Stefanie Boggs-Johnson is owner of Stefanie Lynn Creations and published author of “I See You, Little Naomi.” In addition to being a parent and mobile cosmetologist, she is a crew supervisor for adults with special needs, working as the on-site job coach at a local grocery store. She also volunteers for Djanai’s Angels Special Needs Prom in North Hollywood. She is currently training to facilitate beauty classes for American Cancer Society’s “Look Good, Feel Better” program. She and her family live in Concord, California.
March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness month. For many families like mine, there is cerebral palsy (CP) awareness every hour and day. As a mother of an in utero stroke survivor diagnosed with right hemiparesis CP, this “mama bear” ended up on a grief roller coaster ride that included the dark lows of despair and the heights of determination.
The story I share with you today is a result of the whirlwind of emotions, adjustments and new endeavors that swept up my family upon my daughter’s birth. And it is about the choices I made, which resulted in a new perception and passion for life.
I had no issues during my pregnancy with my daughter Naomi, who is now six years old. No one saw any signs of medical trauma until the day I went to the hospital to check on the baby in my womb, who was normally very active but had stopped moving. After an emergency c-section on March 18, 2009, Naomi immediately suffered from multiple seizures per hour due to a stroke at seven months gestation. She was not expected to survive.
However, she did survive and is living proof that miracles do happen. She defied a grim diagnosis, eventually achieving each developmental milestone, and causing a ripple effect of new priorities, joy and choices in many people’s lives– including mine.
I became a parent consumed with therapy and medical appointments, pharmacy and emergency room visits and tears. As overwhelming as it all was for my entire family, I knew I had to maintain my sanity. The pain and despair that overwhelmed me at times could not stay! I had to do something! I had to turn my daughter’s trial into a testimony that would help others jump off their own personal roller coasters.
So, I took action to help other special needs families. I began by making hair accessories and other crafts. And, I returned to my lifelong passion of writing children’s books – about my daughter, of course. Then, in 2013, (at the age of 43!) I went to beauty school to become a mobile cosmetologist, jumping onto an entirely new roller coaster. As a mobile cosmetologist, I visit the homes of people with disabilities who may have difficulty going to a salon for a hair appointment or other grooming needs.
I’m now on an extraordinary path filled with priceless rewards, such as the multiple visits to the home of a tenderhearted teenage boy with autism, gaining his trust and eventually getting his permission to cut his hair. The round of high-fives with his parents was pure joy. This task, to which most others don’t give a second thought, was a real dilemma for this family. To be able to offer a service that relieved their burden made it all worth it!
As with anyone’s life path, mine has its bumps and bruises. But these are offset by meeting wonderful people, seeing the good that still exists in this world and knowing that I somehow added to that good. Sometimes, the circumstances of our lives aren’t what we originally ordered but they can turn into so many miracles. My hope is that all who read this will see the miracles in their lives, no matter what the day may bring. May the pain of letting go of old dreams turn into a passion for new dreams to come true!