Talia's Story

As a parent to a child who uses a wheelchair, I was honored to be asked to write a blog for LiveQuickie. I asked a few times what I should write about? Some of the suggestions included advice to other parents, Talia's story, traveling, traditions, basically anything I wanted. I agreed that telling my daughter Talia's story was the best way to begin.

January 2006. I was 8 months pregnant with Talia.

Talia was born on February 2, 2007 in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. During the early part of my pregnancy we were living in Winterthur, Switzerland. We moved back to Alberta when I was five months pregnant as my husband Ralf who is from Singen, Germany got a job in Calgary. But we ended up moving north to McMurray, where I am from, in the Wood Buffalo region. My roots are in Fort Chipewyan with the Mikisew Cree First Nation. I was ecstatic that our daughter would be born in Canada and I would have family around to help with our new baby girl.

My pregnancy was easy, and I had no worries at all, which was so unlike me as I am a total worrier. Actually, the only thing I could try to picture was what her face might look like. She decided to come a week later, which felt like eternity. When you are nine months pregnant and just want your baby to come out, you start thinking irrational thoughts like, "What if I am the only woman in history who stays pregnant forever?" or "Maybe I should drink castor oil." You think up ways to induce labor, so you can meet your baby and see their beautiful little face.

The drive to the hospital was the most dramatic part. It was -35° F outside, I just had a bath, and my water broke! Being a first-time mom, we hurried and went to the hospital, wet hair and all. Here we were driving, and I had a big toque on and the 15-minute drive felt like eternity! I was just lost in my breathing and trying to remain calm. At the last light before we turned into the hospital, my husband looked at me nervously and conjured up some advice that he remembered from our prenatal classes: "Think of the beach," he said. "To heck with the beach!" I replied. There may or may not have been a swear word in there. We made it to the hospital and the pain was unbearable and just like in the movies, I needed a wheelchair to get to the maternity ward.

About an hour later at 1:34 a.m. on Groundhog Day, she had finally arrived! I asked, "10 fingers and 10 toes?" But I just remember seeing the concern on the nurses' faces and sensed something was wrong. She was born with bilateral clubfeet, severely contracted legs, and as we would later learn, a tethered spinal cord. Little did we know that our journey of hospital visits had just begun.

Talia as a newborn

About an hour after she was born and everything seemed more stable, I asked the nurses to take her away as I needed some time to process what just happened. I told my husband to go home, get some rest, and come back in the morning. I could feel myself wanting to curl up into a little ball. I could see where the nursery was from my room and knew which bassinet was hers. Some EMTs had come to the unit and I was just staring in the direction of where my daughter was, and I was trying to decide if I should cry or not. I was still in shock that my baby was not okay and the fear of the unknown was setting in. The nurses and EMTs were talking and then I could see them motioning to where my baby was, and I could see them looking at her and talking about her. I am grateful that I saw this as my motherly instincts kicked in and I range the bell and asked for them to bring her to me. Momma bear kicked in and I wanted to keep her close.

Talia and Mom

They kept us at the hospital for a few days, but I remember being so scared to leave as I thought, "Why are they sending me home when they are unsure what is wrong with her?" I remember leaving the hospital and we had to make a left turn across traffic, but there was no traffic signal. So we turned right instead, even if it meant taking the long way home. Less than a week after she was born she had several doctor appointments and even her first flight at four days old to see the specialists at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton. Her first serial castings of her legs to straighten her leg contractures took place when she was just a week old. Little did I know that the physiotherapists and staff on the top floor at the Northern Lights Regional Hospital would be such a support to us in the months ahead. They helped with so much and Talia had an entourage when it came to bath time. Then when the castings were off, they would leave me alone with her for a few minutes so that I could have quality time to bathe her just like we would do at home. We are so appreciative of the care we received, and they treated Talia so unbelievably well.

Physiotherapist dancing with Talia and singing to her to console her as she was crying

Our life of regular hospital visits for castings and MRI scans and check-ups continued in Fort McMurray and Edmonton until she had her first surgeries for her leg bilateral clubfeet at nine months. At the time we could not see how we were so lucky and that despite her physical differences and challenges, she was healthy.

The ladies who helped with her castings twice a week in the beginning and then weekly. They loved Talia!

We knew early on that we would do our best to not let her disabilities stop her or us. There were many hard days but the joy of being gifted our little miracle on February 2, 2007 was the best thing that ever happened to us.

About the Author

Denise Krueger with her husband, Ralf

My name is Denise Krueger. I'm a stay-at-home mom with two girls: Kiana, 6, and Talia, 10. I keep active in the community by volunteering with the school council at my girls' school and with the Calgary Stampede. I also enjoy yoga. I have been married to my husband Ralf since 2004. We live in Calgary, Alberta and are very involved with our girls' activities. We love to travel as a family whenever possible.

Most of the stories here on LiveQuickie were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.

Date: 1/23/2018 12:00:00 AM

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