Resilience, A lesson from my little one
Throughout our lives, we learn about resilience through many situations that are thrown at us. Some of these seem insurmountable at the time. And yet somehow we find the hidden strength to work through them. Almost like the adrenaline that kicks into the human body in a fight-or-flight situation.
For me, the biggest lesson I’ve learned in resilience is from my two-year-old daughter Autumn. Without even being conscious of this, she has taught me so much about strength and perspective, about life and miracles, about magic and the fierce power of a mother’s love.
When my daughter was just six weeks old we were referred to the Orthopaedic Hospital due to slight positional talipes she had in her feet. In my mind, I had already played out how the appointment would go. I would learn some skillful massaging techniques to help straighten her feet, hear some useful information, and perhaps even be given some flyers to take home. After all, it was “positional” which mean that I could help her position them another way, right?... Wrong!
Autumn had two issues. The first one - immobility. We were told that Autumn would need to go into leg and feet casts for four weeks to fix her talipes. The second one - her condition. The doctors performed a routine hip scan where they identified that Autumn had hip dysplasia.
Hip dysphasia! What on earth was this? It sounded like an alien planet in an E.T. remake. How could we be going through this? Why was this happening to us? I couldn’t even spell the word dysplasia, let alone get my head about what this involved for my tiny little helpless baby girl who was only six weeks old.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a condition where the ball and socket joint of the hip does not properly form in babies and young children. For us, it essentially meant that Autumn’s hip had not formed normally and she would need to wear a brace for an initial two weeks to establish the severity of this condition. Apparently, most cases of this can be treated and fixed this way. After my initial fears, and a little too much googling, this outcome didn’t seem so bad after all. Two weeks was completely achievable. I could amuse her with some horizontal game playing.
Roll on two weeks and my heartfelt enthusiasm was completely depleted. We received the news that Autumn would need to go into surgery for an ‘open reduction’ and if successful, she would then be put into a cast from her belly down to her ankles for an additional three months.
Thankfully the operation went as well as could be expected (unfortunately there is no short-term fix to this) and Autumn returned home in her cast. The next three months felt like the longest 90 days ever but in my heart, I knew I had to remain strong for Autumn. I had to keep it together even when I would get the strangest looks from people in the streets. One comment stuck in my mind so clearly. An elderly lady leaned over and asked me if Autumn will ever be ‘normal’. My response, “I hope my daughter is never normal.” This went over her head but I chuckled quietly to myself at my retort, while being simultaneously frustrated at the simplistic outlook of this woman’s viewpoint, and her choice of words.
Fast forward to today and you would be none the wiser that Autumn was ever horizontal, and essentially bed/couch bound, for such a long period of her early days. Seeing Autumn run around and so full of spirit and charisma makes me feel so blessed and so proud that she can walk perfectly. It’s something I never take for granted now. And while we are not completely out of the dark, and won’t be for a long time, I know first-hand how lucky we are that all she needs now are regular appointments to monitor her growth and development.
Little children see so little of the restraints that are put upon them. They bounce back so easily, and their smiles, giggles and enthusiasm for life are infectious. A parent, on the other hand, feels every bump and bruise, every hospital visit, every A&E appointment, every needle, every burn. The weight on our hearts is huge, no matter how big or small the hurdle is. But there’s one thing that I learned from all of this. Her resilience showed me I too could be the same. I too can bounce back when things are hard. I too can jump right up and start running again, even after a bump or back step or change of plan, or unexpected hurdle.
And you know what else? We all have pity party moments in life but when you walk into a Children’s Ward or an Orthopaedic Hospital and see the severity of what so many children are going through, you can’t help but feel blessed that you have a healthy and happy child. And for us personally, sure we have had our challenges with her hips but there are many families who are going through so much worse. I am one of the lucky ones. Our family are indeed so lucky. And each day that I grow Wandering Eve into the business that I hope it is to become, I am reminded that every hurdle, every bump, every no, and every knockback, is merely just me learning to walk in my new business.
To every children’s hospital and not for profit organisation out there doing what you do, and so selflessly helping children to have a brighter future, you have my heart.
Nonprofit organisations like #stepscharityworldwide are worth their weight in gold for any families going through a similar situation to ours. My sincere thanks and gratitude goes out to them and of course to our little trooper Autumn for teaching her mummy about resilience. May this mummy always have the same resilience this hopping, skipping and jumping little girl has.