Special Needs

It's funny how sometimes even when you sort of expect something it can still shock you when it happens. On Friday we braved the snow and slush and went to Seattle Children's Hospital for another neurologist appointment for Sage. It was the first appointment we had about her microcephaly where the doctor didn't say, "well, it could be nothing..." the neurologist we saw was thorough, asking a lot of questions and spending a lot of time looking at Sage, checking her reflexes and movements. He was straight forward and clear, telling us that he definitely saw enough to concern him. He told us that her head is now 2.8 deviations and that since her weight and height are on the growth chart it's called disproportionate microcephaly. He recommended an MRI, saying that it was the best place to start figuring out what is going on and would give us some direction.

And then it happened... He told us he thought we should start having someone work with her and getting her some early therapy. Then he gave us a packet for "children with special needs" It made my head spin..."special needs" I knew Sage had microcephaly. I knew there was a chance that she would have some delays, and although I knew that label was a possibility I hadn't really imagined it or truly thought of my child as having special needs until that moment.

It was like a reality check for me.

Suddenly I was reminded of when I took a class in college on Teaching Children with Special Needs. I remember feeling convinced during that class, with an irrational intuition, that I was going to have a child with special needs. And I remember begging God to not let that happen. Now I look at Sage and I can't imagine asking God that I wouldn't have her and can't imagine having any other child. But, I still wish I knew for certain that she would be able to live a completely full functioning, "normal" life. But, I knew in that moment that wasn't a certainty I could have. It may yet turn out that way, but there's enough concerns that I have to come to terms with the fact that it might not.

I sat there a minute a little stunned still by the term "special needs".

I couldn't deny it anymore. I couldn't justify the fact that she hasn't met her milestones. I couldn't keep holding on to the "well, it could be nothing" statements.

All along I have sort of known this was coming. I knew something wasn't normal. Not in the way you know that two plus two equals four but with an intuitive sort of knowing.

When she was six weeks old I had a vivid dream within a dream where things kept threatening Sage and I had to fight for her and protect her. At the most vivid part I saw a number of wasps and hornets stinging Sage. I woke up still in the dream and preceded to dream that everything that had happened in the dream within a dream was happening in real life. It was after having this dream that I knew we had to schedule Sage's first well visit with the pediatrician.

Maybe it's bad for me to say it but I'm glad that we didn't go in earlier, glad that we had those two months of ignorance, to just be with Sage, bond with her and get to know her. Being able to bond with her without the uncertainties of microcephaly hanging over our head was precious and I'm grateful for it.

But, as we sat with the neurologist I knew that the time of denial was over. It was time for a new season. Time to grow up and face my new reality. Time to do the research. Time to make the phone calls. Time to get the help. Time to do whatever we can to make sure that my special little girl can have the best life possible.

On February 2nd Sage will have an MRI of her head and spine. It will be under general anesthesia. If you pray, pray for her safety, pray that we get the best possible answers, pray that we are able to get the results back quickly (as it is right now our follow up with neurology isn't able to be scheduled until April - we don't want to wait that long) and pray that we have no problem getting the MRI pre-approved with our insurance.

Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany Stedman