Pampered for a day

Beau Ideal contest winner discusses how life changes having a daughter with cerebral palsy

Published on July 6, 2014

NEW GLASGOW - One day. That’s how long Jennifer Rankin dwelled on her daughter’s disabilities.

When Rankin learned from Gabriella Finney’s first MRI that she had severe brain damage, fear took over, making Rankin question what the future held for daughter.

She quickly accepted that Gabriella has cerebral palsy, and decided to give her every opportunity she could even if that’s not easy.

“It sucks to have those boundaries,” the 27-year-old Trenton woman said about the difficulty of obtaining the equipment her daughter needs.

Saturday was the one of few times in the past 19 months of Gabriella’s life Rankin had a chance to pamper herself.

She won a contest at Beau Ideal for a makeover with the employees dedicating their day to just her.

“It feels good to do something for someone who does so much for someone else,” Kesha Weir, owner of the salon, said.

Rankin said she puts all of her effort into taking care of her daughter, leaving no time for herself.

Simply running errands can be a battle with many stores lacking the equipment her daughter needs simply to sit up in a cart.

Gabriella has hearing loss, visual impairment, and difficulty with many movements as a result of a loss of oxygen at birth.

Rankin acknowledged putting children first comes with being a parent, and that’s what Rankin and her boyfriend, Aaron Finney, have been doing.

Finney left his job out west when Gabby was born, taking a pay cut to find a job in Pictou County.

Rankin had to leave her job as well.

The financial barriers have left the couple in low income housing, relying on help wherever they can get it.

She’s not certain of how much they’ve had to spend on equipment, and trips to the IWK, but estimates it’s in the thousands of dollars.

She says family, friends, the IWK and Pictou County Early Intervention offer plenty of support, but it’s still a struggle.

They’re currently accepting bottle donations at the Golden Penny in Stellarton.

Though it’s tough, parenting is full of joys for Rankin.

“The little milestones are huge,” she said, adding that they’ve learned not to expect her to be at certain stages in life because of her age. “We praise her for everything.”

Though she’s a toddler, developmentally she’s an infant, Rankin explains.

Her best moment with Gabriella was after she got hearing aids.

Before, Rankin says her daughter’s hearing was muffled, as though she was always underwater.

When she clearly heard her mother’s voice for the first time, her eyes lit up, smiling from ear to ear, her mother said.

“Every time (she hears my voice) is like the first time.”

Another proud moment was when Gabriella was finally able to sit and play with her cousin without Rankin’s help to hold her up.

Rankin is renting a corner chair from the IWK that harnesses her daughter, and gives her the support she needs.

The best thing about her, Rankin says, is how happy she is.

“She brings joy to everyone that meets her,” she said, adding that she’s always smiling, rarely crying, and lifts the spirits of those who surround her.

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