A lot of people tell you a lot of things when you have a premature baby with a brain hemorrhage. Some good, some bad. They give you terrible statistics and then tell you to have hope. They tell you that all you can do is try your best, and the rest is out of your hands. They tell you to let go the "perfect child" dream and be your child's parent, physical therapist, nutritionist, and sideline cheerleader all at the same time.
It gets complicated and confusing. We started to feel guilty for sitting on the couch snuggling with Will, thinking that we should be stretching him or working on core strength instead. It took us a while to see the forest through the trees. At some point a few years ago, we realized that trying to be all these things and do all these things was exhausting and not allowing us to be the happy parents we desperately wanted to be.
While we still do some support work with Will's therapies, we opted to put the meat of his therapies into the hands of capable and caring professionals. We get to stand on the sidelines, cheering as loudly as possible, and just be amazed by our son. It has made things a lot less complicated. Parenting, snuggling, loving... all just seems less guilt-riddled since we know his therapy needs are being met.
The video I posted last week of Will walking in his gait trainer was not a one time thing. Will now spends 30 minutes a day in his gait trainer, motoring around. We can see his tolerance and enjoyment levels continuing to rise. Such a stark contrast from even a few months ago!
We were at Kure Beach this past weekend, the weather was nice and the ocean still warm. Will typically isn't the biggest fan of the beach. He enjoys being splashed around with in the waves, but that usually lasts for just a short time, and then he's annoying with sitting in the sand.
For a while Will sat with Nate in the sand while Luke, Oma and Opa splashed in the waves and Matt sat sullenly on his beach towel.
He seemed to be paying attention to the sounds of the beach and Luke's delighted squeals. He wanted to move. Nate balanced Will on his knee in the water so Will could feel the water with his feet. Will started to kick.
That wasn't enough. Will wanted to walk. Typically when Will walks, he wears DAFO braced on his feet and ankles. This stops his feet from pronating (pushing out and away from his body). We didn't bring those to the beach with us. He's never walked on the beach before now, I guess we didn't think this would be the day he started.
But away they went. Nate holding Will, Will marching forward. Splashing through the water. Both just laughing, laughing. Sharing Will's first walk on the beach together.
The proudest Slaviks on the beach. Will was prancing, big steps, huge smile. Nate was just amazed of the will and tenacity of this kid! I know Will should have been wearing his DAFOs. I know his feet are pronated when he walked on the sand, and look unnaturally splayed to the outside.
In this moment, no one cared.
Back and forth, back and forth, waves in, waves out. They kept walking. Nate's back and arms must have been screaming, but they kept going until Will's legs were jelly from so much walking. So much effort and pride!
As they made their way back up the beach, to perch and rest on the towel from which they left, Luke came over to congratulate Will. He realized that Will was working very hard and he wanted to be a part of it. When you find out you're having twins, these are the moments that you dream of.
We are all so proud of Will! And I am so grateful to have a wonderful, loving, supportive, strong, dedicated partner by my side (and as the willing subject of so many of my photographs).