Sam. Conqueror. Overcomer.

On the 15th May 2009, Samuel Christian made his way into this world...two month's premature and in severe respiratory distress. Within hours, Sam was diagnosed with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome - a very rare congenital disorder, of which little was known. The diagnosis together with the immediate challenges Sam faced to thrive became our core focus and it was with joy and thankfulness that we eventually brought Sam home, after nine weeks in the NICU.

As time pressed on, it became obvious that Sam's development was falling behind that of his RTS peers. Shortly before his 5th birthday Sam underwent a brain scan and it was confirmed by a paediatric neurologist that in addition to Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, Sam also has Cerebral Palsy related to his premature birth, as well as Autism.

This blog chronicles our journey through these challenges...
Our world has crashed, been blown apart.
This can't be happening....why us? Why now?
Your fragile life shaken before it could barely start,
How do we get through this...please, Lord, tell us how?

Drowning in our sorrow, waiting for answers that just don't come.
Our baby "special needs"? It simply can't be true!
The heartache overwhelms us, we're left feeling cold and numb.
The diagnosis tells us little - these children are so few.

But then we finallyget to touch you, to see your precious face
And all the heartache and questions fade, replaced with love and pride.
It's obvious from the very start you're showered in God's grace,
And with His love and guidance, we'll take this challenge in stride.

When once we couldn't pronounce it, Rubinstein-Taybi's become our norm.
When once the future seemed dark, we now welcome the journey as having an RTS angel brings lessons in unexpected form.

Our world has crashed, been blown apart!
This IS us.....right now!
We've been blessed with a gift, so precious from the very start. How do we get through this? Here's how.....
By believing in a God, so merciful and great,
By trusting that He's right beside us as we journey through the narrow gate.
By believing His love for us is not determined by a human frame,
By trusting that we draw Him near by merely calling His name. This precious baby we asked God for,
Prayed he'd be perfect and complete.
And, as Samuel means "God hears", He's laid His answer at our feet.

(Nicky de Beer : 27/05/2010)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sam luvin' birthday parties!

It was Meghan's birthday on Tuesday and even though I vowed that birthday parties were a no-no after the tenth year, here I was planning a tenpin bowling session for nine kiddies. We had originally planned to go ice-skating, but one of Meg's friend, Erin, has been through quite a great amount of trauma over the past few weeks after a nasty ice-skating accident, which has left a finger on her right hand with a pin in it (identical to the pin Sam had in his thumbs after his corrective surgery) and securely splinted till after Easter. Truth be told, I cannot say that I was even remotely disappointed that we rather settled on tenpin bowling instead after a particularly exhausting ice-skating birthday party not too long ago (which could well have been the party after which I took the "no more birthday party" vow).

Had Sam not been ill, we had planned on taking him with to the party as he adores being around children but luckily enough for him, we made it home a good hour before all the children were to be collected...and boy did Sam have an absolute ball with such an awesome audience....

At first you can't spot the little smurf....

But there he is....instructing everyone in a game of "Copy Sam" which game is derived from a Teletubbies episode (can't believe I used to complain about Barney) where a little girl leads a group of kids in Copy Me! Sam LOVES this game and insists on all-round participation, regardless of where we might be....a doctor's room, hospital, therapy session...if he can see you, you better copy Sam :)

And, of course, there had to be some twisty-flappy movements involved.

Group photo - with the exception of the Birthday Girl who was outside delivering an extremely believable rendition of "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to!" This year was definitely D.E.F.I.N.I.T.E.L.Y the last birthday-party year!! 

I adore Meg's group of friends though - they all are really wonderful with Sam. When children reach the age of ten/eleven, that's quite often the age around which compassion, consideration and respect for others either flourishes or becomes obvious in its absence. Meg's friends will ask genuinely inquisitive questions about Sam's development (like why he doesn't walk, etc) but I have never heard any of them uttering an unkind word about Sam's behaviour, appearance, etc. or anything else. I had an unusually large audience when changing Sam's dirty nappy on Saturday afternoon and Sam was offered many words of sympathy when his "battle scars" were noticed.

I think it's really important for siblings of special needs kids to know that their brother/sister is accepted by their friends. It must surely play a huge role in their own acceptance of their sibling...I would be devastated if Meghan was faced with a situation where she was ashamed to bring friends home because of Sam, or afraid of what reaction her friends might have to him. I know its still very early days but, thankfully, so far so good!

A very rare, almost-complete (with the exception of Luke) family pic!

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