When you have a child with special needs, you expect your life to change drastically – constant doctor’s appointments, delayed milestones, various therapies. However, one aspect that few parents are prepared for is the toll that it will take on your well-being and the relationships that surround you. As a mother of a child with special needs, I know that I was not.
Twelve weeks into my pregnancy is when I discovered that my life was changing. The tiny little boy who was growing inside of me was not developing as expected, and the doctor’s diagnosed him with a giant omphalocele (an abdominal wall defect causing his stomach, liver, and intestines to develop outside of his body). Immediately, I began seeking out the absolute best medical care, researching treatment methods, and preparing myself for the days to come. My child was not even here yet, and I was already giving him every ounce of my being. Once he was born, this pattern only grew. I spent all of my days at his hospital bedside advocating for him and holding his little hand, and I stayed up each night worrying about him and calling just to check in. After he was able to come home from the NICU to continue the treatment process, he and I rarely left each other’s side. And since being diagnosed with plagiocephaly and beginning cranial remolding treatment, we have become inseparable. He is my son, my best friend, my world. I have given myself to him entirely…without one complaint or regret.
I have to admit that with this strong bond comes its fair share of sacrifices though. Gone are the days spent lunching with my girlfriends, window shopping all afternoon, or enjoying date nights with my husband. Relationships have suffered and my well-being has diminished. That is, until I discovered Respite Care provided by Easter Seals Greater Houston. This program has given me the opportunity to truly find myself. Not the self that I once was…for she is long gone and a distant memory. No, I have found my new self – a woman who is still deeply devoted to her son and his needs, but also has an opportunity to care for herself and nurture the relationships that mean the most.
Nowadays, you will find me taking an occasional afternoon to myself to indulge in a pedicure or just to get some quick errands run. And on the weekends, my husband and I are often found trying out new restaurants and meeting up with friends whom we have not seen in ages. The spark in our marriage has returned, and our love has gone on to a whole new level…one that we did not even know existed. Our son is also benefitting immensely from the respite program. He is learning to trust in others and become more independent. He lights up when his amazing providers arrive, and we know that he is always in the best possible hands.
I am proud to say that respite care has made me a better mother…and my son a happier child too. We will forever be grateful to the wonderful staff at Easter Seals Greater Houston for providing us with this life changing service. Thank you!
Kelly Davis, Mom and Easter Seals Client
Easter Seals Respite Services would not be possible without the generous support of the United Way Houston, MHMRA, Montgomery County United Way, St Luke’s UMC, The George Foundation, LB Foster, The Hogue Family, and The Blanchard Family.