Five and a half years ago we were blessed with a little bundle of joy on the morning of Christmas Eve. Our daughter Evalyn came into the world as an early Christmas gift for us. She was born with a serious congenital heart defect and struggled after birth. Although we knew about her diagnosis during my pregnancy, we were still not prepared to watch her be whisked away to the NICU and transferred after only a few hours to a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at a children's hospital over an hour away.
The first weeks of Evalyn's life were spent in the hospital and filled with medical challenges and procedures. She had her first open heart surgery at only 7 weeks old, and finally at 9 weeks we were able to bring her home. Due to her rough start at life, it was evident from early on that she was delayed in meeting her developmental milestones. She began working with early intervention at only 5 months old. This is what it means to be a special needs parent.
The subsequent weeks, months and years have led to more diagnoses, more medical procedures and hours of therapies. As time went on the degree of Evalyn's developmental delays became more clear. She did not crawl until 19 months and did not walk until 30 months. At 2 and a half years old she was only able to say a few single words. Over the past three years she has come so far. Although she continues to make great progress each day, she is still significantly delayed compared to her peers in all areas. This is what it means to be a special needs parent.