They said that she may never walk.

2 Sep

When Oli was born on a hot, spring night in May of 2007, I was a different person. I lived in a world where my life made sense. My life had order and structure and play dates and date nights. My life was free of specialists, prosthetic eyes, Braille, vision teachers, early intervention programs, and support groups. I had never witnessed a person look at me with pity in their eyes or felt the weight of a disability trying to drown me with its sorrow.

I was naïve.
I was over confident and cocky.
I thought I was indestructible.

I thought that I was immune to the bad and the sad things that can happen in life. Those things just didn’t happen to me. Those things happened to other people.
They happened to people that I heard talked about in whispers. They happened to people that I gossiped about on break in the cafeteria at the hospital where I worked.

“Did you hear about that mom?”
“Yeah. They said that she was a nurse. Her baby was born with a disability.”
“Yeah. I know! I couldn’t believe it!”
“I can’t believe it happened to her! She’s so nice. What is she going to do now? I don’t know what I would do if I gave birth to a special needs child.”

Suddenly I WAS that mom. Suddenly I HAD that baby.
Suddenly my life no longer had structure or play dates or date nights.
Suddenly my life was FULL of specialists, prosthetic eyes, Braille, vision teachers, early intervention programs, and support groups.

In 12 short hours my life had been turned upside down. I was drowning in sorrow and self pity and anger. I struggled with the fact that my baby had not been born in a way that I had expected. My baby had fallen somewhere well beyond my comfort level.

What was I supposed to do with a blind baby?

As the months and then the years wore on, I let my daughter live outside of what I was comfortable with. As each new diagnosis came, each one seeming to be worse than the last, I grew more and more uncomfortable with the challenges that came with raising such a special little girl. I was not confident in my abilities to parent her.

I didn’t know what I was doing! I didn’t know if I was doing this right or this wrong or this just mediocre or this just horrible!

They told me that she may never walk or talk. She may never do this or do that…

So I stayed right where I was. Sad… Angry… Alone…

I stayed there until it became so uncomfortable and so miserable that I had to change the way that I looked at our situation. I had to just accept that this is what had happened.

Instead of looking at it as unfair and unjust, I started looking at it as an opportunity. I began looking at it with serving a reason and a purpose. I stopped feeling sorry for both of us and began realizing that just because she had different abilities than many other children, they were only disabilities if I disabled her myself. Which is exactly what I had been doing by feeling sorry for her and thinking that she couldn’t do something because she was blind and couldn’t walk, or talk, and was autistic, and had seizures.

I stopped using her diagnoses as an excuse for her NOT to do something.

I started thinking about ways to make it possible for her to do everything my other kids did.

I began letting Oli do what any other child did. I just had to do it with her.

When my other two children wanted to go in the bouncy house at the park, I went in the bouncy house with her and helped her jump.

When my other two children wanted to go on the kiddie roller coaster at the fair, I went on the kiddie roller coaster with her.

When my older son wanted to go bike riding, my husband and I bought her a bike trailer that she can pedal on her own.

It’s just what we did.

So when someone suggested that Oli do a triathlon, I jumped at the opportunity.

Why not right?!

She loves to be outside and she loves the pool. I knew that she would love being out there competing with other kids and doing the things that other kids do.

I could not NOT let her do this just because of her inability to see, or swim on her own, or bike on her own, or run. We just modified her race.

I did it WITH her.

It was the most incredible experience. I kicked with her on a board for the swim, pulled her in her bike trailer for the bike and pushed her in a jogging stroller for the run.

Close to the end of the race I pulled Oli out of her bright yellow jogging stroller and whispered to her quietly “Oli? Are you ready to cross that finish line? Let’s go! All of your friends are cheering for you! You walk across that finish line!”

Oli got out of the stroller and held my hands, walking the last part of the race.

My daughter…who some said may never learn to walk…WALKED ACROSS THE FINISH LINE OF HER TRIATHLON!!

She may not have been able to tell me how it felt to hear her name over the loud speaker, to hear all of the kids and the parents cheering her on, but the smile on her face said it all.

No words were needed to describe just how she felt at that moment.

My girl was proud of herself.
2013-08-25 09.02.07

12 Responses to “They said that she may never walk.”

  1. donofalltrades September 2, 2013 at 5:01 am #

    Love it! Congrats, sweet girl!

  2. Anonymous September 2, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    I love your posts….and have grown to love both you and Oli… are an amazing mom!!!

  3. Dean B September 2, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    Bravo and congratulations to you both! =)

  4. ksbeth September 2, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    this is absolutely wonderful and amazing. in reading your words it sounds like you may have been more blind as she was, until you really began to see, and perhaps more afraid of this world so new to you, and in an ironic twist, your beautiful daughter oli, is the one who showed you the way. ) beth

  5. mummyflyingsolo September 2, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Awwww congrats to Oli on a great achievement and congrats to mummy too! I got tears in my eyes reading htis story. Just beautiful.

  6. Kathy September 2, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    I love to read about you and Oli. I love your openness and sharing from the heart. As a parent of a child that has different abilities, and a special education teacher, I learn so much from you. My daughter is 26……and I love how well you put it into words ‘ ….they are only disabilities if i disable her myself’… true. I will remember that as I head back to school tomorrow. Thank you again for your sharing. I find you to be absolutely amazing.

  7. sophiestrainsSophiestrains September 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    I have to tell you I’ve been following your triathlon journey on Facebook and this post had me in tears. You are an inspiration, and Oli is amazing. Reading your stories and updates fills me with joy and the feeling that truly we only limit ourselves, nothing is impossible. I hope you don’t mind I will share this on my page?

    • mommyhasissues September 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      I don’t mind at all! Thank you for reading about her and thank you for sharing! I also follow Sophie. 🙂

  8. Lois C Fitzgerald September 25, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    I don’t know how you do it, but you write so eloquently and from the heart that I cry every time I read a post of yours.. I came over here after reading your post about the nasty comment, and read through all that I’ve missed lately. You make me so proud. You truly are an inspiration to THOUSANDS of people. They have your back, Shannon.. Don’t ever forget what you do for others just writing about your life. I read through about 50 of the 200+ comments about ‘the troll’, and they’ve responded tenfold with positive thoughts, prayers and energy. I’d write on there too, but I can’t say it better than many have responded already. Just keep on doing what you’re doing, stay the terrific mom that you are for all your kids, and letting Oli grow up as herself, and you’ll know you’re doing the right things. Reading about your life makes my stupid issues seem so trivial, and really puts things in perspective. Love you so much, hugs and kisses to everyone in the family — not really touching you though 🙂


  1. Does my head look big in this…..? | the mmmmm family - September 5, 2013

    […] I’m fine but my mommy has issues! […]

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