From Your Mommy with MS

20190301_113539Dear my sweet baby boy,

From the moment you were only a figment of our imagination, I knew things would be different for you…

After your daddy and I got married, it became a long debate whether we would have you or not, one of over two years actually.

I knew for the longest time, since I was barely an adult myself, that one day I wanted a child just as perfect as you.

For your mommy, it was a non-negotiable, but there was a barrier placed in front of us, making the biggest decision of our lives also the most challenging.

We went back and forth between wanting you so badly, to then wondering if we were being fair to you. We didn’t know how much my condition would have a negative impact on your life, and if there was one thing we knew for sure, it was that we wanted you to have the most fabulous life possible.

I wanted you to grow up having access to all the things I had in my childhood… Involvement in sports, a loving family, and parents who could be active with you until past the point of your adulthood.

We knew without a doubt that we could nail the first two things on that list. We knew you would be loved beyond measure by your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and countless friends, and we knew we would be able to expose you to soccer, tennis, and almost any other activity that spiked that little interest of yours.

However, the last thing on that list was one we were only half confident about…

We knew that unless something unforeseen happened, your daddy would be the star of “active parent” show, and mommy would merely be cheering from the sidelines. This my love, was why the decision to give you life was filled with so much hesitation.

I knew how badly I wanted to be the co-star with daddy. I wanted to be the very BEST mommy you deserved and I wanted to be able to do everything that most other mommies could do.

I wanted to be able to hold you while I walked and twirl you in the air while I listened to your ever sweet giggles.

I wanted to be able to take you for walks as many times as you enjoyed, and I wanted to be able to nurse you, as that’s what I heard would be the best for you.

I wanted to be the one who could take care of you more often than not, and I didn’t like the thought of not being the first one you looked for when you needed something.

It was scary knowing I would have to ask for so much help, and that I wouldn’t be able to get to you before every little stumble, or to halt a gummy bear going directly into your mouth after hitting the floor.

It was upsetting knowing I wouldn’t be the “supermom” I once thought I’d be.

It was very difficult knowing I wouldn’t be able to make you every bottle, feed you in the night, conquer all your stinky diapers, or wipe away all your tears…

It was absolutely heart-wrenching to know I wouldn’t be the one to teach you how to skate, how to swim, how to kick a ball, or to simply play chase with you and daddy in our beautiful backyard.

I knew how many things I would miss out on doing with you and for you, and I was absolutely certain there would NEVER be a day I wouldn’t wish I could do more.

BUT the thing is my dear, these were all thoughts I had before I actually became a mommy… YOUR mommy that is…

All the wondering and hesitation finally came to a point when we realized that no matter the hurdles or obstacles thrown our way, and despite knowing how difficult it would be, we knew we just HAD to have you. We knew you belonged with us.

All those prior thoughts were ones I had BEFORE I got to see your adorable little face and feel your itty bitty body for the very first time.

They were thoughts I had before I found out for REAL how truly amazing you were, and were thoughts I had before knowing how much you would change my perspective of  “Mommy-hood.”

On January 2nd 2015 at 4:43 am, after 2.5 years of indecision, 9 months of complete mayhem and 18 hours of NATURAL labour, YOU, Landon Fernando Cruz, changed my entire world.

The moment they laid you on my chest and I heard your powerful cries for the first time, there were no more thoughts about what COULD be and instead only thoughts of bliss, love and disbelief that you were finally here.

It was no longer about what could possibly happen, it was about what WAS happening and our new reality evolving.

All the moments I imagined being difficult were just that…DIFFICULT…but you made it so much easier. In just the first year of your life, you showed signs of empathy, intuitiveness, and compassion. You were seriously the BEST baby EVER.

Instead of fighting the endless list of things I couldn’t do for you, I learned to embrace the help offered. Your Grandma and Nonno were by our side not only throughout my pregnancy, but every day since you were born, helping mommy so that you could feel all the love you deserve in this world.

Instead of being jealous I wasn’t your main go-to person, I became extremely grateful that there was always someone whom to go. Whether it was your daddy, Grandma, Nonno, Zia, Zio, Tia, Auntie, Uncle, or one of our friends… I found comfort knowing you would always have a hand to hold, and you would always have multiple people to guide and protect you throughout this unpredictable life.

Instead of wishing I would be able to nurse you through every feeding, I began to see your “Superdad” evolve, up in the night for every feeding, so that your mommy could sleep uninterrupted. I began to realize that nursing WOULDN’T be the best for you for two different reasons. 1) Mommy had to go back on medication and 2) Bottle feeding allowed so many people to help me with this task, and through this you were able to bond with your entire family. Since this time, you really never hesitated being held by anyone, and to do this day, you are still the life of the party!

I began to learn that it didn’t need to be about what every other mother could do…it needed to be about what we could do together, and what we could do as a family. You made me realize that it was okay to NOT be the “Supermom” I always wanted to be.

You showed me that the most important things I could do for you were to simply hold you, nurture you, kiss you, and love you, You taught me in your own adorable ways, that Daddy, Grandma and Nonno could tackle so many tasks mommy was unable to do, and they did them with joy.

On top of loving you to pieces, I became very thankful for their ability to take you for walks, feed you, change you, and play with you, and I know they will always continue loving every second they spend with you. I remain very grateful for the special place they have in your life, as if it was not for them, your life would not be as blissful as it is.

Through knowing that you are so well taken care of, I realized that I too play a pretty crucial role in your life, as I was and always will be your mommy. Coming to this realization made everything make sense, and made everything I couldn’t do so much easier.

As you rapidly grew out of your baby years and into your four year old self, you continued to make it so easy to be your mommy, and I want to thank you for that. I know that due to my MS, you have been forced to grow up a lot quicker than most your age, and have been exposed to a world which many may never see.

Thank you for understanding when I can’t get you something right when you ask. Thank you for being patient with me when I can’t do things at the speed which others can, and thank you for all the days you have compromised to play catch rather than soccer.

Thank you for becoming the most compassionate little man I could have ever hoped for, and rubbing my legs when you know the pain is too much to bare.

Thank you for candidly explaining to random people why your mommy is in a wheelchair, and not having a care in the world regarding the stares you may not even notice you receive.

Thank you for your unbelievable attentiveness, using your ‘tools’ to fix my wheelchair… and for the many hills for which you have pushed me up.

Thank you for recognizing my challenges and loving me nonetheless.

You are more than just my SUN MOON and STARS Landon… You are my constant reminder that a “Supermom” doesn’t come in one single form.

In the mere 4 years of your life, you have been witness to more than some will be in their entire lifetime. You have helped to bring me out of depression and instantly created a fulfilling purpose in my life.

You have taught me what unconditional love is all about, and you have shown me how to appreciate the littlest things in life.

You have given me a reason to smile every single day, and have made me proud in many moments of your teeny tiny life.

It warms my heart to know how much you want me involved in almost everything you do, and it is an honour being able to call you my son.

Although there are many moments when I have had to say “sorry baby, mommy just can’t do that,” you rarely get upset, and instead immediately suggest another way of doing things, and I am thankful that your daddy, Grandma, and Nonno are always there to lend a helping hand… and to teach you so many wonderful things in this world.

Are you really only FOUR? I constantly ask myself…

There is never a day I am not impressed by you, thankful for you, or in awe of you.

Despite being wise beyond your years, I know you are still too little to understand the intricacies of our daily life, or what life may look like when you are older. None of us truly know my dear, that is what makes this illness so hard to manage… We just simply DON’T know.

Nonetheless, my ultimate wish for you is that the FUTURE you, will one day read this letter and understand that by teaching me to accept all the “mommy” things I’m unable to do, you have taught me how to be a “Supermom” after all.  

You have taught me to be proud of my accomplishments and have taught me at the next level what it truly means to be grateful.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I want you to know just how amazing you are, and just how much you have changed my life for the better.

I want you to know that you will always be my driving force, my motivation, and my greatest love.

No matter what lies ahead for us, I want you to know I am already SO very proud of you. WE are so very proud of you, and we will always have your back, just as you have ours.

No matter what other obstacles we are forced to overcome…I will ALWAYS be your mommy, YOUR Supermom, and your number one fan.

I know I’m far from perfect, but I love you to the moon and back.

I always have. I always will.

Love,

Your Mommy with MS ❤️

#soluckytobeyourmamabear #proudmommy #fromyourmommywithMS #tomybabyboy #proud #grateful #unconditionallove #motherhood #MS #MSawareness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Girl in the Wheelchair

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From the blank stares, to the worried stares, to the curious stares, to the ‘I remember you’ stares, to the ‘I’m pretending not to look’ stares, and to the quick glances that really aren’t that quick… It is human nature and it will never change. It instantly becomes one’s blunt reality the moment they transition from walking to wheeling.

Since the very first moments of my MS diagnosis, the thought of life in a wheelchair instantly entered my mind and it was a thought I DREADED becoming a reality. I simply couldn’t fathom how that type of life could be filled with happiness or success. Always being an athlete, with sports an integral part of my being, I just could not see how life would or could ‘go on’ in a wheelchair. I literally saw it as the absolute worst case scenario, and never imagined my mind would change. Why would it? In the beginning, despite my diagnosis, I was still fully able-bodied and I was still fully able to do everything I wanted, the WAY I wanted.

However, it was only two years post diagnosis when the downward spiral began. Little by little, my mobility dwindled away and so did my zest for life, smile, laughter, and positive outlook on my future.

Each day I fought SO hard to take microscopic steps, and instead of celebrating a win on the court, I began celebrating the days I was able to walk to the bathroom, cook a meal, stand for a mere 30 seconds, successfully step off of a curb, or complete any other task I once took for granted.

Only two years post diagnosis, the person I was became the person I never thought I’d be. My ability to drive and work quickly became luxuries I used to have, and were additional pieces of my independence that were snatched right out of my hands.

I spent day after day crying more hours than not, and each and every day was filled with nerve pain, chronic fatigue, and the unknowns of my future. My ability to contribute to my family became less and less, and my purpose in life became almost nonexistent.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, life proved me wrong and my worst case scenario became my harsh reality. The energy exerted to take two simple steps was no longer functional and this girl became “The Girl in the Wheelchair.”

You may be wondering why I reference myself in this way, and the simple answer is that I have learned how to OWN it. Yup, it was a turn of events I never saw coming. Wouldn’t you think my worst case scenario coming to fruition would launch me further into a life of misery? YA, me too… but it didn’t!

The moment I became a daily wheelchair user was the moment I regained my independence. I no longer had to rely on an arm to hold or a wall to grab. I no longer had to avoid going places I so desperately wanted to be, and best of all, I no longer had to play victim to my illness. Living in a wheelchair started to highlight all the things I was now ABLE to do, and it triggered my persistent pursuit of becoming an athlete once again.

I have said it many times before, and I’ll say it again, Wheelchair Tennis has changed my life. I know, it’s a pretty bold statement to make about a sport right? But it’s the truth. Wheelchair Tennis opened my eyes to all I could be despite my illness, and all the aspects of my life I could regain including my independence, confidence and overall happiness. My first time being back on the court rather than beside it, was a moment of empowerment and surrealism.

I developed the ability to see the world through a different lens, and started practicing gratitude on a regular basis. I lived each day with my life-changing quote as guidance and a daily reminder of all the things I have gained rather than lost.

“There’s ALWAYS someone who would love to have your bad days.”

No quote has ever resonated with me more deeply, and no quote is more true. Although my situation is one that presents a multitude of challenges, I know there are SO many people who have it worse and would trade places with me in an instant. It was during this time of self reflection when I began to realize that a wheelchair isn’t disabling at all. I not only learned how to survive in it, I learned how to THRIVE in it.

Of course living life in a chair is far from ideal, but it is also far from the ‘worst case scenario’ I had pinned in my mind. I’m still fully aware of all the different types of looks I receive, but I no longer see this in a negative light. I can once again enter a room with confidence, knowing that a wheelchair is merely a mode of transportation and one I am grateful to have. I know that people will often wonder what happened, and it will always be my story to tell, when and how I wish.

I know that no matter what I do, I will always stand out in a crowd, and this is a fact I have learned to embrace. Whether I’m remembered from an interesting conversation, a sparkly accessory, or as the girl in the wheelchair, it’s neither here nor there, because true confidence comes from within.

Do I still have dark days? ABSOLUTELY. I have days I still wonder why. I have days I still break down and cry, and I have days I still dream about the person I used to be. No day is easy and often the pain is unbearable to the point no words can describe. I have many days I don’t know how I am going to do it, and EVERY day I wish I could do more. I have MULTIPLE reasons why this isn’t fair and MULTIPLE symptoms I just can’t ignore. But regardless of the battles we face, it is the overcoming of these moments that strengthens us, shapes us and prepares us for the mental resilience needed to succeed in this life.
It’s through ALL the adversity overcome, battles won, and grieving the loss of myself, that I have learned one simple yet crucial life lesson:
No matter how difficult, how painful, how exhausting, or how emotionally draining it may be, OWNING our OWN reality is what it’s all about.

#thegirlinthewheelchair #truth #lifelessons #ownit #thrive #adversity #determination #persistency #multiplesclerosis #MSawareness #wheelchairtennis #personaljourney #overcomingobstacles #confidence

Watch “Dancing with MS 10 years later…” on YouTube

I may not be dancing like my 22 year old self, in fact I haven’t danced for 4 mins and 20 seconds in years, but tonight I did…

It’s been 10 years since MS officially crept into my life, and it’s an emotional time for many reasons. Life has certainly changed and there are many things I have lost along the way.

But tonight is proof to us and hopefully others watching, that with the right amount of love, strength, courage, and determination…maybe the impossible is more possible than we think😘❤️💕

#forbetterorforworse #MSawareness #multiplesclerosis #10yearsandstilldancing #onewayoranother #emotional #innerstrength #determination #courage #love