be. It takes me 20 minutes to walk to and from Naama's daycare. I'd only be near shelter for about 5 minutes of the walk, so I made my husband walk her in the mornings. He could pick her up and run with Naama to shelter. I couldn't. My husband wasn't usually home in the afternoons, so I'd walk as quick as I could to get Naama from daycare.

Usually, I take Naama to the park after we have lunch, but I didn't want to take her to the park because if the siren went off, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find cover with her in 90 seconds and I didn't want her to have to take cover the way these kids in the city of Ashdod had to, so we just avoided the park for over a week. I felt terrible depriving my daughter of outdoor time, but her safety came first.
Playground in one of the cities near Gaza.
I finally took Naama to the park after we were siren free during the day for a few days straight. I felt guilty having a good time when our soldiers were dying every day fighting in Gaza, but then I realized that giving us the ability to go to the park with our kids freely is exactly what these soldiers are fighting and dying for. I tried to remember that, but the sadness was overwhelming and palpable. 

Over the next week, the sirens sounded nightly around 8:30-9 pm. Knowing that pattern made me breathe a bit easier when I had to pickup Naama from daycare, but it really screwed with her bedtime schedule, especially the one 2AM siren we had! 
2am siren

Usually just as we were putting Naama down for the night, the siren began to wail, freaking her out. 

Nighttime sirens also meant I wanted someone with me twice a week my husband comes home really late at night. Just because I didn't fall as I dragged Naama out of her crib when the first siren sounded, I didn't need to be a hero and try it again!

I was overwhelmed with fear at the thought of being alone with Naama if the siren went off at night. 

How am I going to lift her from her crib and carry her if she isn't already awake from the siren? Maybe I just got lucky the first time? I didn't want to try it again, but during the day, I took Naama out from her crib when the bars were up. With Mary Poppins on summer vacation, I was practicing just in case...

Luckily my father was in town for a visit and stayed with me when I needed, which really came in handy. One night, as I was about to take Naama out of the shower, the siren sounded. My father quickly grabbed a naked Naama and we ran for the safe room.  I was really thankful for my father's help. 
I startle very easily (I think Cerebral Palsy has something to do with my startle response). Anyway, I was afraid that if the siren sounded while I was bathing Naama, I'd startle and lose my grip on her, so I was glad I asked my father for help.

Naama knows the sirens aren't good noises, but we tell her the Israeli air force planes she often hears at night, are good noises because they are protecting us from the bad people, but the loud noise of the planes overhead scare her a lot. Often, Naama would wake up screaming for me in the middle of the night and then spend the rest of the night in our bed. Needless to say, all this made for sleepless nights, which required emergency mother daughter and dolly beauty treatment for the dark circles under our eyes!

Even dolly got a treatment!

  Wow did I screw up when I put her to bed one night following another siren!

I left her crib bars down because they weren't going up easily and without realizing that I was thinking OUT LOUD, I said, "it's better the bars are down so I can get you easier if there are loud noises." Naama started crying that she didn't want loud noises...go me, right?? It took me awhile to calm her, as I promised there wouldn't be anymore loud noises and if there were, the people who made the noises would be in trouble=) thankfully there weren't more sirens that night, but I wish Hamas would pick a more convenient time instead of bedtime to fire a rocket in our direction!

The sirens seemed to be affecting Naama more than I thought. One night as I went to put her down, she hung on to me and said in a tearful voice, "no mommy. Wait for the siren." I told her the siren probably wasn't going to start because it was past its usual time.

"Yea it will mommy."

No matter that I told Naama that if the siren went off I'd come get her right away, she wasn't letting go of me, so I rocked her in my arms till she fell asleep, but every once in awhile, she'd pop up and say "what is that noises mommy??" I'm not sure what to do now because she asks about EVERY noise. Man do I feel like hanging every Hamas member from their....members!!!

Truthfully, I'm also extra jumpy now. During the day, especially when I'm with Naama, I realize I'm constantly waiting with bated breath for the siren to go off. I try to go about my daily tasks as if all was normal, but the next siren was always in the back of my mind. Thankfully, we haven't been under constant rocket bombardment like southern cities, but we have had enough sirens and heard and felt enough Iron Dome interception booms, that I'm still nervous, especially at night, but I was always thankful Naama was with me for every siren, but one day she wasn't.

We had been siren free for nearly a week. Naama was at daycare and that day was her favorite because it was swimming day. I got home and settled into work. About an hour later, the siren sounded.

I jumped out of my chair and burst into tears as I headed for the safe room.

"Oh my god!! my baby!!" I cried. She's gonna be so freaked out if they were outside in the pool when the siren sounded. Thinking about how scared Naama and the other kids must be, made me cry harder. I felt so bad that I couldn't be there to comfort my baby, especially knowing how scared of the siren she was. My husband hugged me and told me he'd call the daycare to find out if everyone was ok.

Thankfully, the kids were inside when the siren sounded and they knew just what to do. They filed into the safe room and sang songs with their teacher until it was time to come out. I was so proud of my little person and her friends! I was worried that incident would set Naama back into a pattern of crying and sleepless nights, but to our relief, she didn't even mention the siren sounding while she was in daycare!

Unfortunately, 3 weeks later, rockets are still being fired into Israel, but unlike other cities, we have had relative quiet, with only the occasional siren sounding, but every time I pass Naama's room at night, my breath catches and I am reminded of the first night time siren and rushing in to get Naama to safety.

To help both of us cope, and to show thanks, Naama and I baked a big carrot cake for our soldiers serving in Gaza. One of the soldiers serving is our neighbor's son.

Naama loves helping me bake and she was excited that we were doing something nice for the soldiers who were protecting us from the bad people who make the siren sound.

Naama happily drew pictures to be sent with the cake. 

A few days later, I saw that our cake and pictures were very much appreciated by IDF soldiers. I excitedly showed the picture to Naama and I asked her what she thought about the soldiers protecting us.

After thinking a bit, Naama said "you're great....and I love you!"

IDF soldiers with cake and pictures

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Lesson

Being too dependent on others almost cost me Naama tonight.

Just because I have Cerebral Palsy, I depend too much on Mary Poppins or my husband to keep an eye on Naama when we are in public places. After all, they can run after Naama faster than me if they have to, so I figured I don’t have to watch her so carefully…what a fool I am!  I am Naama’s mother. I am responsible for her always and forever, disabled or not!

 Tonight, Mary Poppins, Naama and I were at the mall buying Naama rain boots.
Naama was walking around the store in her new boots.
With my back to Mary Poppins and Naama, I said “I’ll go pay.”
Not even a minute later, while I was still rummaging around in my wallet, I hear Mary Poppins ask “where’s Naama?”
“I don’t know,” I said as I turned to the left to look for Naama.

At that moment I heard a woman behind me say “there’s a little girl here…”
“Yes.” I said, thinking that Mary Poppins for sure heard the woman and took Naama from her. I was so sure Mary Poppins had Naama, I didn’t even turn around to check!

All of a sudden, I glanced out the window. Naama’s cream colored coat caught my eye against the night. Naama was standing outside right next to the curb of the busy mall parking lot! She turned to look back at me in the store at the same moment I saw her standing outside.

“NAAMA!!!!!!!” I screamed.

In total shock, I dropped my wallet and started running toward the entrance. Thankfully we were in the store right next to the entrance.
People say that having a child is like having a piece of your heart walking around outside your body. It’s so true. I always feel like there’s an invisible cord still connecting me and Naama. A cold fear ran through my body in the split second that I saw Naama standing outside so close to danger. This isn’t happening, I thought.

Mary Poppins heard my scream and ran ahead of me out of the mall entrance and grabbed Naama. On my way out right behind Mary Poppins, I glanced at the security guard standing at the entrance.
Some security guard! He didn’t even think to stop a toddler from walking out on her own! There weren’t that many people near the entrance at the time and I highly doubt he didn’t see her. He didn’t even react when I screamed and started running toward the entrance! I felt like punching him in his expressionless face, but getting angry wouldn’t have accomplished anything, so I let it go.

On the bus ride home, Mary Poppins apologized and explained she lost sight of Naama for a split second when she went rooting in her bag for a tissue. A split second is all it takes for a 2 year old to run outside in a flash. I was upset, but not with Mary Poppins. I was upset with myself. Why did I put so much trust into others just because I have Cerebral Palsy and can’t act as fast as an able-bodied person? Mary Poppins hugged me and apologized again.

I knelt next to Naama’s stroller and asked her why she ran outside without mommy or Mary Poppins.
“Abba boots,” she said.
Abba means father in Hebrew.
Naama ran outside because she wanted to show her new boots to her father even though she knew he didn’t come to the mall with us.
“You know you can’t run outside by yourself, right?
“You promise you won’t do it again?”

I’m not sure Naama really understood our conversation, but I let it go. She’s 2. How can she understand the consequences of such a dangerous action?
I'm sure this type of situation happens to countless parents and children. I feel like it's almost a right of passage that this happened. Now we can move on to the next trying experience of toddlerhood! 

Kidding aside, I’ve heard parents of older children say that when their child does something really dangerous, they spank their child so the child will associate pain with danger. I'm not so into that type of punishment/teaching a lesson. How do I teach a toddler that going outside on her own is very dangerous?

Monday, December 2, 2013

First time Bath

We are just 2 weeks short of Naama's 2nd birthday, and tonight I bathed Naama by myself for the first time! Guess you can say it's a Chanukah miracle since this happened on the 6th night of Chanukah.

I went into the bathroom with Naama and my husband so we could watch her sit on the potty before her bath. Naama decided peepee wasn't coming out, so she got up and walked to the bath. As usual, I turned to leave so my husband could bathe her.
"No! Mommy!"
I turned to face Naama. 
"What is it my love?"
"You want mommy to bathe you? ", asked my husband
"Yeah, mommy."
My husband and I exchanged surprised looks.
"OK", said my husband and he left the bathroom.

I have placed Naama in the bath before but I never bathed her. I guess I just never tried, since either my husband or Mary Poppins bathe her, so I figured if it ain't broke dont fix it, plus I was always a little nervous Naama may slip when she stands in the bath so her bottom half can be bathed, but apparently I don't give myself enough credit because I was totally fine bathing Naama.

I didn't actually intend to completely bathe Naama, but once I got started, I just kinda went with it, especially since my husband was still clearing the dinner dishes in the kitchen.
I knelt down by the bath's edge, soaped my hands and started to lather Naama's chest and arms. When I washed under her neck she broke out in giggles and looked at me so happily. I can't explain it, but in that moment, we connected. That bonding moment between mother and child is what I had been missing by not bathing her or just periodically hanging around as someone else bathed her. 

Naama laughed harder as I washed under her arms.

Hearing our laughter, my husband walked into the bathroom and asked incredulously, "you're bathing her? wow! go mommy! You're ok?? you can handle this?"
"Yes", I said.
My husband walked out of the bathroom

"Alright Naama, what do we wash next?" I asked.
She stuck out her leg for me to wash.
"Now it's tushy and private part time" I said.
This part I was a bit nervous about, because Naama had to stand up so I could soap her properly and I was afraid she would slip, but I had nothing to worry about. Naama stood up slowly and stood still as I washed her, guarding her back with my free hand.
I can't believe I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to stop Naama from slipping in the bath that I let my fear prevent me from bathing my own child for so long!
When Naama  was younger it was more of a concern, but now, washing her as she stood in her bath was as easy as a walk in the park! and even if she did slip, it's not like she couldn't have slipped when being bathed by my husband or Mary Poppins, in fact, she has slipped by both of them! Disabled people need to give themselves more credit.

Towards the end of the bath, my husband came in to take over so he could take her out and towel her off. As I got to my feet, Naama burst into tears.
She wanted me to take her out. I comforted her, telling her mommy was staying there with her and daddy was just going to take her out and towel her off. She continued to cry, but when she saw I wasn't going anywhere she calmed down.
Naama wanted me to put her moisturizing lotion on. It was such a warm feeling putting the lotion on my baby with her soft baby skin and small body parts.When I got to her back and tushy, my husband said "don't forget to kiss her yummy tushy!"
Apparently Naama was used to this routine because when she turned on her stomach, she thrust her tushy high into the air. It was so cute I couldn't help myself. I planted a big kiss on each smooth butt cheek.

Tonight, when Mary Poppins went to draw Naama’s bath as she usually does on Sunday and Tuesday nights, Naama looked at her, shook her head and said “No. Only mommy.”
Mary poppins and I looked at each other in surprise. Naama LOVES Mary Poppins. She must have made a mistake in pushing her away. Again I turned to leave so Mary Poppins could start the bath.
“No! Only Mommy!"
Ok I guess Naama wasn’t mistaken.
Mary Poppins looked at me questioningly. I filled her in on the first time I bathed Naama a few nights before.
“That’s great! You don’t need me then!”
I smiled and told her I’d prefer to have her around just in case.

I drew Naama’s bath and lifted her into the bath as Mary Poppins looked on.
“I’m very proud of you, said Mary Poppins.
“Thank you,” I smiled and began washing Naama.

To hear such praise from Mary Poppins was very special and meaningful. Mary Poppins began as a nanny when Naama was 4 months old, a time when I was nearly completely dependent on someone else for baby care. Mary Poppins took me under her wing, teaching me, encouraging me and strengthening me to care for my baby despite having Cerebral Palsy. Slowly but surely I reached this point, this moment where I am able to bathe my daughter on my own. A far cry from the helpless, useless mother I felt like as I watched Naama’s previous nannies lovingly bathe her as I only watched.

Tonight, Naama smiled shyly at me nearly the entire bath and she didn’t make a peep when I brushed out her knotted curls and rinsed her hair. Even when I accidentally poured water over her open eyes, Naama just kept smiling at me and Mary Poppins. It was like she knew my bathing her was irregular and something new for me, so she wanted to be on her best behavior.
“It’s so beautiful to see the two of you like this,” said Mary Poppins.
“I’m thrilled for you and not offended in the slightest that Naama prefers you over me. It’s the way it should be now”, she said.

Afterward, I wondered what triggered the change in Naama. I realized the week we spent together during Chanukah break from daycare made Naama feel much closer to me. We went to the park every day. We went for pizza and her first ice cream cone and we played games and did many activities at home, just the two of us.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Victory Steps

I DID IT!!! I walked down the stairs with Naama! 

For awhile now, I have been able to walk up stairs with Naama as she held my hand, but walking down stairs with Naama is a whole different ball of wax as far as maintaining our balance is concerned.

Today, we were running late to daycare. The daycare lady can't leave the kids to help me down the stairs with Naama, so usually I run into a parent or I'll even ask someone off the street to take Naama down the 5 brick stairs, but no one was around. Truthfully, I was kind of relieved I didn't see anyone on the street, because when I ask for help, people don't seem to understand why I can't take the stroller down the stairs until I say I'm disabled and I hate explaining. I feel like wearing an explanatory sign around my neck which says I HAVE CEREBRAL PALSY. PLEASE HELP!! 

With no help available, I had to get Naama down the stairs on my own. Without thinking too much, I took Naama's diaper bag down the stairs. Once back up the stairs, I took Naama out of her stroller. Since I planned on walking side by side down the stairs with Naama, I held on to the side fence for stability and told Naama to take my other hand. 

"No mommy." 

Naama walked across from me, held on to the side fence with one hand and waited. I was a bit nervous because now I’d have to lead her down the stairs without having the fence in reach for stability, but I realized by getting in front of Naama and leading her down, I could get her down the stairs better than I initially planned on the opposite side, where I probably would’ve ended up pulling her arm down too much had we descended the stairs side by side. I wouldn’t have realized that if Naama hadn’t decided to walk to the other side of the stairs. Smart cookie my baby.

“Wait for mommy,” I said as I crossed to her and descended a few stairs ahead of her. I held on to the fence with one hand to make sure I was stable before leading Naama down. Naama saw this as an opportunity to try and jump into my arms. She got ready to propel herself into my arms.


Naama straightened up and followed my instructions.

“Take mommy’s hand and step down slowly,” I said.

Naama held on to the side fence with one hand, put her small hand in mine and took a step down. It worked! I was thrilled but didn’t let triumph overtake just yet. We still had a few more stairs to go.

“That’s it, take another step,” I encouraged.  Naama went down another step. When we reached the bottom, I just stood there, stunned. I can’t believe we just did that!! I felt like jumping up and down shouting WE DID IT WE DID IT!! but that would scare Naama and there was no one around to hear me anyway.

On my walk home, I felt so light, I could’ve flown home if I had wings. My whole world just changed with a few small steps.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Camp Mommy

This last week and a half, Naama and I have spent a lot of solo time together and it's been great!
She's still casted, but that hasn't stopped her for a minute! She's a little energizer bunny, crawling everywhere and recently toe walking with her cast. Every time I see her walk on her cast, I cringe, but she seems oblivious to the cast on her leg.

We've played with all her toys, built Lego towers and made all sorts of shapes out of play dough but I wanted her to have more outdoor time, so I've been taking her to the mini park in our apartment complex instead of taking her to the main playground. For one, there's shade in the mini park and two, I can handle putting Naama on and taking her off the toys there. Being able to spend time alone in the park with Naama is so liberating for me and makes me so happy. It's just us...and her teddy bear=) I sing her songs as she does the actions to the songs while swinging around in the carousel and the boat swing. 

Naama also loves the slide. The first time I put her on it, I supported her as she slid down, but the way I had my arm around her as she slid down was uncomfortable for both of us because as she slid down, my arm would catch her near her head. On our second run I realized Naama didn't need my help down the slide anymore. She's a big girl she can do it herself and she did... again and again and again. I happily lifted her back up the slide each time she looked at me with a her big blue eyes, a huge smile, and said "more"??

I feel so happy knowing that I put that smile on her face. Fun time with mommy, not fun time with mommy and someone else. I know it's silly to think this way, but that's how I feel. Being able to do these activities ALONE with Naama makes me feel whole, not disabled.

Naama and I would pass an hour in the park each day easily. Now instead of dreading walking Doggie knowing Naama wanted to play and I couldn't let her, I looked forward to our park time each day.

Yesterday, I braved the main playground with her. I haven't taken her there in a long time since she walked right out of the park a few months ago. I eventually caught her, but with cars flying down the road very often, that one incident was enough to keep me from taking her to the main playground on my own.

Since yesterday was Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, there were no cars on the street, so I wasn't afraid to take her to the playground, plus even if she tried walking out, how far was she really gonna get with a cast on her leg?

When we got to the park there weren't that many kids there, so Naama had free reign on the slides. Shortly after we arrived, my neighbor came with her kids. As soon as Naama saw my neighbor, she wanted her to take her from slide to slide. Naama refused to let me carry her or help her crawl up the slide! Smart cookie my Naama. She knows mommy's not 100% 

Eventually Naama warmed back up to me. At first I was nervous about being able to lift her high enough to reach the slide platform while maintaining my balance, but at barely 20 LBS, Naama is so light, I really didn't have to worry about that. I was very steady on my feet. Each time I lifted her it got easier. Naama was having so much fun crawling through the tube slide and sliding down the slides, I don't even think she remembered she had a cast on even though I reminded her several times to be careful. 

Soon more kids and parents arrived and eventually the park was packed. Ordinarily, I would've taken that as my cue to leave. I didn't think I could handle playing with Naama with so many kids around. All I needed was for one of them to knock into me as I was lifting or carrying her, and I was scared a kid may step on her cast, but Naama was having so much fun I didn't have the heart to take her away.

I'll just be extra careful.

Naama was so busy going from one thing to the next I didn't really have time to think, I only had time to do!
In the midst of all the other kids, I lifted, carried and slowly walked with Naama around the playground. I put her in line for the twisty slide and lifted her up again for another round. I was on my feet for over an hour! I was exhausted and parched. I forgot to bring water with me, so I quickly undid Naama's sippy cup and drank from there before going back to play.
At one point I thought WOW!! I cant believe it! Look at me here in the park with Naama together with all these kids. I can handle this! I NEVER thought I'd be able to accomplish such a thing!

When we went back home, I happily told my husband about my accomplishment and then let him take over Naama duty while I took some me time.

Today we went to both parks again. When it was time for Naama's nap, I got a bit nervous because I didn't have anyone to help me put her in her crib for a nap and after falling with her when she resisted me once before, I have always had my husband or a neighbor around for a few minutes just to put her in her crib after I nurse her, but no one was available today. I have put Naama down successfully before, but not often, so I wasn't confident, but figured I'd deal, even if it meant holding Naama for an hour as she napped.

Naama was wiped from the park, so it didn't take her long to fall asleep. I shifted Naama so we were chest to chest and I slowly got out of the rocking chair. Naama gave a small cry and tightened her grip around my neck, which actually made it easier to lift her as I stood up. Thankful that she is so light, I slowly walked the few steps over to her crib and lay her down softly. The trick is to put her in her crib while she's at least half asleep, that way she's too tired to resist me=)

With a proud smile, I covered my sleeping baby and walked out of her room. 

Naama starts a new daycare this week. I'm happy my social butterfly will get to interact with other kids, but I'll miss our mornings in the park.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My little champion

Naama was cranky last Sunday, but wanted to go to daycare. I sent her, telling the daycare lady to let me know if anything seemed weird. A few hours later, I had just returned from a grueling physical therapy session. I was tired and really hungry. As I walked in the door, I got a call from the daycare that Naama couldn't walk at all. I could hear Naama crying hysterically in the background. I ran over to the daycare, thankful that it's right near my house. 

When I got there, Naama was sitting quietly in a bouncy chair. Naama tried walking to me, took 2 shaky steps and fell. It was heart breaking to watch. I was told Naama hadn't fallen and nothing unusual happened, so the daycare lady was confused. We examined her and couldn't find any external damage. I called the doctor's office but they were closed for a few hours. 

I wasn't sure what to do. The daycare lady suggested I take her to the local emergency clinic immediately so they could take an x-ray. Knowing we don't have a car, the daycare lady had her husband drive Naama and me to the emergency clinic. She even gave me money to cover the x-ray cost because she didn't want me to waste time going home to get my wallet. I really appreciated what she was doing for us. I could see she was very worried about Naama. I was worried too, but I wasn't freaking out because Naama was acting normally.

At the clinic, Naama was examined and x-rayed. During the x-rays, Naama held my hand tightly, crying "mommy mommy." My heart melted. I stroked her hair, told her it'd be over soon and that we would go back and look at the fishies in the waiting room when we were done. She stopped crying and with eyes full of tears, nodded. 
 Naama is obsessed with animals=)

When we were done, I kept my promise and took Naama to see her beloved fishies. She excitedly pointed to each fish. While there, the doctor came and told us Naama had fractured her tibia. (leg bone)

Oh no!

"She needs a cast," said the doctor.
"I don't understand. How did she fracture her bone?"
"It's actually very common in toddlers, because their bones are still so soft, they're like paper, so we actually call this fracture a toddler fracture, since the fracture can happen if they step too hard, step the wrong way or fall," said the doctor

What the doctor said made sense, but I couldn't remember Naama falling in the last day and I was told she didn't fall in daycare, so I was confused but for now I had to settle for "it happens."

Naama was quickly casted. The cast technician actually left me holding Naama's foot at a 90 degree angle so it would set properly!! I almost laughed. Wasn't this his job?! Thankfully he came back awhile later, and put Naama in her stroller for me. 

"She can't walk for at least 3 days till she sees the orthopedist", said the doctor.
"Are you serious??" I said.

She's an active toddler! How on earth am I or anyone going to keep her off her feet? Of course this had to happen to me, the mom with Cerebral Palsy, so taking care of Naama will be doubly difficult. Great!

Once the cast was on, Naama was pretty much back to herself, which really calmed my nerves. We will figure this out. I'll get help. We can do this.

I had to take a picture of Naama's little cast. It was so cute!

Afterwards, I treated Naama to ice cream at the mall

My husband met us at the mall and we treated Naama to whatever toys she wanted!!

       G-d has a way of making things happen at the right time.

The next day, I wheeled Naama into our parking lot and a moving van decided not to wait for me to pass before reversing, even though I asked him twice to wait and I know he saw me. Not wanting to get run over, I sped up with the stroller. I tripped and fell very hard, badly scraping both knees and elbows. Later on that day, Naama saw my scabs, touched them and said "boo boo?" Yes I said, mommy has a boo boo. Naama then pointed to her cast, said boo boo and gave her cast a kiss. So now we both have boo boos!! 

My cousin came over to help me for a few days. Naama adapted to being non weight bearing, realizing she had to crawl to get around. Sometimes she tried to bear weight and we had to stop her. It was hard watching her when she got frustrated or when she would cry in pain. I just held her, nursed her, gave her tylenol and told her it was going to get better.

When she was feeling better, we took Naama to the park which made her face light up, despite her discomfort.

On Thursday, we saw the orthopedist. I hoped to hear that the cast could come off and Naama could walk again, but no such luck! Naama has to be casted for 2 more weeks, but she can bear weight and walk if she wants. However, I don't see how Naama can even try walking without a boot to give her traction. I'm surprised the doctor didn't suggest that, but that would've been logical! Unfortunately, I didn't think to ask him that till after we left his office.

Thankfully, Naama seems to have adjusted to her situation and is in good spirits. I don't think I need to ask my cousin to come over again for the week, because the only help I need is putting Naama in her crib for a long morning nap and so far I'm getting neighbors to help with that.

I'm very proud of the way Naama is handling her situation. I love my little champion=)