thejoyfulpalmers

Meet Maggie

Maggie was born in the early morning hours of Thursday, June 15, 2006. Maggie would be my first, my oldest, my daughter, and the culmination of a dream I had once thought might never come true. Of course, we anticipated our babymoon would be spent counting her perfect fingers and toes, kissing her little pink body and smelling her beautiful newborn head.

However, we were blindsided by the unexpected. Her birth was very difficult and when she finally arrived she was non-responsive.* Our limp little girl was whisked away and transported to Primary Children’s Medical Center. We felt like deer staring into the headlights of a MAC truck.

Maggie had brain damage. The news came quickly and horribly. Doug and I entered the NICU and saw our new baby wired, tubed, and needled. She lay limp, her little lips quivering, and black eyes frighteningly empty and staring. Could this be the rolling ball of life that filled my womb just moments before?

Kangaroo Care

Somewhere, deep inside, something rose inside of me. It was a power, an ownership, a mantel that was new and unfamiliar. I was a mother, something different than I had ever been before. And, my baby needed me. The lioness had awakened.

From the very first moments, we sought any option that might help Maggie improve. We used music therapy, kangaroo care, cranial sacral therapy, homeopathy, brain gym, and good ‘ol breast milk.  Although it felt like months, we were amazed that she only spent three weeks in the hospital. Three weeks still felt like an eternity, and our impatience to get her home led us to start a “Free Maggie” campaign. It worked, and it was serendipitous that Maggie was finally released on the 4th of July.

Maggie’s Independence Day

It has been an amazing journey since the day when light finally flooded Maggie’s eyes in the hospital. Despite having to work much harder than most children to do simple things, Maggie LOVES life. The two most appropriate descriptions of Maggie today are “joyful,” and “hungry to learn.”

Learning to Cook

Maggie is rarely impatient with whatever effort is required to master a new skill. Every time she can get her body and brain to respond in a way that is “everyday” for most children, like getting a toothbrush to her mouth or coloring with a crayon, it is a celebration for her. If you are unable to see the video below click HERE.

Maggie’s first big independence after leaving the hospital came at about 2 ½ when she learned to roll over. WOW! She was so proud of herself.

One day, in the fall of 2009 I put Maggie on her tummy in the living room and went to do a chore. I came back to find her in a slightly different spot. I cocked my head trying to remember exactly where I had placed her.

A few days later it happened again. I put Maggie down, left the room, came back and she wasn’t where I left her. I wish we could have taken a picture of our faces when we finally had to admit that Maggie was moving, crawling in fact, on her very own!

It took about a month before anyone could actually catch her doing it. But it was real. After years of mom and dad moving arms and legs over, and over, and over again with no sign of response or recognition in her little muscles, Maggie finally learned to crawl. No one believed she would ever do it except mom and dad, and Bob Doman, our Champion from the National Association of Child Development (www.nacd.org). Bob’s formula of the right stimulation, at the right duration, at the right frequency had worked. Our daughter was moving independently. What a joy and gift, especially to Maggie.

Maiden Voyage Into the Backyard

Here is a picture of Maggie on her first maiden voyage into the back yard. I placed her on a carpet in the middle of the grass, turned my back to do some yard work, and within 60 seconds Maggie had crawled to the only muddy spot in the yard. Kids are all the same!

Crawling to the Stairs

Now Maggie is practicing crawling from the living room, through the kitchen and down the back stairs in an attempt to escape to the outdoors all by herself. Her brother, Jack, is her accomplice. Here’s a little ditty we call, “The Great Escape.” If you are unable to see the video below click HERE.

Maggie loves to cook. Grandma remembers the day she was helping Jack and Maggie make a cake. Jack had a spoon and was stirring like mad. Maggie also had a spoon and realized that that tool was just not working for her. So she plunged her hand into the batter up to her elbow and flailed away for all she was worth. If one way won’t accomplish the task she will figure out another! If you are unable to view the video below click HERE.

The piano is a special joy to Maggie. She loves all music and it brings a big smile to her face. She loves sitting at her keyboard and “playing” the keys all on her own. She may not be able to hit just one key at a time yet but when you watch her face you know that she is working on that! Just wait and see, someday Maggie will play the piano beautifully, because of your family’s support of Maggie’s Month.

Swinging at the Park

Maggie is fearless. The first time she sat in a swing in the park she showed a moment of hesitation, but Grandma gave her a little push and she was off. She had to have a pillow in front and a board in back to keep her upright. Now she sits by herself and squeals to be pushed higher, higher, and higher!

Maggie’s greatest accomplishment to date is learning to communicate. It took almost four years to be able to shake her head “yes” and “no.” What a joyous day when she could tell us she was hungry, thirsty, full, sad, hot or cold.

Because of Maggie’s Month, Maggie is now working to be able to communicate more than just hunger, or thirst.

Maggie & Felice Getting to Know Each Other

She’s working to communicate feelings, dreams, thoughts and ideas. Maggie’s Month has allowed Maggie to begin intensive speech therapy and purchase an iPad2 with a special communication app. Part of Maggie’s speech therapy includes working with horses.

“This therapy has been shown to improve muscle tone, balance, posture, coordination, motor development as well as emotional well-being.”  Besides being good for our bodies, there is a unique, healing power that horses bring to our hearts and minds. Besides, it’s more fun to talk to Felise, the horse, than it is to talk to your speech therapist. Maggie is working hard at vocalizing her speech so that in the case she doesn’t have the iPad at her disposal she is able to communicate her needs.

Maggie has some angels that are working very hard to help her learn to “read and write.” Maggie is currently able to communicate using pre-set buttons on her iPad, but the big goal is for Maggie to independantly type her own thoughts into the iPad and have have her very own voice.

When it comes to being a girl and being seven, Maggie is like other seven-year old girls.

She loves to pretend to be mommy. She loves to play in the hose, make messes, and throw tantrums when she can’t get your attention any other way. She loves to “hold” her baby brother, Ben, and stroke his face. She loves splashing in the bathtub. She laughs in all the right places while watching “Charlotte’s Web or “Winnie the Pooh”.

Playing with the Water Hose

Maggie had a few little girl friends over for a “punch party.” They sat around a little table drinking punch out of tiny teacups and having treats on tiny little plates. It was a hoot watching these sweet  girls conversing with Maggie about little girl matters. She laughed and smiled with her friends.

There have been so many things and people that have blessed Maggie’s life, and made possible so many important accomplishments. In particular the National Association of Child Development (www.NACD.org), and Maggie’s dedicated friends who come once a week for an hour to help her do her therapy. She has so many people who love her and are invested in her growth and success in life.

Thank you for becoming part of the circle of Maggie’s special friends.

UPDATE ON PROGRESS FROM PREVIOUS MAGGIE’S MONTHS

Here is one of our latest video footage of Maggie.

Before Maggie’s Month began in October of 2010 Maggie was not able to sit on her own. Imagine life sitting in a chair or laying on the floor for your whole life. By Christmas 2010 Maggie was able to sit on her own for at least three minutes. A feat of miraculous magnitude! Over the course of six months we saw Maggie’s core strength increase significantly, heard her using her vocal chords in amazing new ways, and holding herself on her hands and knees. Maggie has been able to obtain a special chair, walker, and iPad through Maggie’s Month. Maggie’s Month is currently allowing Maggie to have intensive speech therapy with the goal of independent communication. This is just the beginning of the growth we expect to see in Maggie. The journey has just begun. Just look at the excitement in this face!

Here’s a Maggie’s Month General Flyer you can print and share.

Maggie Sitting

*I believe that Maggie’s brain injury happened just as my second trimester began. I remember waking up one Sunday morning with the sudden feeling of serious distress. I had the distinct impression that something was wrong with my baby. We went to our midwife to get checked out, but everything still looked good. After that morning I began to feel Maggie having seizures in my womb. Of course, I didn’t know that’s what I was feeling until I had my second child and experienced “normal” movement. I think that what happened was that Maggie had a chord accident that compromised the oxygen to her brain. In addition, it is not unusual for a baby to need some resuscitation help after a challenging birth, but they usually respond well and begin breathing on their own. I believe that Maggie did not resuscitate well because her brain had been previously compromised. Of course, we won’t know for sure what happened to

Maggie in this life. What we do know for sure is that she has a special mission, and that her cerebral palsy is part of her path, and she is a tool in God’s hands to do His work in powerful ways.

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Special thanks to the philanthropic contributions of Charlie Pabst from Charfish Design for his fabulous Maggie’s Month header, and Abe Fawson from GoodFront for his expertise in WordPress.

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  1. I loved every minute of watching the videos and reading the script! There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Lord knew what He was doing when He sent Maggie to you as a couple. I know He will continue to bless ALL of you! Love, Hanna

  2. Dear Sweet Maggie, How we love you! You came to exactly the right mom and dad. We don’t see you often, only once a year at the reunion, and we can see the great progress you have made every time we see you. You are a remarkable little girl and we are so proud of you. Heavenly Father loves you very much and He is going to bless you and your family. Keep up the good work!
    Love, Aunt Carol Lynn and Uncle Roy

  3. There is a brightness in your countenances that is totally missing in the eyes of people I once knew but who have obviously taken a different course in life than the one they started on. Your family and that bright little face on Maggie are testimony builders. I always admired you and now there is more of you to admire. 🙂 God bless your beautiful family and your efforts to succeed.

  4. Maggie is beautiful. You are such a good mommy to her. I am just thrilled to see how well Maggie is doing. I’ve thought about you often, especially as we have our own little atypical daughter with her own atypical challenges and atypical joy and love.

  5. I just wanted to let you know that Maggie is an inspiration to me. My little one, who is just turned two and is hypotonic has also had a difficult time in this life. She is not crawling or walking yet, but we believe she will. I love seeing how much Maggie’s personality shines even through her disability. Watching her interact with her siblings is a joy. Thank you for posting this, and our prayers our with you.

  6. Jodie,
    What a beautiful life Maggie has; thank you for sharing it with me. I love your family so much. Thank you for sending me the links to this, we’ll be in touch!

    Tiffany Earl

  7. What an extraordinary little girl! And what an extraordinary mommy!

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