“I only wish I’d found Noah’s Ark earlier – they’re a lifeline.” Gabriella is a fun, happy, 3-year-old. She’s bright, sparky and communicative. But she’s been on quite a journey to where she is now.
Sarah and her husband longed for a child and after she’d suffered three miscarriages, they were so excited in 2015 to bring their baby home for Christmas. But during birth, Gabriella suffered a hypoxic event (HIE), not receiving enough oxygen and blood to the brain. Sarah only got to hold her daughter for the first time after four days and there was no guarantee at that point that she’d ever be able to breathe independently. Sarah reflects on how incredibly tough her first year was:
“Gabriella didn’t come home for the first six weeks – it wasn’t the Christmas we’d dreamed of! Those first few weeks and months were horrendous, adjusting to not just having a baby, but one with such severe disabilities was so hard. I wish I’d found Noah’s Ark at this point”.
Gabriella has quadriplegic dystonic cerebral palsy meaning that she’s got brain damage in the areas which control her movement – there’s no dimmer switch so her muscles are either 'on' or 'off' and her movements are wild and fairly uncontrolled.
But Sarah did indeed find Noah’s Ark in 2018 and it’s meant the world to her and Gabriella:
“It’s not easy embracing your child being part of a different community. But everyone at Noah’s Ark has enabled us to feel normal and special – we no longer stick out like a sore thumb.”
“We came to our first family activity day in summer 2018 at Willow’s Farm and we were all very nervous. But we were having so much fun throughout the day that we completely forgot to check out – we got a very worried call from the Noah’s Ark team at the end of the day as we were still there!”
“The Noah’s Ark team just know exactly what they’re doing and make life so easy for us. Whether that’s at the family day or with our regular volunteer”
Even though things are still hard with Gabriella, Sarah has seen a huge development in her, rolling around independently, increased comprehension and even starting to sit up. One of the most significant developments that Sarah mentions is the way that Gabriella interacts with other children:
“Other children just seem to want to play with her. But of course they’re more mobile than she is. That’s why the Noah’s Ark activities are so good – they’re a place where Gabriella can hang out with her friends and all the children are just treated absolutely normally. That’s a unique gift.”
HELP US BRING THE ARK TO LIFE
Together we built The Ark. Now help us bring it to life for children like Gabriella.
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