Parent Matches: Building Friendships and Creating Community

By Melinda Davis

TWapasha n Melinda I went from feelings of complete happiness at the thought of meeting our daughter to feelings of surprise, sadness, and then followed by feelings of guilt and fear. I was scared of the unknown. In that moment, I went from seeing my baby as a baby . . . to seeing my baby with “Down syndrome.” I loved her with all my heart and didn’t feel good about myself for thinking that when I looked at her. I didn’t want these thoughts robbing this special time with my baby. I felt so guilty about the uncertainty I was feeling. The hospital offered to have a person from Children’s Village come to see us. Even though I was surrounded by people who loved us, I already felt as if nobody close to me could possibly understand what I was feeling. I had all these thoughts stuck in my head. Then Tracie, a representative from the Children’s Village Parent to Parent office, came to visit me. She also had a son with special needs and could relate to what I was feeling at that moment. Most importantly, she told me our daughter was beautiful and that everything was going to be okay. Everything I was feeling was NORMAL! I was not the first new mom in this place and we were certainly not alone. She offered me a “Parent Match” which put me in touch with a mommy who also had a child with Down syndrome.

I remember the day Nadia came to see me. Nadia is a volunteer “Helping Parent” from Children’s Village. I was nervous. I had so many questions. This was my fifth child and I thought it would be a familiar walk in the park when it came time to deliver her. But instead, I found myself in a situation I’ve never experienced before. Would she have the answers I wanted? Who is this mother and is she anything like me? What if we don’t have anything in common . . . I wondered how her child was functioning, how had their lives been affected if at all since the diagnosis? What was her child like? Nadia came in all smiles and very excited to meet us. I’ll admit I sized her up a bit, but got right to the point of asking her what was her child like, after all that’s why she was here. As if waiting for a cue, she immediately brought out some photos of her little girl. Like any proud mother, she went on to tell me how awesome her daughter was while sharing a few photos with me. I think she was five at the time. There she was in these photos . . . vibrant, smiling, laughing, playing with other children, with her brother, engaged with family, and celebrating birthdays. As far as I could tell it seemed life was fairly typical to what you would expect. I asked her about crawling, walking, potty training, school, talking and anything else I could think of to ask. Her child reached these milestones when she was ready and she seemed confident ours would too. I asked her about how she felt initially? It turned out that most the feelings I was experiencing, she also experienced in some way. Her faith was strong and I needed to be reminded of mine. She did not seem to carry the weight of the fears I was holding at that time. She told me it would get easier and that life will just fall back into place. We adjust and go on. I believed her. I was still scared of the unknown, but meeting someone who was living it and seeing the photos of a happy little girl just being a five year old helped me so much. I knew things would be okay. I felt hopeful.

Fast forward three years later, and Nadia and Tracie were right. Wapasha is an absolute blessing and doing just fine. She continues to reach her milestones on her own time. I’ve gotten past “seeing” Down syndrome. I just see our beautiful girl, her beautiful face and that silly personality! Do I still worry? Of course! But, I’ve found that although we’ve had to experience hospital stays, still work with an Occupational Therapist, have IEPs and other situations we never had with her siblings, that our life has resumed mostly unaltered. I am content.

I knew three years ago that when I was ready, I would want to help a new mother introduced to Down Syndrome when she least expected it. I knew I would want to bring that love and hope that Tracie and Nadia brought to me. I would tell her that it’s natural to be scared and what she’s feeling is normal. I would tell her these feelings get lighter with time. I would tell her that it’s going to be okay and that she’s not alone. I would tell her that her child is perfect and destined for greatness. I would definitely show some photos! This year I got the honor to be a “Helping Parent” in a parent match and I got to speak to a mommy who wanted to meet someone sharing this experience, and was a bit down the road in the journey. Our experience wasn’t exactly the same, but we still had much in common. I shared all those things I said I would. We laughed and shared stories. My desire was to pass some of the strength and hope given to me from the mommies before me and pass it on to this deserving mommy. Together it is better, and I hope I did just that! As she begins down this well beaten path creating her own trail, I want to thank you “Parent to Parent” for clearing the way!

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Upcoming DVD Seminar: Explosive, Noncompliant, Disruptive, Aggressive Kids

What Works, What Doesn’t
& How to Turn It Around.

All are welcome to attend the informational seminar brought to you by Traci Allen, MS, LMHC and the Educational Service District 105 (ESD 105).

2 sessions available | February 28th or March 3rd | Registration fee: $15 | Register online at www.esd105.org | Registration deadline is February 20th.

ExplosiveKids ESD flyer. Learn More >>

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Miracles Happen Everyday

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Unlocking your child’s “superpower”

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Therapy services at Children’s Village

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Family Nutrition Education classes for Children’s Village families  

The WSU Extension office will be hosting a “Family Nutrition Education” class open to any interested Children’s Village families. The weekly class will be a 10-week series begin on Friday, January 30, 2015. Classes will be held every Friday night in  Barn A at Children’s Village from 6:30-8:00PM (free childcare will be provided!).

Nutrition Education Flier-page-001

Individuals who are interested in participating need to contact Felix Espinoza (Nutrition Educator) at 509-823-9175 or email felix.espinoza@wsu.edu to sign up for the class. Those who attend the FREE classes will also have a chance to try some delicious food and will be given FREE take-home items. Please see the attached flier and spread the word about this great opportunity.

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My Miracle

by Amy Berkheimer

My husband and I each had dreams about what our child might achieve in life. When I saw Eli’s long, beautiful fingers in the ultrasound, I thought I might have a piano player in the house. When my husband heard how much Eli weighed, he envisioned his son being a linebacker on the football team. We neither one got what we had dreamed about. We got way more!
Having my baby spend time in the NICU altered the course of my life. When my 10 lb 5 oz baby boy was born, not breathing, and it took them 18 minutes to resuscitate him, it set me on a path I never could have imagined. I spent seven years at a great job, crunching numbers and paying bills, then going home each night to our cats and dogs. I worked until three days before Eli was born, and intended to go back to work part time after my maternity leave, and continue on with life as I knew it, plus a bundle of joy!

Turns out, my plan was not to be. Eli suffered a brain injury at birth, called HIE or Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, and was later diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. His life is complicated, and we’ve spent so many nights in the hospital, that I’m losing count. It’s those nights in the NICU, and Pediatric Unit that have made me realize how lucky we are to have the talented and gifted staff at Yakima Memorial Hospital, our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. From their amazing parent support they offered during Eli’s early days, when so much was unknown; to return visits to the Pediatric Unit for RSV, colds, and dehydration, where they remember us and are excited to see how Eli is doing. They’ve become like extended family.

Because of our three weeks spent in Yakima’s NICU, I decided I wanted to give back somehow. I became a hospital volunteer and was able to visit with parents in the NICU when they were beginning their journey into the unknown. I got to decorate the bulletin board that welcomed parents as they came to visit their babies, and I got to continue friendships with the wonderful staff members I had grown to love during Eli’s stay.

When Eli was six, I became a Memorial Hospital employee and now work at Children’s Village, where I continue to offer support to parents. I also help coordinate and facilitate a recreation program for children with disabilities and special needs.

I’m a long way from that girl that used to sit in a cubicle with a calculator. I’m a long way from that mom taking her kids to piano lessons, too. What I am is one of the luckiest moms in the world. I am Eli’s mom. I am a mom to a boy who is brave, and strong, and full of smiles and laughs, and is the toughest kid I know. He has been through so much in his 9 years on this earth. I watch him with awe, as he faces every new challenge with joy and every hospital stay with IV’s and tests, without flinching. I marvel at how simple life can be if you just slow down and enjoy the beauty of a boy that stays positive even when things aren’t going his way. I couldn’t have custom ordered a better kid!

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Dutch Bros. Coffee of Yakima donates $1,723 .85 to Children’s Village

On Friday we had the pleasure of meeting Chris Hodge, Regional Manager of Dutch Bros. who presented Children’s Village with a check for $1,723.85! These funds were raised on December 5th during Dutch Bros. annual “Buck for Kids Day.” For ever drink sold, they donated $1 to Children’s Village.   Thank you Dutch Bros. Coffee of Yakima and thank you to our community for drinking coffee AND supporting Children’s Village at the same time!

Dutch Bro Donation

Also, Chris has  agreed to serve on the Parent to Parent Advisory Board. He is a huge supporter of Parent to Parent and is very excited to be a part of the board.

 

 

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Giving Tuesday

When Angel first came to Children’s Village, his brittle bones prevented him from being able to stand on his own. Certainly, he could not walk…

Now, three years later, he is able to do both all by himself. This is the kind of magic that happens at Children’s Village. With his improved movement and having gain the ability to walk on his own, Angel’s face illuminates with pride.

On Tuesday, December 2, Children’s Village invites you to play a role in making stories like Angel’s come true for other children within our community. By investing in the programs and services at Children’s Village, you are making stories, just like Angel’s, possible every day… because you are making these programs and services available in our community.

Join us in being a part of a global celebration, while making an impact locally… this #GivingTuesday, make your gift in support of Children’s Village. Help to continue making stories like Angel’s possible in Yakima.

CLICK HERE TO GIVE TODAY

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Drink coffee, support Children’s Village

By Mary Lynne Brewington

As I enjoy my morning cup of coffee, during this season of thanks, I get a excited thinking about the great day coming Friday, December 5th at Dutch Bros Coffee in Yakima.  Dutch Bros Coffee will be sponsoring a toy drive for Parent to Parent’s Annual Holiday Festival at Children’s Village. For every new toy donated they will give a card good for a free coffee on your next visit. This is so important because we will be giving away over 250 toys at our three holiday festivals for children with special health care needs and their siblings this December!

That same day, Dutch Bros of Yakima will be hosting “Buck for Kids Day” on Friday, December 5th. For each drink sold, Dutch Bros of Yakima will donate $1.00 to Children’s Village.

Come have some coffee and show your support Friday, December 5, 2014! How awesome is that? I begin to add up all the coffee I drink in a day and wonder how much that could raise for “Buck for Kids Day” in support of Children’s Village. I think quite a lot if everyone stops and gets a coffee there on this special day!

Dutch Bros Coffee is open 4:30am-11:00pm and located at 6520 W. Nob Hill Blvd. So, plan your visit for Friday, December 5th and enjoy your coffee, while supporting Children’s Village. For more information call Children’s Village at  574-3200.

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