So this is Christmas

The holidays sure snuck up on us this year. I blame the extended Fall weather and the trees along our driveway that refused to shed their leaves. It never felt Christmasy until it was time for Pete and I to have some friends over for a low-key holiday party and we had no tree or decorations up until that day.

A week ago I realized we still had quite a list to tackle: a few last minute gifts, a grocery list to make, cookies to bake, and a photo Christmas card starring Hannah & Gamy to create. The final gifts wrapped or mailed (a day late, oops), groceries purchased, and cookies in progress. Despite my best efforts the holiday card never happened. Maybe we can do a New Year’s card instead.

Last year as we wrapped up the Christmas festivities with Pete’s family, I turned to his mom and said “Next year will be very different.” I was 32 weeks pregnant and expecting my future 10 month old to be crawling, yanking ornaments off the tree, and eating solid food at the table with us. Now that we’re spending Christmases in Holland things are not as I imagined.

There won’t be any crawling this year but there will be sitting. Hannah picked a perfect time to master sitting up. Now she can look at the tree, play with her gifts, and see her family in a new way. There will definitely be a lot of clapping because Hannah loves the reaction she gets from us. She also does this awesomely adorable shaky face when she’s so excited that she literally can’t hide it. Don’t worry, the doctor said it’s normal.

DSC_0155

There won’t be any yanking ornaments off the tree but there will be toy throwing. And chewing. And smashing. When I sit Hannah in the bumbo seat and give her a toy she immediately flings it off the tray. Again and again. One day I gave her a pile of miscellaneous items (toys, socks, bibs, pacifier) and she made shaky face, before throwing each item to her sides. Then she clapped for herself. When Hannah’s not throwing her toys she’s chewing or smashing them. I think she’s trying to get milk to come out. Or chocolate.

There won’t be Christmas ham on Hannah’s plate but there will be a seat for her at our table. I try to include Hannah in our meals as often as possible. I think it’s a good learning experience for her to watch us move food to our mouths and chew. She watches us intently and has even started to lean forward when I bring food to my mouth, eager to have a bite herself. Instead of ham she’ll have a slice of French bread to chew (and smash) and she’ll add chuckles, babbles, and pint-sized yells to the dinner conversation.

One thing I was certain of a year ago is still true today – my baby’s first Christmas will be a magical one. Hannah’s going to love the attention from family, the colors of the wrapping paper, and the stimulation of new toys and clothes. She won’t want to go to bed thanks to her severe case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). We’ll let her stay up late to soak up every second of holiday spirit under the glow of her first Christmas tree. We’ll have the merriest Christmas thanks to that little girl.

IMG_7040

Advertisements

May I have your attention, please? A big announcement

No, I’m not pregnant. And, unfortunately, we’re not getting another dog.

I’ve been daydreaming about something and it’s finally becoming a reality. It’s something that has mentally and emotional energized me and makes me so passionate that I want to cry.

Are you ready?

 

 

The inspiration…

IMG_5256.JPG

The motivation…

IMG_6804 copy

The realization…

Flier raster.pngThe “I Am Awesome Extravaganza” will be a day dedicated to celebrating our loved ones with Down syndrome and what makes them awesome.

The event will begin with a showcase, where the participants will strut their stuff on stage while our emcee introduces them to the audience. Afterwards, food and refreshments will be served and everyone will have a chance to mingle and make new friends, while enjoying some music, posing for the photographer, visiting the face painter, and taking a chance at winning raffle prizes. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Connecticut Down Syndrome Congress.

Here’s the story of how the idea came about…One day I was reading my Google alert news and came across a story about recently crowned Miss Scott County in Virginia who has plans to organize a pageant for kids with special needs (inspired by her brother with Down syndrome). I thought that was a great idea except the word “pageant” stirs up other words like outer beauty and competition for me. Now I’m typically not an “Everyone’s a winner, here’s your participation trophy” kinda gal, but in my opinion, every kid with Down syndrome or any special needs should be celebrated. I love every opportunity to show off how awesome Hannah is. Then it hit me – why wait for an opportunity when I could create one?

Within hours I had the whole event planned out in my head. Admittedly I got carried away. Once I got to the “Fifth Annual” I had to reel myself back in to reality. It’s going to be a ton of work and I’m thrilled about that. There’s already been rejection and I haven’t even started hitting companies up for money and raffle donations.

Originally I was planning to post this after Christmas but I couldn’t wait to spill the beans. I’m still going to wait until the 28th to make the official announcement to the Connecticut Down Syndrome Congress and on the local Facebook groups. I hope with all my heart that people are interested. I’ll be doing a whole lot of “Field of Dreams” style praying. If you organize it, they will sign up, right?

Major Milestone: Unassisted Sitting

On July 27 we sat down with our Birth To Three liaison and Hannah’s soon-to-be Special Education teacher to write our Individual Family Service Plan. The developmental goal we decided on for Hannah was a lofty one – unassisted sitting. I didn’t have a clue how long that would take Hannah but the list of mini goals was a long one.

Back then, we’d maneuver Hannah into a seated position and keep our hands on her shoulders to keep her stable. The progress was very slow at first because Hannah lacked almost all of the back and core strength to straighten up or stabilize. Tummy time ended up being the best exercise for her because it helps strengthen the back and neck muscles. Slowly but surely, as the weeks went by our hands moved lower and lower down Hannah’s tiny body. From the shoulders to under her arms, then to her mid-torso, then to her hips. One day she was sitting so well all I had to do was keep my hand against her lower back to her tilt

The downside of all this was that Hannah also learned that she didn’t have to sit if she didn’t want to. It was frustrating and adorable when she simply refused to play along. Her muscles would stiffen, stubbornness fueling her to push back against my hands, and tilting her hips so her bum would slide forward. Thankfully that rebellion only lasted a couple weeks.

In mid-November the improvement in Hannah’s strength changed overnight. She was able to sit unassisted for a second or two without crumbling backwards or to the side. Her daycare teachers practiced with her every day and often reported that Hannah was improving quickly. Some of it may have been mental too, realizing that she could see and do much more when sitting up.

Pete and I agreed that Hannah would be sitting solo by Christmas. I’m proud to announce that she beat our guess by 2 ½ weeks! At her Birth To Three appointment last week she sat completely unassisted for over five minutes. Not only that, but she also played with and reached for toys.

IMG_6748

Now, Hannah loves to sit in front of the mirror and make faces at herself, or on the kitchen table and make faces at us and our friends. It’s amazing to watch as she wobbles and catches herself from falling. Her body must be exhausted at the end of the day from the tiny muscles contractions. Unfortunately for her, now we’re going to start teaching her how to get back on the floor to lay down.

A Visit to the ENT

Holy writer’s block, Batman! Over the last two weeks I’ve tried to force myself and inspire myself to write but to no avail. The only thing I could ever think of was how much I miss Hannah lately when I’m not with her. For example, on Sunday I went shopping for decorations for her birthday party and almost started crying in the middle of Target. I did manage to write one thing last week but it was a pity party about how I sometimes hate being a working mom, don’t want to be a stay-at-home mom, and would like someone to pay me to snuggle with Hannah and take her on field trips. Not an inspiring tale.

Anyway, Hannah has been as adorable and perfect as ever lately. She had her 9 month check-up last week and the pediatrician finally recommended we see an ENT for the chronic congestion. After all the sick visits we’ve had when that poor girl could barely breathe…

According to the ENT, Hannah’s nasal passages are very small and not allowing for easy drainage. She didn’t want to do a scope because she didn’t think she’d be able to see anything with all the congestion and didn’t think it was fair to do to Hannah after having surgery a few months ago. There’s also some fluid in her ears that could be a concern in a few months if it doesn’t drain (because it could cause hearing/speech issues). The Dr agreed with the pediatrician that there’s no reason to give Hannah antibiotics that won’t do anything for a cold.

The Dr’s recommendation is to give Hannah saline drops multiple times a day, have a follow up appointment and hearing test in a few months, and talk to the pediatrician about having Hannah’s immunity checked. Unfortunately there’s not much else we can do except take Hannah out of daycare and put her in a bubble.

The best part of the appointment was that we had 10 minutes to spare so I brought Hannah into work real quick. Her last visit was in October when she was starting to hold herself up while sitting. This time I was able to plop her on my desk so she could see all of my coworkers. This girl is such a ham sometimes!

IMG_6732