I’d like to tell you about a young mom from the Northshore. She had a husband, a 2 year old son, and was expecting another son as she finished her college years at Southeastern Louisiana University. They lived a great life full of potential. They enjoyed spending time with their families, going to Gulf Shores on vacation, were active in their church community, and were just like most of the families around here. She finished student teaching early so she could have her new son in time so she could walk at her much anticipated college graduation. On November 30, 2006 she gave birth to a beautiful boy and was thrilled to know she’d be able to walk at graduation after nearly 5 ½ years of college.
That dream soon ended when her baby boy was whisked from her arms shortly after his birth and the doctor delivered the news that her baby boy was the “sickest baby in the hospital”. Fast forward two months, this mom sat cradling her son in Children’s Hospital as doctors delivered the news that her two month old baby had a brain malformation that resulted in 6 different diagnoses that would cause him to be severely developmentally delayed and the likelihood of him living past his toddlerhood would be incredibly small. Two weeks later, she and her husband left Children’s with their precious baby feeling lost and alone with broken hearts for the dreams they thought they had for their new son. Their life had been turned upside down by an unexpected bump in the road.
A few months later this mom began a conversation with another mom in the waiting room of North Oaks physical therapy. The stranger in that waiting room advised her to call Northshore Families Helping Families as soon as possible. This mom didn’t really know why she was calling them, but she did. After an hour of talking to one of NFHF’s staff she exhaled a huge sigh of relief. She had a game plan of what she needed to do for her son, what disability services she needed to sign up for, and she found a support system for when she had questions and needed a shoulder to cry on from someone who had walked in her shoes.
This young mom was me nearly 12 years ago. Finding solace in NFHF so early in my son Connor’s life gave me support that I feared I’d never have. It gave me a place to turn to when I felt like no one else in my community or circle of friends could understand. Raising a child with a disability is incredibly lonely. You have so many questions that go unanswered by doctors, teachers, and therapists because they don’t work in the disability field, and they simply don’t know how to help in this area of life. Finding NFHF 12 years ago has provided me with countless workshops and trainings on disability related topics, unlimited research information and phone calls to answer my unending questions, and most importantly it connected me to other families living a similar life…which has been the greatest blessing for both my husband and I, and also my children.
I never imagined when Connor was born that my profession would be anything other than a teacher, but life has a way of providing bumps in the road all so that you can achieve what you were destined to become. Today I write this as NFHF’s Executive Director. Serving as this organization’s ED is such an honor and I feel privileged to help so many families who are standing in the shoes I once stood in. It is my greatest hope that families can find NFHF early in their child’s life and continually reach out to us as they need guidance. Today, another Northshore mom may be quietly crying as she rocks her baby wondering why her daughter had to be born with a disability, feeling alone and overwhelmed. But this same mom could very well be NFHF’s next Executive Director in 10 years all because she contacted us, we dried her tears, then picked her up to empower her so she can easily jump over the bumps as she gives her daughter the best life possible. You never know why life gives us these bumps in the road, but we should trust the process, learn from the bumps, then use them to reach our destiny!