Tuesday, December 13, 2011

First Steps Take Courage

There was no hesitation, no wobbly steps, no loosing balance. When Ellie began to walk, that is what she did. She walked.  She pushed herself to a stand in the middle of the kitchen and walked straight to me. A first that somehow defined precision.

Nichole, on the other hand, had muscle tone to conquer. Low muscle tone is one of the characteristics of Down syndrome, so we knew walking would take a little bit longer. Moreover, a lot of work; with a good measure of determination. Physical therapy became a regular part of our weekly routine. Nichole would dangle from a harness over a treadmill where we worked on walking. We did this for months. At first, she would only walk using a push toy. She was going to walk independently in her own time. Not ours and not her therapists. Her own time.

She was almost 2 years old, and I feared I would miss her first steps. We were heading to Ukraine to adopt our third daughter, and the thought of missing a milestone we had worked so hard to achieve felt devastating. A few weeks before getting on a plane to fly across the globe, Nichole stood; she took 3 wobbly, unbalanced, clumsy steps and fell down on her behind. I jumped, I cheered, I clapped, I cried. She clapped with me, pride exuding from her 23-month-old body. A first that somehow defined triumph.

Now I have a third child. One that makes me long to witness those first steps one more time. Nina’s body, tight from Cerebral Palsy, fights to find balance, coordination, and strength. Her Kindergarten friends run free in the playground, they move around without restrictions. Nina watches. I know she wants to walk. Fear and lack of self-confidence tie her down to her wheelchair. Her walker gives her some independence, but her stamina only lasts so long.

Nina wears resignation around her neck; she does not want to take it off.  She spent too long left alone in a crib. Without someone that would believe in her, in her potential. Her first English words were “I can’t!” And my heart breaks for her. The powerful message she received in a cold orphanage in Ukraine continues to whisper in her ear, “You can’t!” Nina believes it. However, I am not giving up on her.  I will be her legs if I have to, but I will teach her to use her own. We will cry, we will be frustrated, and we will get tired. But I am not giving up. I am her mother. Some day, she will walk independently. Some day, she will believe that her body can physically do it. It will be an emotional first. A first that somehow will define courage. 

Her first steps...

I wrote this essay for my writing class, before Nina started walking consistently. We still have a long ways to go, and we have to constantly remind her that she can do this. But overall, this little girl has taught me more about courage than anyone else has.  She is one incredible little girl, and I am lucky, so very lucky, to call her my own!

Linked to:
On your Heart Tuesday
Soli Deo Gloria
Teach Me Tuesdays
No Ordinary Blog Hop

My Daily Walk
We are That Family
Women Living Well


  1. Linking up after you at On Your Heart Tuesdays - loved visiting your blog, and reading of your sweet family, and your heart as a mother. And, congratulations on your daughter taking her first steps. I am sure you are a great encouragement to other moms of special needs children.

  2. stopping by from Jen's...your heart is just beautiful...what a lovely family and your girls are truly blessed to have a momma like you...
    Blessings as you continue to cheer your children on...

  3. I just got tears in my eyes as I watched her walk into your arms. So much beauty.

  4. I second Jen.. I also had tears come to my eyes as I watched her walk to you... you have such a beautiful soul. I am encouraged greatly when I read your posts... thank you for allowing us into your world :) Also.. if you stop by my blog.. you won my giveaway! You probably didn't even realized you entered it! :)

  5. Amazing. You and your family encompass everything that beautiful is to me. The joy those girls must bring you, and the love that they must feel from you. God Bless you all.

  6. You have such a loving, Christ like, sacrificial heart and I love it. Thank you for desiring some of the least of these. I pray blessings upon your children and your family.

  7. A breathtakingly beautiful testimony of a mother's love!!!

  8. So precious! I find I'm learning to take heart steps as well and Nina is teaching me with her courage! What a joy!

  9. This is SO exciting! I can not wait for Vada's first steps but I will and while I wait I will cherish this stage that she is in at the moment. But I am trilled for you and look forward to being able to celebrate such a monumental milestone!

  10. Your post is beautiful, and I especially love the video. What a triumph for your sweet daughter!

  11. I don't have children with the challenges yours have - but I have had challenges where God has told me it was going to be a long road to go, it was going to be a faith road, not to give up, never to give up but to believe - like you do, that they will overcome. It's a tough road - and God gave us these children because He knew we wouldn't give up.

    My mother heart loves your story of not giving up!

  12. Tears, what a beautiful moment!

  13. "But I am not giving up. I am her mother." Oh, how I love this post. And how this sentiment resonates with me. That's the definition of a real mother, isn't it? We won't give up on them. Ever. Thank you so much for sharing and for the happy tears that fell when I watched the video. Smiles -

  14. "I will be her legs if I have to, but I will teach her to use her own"

    Awesome! A mother's love knows no bounds!


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