When I discovered I was to become a Grandma I was surprised and probably more than a bit shocked. I instantly became worried, my baby – a baby - well that’s where the rollercoaster ride began ! ! ! I was of course delighted about the baby but worried for my baby. I have been there, done that and worn the T-shirt 3 times so I know what a difficult road it can be. My daughter was very young, only 17 at the time but she managed to do what had to be done, all by herself as I lived in Spain at the time.
When I got the call that she was in labour it was a mad rush as she was 3 week early and I had flights booked for the next week. Typical of how our journey was to progress although we did not know this at the time. Frantically we searched for flights and arrived at midnight and dashed to the hospital only to find Julie in the birthing pool looking exhausted, I took one look at her and knew instantly that I was home for good. The journey began. Julie had a difficult labour and David was born early hours of that morning. He had waited for his Grandma to get there before he decided to show face! I was delighted when presented with this little pink bundle; how proud I was to be honoured with cutting the cord.
As our little precious gem grew, papa and grandma could see little signs that not all was well. David’s eyes where a bit unstable and didn’t focus on things. We put it down to immaturity and it would settle as he grew. Then the Bombshell - Julie was told at a 15 week check up that they thought the baby was blind. Julie was there on her own and it was just blurted out to her, as you can imagine she was horrified, devastated and frightened all at once. She called the only person who could help MUM. By sheer luck I was 10 minutes away and when she got to me she was nearly hysterical. We saw the paediatrician on the Monday and had an appointment at the hospital on the Friday for a brain scan, I then knew this was serious (whoever gets appointments that quick). We had the brain scan and by that evening the paediatrician was on the phone trying to contact Julie. When she failed to get her, she called the only one who could help MUM.
The paediatrician explained she could not give details over the phone but told me if there were any changes in David over the weekend then we had to bring him straight to the children’s ward as he would have open access to the ward from now on. I was terrified and I was so glad she hadn’t got hold of Julie as she would have been once again hysterical. I thought our grandson was going to die. I thought of all the worst things possible as you do without the full information. This left us for a whole weekend with the worry of what might be. By the Monday we met the paediatrician and she told us the news. David has a very rare condition called Septo Optic Dysplasia, which has left him blind.
At that moment poor Julie was again horrified and frightend and all I could say was thank god I thought he was going to die. Blind ! blind ! is that all we can deal with that. But there was more to come as they explained the condition and how it was very rare and there was no way of telling what the future held there where so many things and medical problems that may or may not present themselves in David’s condition. My feelings at that point where in turmoil. My baby was suffering the worst possible news about her baby, but I as grandma I was suffering twice as I was feeling it for my baby and my baby's baby. It was a long and difficult process but you muster along. You deal with the day to day problems and you learn to cope. We became strong as a team and did things together, dealt with what had to be dealt with and looked for inspiration and help from other sources.
On the internet I found a thing called Flash Sonar and did some research and found a young man called Daniel Kish. There were videos on the net of Daniel and friends riding a bike – nothing exciting there except that Daniel and his friends where all blind and in total darkness - they were riding their bikes off road. AMAZING! I thought I couldn’t do this and I have full sight. It turned out they where using the technique called flash sonar which is the technique that bats use to fly in caves and at night. They make small sharp sounds that bounce off the walls and come back to them and from this they can tell what the surroundings are round them and they know where they can fly without bumping into things. Instantly I was intrigued. I investigated this technique and watched the videos; so many blind people navigating around their world with ease. I thought we will have some of that thank you!!!
Promptly I contacted Daniel who is a pioneer for the technique and before we knew it Daniel was on his way to see us from America. It was an amazing thing for us. It was costly but it was worth every penny as he gave us the confidence to allow David to live a normal life without wrapping him in cotton wool. The best advice that Daniel gave us was to let David climb trees not physically but in other words don’t worry if he falls down he will only do it once and he will learn a valuable lesson from it.
Now as a mother and a grandmother this is a very difficult thing to do as you don’t want your little gem to be hurt, but we tried our best to not jump up and grab David every time he was going to fall but to let him and you know what we were amazed at how well he coped with this. Instead of falling and bashing this head open as we had imagined he would do, he had this amazing skill of dropping to the ground with ease and finding a safe place for him to regain composure and he would then continue with his adventure. It was truly liberating and now watching David manoeuvre around a room he has never been in before is a work of art. He does it gracefully and precisely, all be it noisily as instead of a small sharp sound David has adapted his sound to a long high pitched scream which would put any good horror movie to shame, it still makes me smile when I see him as well as covering my bursting eardrums. Every day is a new day. We still have lots of hills to climb and as I said before as a grandma my job is now to look after 2 instead of one. It is often overwhelming, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my daughter with all my heart and to watch her struggle with this makes me very sad but on the other hand look at the ray of sunshine we have been given in our lives! How lucky are we! Grandma