Giselle is a typical five-year-old little girl living in Corona, California with her mom, Ileana, her dad, Lorenzo, and her older sister, Vienna. She loves dance parties with her sister, music, swimming, and being with her family. She is the bright spot to their days.
Giselle is diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy, which is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by an insult to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth. She is also diagnosed with microcephaly, which is a small underdeveloped brain. Due to these diagnoses she is nonverbal and is classified as global development delayed. Yet, these diagnoses in no way define her. Giselle has risen out of the box that several doctors attempted to place her in time and time again. She continues to defy the odds and prove to those around her that she is not limited by statistics and medical jargon.
We invite you to read more about their story and support Giselle through a purchase from our shop where every purchase will help make Giselle’s home more accessible! You can also subscribe to our podcast and hear our interview with Giselle’s parents releasing April 2nd.
“She’s all the things a five-year-old is – opinionated, strong, spicy.”
Back in 2013, Giselle’s mother, Ileana discovered she was expecting. She had a typical pregnancy with no signs of complications or issues up until her 20-week ultrasound where she was told one of the ventricles in Giselle’s brain looked enlarged. They were assured this looked very mild and would just need to be monitored. All of the genetic testing that was done came back normal and Ileana’s pregnancy continued with no other concerns. So, the concern regarding the enlarged ventricle somewhat went away as the pregnancy healthily progressed.
Giselle was born full term, after a very uneventful delivery. “When she was born I thought we were in the clear – if anything was to happen it would happen at birth – or so I thought,” shares Ileana.
When Giselle hit six months old she started to fall behind the milestones she was supposed to be hitting and she was sent for precautionary therapy. Ileana shares that, looking back, one of the big red signs she missed was the fact that Giselle’s hands were always fisted and closed in. The longer therapy progressed, it became obvious to Ileana and Lorenzo that things were not clicking the way they needed to with Giselle. Throughout all of the therapies and appointments there still wasn’t a clear answer being provided so Ileana did what any mother would do – she took matters into her own hands and began to fight with everything she had to find out what was going on with her daughter.
Around a year into their journey while going through Giselle’s medical records, Ileana noticed a term she had not seen before, “microcephaly.” It was brought up to the doctors and that was the beginning of a long journey of getting Giselle officially diagnosed and figuring out what exactly was going on with her.
Through two-and-a-half years of fighting to determine what was going on with their daughter and searching for clarity, Ileana and Lorenzo finally had the diagnoses of microcephaly, cerebral palsy, and global development delay for their daughter.
Due to the diagnoses that Giselle had, the doctors were quick to assume what Giselle would and would not be capable of doing.
Ileana was recently told by their doctor that there was little to no hope of Giselle ever walking and yet, recently she took 18 steps on her own and continues to work towards more and more steps each and every day.
Ileana recently shared a good reminder for parents out there whose children have had limits placed on them by doctors, specialists, or other individuals out there, “Regardless of what you’ve heard at your child’s doctors appointments or what a therapist told you, remember no one has a crystal ball to see into the future. So when they say never or when they say always, tuck those words in a special filing cabinet called trash and just keep showing up.”
Giselle has completely flipped her family’s life upside down, in the best way. Her father, Lorenzo was inspired by his daughter to change his career path and is now pursuing special education. Her sister, Vienna has stepped up and into the big sister role and has built a beautiful bond between her and Giselle and has even acquired the nickname, Jr. Mom. As her mom says, “she has more clinical hours than most nurses do.”
Ileana has grown as a mother in indescribable ways and their family has created an unbreakable bond and as Ileana so eloquently puts, “We are a family and we serve one another. As a mom, my proudest moment is having our family that we have put together and we are in it. In it together.”
Today Giselle is five years old and to say she is thriving is an enormous understatement. She is working hard every day to defy the odds; she is walking, she is communicating, she goes to school, and she is blazing her own trail in life. It is a great honor to tell Giselle’s story and to share Giselle’s story with our shouters. Throughout the month of April we will be shouting love for Giselle and four other kiddos with their own special and unique stories. We hope you will join us in getting to know these four incredible families.
Time to get loud shouters!
You can also follow along with the family’s journey on their Facebook page.