My first daughter was born 6 years and 27 days ago. She was born in a cold operating room 14 weeks too soon, weighing in at just 1 pound, 8 ounces (or 680 grams for you NICU veterans). Her first cries sounded more like the tiny mews of a newborn kitten, nothing like what I had expected.
By the time Michael Phelps won his record-setting 8th gold medal in the Beijing Olympics, our precious miracle was 2 months old and THREE WHOLE POUNDS. Our summer was spent by the isolette of a tiny little girl–thankfully, we had one of the coveted four windows.
Addie’s due date was September 18th. She was released from the NICU on October 24th, and we spent the winter in quarantine to protect her fragile lungs from RSV. We started weekly therapy sessions with an occupational therapist, and then we added in physical therapy, and finally, speech therapy when she was 18 months old (15 months adjusted).
At the age of 18 months, Addie had been wearing glasses for six months, was still six months away from taking her first independent steps, and had ZERO words to communicate her needs.
It is not an exaggeration when I say that Rachel Coleman and the Signing Time DVDs gave our family the gift of communication.
With American Sign Language at her disposal, Adeline went from being non-verbal to reading in a span of two years. There are some days when I wish our chatty extrovert could be quiet for five minutes in a row, but when I stop to think about the unbelievable amount of times that I prayed I would eventually hear my daughter call me “Mommy,” I forget all traces of annoyance.
This time next month, our entire family will be meeting Rachel Coleman for the first time at her concert in Austin. I’m positive that we will not be the only ones in attendance who have Signing Time to thank for the precious gift of communication with our children.