Melissa and Tanner's Story "Precious Bundle of Joy"

I have been married to Steve for 20 years.  We have three children, Tanner will turn 19 in June, Kaylee is age 17 and Ashlee is age 15.  

After Steve and I got married we immediately wanted to start a family. Within three months we found out we were expecting.  I didn’t want to know what the sex of the baby was, but Steve did.  So the doctor sealed an envelope identifying the gender of our baby.  After Steve received the news he went to work and told everyone the sex of the baby.

When Steve arrived home that night he excitedly told me that he announced the sex of our son to his co-workers.  Thus, the gender of our son was accidentally revealed to me.  We were both very excited and were able to plan accordingly.

My pregnancy was truly uneventful up until Tanner was born.  I was induced around two weeks prior to my due date.  My labor lasted two days until I final submitted to a cesarean section.  Tanner seemed healthy and the doctors didn’t alarm us of any complications. He visually had pronated feet but I was told was positioned from the pregnancy.  Breastfeeding was very difficult, yet I was extremely determined.  I have never put so much effort into accomplishing any task to this date.   I determined Tanner had coordination issues with swallowing my breast milk.   Often times the milk went out his nose.  After leaving the hospital with our precious bundle of joy, I contacted Le Leche League for support and to be around other mothers that were breast feeding.  I breast fed him with those issues for 14-months!

As a baby, Tanner was delayed in most fine and gross motor skills.  He crawled at 12-months-old and didn't walk until he was 18-months-old. Tanner was in diapers until he was over 4-years-old, and he didn’t eat solid foods until he was 6-years-old!  When he was around 15-months-old, I contacted the Infant and Toddler Program for intervention. He also received treatment for his legs and feet from an orthopedic when he was 5-months-old.  He received physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.  My main concern was and always will be his eating and  diet.

With his food issues he was seen at two different feeding clinics.  Once settled in Denver when he attended the world renowned Pediatric Oral Feeding Clinic.  However, he made little to no progress.  I finally threw in the towel and dropped the program.  On a side note, in addition to Tanner, I now had a 21-month-old and a newborn.  Life was ponytails and sweat pants most days for me.  

It seemed most of my time was scheduling appointments for Tanner and the issues he was demonstrating. He had genetic testing, a swallow study, more and more orthopedic visits about his pronating feet and a play study that determined that he was on the autism spectrum.  It was exhausting!!!   He started a developmental/inclusive preschool in Denver when he was age three.  When he was nearly 5-years-old, we were faced with sending him to kindergarten.  As his mother I knew he was not ready for kindergarten.  I had to fight the school district for the right for him to stay in preschool another year with services, (speech/physical therapy etc.). Finally, six weeks later the school district agreed to let him stay another year which was the best decision ever!

We moved to Iowa when Tanner was in 1st grade.  Prior to the school year starting Tanner’s teacher came to meet us.  She asked many questions and we felt really good about him going to a new school.  However, within a few days of school starting I received a call.  The “nice” teacher apprised me of Tanner’s downfalls.  I had warned her of all his issues plus she had his Individualized Education Program, (IEP), which is a document that is developed for each public school child who needs special education. The district finally gave him a one-on-one support person.

Tanner attended that school until 3rd grade.  We then moved to Kansas City, and we had no issues with the transition as I had sent all his important information months prior to our move.

Middle school was a wonderful experience for him as well as high school.  We have met with the education team twice a year since he was in kindergarten, making changes to his education plan if necessary.  

After many letters, phone calls, and emails, Tanner will be attending the Transition Post-Secondary Education (TPE) program at the University of Kansas in the fall. Even with all of the trials and tribulations, today Tanner is a happy 18-year-old that went to his prom, is a registered voter, and can tell you about almost any historical event in depth! He follows politics, enjoys running, playing online video games and loves to drink Dr. Pepper.  He seems excited for his future!

As his mom, I will always advocate for him regardless of his challenges! It was worth all of hardship and I will never give up!