|Our family - Raising a Child Who Can't See|
We eventually got to the point where we realized, however, that we couldn't spend all our time focusing on what Christian couldn't do. We spend our time now focusing on helping Christian do all the things he can do, and doing them well. We want so much for Christian to be successful in life, and if we teach him to focus on what he can't do, he will not succeed. So we have shifted our focus, and we plan to teach Christian where to keep his focus.
A lot of people have asked me about Christian's eye and his vision because there has been a little confusion on whether or not he can see some. In my video I stated that Christian was born without eyes. I said "They just didn't form. They just weren't there." This is the simplified version of Christian's condition, for sake of shortening the youtube video, so I would like to elaborate and let everyone who is curious know!
Christian's condition with his eyes is known in the medical world as "Micropthalmia." Micro means small. Opthalmia means eyes. Christian has "some" eye underneath the conjunvtival tissue that is seen. We were told initially by Children's Hospital that Christian was completely blind, but it became apparent fairly quickly that he is not 100% blind.
At only a few days old, Christian would jump when we would take his picture and the camera's flash would go off. He would wake from a peaceful sleep when a light was turned on in his dark room. He turned his head away from sunlight on occasion. And on other occasions, turned his head toward it.
When Children's did an initial CT Scan of Christian's head, they showed me his eyes and explained that there were bits and pieces of a retina, pupil, and all the parts that make up the eye, but they were not in any order that would produce functional vision. His optic nerves look fairly normal, however.
With all that he can see, it is apparent that Christian does not see well. He does not react to facial expressions (smiling at him will not make him smile.) He also doesn't react to things like a television, or objects moving near him like a passing car. There have been multiple times that I have watched Christian feel around for toys that are near him and miss several times before finding it. As far as we can tell, Christian has some light and dark perception at best.
His blindness does cause him to have developmental delays, and when you think about it, it will make sense as to why. The reason that babies develop the way they do boils down to pure motivation. They learn to crawl because they see a toy they want to get, or so they can get to mama. Christian does want those toys, and he wants to get to me, but because there is nothing for him to look at, he doesn't grasp the concept of the space around him like others. and how to move about in that space. So he has to be taught that reaching out or moving forward will get him the desired results, where as other babies figure it out on their own.
Christian has done plenty of things without being taught that totally surprise me, though. He learned to reach out for a toy with very little effort. It almost came natural. It seems like such a simple concept to us, but think about a 3 month old who can't see. How in the world do they know to extend their arm and grab a toy? I'm not sure of the answer, but I do know that Christian learned fast! He also learned to pull up to stand on his own. This was also a motivation thing for him. Christian is learning more and more about boundaries and space around him. And he has learned that he likes to explore the world around him to find things to chew on. So he learned to pull to stand all by himself while in his crib so that he could chew on the crib rails. Yes, he is silly.
There are a lot of things that go into raising Christian that I have had to learn over the last 14 months as well. We have to talk to Christian constantly. Well, we don't have to, but if we ever want him to talk and understand things, we need to. Every time we make a noise we tell him what it is. Every time we change his diaper, or wipe his hands, or whatever it may be, we have to explain it to him in as much detail as possible. The more we talk to Christian the more he talks back (in a good way.)
We are still in the early days of raising Christian. We still have many more blessed years to come in raising our little man who will one day be a big man. In all that in between time, I am praying for guidance in helping Christian to become a God fearing, God obedient, successful, happy, productive, loving adult.
We are also continuously praying for healing in Christian's life and that he will be able to see one day. We have no idea how it will happen, but do the details really matter with an outcome that important? :)
I hope this gives everyone a glimpse into the world of raising Christian with a focus on this one particular aspect. I also hope it answers everyone's questions about his vision! Please feel free to ask questions as well!!!