Saturday, May 14, 2011

To Do: Inspire

This week I talked about moms and inspiration. Today, let's bundle it all together and let me tell you about two moms who I just find to be two of the most inspiring people I've ever met! I tell you their stories not to bring about sadness, but to share why I have so much admiration for them.

First I met Bridget, oh gee, maybe 10 years ago. Bridget and Matt were in the same dorm at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville freshman year. At some point, they ended up sharing an apartment (just they tell me). Years later, I finally got to meet this spit-fire Irish gal I had heard so much about in person (along with some of my family who they too thought they had to be a part of this), and years later we attended her beautiful wedding in St. Louis. It was obvious that day that Bridget was just smitten with her husband, Mike.

A little over a year ago we were excited to hear (thanks to connecting via Facebook) that Bridget and Mike had just become parents to a little girl named Faith. What we didn't know was that the journey to Faith's arrival had already been a long journey. Faith was born with an SOX2 gene mutation resulting in bilateral microphthalmia, leading to minimal eye development. Faith also fights other battles including hearing loss (but fortunately is not deaf as once suspected), sleep issues, and general developmental delays. Her diagnosis is so rare--only in about 1 in 10,000 births. Bridget and Mike had learned of this months before delivery, and fittingly named their baby girl, Faith...also known to the blog world as Super Baby Faith.

This spring, I met Hillary. Our husbands work with each other daily, but Hillary and I first met at a horse race. The CAT families had met up at the track, but it was a chilly day, so later we moved inside to find warmer seating. In getting to know each other, Hillary told us that her and her husband had just recently moved to Little Rock from their hometown about 2 hours away. When Matt inquired about their decision to move, Hillary told us it was to bring her daughter to the School for the Blind. Hardly knowing what to say, I told Hillary the story of Bridget. I told her how moved I was by Bridget and how she taught me to look at blindness with a new light. While I had just worked with a variety of children with minor special needs while at my job in South Carolina, I didn't know how trying everyday life was for families. Bridget's blogs about Super Baby Faith taught us about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Do I believe in fate? Absolutely! Because I realized that day that we met both Hillary and Bridget for a reason. My jaw still drops thinking back to when Hillary told me that her daughter, Madilyn, (now age 6) was also born with bilateral anophthalmia---nearly the same thing as Super Baby Faith!

I think raising any child must be trying. But what Bridget and Hillary face every day is unimaginable. Yet, both of them are truly their daughter's caregiver, cheerleader, teacher, advocate, and biggest fan! They both have delved into mountains of research, sought out the best physicians across the country, provided intense therapy, and more. I watched a video Hillary posted of Madilyn's successes with catching a ball (with her head full of adorable curls all over), and I cried because what I saw to be so challenging, was just another proud moment for Hillary. Bridget continues to chronical the ongoing struggles that Faith is faced with daily on her blog Read about the day Bridget learned of Faith's blindness and you'll see why I think she is one amazing mom. Hillary is no different, not only helping her own daughter, but teaching others how to adjust life for a blind child. Her blog is Now that's a smart girl! I hope you too find these moms to be inspiring. Their love for their girls is undeniable and I know they will make sure that their daughters have the absolute best life possible. Through Facebook, we were able to connect them. I hear they are meeting this summer at the International Children's Anophthalmia Network's conference and that truly brings tears to my eyes. Something tells me this meeting was all meant to happen!

Bridget and Hillary--Thank you for letting me tell your story. I have more respect for you than you will ever know!

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