Won’t You Walk With Me?

The day the Doctor confirmed you had Cerebral Palsy will always be etched in my mind – I felt calm sat in the chair staring at your MRI results. Cerebral Palsy, at least, I thought we could conquer. I had been worried for so long and had speculated so many other possibilities, the outcome felt positive and not as alien or unbeknown as some of the other potentials. I felt reassured by the Doctor’s words and although the truth was that you may never walk, everything was still possible!

In that moment, sat in the Doctor’s room, I had clung to every minute positive. Tinted overlays had glazed over my eyes, protecting me from every uncertainty.

It wasn’t until the morning after that the seriousness of your condition cascaded over me like a thick hue of darkness. Every ‘what if’, every supposition impacted upon me greatly. The notion that I may never see you walk down the aisle as a beauteous bride or walk hand-in-hand on shopping sprees galore floored me. I realised that when you were born, even through the turmoil, I’d taken for granted that I’d still have all the little things.

I’m not sure any Mother could deny the pang of excitement they experience when they learn they’re having a girl (don’t hold this part against me, I celebrated finding out I was having a boy with just as much enthusiasm but the experiences are different). Instantly, I saw us…at the family celebrations killing it on the dance floor, I saw us sharing many a cinema trip, shopping trip, meal and cocktail. I saw myself at your ballet classes cheering you on from the side, I saw myself at sports day taking pride in your athleticism (something I undoubtedly, had been denied). Never in any of my dreams had I seen you in a wheelchair, never in my wildest thoughts had I pictured you incapable of that independence I already knew you craved.

I look back now at my former self crying over these ideologies with a strong sense of sickening. How dare I be so judgemental! How dare I write your life off as though you’d accomplish less or succeed less. If only I’d known back then that all this meant was that you had more to achieve, more successes for me to witness and more hope for me to feel than I could have ever imagined.

You were – and are – after all, still my beautiful strong, determined Daughter. Please don’t think that my tears were ever for me. I cried for you! I cried that you’d never get to experience the joy of running down a bank, letting your legs tumble in the moment and the wind carry you forward. I cried that you’d never play ‘tig’ on the yard with your friends or chase the boys you fancied with daisies in your hair and love in your arms. I cried for your first dance, I cried that you’d never stand on your Daddy’s shoes as he twirled you round the living room in glee.

I cried that you’d never know life as I’d known it.

And as you grew and your disability became more prevalent, I cried for you more. I cried for the times I consoled you at soft play when the boys and girls couldn’t understand that you couldn’t keep up and left you on your own. I cried for the times you looked at the other children and asked me why you were different. I cried for the unintentionally cruel comments ‘why is she just crawling?’ and ‘put her down, it’s not healthy to smother a child her age, you shouldn’t still be carrying her’. I cried for the Birthdays you woke up convinced that a year older would have granted you the ability to walk! Oh, I cried for those moments the most.

Though the tears sound mostly through sadness, please know that there was many a tear shed through joy. I remember the day you learnt to army crawl along the floor to retrieve your toys and the time you crawled out from the row at ballet to claim your certificate. I remember the day you took 5 steps unaided between myself and my best friend whilst we were at the Baby Gym. I remember the time you entered your nativity on your KAYE Walker and made it all the way to the stage!

Every step, every milestone seemed so much more magical and baby girl, you are still firing them at me today!

I marvel at your progress, at your tenacity and resilience. I’m thankful for the first lockdown when we focused so much on your physio. I’m grateful for Heel and Toe Charity, for all the support they’ve given you!

2020 may have been a monstrous year – but not for you! Whilst most people fought their demons, you struck back in force! You went from cruising furniture to walking without it. You turned corners unaided, stood up from kneeling down.

You walked and walked and walked and walked your little socks off.

Whilst the whole world cheered Captain Tom (we did too), I had my own hero dominating my living room…and on your sixth Birthday, you woke up smiling at never having to ask the question ‘will I be able to walk?’. You turned every single doubt I’d ever thought, upside down. You took the can I’d been storing them in, opened the lid and let them trickle to the floor. Then, you stood up, walked forward and trampled on every single one of them!

I have never been so proud!

And it hasn’t just been the walking, it’s been the dancing too! Your feet know rhythm more than your mind can keep up but it doesn’t matter. You’ve nailed your signature moves and they couldn’t be any better!

I can’t wait for the shopping sprees, for the late night parties and the scandals we’ll get up to. I can’t wait for the sports days and the Paralympics when I’m there cheering you on from the sides at a far greater level than sports day could have ever been! I can’t wait for the moments we are gifted together…

And we’ll walk them hand in hand!

You’ve Got This


     I’ve not always been noted for my positive outlook. I’m one of those highly strung people who never seem to balance their emotions (surprising considering I’m a Libra and meant to be wholly balanced). I’m either high or low, happy or sad, excited or miserable. My reaction to situations or circumstances is undeniably unpredictable – and by that – I mean that I can’t even predict which way I’ll handle somethings. 
     Since you were born, I’m definitely making progress here. 
     Before you, I could easily wallow when things didn’t go my way. I could sulk endlessly in a way which would make me quite unbearable to be around. I’d always focus on the negatives in any predicament. In my mind, it was my way of protecting myself. I deludedly thought that if I prepared for the worst, I wouldn’t feel as bad when it actually happened.
      Spontaneously (9 weeks early) you entered this world and immediately taught me that preparing for the worst could sometimes be unthinkable; that preparing for the worst could sometimes be unimaginable. 

     There was never a moment I allowed myself to believe that we’d lose you – even as we waited seven hours for the Doctors to stabilise your condition. Even as we followed the blue-lighted ambulance 30 miles South knowing there was every really possibility you wouldn’t be strong enough to survive the journey.
     Following your pneumothorax , the Doctors found themselves in unnerving territory – If they transferred you without being stabilised, you could die but if you stayed at Durham, you surely would.
     As they prepared us for this chance, I heard the words swish around in my mind but I couldn’t digest them. You seemed too super to die, too determined to give up. 
     At 23 hours old, you made me view the world differently.

     I was no longer looking out at the world from the shoulders of a Mother full of vulnerability and emotion. I was looking at it with more strength, composure and self-assurance than I’d ever felt before. I knew instinctively that in your moment of need, I would never let you down. I felt it in my heart that my own strength and conviction was needed to carry you forward. I knew instinctively that I’d always believe in your ability, never doubt your capabilities.
     Nearly two years later and I can’t thank you enough for the strength and positivity that you’ve taught me. 

     Your prematurity made barriers for you we’d never imagined. You’ve had so many obstacles to overcome. So many more fights to conquer than other children your age. Since your diagnosis with Cerebral Palsy, were realised just how many challenges you’ve actually had. Many of which you must have suffered silently for so long but your attitude towards overcoming every barrier is truly amazing.
     You’ve a zestiness that is utterly captivating and instantly contagious. Your passion to succeed is completely admirable. The way you handle your disability makes me feel so incredibly proud of you. Every doubt you’ve heard us utter has played on your mind, willed you to prove us wrong. 

     There hasn’t been one challenge thrown your way that you haven’t tackled with ease. Your blasé attitude and confident approach to overcoming your ailments has, on many occasions, given me insight and perspective. There have been many times I’ve worried about your condition. There have been many times I’ve wanted to cry inconsolably for fear of what your future may hold. There have been many times where I’ve wanted to focus on the negatives and prepare myself for the worst.
     But every time I do, you show me that there really is no need to.
     Today, you met another milestone, one I’d once thought I’d never see you do. You pulled yourself up into a sitting position! For so long, I waited for you to sit unaided. It wasn’t until you were 18 months that you eventually learnt to hold your own. This accomplishment felt massive and although I beamed with pride, a little part of me still focused on the fact that your sitting wasn’t natural. You could only hold your stance if you’d been positioned, the notion of sitting on your own hadn’t registered in your mind. Having cerebral palsy, I knew that this would always be your biggest barrier.

     Your brain doesn’t communicate to your limbs the way that it should. It doesn’t send signals intuitively. We’ve been told to prepare ourselves that it may never learn to send those messages. We’ve been told to prepare ourselves that you may never walk. Although I hear this warning, I can’t allow myself to believe it. Your progress today proves that you won’t be defeated.
     I see you progress so rapidly recently that I feel more and more excited for your future. There’s no goal unreachable to you, no target you won’t strive to achieve. That tenacious attitude of yours inspires me to be more like you. You don’t see the negatives, you don’t focus on failing – and that is what I love about you! 
     Thank you for showing me a different way to be, a more positive, more constructive, more enthusiastic way to be.
     You make me hopeful and incredibly proud – I’m more grateful for the strength you’ve show me and the way you guide me to being a better person.
      You’re my fighter, my Warrior Princess, my Dolly – my daughter! And you’re completely amazing. 

     You’ve got this!