Hello everyone

Hello everyone


imageRochelle came into the world on January 30, 1980. She was her parents first child. They wanted her and were eagerly anticipating her arrival. When her mom was 40 weeks pregnant, a cesarean section was done because of IUGR, lack of amniotic fluid, placental insufficiency, and a failed oxytocin stress test. She weighed 1860 gm(4lb, 2oz), was 48.3 cm(19in) long, and her head circumfrance was 32cm(12.5in). Her Apgar scores were 5 and 8. The amniotic fluid was meconium stained. This means she was in distress before birth, but, she breathed and cried on her own.

She was sent to an observation nursery. She was described as a ‘funny looking kid’. She had microcephaly, a dolicocephic (long)skull, high forhead, high arched eyebrows, anti-Mongoloid slant to her eyes, hypertelorism (wide space between eyes), broad flat nasal bridge, short philtrum(groove between nose and upper lip), down turned mouth, small pointed chin, asymmetrical face, left single palm crease (three are normal), and short broad hands. She had three large hemangiomas, one on her right arm, and eye lid, and another at the base of her skull. She was hypotonic. She gained weight slowly and developed a streptococcus infection in her eyes. Chromosome studies were done, but no abnormalities were found. She went home with her parents when she was ten days old. They thought she was just a small adorable baby.

It turned out to be more complicated than that. She was hospitalized from March to May with seizures and pneumonia; August to November with hypertension, complete agenesis of her left kidney, developmental delay, hearing impairment, and failure to thrive.

On her first birthday, her weight was 4065 gm(8lb 15oz), height was 60cm(23.5in)and head circumference was 37cm(14.5in). She was about the size of 3 month old, and her cognitive development was at the 2 month level. Her mom was pregnant with her second child and unable to cope with the demands of Rochelle’s care. She was placed in an institution for medically fragile children with severe multiple disabilities.

Things went from bad to worse for her there. She developed recurring ear infections, tonsillitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia. High fevers resulted in status epilepticus. She required frequent anibiotics. The antibiotics gave her diarrhea. She usually refused to eat, and when she did, she often regurgitated.

The Early Intervention Team worked hard to teach her how to roll, sit, crawl, stand, walk, feed herself, and play with toys. She was not a cooperative student. She preferred to lie on her back and rock from side to side. That is how she got her first nick name, ‘Rocky’. Her favourite toy was a plastic book that she would flap and wave in the air. She was sweet, but smelly and dangerous. Anyone who picked her up was guaranteed to have a big mess to deal with at one end or the other. In a busy institution with many children, she wasn’t everyone’s favourite.

At this point in Rochelle’s life, I was a teacher, looking for a temporary part time summer job. I was somewhat unsettled with my career choice. I had worked as an RN and teacher, but I was taking some courses towards a M. Ed. Degree, thinking I might try something different. I got a job as a nurse at the Home. Rochelle caught my eye right away. She didn’t look like she belonged in that place. Despite her many problems, she looked normal to me. I soon grew attached to her. By the time the summer was over I knew I could not leave the Home without her.

I talked to her parents and they gave me their consent to foster her. They loved Rochelle, but they were unable to cope with her complex health problems. The plan fell through when her parents decided to move to another province. She could only stay with me if I adopted her. Her parents would not agree to that, but they settled on giving me full guardianship and full custody. They wanted visiting privileges only. It was very difficult for her parents but it worked out great for Rochelle and me. She found a new home and I found the different career I was looking for. It was our new beginning.

18 months

18 months


9 Responses to Rochelle. In the Beginning

  1. Heather W says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this fascinating story!! It’s wonderful to hear how you two found each other.

  2. heather18 says:

    more more more! …can’t wait for the next installment.

  3. KevinO says:

    Shirley-it’s people like you that make this world a better place. You’ve sacrificed so much to care for another. You are truly amazing.

  4. Yaya says:

    Shirley, Rochelle is so lucky to have you, or should I say you two waited for each other. Couldn’t wait for more of you two!

  5. shirley bidnick says:

    Thank you for your kind comments and interest in our lives. I must clarify. It isn’t people like me that make the world a better place. It is people like Rochelle. Her genetic flaw teaches me that we are all flawed in different ways, but those flaws do not decrease our value. We all have a purpose. She is not lucky to have me, I am fortunate to have her. She teaches me that flawed people need each other. I rescued her from an institution. She rescued me from a misdirected, self absorbed lifestyle. I have not made the sacrifices, she has. She patiently endures physical, communication, and health problems while choosing to be happy everyday. She teaches me not to complain about the negative things in life, but to be grateful for the good.

    All I did was say yes, I can provide a home for Rochelle. Since then Rochelle has persevered with her challenging work. She spares no effort to help me be a more loving and inclusive person. She challenges me to understand, accept, respect, appreciate, value, and use differences. She is the amazing heroine. I am the lucky recipient of her abundant talents and gifts.

  6. Myriam says:

    I’m really happy to read about you two tonight. My daughter was really similar to Rochelle at her birth and Smetimes, I call her “miss personnalité” because she is not always easy 😉 she surely knows what she wants and moreover what she does’nt! She is almost 6, she doesn’t speak but she is so expressive that sometimes you forget that there is no word coming out her mouth. I will be pleased to ear more about Rochelle’s development through years and her activities now that she is, I don’t believe it, my age! I’m also happy to know that its not just us, the biological parents, that can love our special kids. Sometimes, I’m worried about what will happen to my daughter if I’ll die before her…Now, I know that she could find somebody else with whom she could continue her way through life! Thanks!

  7. letty says:

    You are AWESOME!!!

  8. Kristen Faccioli Licari says:

    Do you see how everyone is responding to you and Rochelle? We love and respect you for the love and care have given and continue to give to Rochelle, and we also see you as a window into our own futures. Please tell us more when you have some time. What are her current abilities? Her difficulties? What kinds of health problems has she had as she’s gone through the years? What kind does she have now? How does she spend her days? We are all intensely curious, for so many different reasons. Much love ~

  9. Anitra says:

    Shirley, post more about Rochelle soon!! Upon re-reading your entry, I realized that she and I were born just days apart! My birthday is Feb. 4, 1980. Would love to hear more about how she’s doing.

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