Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Early Intervention

Annie and her Big Sister, Elle
Tonight, when I was organizing Annie's closet, I reached up to put a box on the shelf and a photo album literally fell on my head. Instead of putting it back in place, I found myself looking at the pictures over and over an over again. It was Annie Bannie's (as we call her sometimes) first pictures taken at The Children's Hospital of Alabama. The photos brought both smiles and tears - what a long way this little one has come. On April 9, 2003, we didn't know what the future would hold but we did know who held the future!

Daddy and Elle visit Annie in NICU
Having an infant in the NICU 60 miles from home and a two year old(a very excited new big sister) at home was quite overwhelming. For me, having experience in the NICU as an Occupational Therapist was both good and bad. It helped me to understand alot of what was going on with Annie, but, in some ways, I knew too much!

Moma and Annie Bonding Time

It didn't take long for everyone in the NICU to realize that I was a medical professional myself but I always reminded them that I was Annie's Moma first and to please talk to me as her mother. So many questions - would she be able to walk? what were the long term effects of her respiratory problems? how would we manage her GI issues? How in the world would WE be able to change a trach? Spinal cord surgery??? And many, many more!
After 2 months and a day, we were headed home with oxygen and a trach.  Thank the Lord! But, what now? No nurses at our immediate disposal, no PTs or OTs, no doctors just around the corner, no case managers making sure we had everything we needed - how would we do it all?
Before we left the hospital, we were referred to Early Intervention! I cannot say enough about how much the Early Intervention Staff meant to our family in the days, weeks, months and even years ahead. Having PT, Speech and an Early Interventionist  come into our home (Annie's world) was invaluable. The Early Intervention Service Coordinator was so helpful in making sure that Annie got the services that she needed. She was able to help us access the appropriate resources.  They helped all of us become more comfortable with meeting Annie's needs through developmental activities, monitoring of her splints, stimulating her interaction, etc. all while keeping in mind the needs of the entire family! Involving that very happy and excited big sister was so important! Elle loved the Early Intervention visits because she always felt included.
Our Family - Christmas 2012
 And, when Early Intervention services ended, they were able to transition Annie's care to the Tuscaloosa County School System, specifically Sprayberry Education Center where Annie has been a student since her 3rd birthday. Our family is VERY  THANKFUL for the role that Early Intervention played in Annie's development, in our ability to address her special needs and in accessing resources that serve her best!
To Kim, Lisa, Marilyn and Nita - thanks so much - you meant so much to Annie and to all of us!

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