Thursday, August 30, 2012

Forever Grateful

Today is a big day in our house. With mixed emotions, we are saying goodbye to our wonderful early intervention therapists. Ella is now a graduate of the program...a proud and successful one at that!

It was just about three years ago that I received that first phone call from Jamie, our amazing service coordinator. She outlined the program and assured me that she would be working with us every step of the way on this crazy journey. Jamie did not disappoint and went above and beyond her job to make sure that our little girl had the best care. At one of our final meetings recently, she recalled how Jason and I looked as if we were in shock the first time she met us. We were. In fact, I am not sure shock is even the right word. Our worlds were turned upside down when we received Ella's diagnosis. This was not how our first experience as parents was supposed to be. I still tear up when I think of that day in the NICU and the grim statistics the genetic councilor rattled off to us. By the time we met Jamie a few weeks later, I was still numb. She gathered an incredible team for us and helped us design a plan that would benefit Ella.
PT at the park with Jen this summer.

Jen, our PT was the first therapist we met. She has always had the most incredible patience with Ella. There were days when the entire session would consist of screaming. More recently, she has handled our stubborn toddler like a pro. She helped Ella reach so many important milestones, rolling, sitting, standing, walking, running, jumping....all the things, at one time or another I wondered if she would ever do. I am going to miss her visits twice a week, but I am thrilled that she will still be able to check in on Ella at school.

Michelle joined our team about a year into our EI journey. She is Ella's speech therapist and has been a tremendous resource to Jason and me. She helped us navigate through Ella's ear issues. She taught us all sign language (the basics at least). We learned how complex speech really is and we have a solid foundation for Ella. She is getting more words every day. Michelle pours her heart into her work and it shows. She loves Ella so much. We will truly miss seeing her....thankfully Facebook will keep us connected!

While we won't be saying "goodbye" to Linda, Ella's pool PT, I would be remiss not to mention her. She has been a huge part of Ella's physical development. Every milestone she met, she accomplished in the pool first. Linda's stretching and pool exercises complimented everything Jen was doing on land. We are thrilled that Ella will continue in the pool as part of her Preschool program. Not only does she love the water, she loves to see Linda every week. It's a challenge to even make her wait her turn to get in the pool.

The last member we added to our team was Jessica, Ella's special educator. We met Jess last fall when Ella started at Unity. She has helped Ella become a little social butterfly. She patiently spent three mornings a week "hanging out" with Pnut, helping her learn her colors, numbers, shapes, songs, etc. Like Jen, I am sure there were some days that seemed impossible when Ella was in a mood, but she always stayed positive and gave Ella a great foundation to take into preschool.

I have tears in my eyes as we get ready to move on to our next adventure, but they are happy tears. These women have all played such a huge part in Ella's life as well as Jason and mine. They helped make my daughter the awesome little girl she is today. I can never thank them enough, but I vow to be a strong advocate for Early Intervention. It is the least I can do to show my sincere gratitude! While Ella may not remember this time, she will always know that she had nothing but the best :-)