I cannot take all the credit for Addison's accomplishments. The fact is, there was an entire village of people who helped us achieve this. Those people are the unsung heroes.
Her OT (and PT) who worked with her very diligently for a year and a half, who taught me the skills and tricks I needed to help her eat (walk, talk, etc). What to watch for and how to calm her when she was unsure and would panic. They were the team that I pinged ideas off of and took the most suggestions from. It literally broke my heart in two when we decided to move, knowing I'd leave behind two people who played a major role in Addison's success. I still email both her OT & PT from our old "home" often and update them on Addison's progress. Her new OT here is pretty awesome too!
Our Ped, who lets face it, can be blunt and focused. He is the one who gave me my back bone when we brought Blake home from the NICU and faced challenged with Addison's NICU care. He is also the one who finally said "Enough is enough, she can eat, she needs to eat," and got us to take that leap of faith back in October. If not for him, we might not be where we are now. Jake and I both value our Ped so much that we are willing to make the drive back to MD just to remain in his care. It's not always convenient and I miss being 5 minutes from his office, but it's worth it.
Last but certainly not least, our family and friends who prayed for us, cheered for us and picked me up when I felt like I hit rock bottom. Always pushing us forward and giving me the faith to press on. One of my dearest friends has probably learned more about G-Tubes then she ever needed to know, was one of my biggest supporters throughout this process and probably one of the very few - who understood even though she wasn't expeirencing these situations first hand. I called her when I was breaking down, and thought we were making the wrong call, shouldn't I just go back to tube feeding her, all of that crazy stuff that you think of in the thick of things.
In fact I remember calling her one day when Addison was being particularly trying with me and admitting (shamefully) my frustrations and how I just in that moment wished I wasn't the only one who "could" feed her. (Bare in mind at the time OT had suggested against letting anyone else feed her until Addison was more confident or the person had time to observe and learn her behavior. Plus with Jake's busy schedule I usually am the only one around when it's meal time.) I just needed a break and was at my wits end, but giving up would = failure for Addison. "S" an EBFer (exclusive breastfeeder) said to me then "Think of it this way, it's sort of like BFing. You are the only one who can do it. You spend hours everyday nurturing and providing nutrition. There are times when it is so frustrating (she was speaking from her own experience here with trying to correct confusion in her son and transition him to EBFing) but you just keep going. In the end its a bond that only the two of you will share, something you will look back on and realize how far you have come. Something no one else will have with her."
This hit home for me on many levels... One because "S" was right. This was a journey that Addison and I would share together and accomplish so many things. A bond that only her and I had formed, and would look back on together. And the other, because I longed to BF - planned on it - and then it didn't work out. I mourned that missed opportunity. Until that moment. This was so similar in so many ways. Not the same, but similar. I cannot tell you how many times I played that conversation in my head, over and over. To remind myself that that I was committed. I wanted this for her, for us. It helped to surround myself with people who believed in all of it. Believed in us. And people who respected the transition we were making and how diligent and careful we had to proceed.
The grandparents and friends who cried tears of joy when I sent pictures of our "first" Thanksgiving where Addison chewed on a turkey leg and ate sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. The great friends who offered suggestions on what food contained high calories or how to increase calories. Or just listened to me whine when things were tough. And cheered when things were going great. Those who know what a miracle this all is.
It's because of each and every one of you reading this right now. I hope that you all will share our joy and recognize the role you each played in our success. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
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