5 years

I consider myself to have a pretty great memory, yet this day always sneaks up on me. I never remember the specific date until I see it show up on Facebook memories. I think it is my mind’s way to protect me from how painful of an experience it was. It was the day I last held my first baby, the last time I ever was able to kiss his sweet face. It was by far the most devastating experience of my life. We were about to move one week later, hadn’t packed a thing, but all we could do was sit on the couch and cry and cry and cry. I am pretty sure I cried more in that one week than I did in the rest of my life combined.

Emma loves dogs and wants to get one. While I know she will have a dog one day, part of me is also still so protective of her ever having to experience that kind of pain. There is no denying dogs don’t live nearly as long as they should.

While time does definitely ease the pain, a part of my heart will always belong to Bosco. I really believe everyone has that ONE dog .. the one that others will never compare to. Bosco was without a doubt mine. 💗

Apraxia Awareness Month

💙 May is Apraxia Awareness month 💙

This is Emma: my beautiful, energetic, sweet, sassy, very smart, and determined daughter who happens to have Childhood Apraxia of Speech. Apraxia is not a developmental delay; it is a neurological disorder that causes a disconnect planning motor movements needed to produce the correct sounds for speech. Making sounds correctly and consistently is difficult (many times close to impossible) for children with Apraxia.

The speech centers of the brain help plan and coordinate what a child would like to say. These parts of the brain send complex signals to the speech muscles of the face, tongue, lips, and soft palate. Normally, all this signaling works smoothly, and a child can make all the sounds he or she needs.

With childhood apraxia of speech, something in this process goes wrong. The speech muscles seem to work properly, and the child knows what he or she wants to say. But the brain has trouble working with the muscles to create the movements needed for clear speech. There is no quick fix or cure for CAS. Years of intensive speech therapy are needed for speech improvement and intelligibility.

I had never heard of apraxia before it became part of our lives. It has certainly made us appreciate every single little sound that Emma does make (or even just attempt to make). Emma’s apraxia is severe. She has now been in speech therapy for about a year and a half (5 days / week) and has come so far. While she used to babble mama and dada from about 6 to 9 months old and then stopped, she started speech therapy with no words or sounds whatsoever. Over the last year, from time to time she would say mama or dada but always randomly and never when we asked her to (and never directly to Pat or I). She has just started in about the last month or two to consistently say mama and dada whenever we ask her to as well as no (or more often no, no, no). As you may have seen, she also started to occasionally say Emma when asked to!! It took months and months of practice to learn how to drink out of a straw, and Emma is still not able to blow bubbles or stick out her tongue, things that come rather easily to most kids.

Aside from losing Bosco, I have never been more heartbroken than watching Emma really, really try during her speech sessions to make certain simple sounds but just not be able to and get so frustrated. There are so many time she will try to make a sound and it does not come out like she wanted and she will just grab me, pull me close, and hide her head in my chest and get so frustrated and upset. I always just reassure her that she is trying and doing great. Emma understands absolutely everything going on around her and anything you say to her and so desperately wants to talk. Even very simple words are very, very hard and we need to train her mouth how to make them by physically helping move her mouth for / with her. Emma can now make a bunch of different sounds but can’t always put them together to form a word. For example, we’ve been working on “moo” in speech – she can make the mmmmm sound no problem and can say oooh but cannot put the two together to say moo. We have also been working on the word up for a few months now – she can say uuhh but when she tries to make p sound, it comes out mama mama mama.

I want to advocate for Apraxia awareness so that families with similar struggles do not feel alone and so that others might know a little more about our amazing children who so want to be heard. I can’t count how many times I have heard (out of love from well meaning friends and family) that Emma will “speak when she is ready” or that one day she will just start speaking in clear full sentences like every other child. This is not the case for our sweet girl but that is OK! Apraxia is just a small part to Emma’s story and the woman she will become. She is fierce, works SO hard, is independent, tenacious and our girl will do so many amazing things!

Autism Awareness Day

Today is Autism Awareness Day, something we are aware of every day, not just today. I don’t think I can express my rollercoaster of feelings regarding autism better than I did back in December on Facebook. So, in honor of Autism Awareness Day, I will share that post again while promising Emma I will also always do absolutely everything I can to make sure she continues to thrive. Emma is so smart and determined and the most important job I will ever have is to make sure she can be / do everything she wants to in life.

Autism – One year ago today (now 1 year and 4 months ago) was when we received the official diagnosis, one that I had already known in my heart for several months prior.

I still remember the months before we received the diagnosis .. staying up every night reading everything I could about autism. I knew that not talking or talking late could indicate autism but had no idea about all of the other components. At first I thought well THAT is scary but never for one second thought Emma could actually have autism. Then the more I read, I knew there was no way Emma could NOT have autism. There were many people that told me to stay off the Internet and stop worrying. I had to continue to do research though because the biggest thing I took away from everything I read was that the earlier you get children help, the better. There was no way I could sit back and ignore what was right in front of my face. One person asked me does Emma laugh or smile? .. if so, it is not autism – oh, if only it were that simple!!

Over the last year I have felt every emotion imaginable when it comes to autism – worried, upset, devastated, fear, consumed with learning everything I could about autism, trying to find direction to get Emma lined up with all the therapy she needed, acceptance, and determination to make it my priority to make sure Emma has everything she needs to thrive. And thrive she has. One of the most common things people notice about Emma is how smart she is. She may not be able to talk yet, but she understands EVERYTHING.

When Emma was first diagnosed she had essentially no expressive language at all and very, very little receptive language. She wouldn’t let us hold her hands, she never once waved to us, didn’t play with toys – just threw them on the floor, never pointed to anything, etc.

Emma now knows her colors, over 40 different signs in sign language, understands pretty much everything we say to her, can do any puzzle you put in front of her, can recognize just about any animal you can think of, loves books, will now wave hi / bye to Pat and I every day, will come up to us and just hug us.

I am not going to lie, autism sucks. I have heard many parents of autistic kids say they wouldn’t want a cure to autism because it is part of what makes their child unique. While I am no longer as terrified of autism as I once was, you best believe if there was a cure, I would be the first one in line for Emma. No parent wants to see their child faced with any extra challenges. There are so many unknowns with autism – so many autistic kids never speak, the rate of epilepsy is extremely high, etc. To even do something as simple as make an appointment can be a challenge when Emma is in therapy 6 days / a week for most of the day. However autism has also taught us to appreciate every single milestone that Emma makes – even little things that I think many parents may take for granted.

A few days after Emma was diagnosed, I remember being in a coworker’s office and she had asked how Emma was. I broke down and started crying and told her that Emma had autism. Her response was so?, so what? She said Emma is still the same beautiful girl that everyone loves and autism doesn’t change that. She was absolutely right. Emma is an extremely beautiful, brave, sassy, fun, smart, happy, lovable, and strong willed girl, who also happens to be autistic.

Emma is TWO!

Hey guys,

I know it has been quite some time. Is anyone still reading?! 😊

I just wanted to share some pictures from Emma’s 2nd Birthday party with anyone that may still check back here from time to time.

Have a great weekend, guys! 😊

The girl gets cuter every day

Hey guys!

Is anyone still out there?? I know it has been quite some time since I have posted anything. I also haven’t posted any recent Emma pictures in so long so I thought why not today?! 

It is so hard to believe that in just a few short months she will be two years old! The girl is constantly on the move, loves books, throwing anything and everything within reach, and I may be biased, but she seems to get cuter by the day! 

Happy Thursday, guys! 



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