Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Baby & the Tomato Seed: A Parallelism

Bridgette's preliminary developmental assessment was completed this morning by Andrea Bandmann, a social worker and Early Intervention Family Advocate from a local community non-profit organization called Kids on the Move.

Andrea did a fairly basic assessment based on observation, rating scales, and interviewing me and Jeff. In order to qualify for their services, Bridgette had to exhibit at least moderate delays in one category.

We were told that if we qualified, Andrea would become our case manager, and then therapists would do a comprehensive assessment to evaluate cognition, fine and gross motor skills, receptive communication, expressive communication, social and emotional development, self-help skills, health, hearing and vision.

We were pleased that Bridgette's current development seems fairly on par, except for her gross motor skills, which we expected. What I didn't expect, and was very sad to find out, were her actual results.

Andrea plotted a little graph showing age and skill level. Much like height and weight, gross motor skills can be plotted according to percentile. She showed me the 5% curve then pointed to the dot representing Bridgette's development. She was way to the right, in the less than 1% range.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty sensitive and reflective today.

Within a few weeks of Bridgette's official diagnosis of Hirschsprung's Disease only a few days after birth, we were introduced via the internet (either from readers of this blog or support groups we joined) to a lot of families raising children with special health concerns. I've seen a great deal of strength in those children and their parents. Some of them amaze me with their constant positivity.

I don't suppose I consider myself particularly optimistic or pessimistic. I just deal with the realism of Bridgette's needs from day to day, try to help her have good quality of life, and love her on the side.

This afternoon, though, I had one of those wonderful non-tangible experiences that helped me feel o.k. about her and her situation.

In planning to post an update, I thought it might be nice to include a new photo. I took her out on the deck because her bright blue eyes always look so fresh and clear in the sunlight. Besides, her yellow onesie matched my tomato planter. As I was trying to get her to smile, and she was happily ripping leaves off and tasting them, I thought about that tomato plant.

It's a bit of a rare case.

I bought a fancy hybrid tomato for dinner one night, and when I sliced it open, I discovered that one of the seeds had sprouted inside the tomato.

So I planted it.

It took a long, long time to come up, and even longer to develop, but now it's out on the deck sending out new blooms every day. It's isolated so the weeds don't choke it, and since the sprinkler system doesn't reach it, I have to take the watering-can out each morning. Unlike the produce in our neighbors' gardens, the tomatoes on this plant are still green. But they're coming along nicely.

When I set Bridgette next to the plant, I remembered that first seed, and I felt pretty overwhelmed at the similarities. I think she's got some seeds inside of her that are just waiting to sprout. She may take a bit of special care and green up a little late in the season, but I'm sure the "tomatoes" she'll give to the world in future years will be worth the wait.

By their fruits ye shall know them...


Anonymous said...


I am so glad that you had the assessment done. You are right. With individualized care, Bridgette will blossom indeed. I know that. She is truly a special child. She will blossom in her own time and in her own way.

Do you remember the words of the blessing she received while still in the NICU? I will never forget them. She WILL one day run and play. The Lord knew that and made sure that we did too.

How wonderful that she, and you, will be receiving the help and the assistance needed to make it possible.


Smith Family said...

That was an incredible comparison. I'm so glad you shared it. I'm sure you will love the individualized visits for your little Bridgette and that they'll really be beneficial.

Jolea said...

I loved this. You and Bridgette inspire us all. I'm sure she will give more to the world than you can even imagine right now-in fact she has already inspired so many with her strength alone.
Love, Jolea

Jacqueline Miller said...

Beautiful post for a beautiful little girl who inspires us all. This brought tears to my eyes.

Katie @SwimBikeQuilt said...

A beautiful post.

Angela said...

Such a beautiful post, and tribute to Bridgette. She is a strong little girl and you have taught her that and so much more.
So many times we forget that we are all seeds that take time to grow and blossom and bare fruit. Some take longer than others, some need a mate, and others need nothing but soil. A beautiful picture to paint to remind us all of the beauty of growth.
Love to all, and a gift should arrive shortly. :-)

123 checkoutourfamily said...

I'm a little teary at this post. I love the comparison. It reminds me a lot of Mulan and how her dad tells her that the late blooms are the rarest and most beautiful of all.

One thing I'm learning is how every kid is so different and develops at different rates. I'm so glad we're not a bunch of robots and these differences set us apart.

She's such a cute little blossom! I know that she'll come right along. To me, it's much like pregnancy: some moms have morning sickness, some don't, some get it so bad that they're sick the whole time. In the end, we get the same reward and even though you might lose a lot of weight from all the morning sickness, you do catch up in the end. (I like your analogy much better than mine.)

Unknown said...

I absolutely agree!!

Kids on the Move is who worked with Sara for a few months for gross motor skills. Took her awhile but after watching her run around last night - there's nothing slow about her now!!!

Love ya!


April said...

Oh that was a tender post.. my heart is with you!
Caleb was involved with Kids on the Move and we had a wonderful experiene with them! Good luck!!

Kelly said...

Just wanted to let you know I loved
your post.

Lisa Merkley said...

Bri's a lucky gal to have such a great mom!

kelgrandy said...

We like you, have those moments. I'm not sure what you call them or even how to describe them, but I'm grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who continues to teach us about these special children he sent to us, who continues to give us strength when it seems like the road is lonely. We truly get to see the worth of a soul in the way that most of the world doesn't. Thank you so much for your analogy. Here's an analogy that Scott really likes-
Perhaps you've read it? Having spent a good majority of our time in OT, PT, and ST the last two years, I have to tell you that I am so excited that Bridgette is able to receive PT services. We've built a good relationship with 3 amazing therapists who continue to help us help Ben progress in ways that we couldn't by ourselves. Enjoy the journey.

Ann-Marie said...


I loved reading your post and all of the comments up to this point.
You are truly a remarkable mom.

I think it's fitting for you to create an analogy with a tomato plant... I know how much you love gardening. And I know how much you love parenting, even with all of the unknowns. And you're amazing at both, because you nourish and care for the individual seed.

Thank you for your inspiration and example. I am also in tears. Bri is so blessed to have you and Jeff and a wonderful extended family and support system. And we are all blessed to have her in our lives.