Unanticipated Milestones

Unanticipated Milestones

I’ve said it before, books like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” were not written for me. I don’t think they covered fetal surgery in there. Their follow up, “What to Expect in the First Year” was also a total FAIL in my life. There should be a line of parenting books called, “Hang On For Dear Life!” or “When You Least Expect It… Life is Going to Come Along and LIFE You! (So Expect It)”
Okay, okay those are just working titles. The bottom line is when you have one of those kids that meet NONE of the milestones it can be… oh let’s see, where should I start? “Exhausting” is the first word that comes to mind, followed closely by “frustrating” and “disappointing.”

One of my children wasn’t talking or babbling by age 1 (because she was deaf and we hadn’t figured it out yet) and one who… sat up for the first time at age 3. Took her first steps at age 4. Can move a small game piece around the board without knocking everything over at age 10!

But hey, we get to celebrate and we do celebrate the little tiny things that other people might just miss or take for granted. Nothing is tiny around here. Every accomplishment just about brings me to tears, or at least gives me material for a new song:)

There’s this thing that happens, a sense of loss, like I’m giving up on something, for example~ Lucy’s first wheelchair. I cried! I cried and cried! It was an adorable KidKart! Really adorable and functional but, it was moving my 2 year-old from an unassuming stroller to a handicapped device. She wasn’t going to blend in any more. I felt like I was giving up on the possibility of her ever walking. (Why so personal Rachel?) I wasn’t giving up at all; she has spina bifida and cerebral palsy. Perhaps it’s just watching the future I thought I was going to have, clearly change course.

First Set of Wheels

I had a similar feeling when we found out that Leah was profoundly deaf and we realized that ASL would be best for her. It felt like we were giving up on the possibility of her ever learning to speak. So crazy! Why couldn’t it occur that we were giving her a language that she could be successful with? And why was it still about ME?

It has to be some default reaction, some programming or wiring… and the bottom-line is it most often feels like- “oh, they aren’t going to be like me?” Like I have got it so good? “Just like me” is the benchmark? Silly.

I thought I would start a new category here on my blog: “Unanticipated Milestones” I’ve heard from many of you recently dealing with those first wheelchairs and first hearing aids. Hey we just got our first accessible bathroom installed in our home and a few other cool things, that I never thought I would grow up and have, let alone need.

So, to celebrate: here is the bathroom renovation! I wanted it accessible, but not ugly or sterile looking. Aaron did the whole tear-out and moved all of the plumbing, he put it all back together again, installing a pocket door and painting. The guy is a rock star. He did not set the tile, grout, or mud and sand, he wanted to make that clear:) Also I didn’t take a good “before” picture, but imagine white laminate counter top across the entire wall, and an industrial utility sink… classy, I know.

He is NOT afraid to use that

He takes it down to the sub-flooring, has taken the toilet out… and is tearing into walls. Was I nervous… nah.

Who needs a toilet anyway?

Down to the studs? What a stud!

Wires and pipes and splinters oh my

Is that a blow torch? I had no clue we had something like that!! Does it work for crème brulee?

I was beyond impressed at this point

Photo shot through the new pocket-doorframe. You can see the new sub-flooring and all the plumbing is ready. I for one think it takes a brave man to move a toilet! (And a brave woman to let him)

Putting it back together again

Accessible sink and painted wall. The electric outlets have been moved. Aaron changed the light switch to a rocker panel, and he moved and lowered its location so that Lucy can reach.

Installed the sink to work with Lucys wheelchair height

Tile backsplash around the sink.

And the end result! TA-DA!

Lucy now has a place in our home where she can wash her hands… Oh the things we take for granted.

Bathroom Renovation Design for Lucy by Brian Clark Designs

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About Rachel Coleman

The opinions and late night musings published on this blog are Rachel de Azevedo Coleman's alone, and are not ever intended to represent the opinions and sentiments of any organization or product that Rachel is, was, or will be associated with. Rachel Coleman is the creator and Emmy-nominated host of Signing Time!, the children's American Sign Language vocabulary building series. She is also the creator and host of Baby Signing Time, Rachel & the TreeSchoolers, and Rachel & Me. Rachel now serves as the Executive Director of the American Society for Deaf Children, a 501c3 nonprofit established in 1967 by parents of deaf children. ASDC is the American Sign Language organization for families who are raising deaf children. www.deafchildren.org Motivated by her child, Leah's deafness, Rachel has spent the last 18 years creating ASL products to help bridge the communication barrier between hearing and signing communities. In 2006 Rachel founded the Signing Time Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to putting communication in the hands of all children of all abilities. In 2014, the Signing Time Foundation launched a 50-Lesson online ASL curriculum called "Sign It: ASL Made Easy" that is available free-of-charge to families with deaf or hard of hearing children ages 36 months and under. Apply at www.mydeafchild.org. For those who do not qualify to receive Sign It ASL for free, they can find it for purchase at very reasonable rates on www.SignItASL.com. Rachel and her husband, Aaron, live in Salt Lake City Utah. They are parents to Leah who was born profoundly deaf, and is now a senior in college at NTID/RIT in Rochester, NY. They are also parents to Lucy who has spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and recently graduated high school. In 2010 the Colemans were joyfully reunited with Rachel's daughter Laura. Rachel is proud to be Laura's birth mom. Laura was placed for adoption as an infant in 1992 when Rachel was 17 years-old.

72 thoughts on “Unanticipated Milestones

  1. Hi Rachel, my name is Cristina and my son Michael who just turned 3 in March was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. One of the first signs we noticed was that he didn’t speak, once my husband and I got word of the diagnosis we didn’t let that set us back, on the contrary we started looking for alternatives to teach him to communicate with us, that’s when we ran into your videos and ever since Michael has been watching them non stop! He loves all of your videos!!!
    For the last year he has always watched them but never acted out the signs he’d watch, at least until 2 months ago. It seams like all of a sudden he was able to connect the dots and make sense of what the signs really meant, and has been signing everything!!! Sometimes even more than we know!
    Recently we noticed he would start signing things even before the picture came on the screen, just by reading the words! We couldn’t believe it, so we decided to test him out by printing most of the words we knew from your videos to see if he would know them by just reading them and here is what happened:


    and he kept going…


    This totally blew us away! You see this wouldn’t be possible without you! You and your videos helped us achieve some form of communication with my son that would probably take years otherwise to achieve. I had over 53 flashcards that day and he missed only 3! I mean, I didn’t learn to read until I was 6, he just turned 3!
    You are an amazing woman, and no words I can tell you will ever be sufficient to really express how much I thank you for all the work that you do and all you have done for my family. All I could really do is show you so you can see it for yourself!
    No doubt life is hard, we adapt to our children’s special needs even learn a new language for them! But what you have decided to do helps thousands of other families achieve at least the communication part which is HUGE! I don’t know you but I can tell you honestly that we LOVE YOU!!! I love reading your blog posts and feel like I’m part of your family even though we have never met! Keep doing what you’re doing, you are AMAZING!

    Josh, Cristina and Michael ?

  2. My 12 month old son is deaf. We have started watching your signing time videos in our home and are using them as a tool to teach our family and friends. They watch them with our son and end up learning as well. I read about your feelings when friends and family make so many excuses not to learn ASL. I can Identify with you 100%. I try not to take it personally, but I certainly do. I look at my wonderful little boy and cannot fathom that someone wouldn’t put in the effort to communicate with him. It has created a lot of distance in many of my relationships. I am happy to have found your blog and look forward to following. We began a blog when we found out about our son’s hearing loss and it has definitely been one of the best and most therapeutic things I have done thus far. Just to connect with others that have walked the same road seems to help so very much. Thank you for sharing and teaching.

  3. You put into words exactly what is tumbling around my heart so often!

    Here was a first for our daughter with spina bifida (T10)…her first day in a demo wheelchair. All we wanted to know was if she was ready for wheels at 2 1/2 (after a KidKart): carlivia.blogspot.com/2011/04/wheels.html
    We’ve had the chair for over a month now while we’re waiting on her own to be approved by insurance. She’s navigating all over the place, turning in circles and eveything! Not anticipated milestone, but a thrilling one, nonetheless! 🙂

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