October of 2009 changed our lives and our story forever. My mom came with me to the 20 week ultrasound for a sneak peek at her first grandchild. Kadence played with her lips through the entire scan and was absolutely the most amazing thing I’d ever seen! Mom and I noticed the tech focusing on Kadence’s back, head and kidneys. She took several pictures of those areas placing them in that “other” pile, separate from the ones we would take home. Despite all of our questions, she assured us everything was ok. We were so excited! Mom and I were sent to the waiting room and laughed out loud at an overhead announcement apologizing for the delay, as the “ultrasound machine was broken.”
Hindsight is everything. I now know that in the midst of my waiting, they were reviewing Kadence’s ultrasound.
Kadence was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, defects of the spine and brain. We participated in a NIH study that landed us in San Francisco for 3 months. At 25 weeks pregnant, I underwent this soon to be, world-renown, prenatal surgery. With the help of a microscope, specialized tools and more doctors than you could count, Kadence’s defect was closed in-utero. It wasn’t much longer before Kadence made her arrival into this world. We were clinging to prayers as our premature baby, born two months ahead of schedule, fought desperately for her life.
As Kadences’ health began to progress, we made the transition into our new lives; mother and daughter. During that transition, a good family friend told me about the Little Light House, suggesting I quickly get Kadence on the waiting list. At the time, his son was on the waiting list as well, so I looked into it more, and Kadence was put on the list. After two and a half years of waiting, we received the phone call that would change our lives, and heard that there was an open spot at the LLH for Kadence.
When I think about the progress that she’s made since starting school at the LLH, I’m blown away. When she started school, her vocabulary was limited to three words. Tasks that may seem so easy for us seemed far away for my little girl. Things like sitting up independently, albeit far-fetched, were huge goals for Kadence. But, Kadence was surrounded by a team of teachers and therapists that knew her potential, encouraged her daily, and slowly but surely helped her to accomplish milestone after milestone.
This Christmas season, Kadence will turn five years old; her growth in these five years takes my breath away. If you ask any of the staff at the LLH to describe my Kadence, I’m quite certain they’d begin to do so with the biggest smile on their face. In the couple of years that Kadence has been at the LLH, she’s developed quite the little personality. She’s an observer, a relationship builder, and the resident social butterfly. She loves to talk, ask questions, and is always wanting to learn the underlying reason behind everything anyone says or does. She’s quite spunky, full of joy and knows exactly what she wants. Kadence also has a loving heart for her friends, and is always rooting them on. Perhaps one of the most beautiful things about Kadence is seeing how she’s learned to believe in herself too, always working to reach every goal we set for her.
Currently, Kadence is working on her mobility. Over the past two years we’ve seen her make tremendous progress in this area, even taking multiple steps with her walker, which is quite the miracle! Thanks to the help of her teachers and therapists, Kadence is well on her way to being prepared for the next major step in life, her journey to kindergarten. Though it’s sad to think of Kadence leaving the LLH, we know she’s got a bright future ahead of her. This school has blessed our family beyond my understanding, as their desire for Kadence’s success shows in everything they do. My daughter’s diagnosis has taught me how to embrace the unexpected, but the Little Light House has taught me to hope in the unexpected.