Davin Bruce was born on November 12, 1992 in a small hospital in Pennsylvania. We were thrilled to add our 4th child to our family and he was a delightful baby. Davin did a couple of things that caused me to call the doctor and make sure that everything was okay. The doctor assured me that I had a good baby and to enjoy him.
As time went on, we noticed that Davin seemed to stay curled up in that newborn position and that he did not move his arms. His arms stayed down and to his sides. However Davin passed his 2 month check-up and his 4 month check-up with no concerns. At 5 months of age, I took my concerns about Davin's arms to the pediatrician. Davin saw another pediatrician in the practice and he assured us that we should watch him for 4 weeks, but that it was nothing neurological because that would start in his legs and his legs appeared to be developing normally.
I took my baby home and tried waiting, but only made it for about a week before calling Davin's pediatrician and requesting that he look at Davin personally. When we saw Davin's doctor, he didn't feel it was neurological, but sent us to be evaluated at Easter Seals. He also mentioned that if Easter Seals offered to have Davin evaluated by a neurologist, we should take them up on that offer.
Davin saw his first physical therapist when he was six months old. He was evaluated and given an appointment to see a neurologist at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia.
On June 11, 1993, Davin saw the neurologist and my mother-in-law and I were told that, "Davin has cerebral palsy. Any questions?" It was a shock and I felt like his words crushed my perfect world. He also gave us a list of tests that needed to be done on Davin in the near future. There was no test to show that a child had cerebral palsy. There were only tests to show that he didn't have something else.
We drove home after my mother-in-law prayed and gave the situation and Davin to the Lord. I then had to go home and tell my husband and my other children what the doctor had said. It was a difficult day.
My husband, Alan, said something the day Davin was diagnosed that will always stay with me. He asked me if Davin was any different than he was yesterday. I replied no, but somehow everything felt different. Alan said that Davin was the same baby that he had been the day before, except they had given this disorder a name. He was right and that has become our family's approach to raising Davin and our other three children. Davin is our child. There are things that are different. I am not sure that anything is harder or more challenging, than our other kids, just different.
After Davin was diagnosed, he began receiving physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and eventually special education. Our time with those therapists that helped us through those first couple of years was so sweet. They provided much more than therapy. They were an emotional support and a source of knowledge, love, and acceptance for someone who isn't exactly like every other kid.
Over the years, Davin has made slow gains, but we are thrilled with each new development, no matter how small. He rolled over for the first time when he was 2 years old and had some success feeding himself for the first time much later. In between, there have been many other things, like learning to pick something up, being able to hold a crayon in a certain way, and being able to right himself when he leans over in his wheelchair.
I have sat and held Davin while his entire body seized from a seizure disorder that he was diagnosed with at age 2, I have sat in the emergency room with Davin for 15 hours while doctors tried to determine if Davin had appendicitis or not. (It is very difficult to tell things like this because Davin is non-verbal.) I have sat in a therapy room in Mielno, Poland as Davin received intensive therapy and prayed for his body to respond. I have sat by Davin’s bedside in St. Christopher’s Children’s Hospital while Davin struggled to breathe following a hip surgery. Were any of these things any harder than the things that I have been through with my other kids? Probably not. Just different.
When Davin was little, it sometimes pained me to look at other “typical” kids his age. My heart hurt to see where he “should” be at a certain age. I mourned the life that Davin would not have….the life I thought he should have.
God has done great things in my heart since then. I have PROUDLY watched my son participate in bowling for the Special Olympics (and by participating, I really mean making sure that everyone was watching him), I have dropped him off at a dinner dance as my heart soared looking at my handsome boy in his shirt and tie and experiencing what his siblings have experienced. Just last year, I dropped Davin off at camp for five whole days and nights and wondered how in the world someone else would take care of his needs. They did and he survived and more surprisingly, I survived. (The camp staff wasn’t so sure I would make it.)
I can now celebrate Davin’s differences. Or maybe I don’t celebrate the differences, I just celebrate Davin. I love who he is. I love what he teaches me every day. I love his perseverance and the way he can convince most anyone to help with him do things even without speaking a word. I love the way he adores his siblings and they adore him. I love the impact he has had on the lives of those around us. I just love him. He happens to have cerebral palsy. That is all. Nothing more and nothing less.
My perception of “perfect” has changed so much since 1992. I am thankful and I am blessed to be Davin’s Mom. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life.