Bridget and Mike anticipated the birth of their child with much excitement.
Little did they know, between the happiness of baby showers, purchasing furniture and painting the baby’s room, they were about to receive news that would forever change their lives. Bridget was 19 weeks into her pregnancy when the doctor spotted something abnormal during an ultrasound. The couple was devastated. Their little girl would be born without eyes, a condition known as anophthalmia.
“They told us best case scenario, she would be blind. Worst case scenario, she wouldn’t survive,” Bridget recalled.
Grief-stricken but determined to face the difficult journey by keeping faith, the two decided to name their daughter just that — Faith.
Learning early on of Faith’s condition allowed Bridget and Mike time to search for assistance to help their child learn, grow and enjoy life to the fullest. That’s when they discovered the Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments. There, Bridget and Mike would be able to receive the guidance they were seeking.
The Delta Gamma Center helps children who are blind or visually impaired reach their full potential through family-centered and specialized services. These services gave Bridget and Mike the strength and support needed to carry on.
“Through all the struggles and challenges, we just keep the faith that she’s going to be okay and keep fighting the fight,” Bridget said.
The family’s journey has been anything but easy. After Faith spent the first 29 days of her life in the NICU, Bridget and Mike learned their daughter would soon be faced with yet more challenges.
“Before she was born, we thought our biggest challenge was going to be raising a child who was blind, but now it’s become so much more than just her being blind,” Bridget said.
At 3 months old, doctors determined the cause of Faith’s loss of sight was due to a rare gene mutation. As a result, Faith struggles with breathing and hearing, and has a severe sleep disorder as well as gastrointestinal and feeding issues that have resulted in the placement of a feeding tube. She also suffers from neurological and endocrine issues, and global developmental delays.
With United Way support, the Delta Gamma Center enrolled Faith in their Early Interventions program, which provided her with sensory teachers during her first three years. Through in-home visits, Faith’s teachers gave Bridget and Mike the resources they needed to access ideas on how to work with Faith and teach her, but most importantly, they served as a support.
Debbie Naucke, Executive Director of the Delta Gamma Center, said, “One of the gifts of Early Interventions is helping parents become strong advocates for their children going forward. Bridget and Mike embody that as parents. They continue searching to ensure her needs are met and understood.”
Although Faith still endures many struggles today, she has shown significant improvement. Overall, Faith is far stronger and healthier than she was her first year. In fact, 3-year-old Faith is now attending preschool.
“We have seen great improvements in Faith’s understanding of cause and effect, and anticipation of what is going on around her. She has evolved into quite the social little girl. You will often see her smiling and giggling,” proud parents, Bridget and Mike, said. “We are very grateful to our dedicated early intervention team who taught us how to work with Faith and helped us recognize and celebrate her achievements.”
Although Faith has graduated from the program, the Delta Gamma Center continues to offer support to her and her parents. Graduates are invited to join various age-appropriate groups to interact with other children with similar conditions. Faith is part of the Explorer group where she is able to further develop motor and social skills, and foster friendships with other children.
“Faith is teaching us important lessons,” said Debbie Chapuis, Family Support Services Coordinator of the Delta Gamma Center. “Each smile or giggle from Faith is a reminder that being able to see, talk or walk is less important than being able to receive and inspire love from others, and Faith is a pro at that!”
About Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments
The mission of the Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments is to provide educational services for children in the earliest years, prior to the start of school, with an emphasis on guidance and training for their parents. They are the only organization in the metropolitan area that addresses the early intervention and support needs of families and children with vision loss. The Delta Gamma Center has been a United Way funded agency since 1998.