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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Tickled Pink: Grandchildren are Grand Children

by Donna Lowich

Donna holding her newborn granddaughter

I felt an immediate connection to Karaleen, my new granddaughter. She was my link from the past to the future.

The ring of the phone didn't wake me; it startled me. After all, you can't be awakened if you're not sleeping and I was much too excited to sleep. Who could sleep? I merely closed my eyes, anxious for the next few hours to pass. It was a momentous night in my life; some time this night, I would become a grandma!

My husband, Walter, picked up the phone. As we expected, it was Jeffrey. The doctor said the baby could be born any minute.

Any minute? After waiting at the hospital all day, we had come home for a while. We now had a thirty-minute drive back to the hospital. We panicked. Walt helped me to the car, barely able to speak. When we did finally speak, our rattled nerves gave way to conversation disguised as bickering.

"Walter, after all this, we're going to miss it."

"I'm going as fast as I can."

"Can't you go a little faster?" As Walter pressed on the accelerator, I let up on my insistence for the need for speed. "Uh, maybe you better slow down. Getting a ticket is not going to help -- Watch out, there's a stop sign coming up!"

"I know. I can see it."

Donna and her granddaughter

Because of two spinal cord surgeries nearly twenty-five years ago, Donna worried that in time, she wouldn't be able to hold her anymore.

Walter shook his head but said nothing.

With a bit of creative driving, we made it to the maternity wing in about twenty minutes. As we got off the elevator, we saw Katie's parents and her sister and brother-in-law in the tiny waiting room.

Despite the doctor's prognostication, our baby was still deciding what time was the right time to enter this world.

Whew! For us, it was hurry-up-and-wait. As we waited, I kept thinking of my daughter-in-law, Katie and Jeff and what was happening just a short walk down the hall.

My thoughts were cut short as I began to receive sporadic text messages from Jeff: "waiting for the baby to drop a bit more."

And, bit later: "still waiting."

Then the messages stopped. Not sure what was happening, we began to "bet" on the baby's weight. Everyone, certain that she would be small (because of the doctor's prognostication) was placing her weight at five pounds plus a differing number of ounces.

But, not me! This grandma was just as certain that our baby would surprise us yet again. I pronounced, "Six pounds!"

Donna and her granddaughter

Donna and her granddaughter do puzzles and watch movies such as "Beauty and the Beast" and sing songs.

Everyone thought I was being too optimistic. But I stuck to my prediction.

At 3:30 a.m., a little more than three hours after our chaotic arrival, I received one more message from Jeff:

"She's here!"

We exited the cramped waiting room and were milling about the hallway. The maternity nurse approached and told us her vital stats: Our little Karaleen arrived on her own timetable at 3:27 a.m. and surprised everyone (except me!) by tipping the scales at a full SIX pounds!

While we were talking to the nurse, we inadvertently provided Walter with a distraction. He meandered down the hall, closing in on the automatic door that separated us from Katie, Jeff and Karaleen.

The nurse informed us that it would be about thirty more minutes before we could see the baby. Walter had already placed himself in the electronic eye of the door so it wouldn't close after it had been opened by a doctor leaving the area.

I saw him loitering and knew immediately what his plan was.

Donna's granddaughter

Donna and her granddaughter go to the mall together -- a girl can't get in too much shopping, no matter her age!

"Expect Walter to break some hospital rules...," I thought to myself. I was certain we were going to be asked to leave; I didn't expect that it would allow us to get into the room earlier. But that's exactly what happened.

Katie and Jeff were taking turns holding her. Jeff held Karaleen and made sure that we each had a turn holding her.

When Jeff placed her in my arms, I felt an immediate connection to Karaleen. She was my link from the past to the future. I looked at Karaleen and then at her daddy. All I could say was, "Now you know what a miracle looks like."

Because of two spinal cord surgeries nearly twenty-five years ago, I worried that in time, I wouldn't be able to hold her anymore. But, I tried to reassure myself, there will be other activities that we can do together. I want to read to her, and maybe when she's older she will want to write, too!

I looked down at Karaleen nestled in my arms. She gazed softly back at me. Overcome by thoughts and emotions too numerous to try to sort out, tears spilled out and were in a mad dash down my face. I was the only one crying but I didn't mind. I was holding my granddaughter and all was right with the world.

Now, almost exactly three years later, I can say for certain that my worries about our activities when we are together were unfounded. Karaleen and I do puzzles and watch movies such as "Beauty and the Beast". We sing songs; right now, I'm teaching her "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider".

Donna's granddaughter

Donna's granddaughter has shown her the important things in life: family, friends, and the gift to be able to spend joyous times with them.

Sometimes, we pretend we are blowing whistles! And, of course, Karaleen brings out a book or two and "reads" to me.

We have also had our share of excursions and family outings: an aquarium, petting zoo, Sesame Place, and a number of pizzerias. And, of course, the mall -- a girl can't get in too much shopping, no matter her age! These are just some of the ways we have connected, my sweet Karaleen and I.

Two years ago, shortly before her first birthday, I fell and broke my shoulder. Soon after, with my arm in a sling, I sat next to Karaleen in a restaurant. She smiled, pointed her finger at me and closed her little fist on her heart. I did the same with my good arm. Another connection!

Children learn what they see.

As her daddy did before her, Karaleen has shown me the important things in life: family, friends, and the gift to be able to spend joyous times with them. That's why I always say, "Grandchildren are grand children!."

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Pediatric SCI (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Religion and People with Disabilities (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Adjustment to SCI (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Aging with SCI (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Children with Disabilities (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Parenting with a Disability (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on SCI Autobiogs or Biogs (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on SCI Chat Rooms (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on SCI Research (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on SCI Tutorial 101 (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on SCI Videos (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Deep Vein Thrombosis (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Mindfullness (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on New Injury Top 10 Questions (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Umbilical Cord Blood Banking (PDF)

Arkansas Spinal Cord CommissionThe mission of the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission is to administer a statewide program to identify and meet the unique and lifelong needs of people with spinal cord disabilities in the state.

The American Camping AssociationAccredits camping facilities, including dozens across the U.S. that cater to kids with paralysis, to assure a safe and healthy experience. Click above to locate a camp.

CareCure CommunityCareCure Community features a SpinalNurse bulletin board with informed comments on matters of the bowel, and all issues of paralysis.

Canadian & American Spinal Research OrganizationPromotes and supports funding research to ultimately find a cure for paralysis. Also publishes journal of latest research they fund. Call (800) 361-4004 or use the link above.

Canadian Paraplegic AssociationAssists people with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities to achieve individuality, self-reliance and full community participation. Call (613) 723-1033 or use the link above.

Children With DisabilitiesOffers information about advocacy, education, employment, health, housing, recreation, technical assistance, and transportation covering a broad array of developmental, physical, and emotional disabilities.

Craig HospitalWith funding from the US Department of Education's National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research, has developed educational materials to help people with spinal cord injuries live in the community maintain their health. Topics include skin care, exercise, heart disease, weight control, alcohol abuse and conditions related to the aging body. Use the link above and click on SCI Health and Wellness.

The Council for Exceptional ChildrenDedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and/or the gifted.

Children's Neurobiological SolutionsChildren's Neurobiological Solutions, Inc. (CNS) is a national, non-profit organization supporting collaborative research to advance treatments and therapies for children with neurodevelopmental abnormalities, birth injuries to the nervous system, and related neurological problems. CNS offers families and health care providers information and educational resources.

Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD)Dept of Physical Medicine and Rehab Services at Baylor College of Medicine.

Exceptional ParentThe magazine often runs a column on dentistry for people with disabilities.

DREAMMS for KidsDevelopmental Research for the Effective Advancement of Memory and Motor Skills specializes in assistive technology for students and youth with special needs in schools, homes, and the community.

Determined 2 HealProvides helpful information for the newly spinal cord injured.

The Fathers NetworkSupports men who have children with special needs through support and mentoring programs, technical assistance, national conferences and information resources.

Internet Resources for Special ChildrenProvides information to parents, family members, caregivers, friends, educators, and medical professionals who provide for children with disabilities and other health related disorders.

Getting Benefits for KidsThis link illustrates the kinds of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits a child with a disability might be eligible for and explains how we evaluate disability claims for children.

Indian Health ServiceU.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services.

FacingDisability.comFacing Disability is a web resource with more than 1,000 videos drawn from interviews of people with spinal cord injuries, their families, caregivers and experts. I know that this is a lot to ask, but we'd be so grateful for your help. I'm looking forward to discussing this link with you, and to answering any questions you may have.

Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery at the University of LouisvilleThe Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery provides activity-based therapies to promote recovery from neurologic injury in children; conducts research to enhance recovery; and trains families, practitioners and scientists to maximize recovery and improve the quality of life for children and their families. In short, we are here to help kids kick paralysis and through science have every reason to hope.

Model Systems CentersA federally funded program of 14 specialty medical and/or rehabilitation centers across the US. The SCI Care System collects and submits acute, rehabilitation and follow-up (annual, long-term post-discharge) data on SCI patients who received care in the these centers following injury.

The Miami Project to Cure ParalysisThe Miami Project to Cure Paralysis has studied functional electrical systems for exercise.

Mobile WomenArticles, resources, online forum for women with disabilities especially wheelchair users.

KidsHealthOffers reliable health information about children from before birth through adolescence, with separate areas for kids, teens, and parents.

Kids MoveDevoted to pediatric movement disorders with up-to-date information about the recognition, assessment, treatment, and support.

National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY)Provides information on disabilities and disability-related issues for families, educators, and other professionals; special focus is children and youth (birth to age 22).

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC)NSCISC supervises and directs the collection, management and analysis of the world's largest spinal cord injury database. Headquartered at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

National Resource Center for Parents with DisabilitiesA deep resource on childbirth and parenting, adaptive equipment for childcare, networking and support groups

National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA)At NSCIA, we educate and empower survivors of spinal cord injury and disease to achieve and maintain the highest levels of independence, health and personal fulfillment. We fulfill this mission by providing an innovative Peer Support Network and by raising awareness about spinal cord injury and disease through education.

New York Online Access to Health (N.O.A.H)Offers information and links related to spinal cord and head injury treatment, rehabilitation, and children. Materials in Spanish.

Neuroscience for KidsOffers an understandable look at the segments of the spinal cord; from University of Washington.

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative ServicesThe Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is committed to improving results and outcomes for people with disabilities of all ages.

Our-KidsAn online family of parents, caregivers and others working with children with physical and/or mental disabilities.

Paralyzed Veterans of America, in support of The Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine, offers authoritative clinical practice guidelines for bladder management. Consumer guides are available to download.

Parenting with Disabilities OnlineProvides information, support and resources to parents with disabilities.

Parents On WheelsSite is dedicated to parents who use wheelchairs.

Parents with Disabilities OnlineProvide information and resources to parents with disabilities.

SpineUniverseAt SpineUniverse our goal is to help patients and their families understand their back or neck problems. In clear, straightforward language we aim to explain what causes spinal problems and how they can be treated. We are committed to ensure that all of the information we present is trustworthy and of the highest quality.

Spinal Cord Injury Information NetworkThe Spinal Cord Injury Information Center features clinical information about bowel management and all other medical issues of paralysis.

The Shriners HospitalsThe Shriners have three facilities in the U.S. to provide expert, no-cost care to children under 18 with spinal cord injuries.

State Respite CoalitionsThe Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project was established in 1969 with funding from the Federal government as part of our nation's earliest attempts to provide educational services to young children with disabilities.

Through the Looking GlassThe purpose of the National Parent-to-Parent Network at Through the Looking Glass is to connect parents, as well as those who are considering becoming parents, with others who may have shared similar experiences or faced common barriers as parents with disabilities.

United Spinal AssociationOur mission is to improve the quality of life of all Americans living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), and post polio.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Fact Sheet: VA and Spinal Cord InjuryOf the more than 250,000 Americans with serious spinal cord injuries and disorders, about 42,000 are veterans eligible for medical care and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Paralysis Resource Center The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

Reeve Foundation Online Paralysis Community Connecting people living with paralysis, families, friends and caregivers so we can share support, experience, knowledge, and hope.

Quality of Life Grants DatabaseFind resources within the PRC Quality of Life Grants Database. Search by Zip Code, State or an Entire Category.

Library Books and VideosFind resources within the PRC library catalog.

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90PR3001, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.