Early Intervention turned out not to be an invitation to the club for moms with disfigured kids and miserable lives. I was wrong. Early intervention is more like the opening scene of one my most recent favorite movies this summer, Wonder Woman. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it. I found the opening scene of that movie to stir my inner goddess warrior. The big screen is filled with muscular bronzed women engaging in training for battle and perfecting the art of protecting their own. Amazzzzzing. I must have been reincarnated from that era. I was probably one of the only people in the theater that quietly cried during the opening scene of Wonder Woman…. kind of embarrassing to admit.
In the beginning of our journey with Elle I was like one of the young Amazon women, a warrior in training. I would say at this point, I have become some what of a matriarch of my early intervention tribe. It has been my mission knowingly or not, to help younger moms who face extra ordinary circumstances, to find their strength to carry on and to help guide them on their path towards strength, acceptance, and love.
As a midwifery student, my clinical mentors (goddess midwife warriors) insisted on the following approach to learning any difficult yet necessary life saving skill: watch one, do one, teach one. Repeat. I have found that this is what I have done through out my journey with Ellie as well. Although each of these phases was drawn out over several years, as compared to a few months in midwifery school. Let’s just say I was in the watching phase for a few years. I observed countless speech, OT, and physical therapist attempt to evaluate and elicit typical development milestones from my little one. Just as with any profession, some of the therapist we came into contact with were burned out and their hearts were not into it any longer. However, without a doubt, those therapist that still possessed their passion to guide and heal the wounded, were some of the highest quality people I have ever met in my life .
Fortunately, Elle and I came across one of these angels very early on. We were still living in Skagit Valley at the time and would drive out a beautiful country road just east of Mt. Vernon where she kept a small physical therapy studio in her walk out basement. Every week she worked with Ellie for just under an hour watching how she moved her body and mindfully giving me instruction on how to encourage developmental progress as part of normal play time. Unknowingly, she was also sneaking in therapeutic messages for my broken heart. She always highlighted all the things that Elle was doing instead of focusing on what Elle was not…. She knew I was struggling.
Towards the end of our time with her, just before Tim and I were preparing to move to Spokane, she invited one of her colleagues, to observe Elle during her physical therapy session. She was a sensory specialist of some kind and was employed at a well known clinic near Lake Union in Seattle. She mostly watched Elle through out the 50 minute session, interjecting here and there. And then, at the end of the session she began to provide her summary of what she saw as Elle’s needs moving forward. She went on to say as she firmly took my arm into her hands, “Shelley your job as Elle’s mother, is to show her WHO she is, WHERE SHE IS in relationship to her body and physical space. To TEACH Ellie WHERE SHE BELONGS… all through deep touch, consistency and love. Tears started to trickle down my cheek. “That is kind of ironic because I am starting to believe that this is what Elle has been teaching me for the past few months.” I replied.
And it was. Elle’s purpose on earth was slowly being revealed by something or someone bigger than I. Before Elle, on the surface, my life appeared “perfect”. I was married to my college sweetheart, I had a 3 year old precocious and darling little girl, lived in a custom home built on one of the most serene pieces of land in Skagit Valley that was gifted to me my by my step dad and a career as an OB nurse which I enjoyed very much. But underneath the water’s ripples, I was unwillingly in what felt like an eternal battle with my inner self. My brain. Was I good enough, had I made all the right choices, I should have gone to medical school, what if I become mentally ill like that unknown grandfather, do I really belong in Skagit Valley, maybe I should have become an attorney. This was the daily showing that I did not intentionally purchase tickets to. But because I was thrust into the Early Intervention Club, my brain slowly began to glide into a new gear and I was beginning to discover a different way of being with a purpose much bigger than all the fears my brain had focused upon in the past. I wasn’t helping Ellie, she was actually saving me. Elle was showing me WHO I was, WHERE I was in relationship to my body and physical space, and TEACHING me WHERE I BELONG… right there with her. Elle’s presence in my life was leading me to a deeper level of consciousness and guiding me to my inner warrior. Grateful.