I have to admit that it was quite a shock when I learned I was pregnant and had to deliver the news to my husband that we were expecting our first child. While I felt unprepared for becoming a mother, my husband was very enthusiastic with the news of becoming a father. But, everything changed when I heard my baby’s heart beat for the first time. That was the most amazing feeling I’ve ever experienced; tears came streaming down my face and, at that moment, I realized I was carrying the most precious gift I could have ever asked for.
I had a perfect pregnancy - no morning sickness and I never felt sick. So I figured I didn’t have to worry about anything.I was only 23 years old and was very healthy. During one of my routine visits to the OB/GYN, I believe at week 16/17, they tested me to check the level of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in my blood. The alpha-fetoprotein test is used to identify any abnormalities with the baby, such as Spina Bifida or Down ’s syndrome. A week later, I was so anxious to find out the results that I actually called the doctor’s office only to find out that the results came back abnormal, suggesting I could be carrying a child with a birth defect. At the moment, sadness and fear took over me. A few days later, we went to a specialist to confirm that my precious gift from God had a birth defect called Myelomeningocoele, also known as Spina Bifida. In a very cold-blooded way, we were given the news that we had two choices: to abort our “defected” child or have a disabled, paralyzed and mentally retarded child. Being a Christian believer, that decision was not a very hard choice to make. Right at that moment, we made our choice. Regardless of the circumstances - paralyzed or not, mentally retarded or not - we chose LIFE! We just hoped for the best, but we didn’t know what the outcome would be. All we did was pray and rest in God, believing that he had the very best reserved for us. Our baby, Rebeca was born on January 29, 2006 at 12:18 p.m. At that moment, we went through different emotions of happiness for giving birth to a “miraculous child.”But at the same time, we felt fear for not knowing what was coming next. Just 24 hours after birth, Rebeca went through her first surgery, which was needed to close the lession/defect on her back and two days after her first surgery she developd hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid in the brain. So, on February 4, she had another surgery to place a vp-shunt to drain the cerebral spinal fluid in the brain.
Ten days after her birth, she was discharged from the hospital. That was the beginning of our unknown journey. Today, as she likes to say, Beca is five years old and ¾. She is healthy, happy, talkative and very active. She wears braces to support her legs and she uses the potty differently than other girls. But, that has not made her different from others. We’ve learned to focus on her abilities, which are countless. As parents of a child with Spina Bifida, we have to confess that it has been a challenging journey, but I am very thankful for the blessings we have been given. We believe that: “Life is a gift from God and no matter what challenges we are faced with, HE will give us strength and endurance.” And we’ve experienced that on a daily basis. Personal Ponies came to our lives in a much needed time. It was about three years ago when we went to our first session, and from the very first time, Beca fell in love with the ponies. The bond between Rebeca and “her” ponies is so special and magical. She has learned to love them, respect them and take responsibility for them. She looks forward to Fridays when she can spend time with the ponies. She really enjoys everything she does with them - from painting, bathing, grooming, walking, even cleaning the stall. She also loves showing her school friends pictures of “her” ponies, which is a smart way to get the attention from all of them. Personal Ponies has been the best therapy in Rebeca’s life. She has not only gained confidence in herself, but also her attention and listening skills have improved just by being with her five very special“therapists”.There are just no words to describe our gratitude for the program and for all of the dedication, hard work, creativity and love Ms. Sandra has for our daughter. Ms. Sandra, with her positive attitude, has touched our lives in a very special way, and we will always be thankful for that. Thank you very much for all you do for Rebeca and for so many other families! Love, Priscila and Pablo Gondim