Have I told you what a joy Liza is? Seriously, there are just no words to describe it… Liza absolutely loved our one-on-one times. Whenever I went to get her, as soon as I bent over the crib to pick her up she would start laughing with sheer excitement. The laughter would continue for the next several minutes as the workers got her ready and by the time they placed her back in my arms my heart was so full I felt as though it might burst.
It was hard for me to find things to do with Liza when we were downstairs in the visiting room. She is unable to support herself and, because she spends so much of her day laying flat on her back, the last thing I wanted to do was lay her on the floor. I would sit her between my legs, laying against my chest which was a good position for her except that it meant that I couldn’t look into her sweet face and because I had to use at least one arm to support myself (she is pretty heavy), I couldn’t really play with her either. Liza didn’t mind. People watching is her absolute favourite activity and she was thrilled to lean back and watch the other families playing with their children. Every few minutes she would turn and look up at me with this huge grin that spoke volumes. Still, I wanted to find a better solution. One day, a giant teddy bear appeared in the visiting room and I quickly discovered that I could prop Liza up against the teddy bear and she would be able to sit there without my support. It wasn’t perfect but at least we could finally face each other! I would massage her rigid muscles, tickle her, play with her and tell her how precious she was while looking deep into her eyes… it was great.
I know that Liza’s diagnosis of brain injury / “Shaken Baby Syndrome” may seem intimidating to some. That’s why I contacted Brooke who works with children with similar diagnoses and asked if she could share a little about the potential of these children. Here is what she had to say:
"As a Certified Brain Injury specialist who works with children who have survived an acquired brain injury, including several children with shaken baby, I want to just take a moment to share some of what I know to be true about children with Shaken Baby Syndrome. Much like Autism and Down syndrome, Shaken baby produces a wide range of ability levels as children age. I have the unique perspective of working with recently injured children as well as children in their teens and each child is markedly different in how they develop. Though some children who have experienced a very severe injury can have multiple medical needs and require 24 hour skilled care, many do not. I have seen several individuals with Shaken baby be able to go on to lead productive lives that include independent housing, college education, and vocational opportunities. I can honestly say that the children I work with who do have Shaken baby syndrome are some of my most favorite. I often make comparisons between an older teenage client of mine and my brother, Brad, who has Down syndrome. Because Shaken baby occurs at such a young age children often, in my opinion, demonstrate a lot of qualities similar to those I see in individuals with Down syndrome. One of those qualities being that perpetual innocence and “child like” wonder that I so great value in my brother. It is critical to never limit a child based on a diagnostic code on their file; each individual is unique, although nothing is certain in regards to potential, you can be certain they will not reach their full potential if left to languish in an institution"
I’ve mentioned before that I could count on one hand the number of times I have seen Liza without a smile on her face. Those times however are forever engraved in my memory. I remember a few weeks after I started having one-on-one time with Liza and the rest of “my” kids, I brought Liza back up to her room and just as I was about to put her back in her crib she started to cry. I had never seen Liza cry before and this wasn’t just any cry, it was a profoundly sad, heartbreaking cry. As the weeks went on, Liza began to cry more and more often when I her brought her back until she actually started crying when we were in the stairwell on the way back upstairs to her room. It absolutely tore my heart out. As happy and content as she is, Liza is a very smart little girl who knows what she wants. Liza wants to see more than the four walls of her groupa room. She wants a chance to sit up and play like the other kids. She wants someone to look deep into her eyes and whisper words of love into her ears. She does not want to spend her days lying on her back in a hard playpen, unwanted and ignored. Oh how I pray that she will one day have a mama to scoop her up and carry her out of that room forever. Last time I told you that because Liza is already 5-years-old, she doesn’t have a grant of her own. Well, that is no longer true. A few weeks ago $1000 appeared on Liza’s page and although I’m still not sure how it happened, Liza now has her own grant! So, for all those of you who were disappointed that you were not able to donate last time, now’s your chance… Even if you’re not able to donate at this time, you can help Liza’s mommy find her by sharing her story and remembering her in your prayers.
For more information or to donate, click here.
Liza is listed as “Molly” on Reece’s Rainbow;
in order to protect her identity, when sharing about her on your own blogs, facebook pages, etc. please use her Reece’s Rainbow name