Interview with AbilityPath Mom Amy Bergstrom

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amyMoms listen to the whines of their child all day and still tuck them into bed at night with a hug and a kiss. Moms joyfully accept a wilted dandelion presented between little sticky fingers. Moms loyally get up in the middle of the night to clean up after their sick child.

AbilityPath moms care for children with special needs on a daily basis. AbilityPath moms make significant sacrifices that enable their children to experience a fuller, richer life. AbilityPath moms have to make difficult decisions about where their child will best be able to develop and must find the resources for this. This Mother’s day AbilityPath honors all those moms and talks to one very special AbillityPath mom, Amy Bergstrom.

Amy and her husband Mike are the parents to Mia (10), Luke (8) and Owen (5). Mia has a complex heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome as well as Turner syndrome. She has had 3 open heart surgeries, six cardiac catheterizations and 14 other surgical procedures. Mia also had a g-tube until the age of 5 and now lives with motor delays, moderate learning disabilities, cognitive delays and memory issues.

My pregnancy with Mia was perfect. I felt great the entire time and ate everything I could. Her birth was amazing; I pushed for about four hours before Mia arrived. We thought she was perfect. Then the doctor, with a weary look in his eye, politely asked the nurse to get the Pediatrician on call. Mia’s color was off and her oxygen levels were low. The rest was a whirlwind – my parents and Mike were rushed to a different hospital with Mia and I was completely alone in the hospital with a funky breast pump contraption trying to pump milk, which hurt like heck and didn’t work. I produced nothing, not a drop and I finally let myself cry. This was so not how it was supposed to be.

We started early intervention services with Mia at Community Gatepath, then after that the county program at Tower road. She attended classes to improve gross and fine motor as well as social needs. She received OT from Cassy Christianson OTR/L for three years for her severe feeding issues.

These early years of therapy offered a ‘safe’ place for Mia and for me – while she was in class, I would sit with other parents in group therapy sessions provided on site. Mia was medically fragile and these classes provided a place for her to get stronger and be exposed to age appropriate activities with other kids.

We have graduated from early intervention services and Mia now attends Stanbridge Academy, a private school for children with learning disabilities in San Mateo. She also receives speech therapy, instruction time with a resource specialist, social skills classes and private music therapy. With all these classes and the activities of my other kids, Mike and I have done a good job coordinating our taxi schedules.

Being a mom to Mia, Luke and Owen has helped me to acquire a level of patience I never knew I was capable of. I have also learned not to compare my children. Luke is younger than Mia and has quickly passed her at every milestone from walking, potty training, riding a bike and reading. The challenge for me is remembering to completely ignore the expectations I have because of the age they are.

I live with the utmost compassion and respect for families with special needs. I find myself drawn to them. I’ve also learned to accept that the hopes and dreams I had for Mia’s future before she was born had to be drastically altered, but with that I’ve also found that I am very capable of creating “new” hopes and dreams and am always finding new ways to find pure happiness.

Amy is an amazing mom that never gives up advocating for the services Mia needs. She also started a Girl Scout troop for girls with special needs. This troop was a place where six very special girls could have fun and not be judged. This year as Mia got older they switched from Girl Scouts to a special needs cheer-leading squad.

Happy Mother’s Day Amy – enjoy the day with your husband and the three children that gave you the title of Mother.

Links & Resources

http://www.gatepath.org/whatwedo/children/
Community Gatepath offers early intervention services to children ages birth to three.
http://www.smcoe.k12.ca.us/apps/comm.asp?$1=9
The San Mateo County Office of Education provides special education programs for students whose needs cannot be met solely within their local school district.
http://www.stanbridgeacademy.org/
Stanbridge Academy is a K-12 school for children with mild to moderate learning disabilities, located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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