Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Parenting Tip - An Amazing Mother

Aubrey Kleinschmidt is a wife and mother of four children under the age of 6; Tyler 6 years old, Emma 5, Jacob 2 and Gracie 8 months old.   Aubrey is blind.
Aubrey lost the sight in her left eye when she was only 4 days old.   She considered her vision in her right eye to be normal and did not consider herself to be visually impaired. Her sight limitations weren’t really noted until she was working at a dry cleaners. She had trouble matching customer tickets with their dry cleaning items because she kept reversing numbers. The owner of the cleaners suggested she might be dyslexic. She was tested as a senior in high school and found to be visually impaired. She qualified for an Individual Education Plan and went to Berkley, California (an assisted living program) for vocational rehab where she had an opportunity to learn Braille and life skills related to functioning as a blind person. It was assumed that she would lose sight in her right eye.  Aubrey says that she did not take the program very seriously. She met Michael, her future husband, while living in Berkley. 
Aubrey and Michael married and began their family.   Aubrey's pregnancies, however, were stressful for the fragile retina of her right eye. Her vision began to wane after Emma was born. Despite repeated attempts to salvage the sight in her right eye – Aubrey was told, almost three years ago, that she was considered "stone blind" (totally blind).  Shortly after this news, she discovered that she was pregnant with Jacob.

Aubrey attended classes for the blind for over a year. She was taught life skills/mobility skills and Braille, etc. She has special equipment that helps her to read printed text and a very smart phone.

Since Aubrey knew that she would never visually see Jacob’s face she made a special effort to find a doctor that would let her assist with her own delivery. She had the amazing opportunity to help bring Jacob into this world. He has a very special spirit and was a very calm and easy baby to care for.

Despite the loss of her sight, Aubrey and Michael felt there was still a baby waiting to come to their family.  In 2013 she had another special opportunity to help bring Gracie into this world. Gracie has also been an amazingly calm and easy baby to care for.

  Aubrey was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 4, 1983.   She was delivered at 28 weeks and weighed 2 lbs, 2 ounces.  The doctor didn’t think she would make it through the night and her mom was told not to even bother to name her! Retinopathy of prematurity (ROM) was the  cause of damage to her eyes.
 Aubrey cooks, cleans, helps with homework and stays on top of the myriad of details sighted moms have to contend with. She is an amazing mom. She doesn’t see with her eyes. She sees with her heart.

Despite the devastating news of losing her sight, Aubrey was not one to wallow in self-pity.  She says her vision loss has improved her marriage and strengthened her testimony of God. She says it has made her a better mother.  When Tyler or Emma say, “Look what I’ve made," Aubrey can’t just glance over and then get back to whatever she was doing.  She stops and goes over to the child and feels with her hands what they have made. When she interacts with her children she is down on the floor playing with them in ways other mothers might skip.

Aubrey is especially grateful for the tremendous support Michael has been for her since she lost her sight. He has been her rock and comfort in difficult times. His flexible work hours have allowed him to drop everything and attend to her needs when necessary. 

Aubrey has a few tricks she and Michael have developed to keep on top of things at home:

- safety pins in all the girls clothing to tell them from the boys.

- puff paint Braille dots on the stove, microwave and washer where the instruction words are.

- always keeps spatula handle aligned with skillet handle so she knows where it's at.

- Tyler's school teacher puts a staple in the top right hand corner of school papers that need parental attention.
- if the TV is on, Aubrey can judge when she is walking in a straight line away from the sound or moving diagonally away from the TV
-Children's shoes are velcroed together and kept on a shelf.
- Aubrey has the chocolate chip cookie recipe memorized!
-Aubrey holds the baby in front of her with her elbow touching the wall as she walks down the hall and the other hand is in front of baby's face (she's bumped the baby into things before)
-Aubrey is constantly feeling her preschooler and baby's faces for smiles, running noses,or  objects in mouth that shouldn't be.
-Aubrey crawls above her baby and explores the floor with her.
-if Aubrey needs to find her younger children she'll call their name and instruct, "say moma" so she can hear where they are.
- Aubrey feeds baby food to her baby by cutting the top off the nipple to make the hole bigger.
-Aubrey is reading Harry Potter to her children with a braille copy of the book. 
Aubrey understandably has her down days.  Life is hard for a mother with sight, and especially hard without sight.  6 year old Tyler spells out the instructions for his homework, letter by letter so Aubrey can know what he is to do.  By the time he finishes, he and his mother are both mentally exhausted before they even get to the homework.

Aubrey has an amazing outlook and attitude about her life. She states that her problems in life are not due to her blindness.  She understands that her vision loss does not affect her ability to progress in life. She does not use her blindness as an excuse for not being the best person that she can be. 
Aubrey "sees" what is important in life!
Thanks for reading,
 Thanks to Cathy Rogers for help in writing this post.
This post was published on the Arizona American Mothers blog  
and pending being published on the National American Mothers blog.

1 comment:

  1. How inspiring!! Thank you so much for sharing, especially in on a snowed-in day like today. And I whack my poor babies into doorframes all the time, I'm going to have to adopt her holding position! :)




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