Slide31 Raising a Child of Difference (Published in 2000)

“Raising a Child of Difference”

by: Gaill Blackburn

As Published in the
AZ Chapter of Little People of America (LPA)
VOLUME 6, ISSUE 6 – NOV / DEC 2000

Before my daughter, Britney, the only thing that really mattered to me was to work hard on my career and to make lots and lots of money. Like many, I scurried through life with blinders on, not taking much time to help my fellow man… Little did I know what God had in store for me! Infertility surgery & treatments, and a high-risk pregnancy taught me discipline, patience, and the real value of human life. I would no longer take for granted what most couples do – the ability to bear children…

Armed with my new traits, I still wanted to work hard on my career and make lots of money. So much so that I was working 60 hours a week up until the day I learned I would need an emergency c-section to save my baby. We knew the baby was breech and I went in for an external adversion (which I put off as long as I could because I had a very important deadline at work) only to find that her amniotic fluids had dried up. I really beat myself up about that one – had we waited one day longer we would have lost her… That taught me about divine intervention and gave me complete faith in God.

As I fell more and more in love with my daughter every day, my original thoughts of daycare after 1 month were modified to 3 months. I was incredibly lucky to work for a man in his 70′s who’s wisdom far exceeded mine as he suggested I work half time at home and bring Britney into the office with me half time. I quickly accepted his most generous offer. Then, at 3-1/2 months we learned Britney had hydrocephalus, and 3 days later we learned she had achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism)…

Before my daughter, I never understood the true meaning of unconditional love. Her birth difference just made me love her all the more, and nothing in the world mattered but her health and well being. I decided to put my career on hold and concentrate all my efforts on my most precious gift from heaven above. Her difference has been such a blessing – it has taught me to not take life for granted, and to appreciate each day to its fullest. It has taught me the true value of family – in all forms – my immediate family, my church family, my LPA family…

LPA has played such an important role in our lives. From the very first phone call with Betsy Trombino (veteran average-height *AH* mom of an LP child), and the chance meeting in the elevator with Steven Nardine (LP teen) at the hospital when Britney had her first surgery – I knew that everything would be okay for my beautiful baby girl. LPA has fostered many wonderful relationships for me over the years, and I especially value my friendships with adult LP*s who lay all my concerns to rest, and *more seasoned* AH parents who have been *my rock* through all of Britney’s many surgeries.

I fully realized the importance of support groups last Christmas upon meeting the Avery family. My heart felt like it would explode when a new AH parent of an LP baby girl told me they knew everything would be all right for their child after meeting Britney. It felt so good to hear someone telling me the exact words I had uttered only 3 years prior. That’s when I realized how the circle works… Many times you can never repay people for their extreme acts of kindness – but these wonderful people shape who you are, and you can vow to do the same for others.

I beam with such pride as I watch my daughter form her own friendships with fellow LP’s. I thank God every day that we have such a positive influence as LPA, and that Britney doesn’t have to grow up thinking that she is the only one who is different.

And, I’ve never regretted my decision to put my career on hold. I take great pride that I am following in my mother’s footsteps. The other day I was throwing out garbage cans full of old papers from work and it hit me like a ton of bricks – all the things that I thought were so important back then were nothing compared to the importance that God has placed in my hands…

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