Alaina Averie. That’s the name of my oldest, my daughter, my pride and joy, my little princess and here recently, my little four eyes.
Leading up to her needing glasses was a span of about three weeks where I noticed she would sometimes go cross eyed. I usually noticed this when I was sitting across from her at the dinner table and realized that her eye would turn in when she would look at me. It would correct itself so fast that sometimes I thought I was the one going cross eyed! The more frequent this would occur, I started to observe that it was more so her left eye but every now and then her right one would turn in also. I think when I first told my husband about it that he thought I was a little crazy. He wasn’t dismissive but maybe just thought I was exaggerating and even thought that if it was true that she would possibly grow out of it. Over time, however, he started to see it too. We watched her, made sure she wasn’t acting any differently and we even made sure she wasn’t just trying to perfect the eye roll! She is a Threenager after all. It wasn’t until one day when her eyes crossing was so recurrent that at one point my husband was talking to her and had to ask if she was even looking at him-that’s when we knew we needed to take her in.
I called her pediatrician first. I honestly wasn’t sure if we should start there or if I needed to bypass her ped and go straight to a children’s opthamologist. I of course Google searched everything I could trying to prepare myself for the worst case scenario, it probably scared me more than it prepared me…imagine that. Just a tip, stay off of WebMD!!! BUT I just really wanted to make sure I could handle any news they threw my way. The internet taught me that it could be as simple as her eyes crossing on occasion and would eventually correct itself to getting glasses to needing surgery to vision loss. Her doctor wanted us to bring her in to see her so we could do a basic vision screening before we moved forward with anything else. Alaina failed it. The screening showed that she had a “gaze deviation” and that her pupils were different sizes. Her pediatrician could not tell us exactly what this meant so she did recommend that we see a specialist.
When I first sat down to call a specialist I felt so selfish. I stared at this long list of Pediatric Ophthalmologists that I was given and my mind just started to wander…I don’t know if and how long my baby has suffering to see but the main thing I kept thinking about was that it was the middle of December and we had just hit our deductible and our insurance resets the next month which means I HAVE to get her in as fast as possible. This was huge because never in a million years would I have thought that we need to put our three year old on our vision insurance plan so having met our deductible would help immensely with any costs following what our baby girl might need. But through all of these selfish thoughts driven from lack of priorities and more from fear and worry I was missing something. So I took a deep breath and just thought, God will provide. I don’t know why we as humans tend to put our Heavenly Father on the back burner time and time again. He was there. He will make it okay and my main concern is yes, to get her to see someone ASAP so we can find a solution as quickly as possible but also to find someone GOOD. Obviously it didn’t matter if I found someone who could get her in tomorrow if they were unpleasant and Alaina was scared of him/her. After calling around and not being able to see anyone until well after a month out, the last place I called had an opening! And when I say God provides, He provides!!! Not only could they get me in that same week but the doctor she will be seeing is only there once or twice a month because he is a children’s ophthalmologist which this particular facility does not have a doctor specializing in pediatric ophthalmology on staff full time. The reviews for this guy were amazing and upon scheduling our appointment the lady who took my call at the front desk couldn’t stop raving about how great he is with the kids. I was elated.
After being told that this appointment was bright and early in the morning and could last up to three hours, I spent the whole night before our appointment packing up the kids’ backpacks full of snacks and juice boxes and coloring books. Thank goodness hubby was able to come with me. For anyone wanting to know the process, it was just like any ordinary adult’s eye exam. Of course she is only three so trying to get her to read the letters on the board was a little challenging. Side note…she looked so tiny sitting in the large eye exam chair! I would say the hardest part about the exam was that they did have to dilate her eyes. At one point she was so upset about it that she started clawing at her face. My heart was aching for her. But our doctor is supposedly the best of the best and he proved that. Literally within SECONDS of him looking at her eyes he could tell us that she needed glasses and gave his assistant what prescription she needed. He did this funny Daffy Duck voice to get her focused and it meant so much to a momma to see how great he was in this confusing time for our little three year old. After getting his nurse all the information she needed he then directed his focus towards us he told us that when an adult’s vision starts to blur, we have to have something to correct it-glasses, surgery, contacts. Children, however, have the ability to make anything clear on their own but our daughter is having to strain herself so hard to do it because she is extremely farsighted thus making her go cross eyed when she focuses in. He recommended that after we get her glasses and to come come back in eight weeks for a follow up. If the glasses don’t seem to be working then we will have to revisit our options and talk about her either wearing a patch or getting surgery.
We went to three different eyeglass stores before finding her glasses. This had a lot to do with cost (Because who wants to spend $500 on glasses that a three year old could break the next day, not me!), glasses available in her size, and the turnaround time on the lenses. We finally found what we needed/wanted and wrapped up our purchase and my husband had to get back to work and so I took the kids home to get food after our long, adventurous morning/afternoon while her glasses were being made. When they were ready, I buzzed up there with the kids to pick them up. We spent some time getting them fitted and adjusted to her tiny little head. When we finished up and went outside to get in the car, she wouldn’t get in. She just kept looking at everything-her shoes, the ground, the handicapped parking sign, the sky. Tears started to swell in my eyes as I watched her overcoming this milestone in her little life.
We, of course, counted our blessings because this situation could have been much, much worse but it doesn’t mean we weren’t upset that our first born was having vision issues. Looking at her, it was so hard for me because instead of seeing my girl’s beautiful face, all I saw was plastic. Where was she? Her flawless and innocent face was masked by these plastic frames and it took me quite a few days to look at her with them on without being completely shocked and wanting to do a double take. But I’ll never forget that first night she got them. I had dinner ready when my husband got home from work and as we sat down and looked at Lainey and we saw her little eyes bulging at us as she looked through her new specs, it was so different than looking at her through sample frames at the eyeglass store. Though my tears had welled up several times since I realized she had eye problems, I had almost immediately sucked them back in trying to be strong for her. But that night as my husband and I studied her face and then looked at each other, all of those feelings just came out and we both broke down. We cried because we had a solution for the time being. We cried because this might not be the cure all to her problems. We cried because she was okay. Most of all, we cried because God gifted us this beautiful little human who is absolutely perfect.
After time went on I feel silly about getting so worked up about it all. This world is full of so much ugliness and we are very fortunate to have a such a “little thing” be wrong when there are much much bigger things out there. Regardless, I feel for any mom out there who has to watch their child suffer in any way, minor or severe. Hang in there mommas!