First-time mom Wendy was over the moon when she welcomed her baby girl Lois into the world. However, she quickly grew concerned about her daughter’s development. Wendy noticed that Lois wasn’t making eye contact and didn’t seem aware of her presence. Their doctor suggested a wait-and-see approach.
Wendy tried to push aside her concerns and simply enjoy her baby girl, but she couldn’t ignore the nagging suspicion that something wasn’t right.
When Lois was six months old, Wendy took her to Hong Kong, where she had her first seizure. The hospital urged Wendy to return to Toronto immediately. After months of appointments, tests and procedures, Lois was diagnosed with seizure disorder, developmental delay, cortical impairment and microcephaly.
Lois is now seven years old. Due to low muscle tone, she’s unable to use her hands despite extensive therapy from a young age. Lois is also non-verbal and struggles to process visual stimuli. She is entirely dependent on adult care and has a range of very specific needs.
Lois’ medical complexities have not stopped her from experiencing Exceptional First moments; spending her first day in Safehaven’s respite program being one of them. Wendy arranged for Lois to spend one night at Safehaven and was thrilled with the experience. This was a turning point for Wendy and her husband, who now rely on Safehaven to care for their daughter more regularly.
Safehaven has become a second home for Lois – according to Wendy, “it’s a warm and safe environment that prioritizes inclusion, respect, care and love.”
When reflecting on the first few years of Lois’ life, Wendy remembers feeling overwhelmed and heartbroken about her daughter’s diagnosis. It was difficult to see Lois so disconnected from her surroundings. But glimmers of real awareness have been transformative. The most exceptional first moment was when Lois first smiled as Wendy walked into her field of vision. She knew in that reaffirming instant that everything had been worthwhile. An emotional connection was there. “The physical part; the disability is a hindrance, it’s hard for us to understand what she wants and needs.” Wendy says. “But for her to show a smile, that she wants us there, knowing we are apart of the family, that meant everything.”
If Wendy’s mom could say one thing, it’s that Safehaven has been such an important part of Lois’ journey. “Caregiving is an incredibly demanding job, and it takes an exceptional village to care for an exceptional child.”Safehaven lightens the load, and makes it possible for Wendy and her husband, and families like them, to rest and recharge, confident that their daughter is receiving the best care possible.
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