Sunday, February 26, 2012

Reyna Becomes Mobile



     Reyna remained pretty chill and followed along with “What to Expect” type literature so nicely that the whole parenting thing was going quite fabulously.  I have read enough classic literature that I should have seen this as foreshadowing, but I did not.  These days we are learning parenting far outside any parenting book and we are very grateful for this gentle beginning. 
    As Reyna was always so calm and gentle she greatly surprised us with some pretty early mobility.  I think she may have caught her delicious belly in the mirror and realized it was time to give up the chili fries or get in some exercise.  She was able to sit independently at four months, but this certainly wasn’t unheard of.  Then she crawled and cruised by six months.  Again, on the early end, but not out of the realm of what we heard was possible.  We fully baby proofed a bit earlier than we expected and were proud of our little girl of course.  Then she stood well and began taking a step here and there at seven months.  By eight months she was walking across the room.   By nine months she was all over the house.  We were of course very proud of her, but it definitely freaks you out a little bit when you think you still have somewhere around four, five, or even more months to worry about all of this free movement and potential mass destruction.  We expected to have a little baby for a while more.  That was one of the craziest parts about it.  She still was a little baby.  She was this little baby walking around with absolutely no concept of caution.  This was our first step in truly learning that all kids, both with and without special needs, are highly unpredictable.  Therefore my “need to plan” self has been learning a ton (and going a little crazy) ever since.
 
Sitting Pretty
Crawling (She was very protective of the leaf
she found and it had to come with her.)
Cruising

Watch me stand and chew!
Taking a step





Eight Months

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reyna's Arrival


    To fully document and share our experience I’d like to begin with when we first became parents and welcomed our sweet little Reyna into the world.  By thirty-eight weeks I was definitely done being pregnant and luckily Reyna took the hint and joined us on May 9, 2009.  She picked a remarkable day to be born as this was the birthday of her great grandmother who had sadly passed away only two years prior to her arrival.  I went into labor on the day prior, but our little sweetie hung on through the night to come on Great Grandma’s birthday.  It was also the day prior to Mother’s Day that year and I was able to celebrate my first Mother’s Day as a mother with a brand new baby girl in my arms.  Best Mother’s Day gift ever!  As many do, I find it impossible to describe the moment when I held our baby in my arms for the first time.  Sounding totally cliché, it is simply miraculous.  I just loved looking at her, nuzzling her, seeing her tiny little fingernails and kissing her sweet, sweet head over and over.  God bless her tiny little 19th percentile head.  Not to say it didn’t hurt, but God bless her sweet, tiny little head.


    To be honest Reyna’s arrival was pretty typical.  She was almost by the book.  She slept a lot in the beginning, she nursed well, she roomed in with Seth and I and we all left the hospital after two rather blissful days.  For new parents this was such a blessing.  I was especially grateful for this as her pregnancy had been pretty challenging, nothing terrible, but I wasn’t beaming rainbows and butterflies out of my orifices as I was almost constantly sick while lugging my big belly around.  Also, since my husband Seth and I can’t seem to do anything small, and after a busy year with getting married, moving halfway across the country, beginning new jobs, getting pregnant, buying our first house, moving again (at eight months pregnant in a blizzard), and having a baby I think it was time for something to come a bit easy and calm for a bit. 
    For three whole weeks life was very calm.  Reyna remained a pretty happy, easy baby.  We had the typical things of getting up through the night and lots of diapers, but nothing unexpected.  Until week three when Seth lost his job with a company he had been with for ten years.  The same company we relocated for when he got another of many promotions in his career.  The company that was largely paying our bills and keeping us going.  The company that helped us feel secure when recently buying our first house together.  Thankfully we had gone toward the lower end of what we could “afford.”  Seth then began his journey of looking for work, along with a large portion of our nation and over ten percent of our state.  Thankfully I had still had my wonderful job as a teacher to help us squeak by.  Best of all we had a beautiful, happy baby girl to make every day bright.



    As so many families have had to do we learned to get by with much less.  It was a tough situation but a huge benefit of the job loss was that when I returned to teaching in the fall, Seth was able to be home with Reyna.  She is a Daddy’s girl to this day and the impact of having her dad home with her is immense.  She remained a pretty easy baby and I am pretty sure for the first six months they were hanging out eating chili fries on the couch together.  Not sure how she gummed them down but she had the thighs and cankles to prove it!  I also don’t know how she survived infancy without me gobbling down her sweet chubby cheeks and rubber band wrists whole when I arrived home from work each day.  Her only issue as an infant was wicked acid reflux which again points to the chili fries.  Go ahead and deny it daddy!

Yep, look!

Are my feet still down there?

                                         







Monday, February 6, 2012

Look Kids! Holland!!


If you are a parent of a child with special needs or are in connection with the special needs community you have probably been given the poem “Welcome to Holland” at least a few (dozen) times. It is with certainty that I feel this poem is given out of love and support even though it doesn’t always feel so warm and fuzzy if you are living it.  If you have not had the opportunity to read this poem it can be found on multiple sites including http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html
  The first time I read this lovely poem by Emily Perl Kingsley was during one of my special education classes in college.  When I read it I cried.  It was so moving, touching, loving…  After the birth of our son I was given this poem again.  Again, I cried.  However this time I was not crying because I felt moved or even at one with the author.  I cried out of guilt that I couldn’t even imagine being grateful to be in “Holland”.  I was grateful for my son, deeply so, but I was devastated at the loss of “Italy” not just for myself and our family but especially for Logan.  He deserved to be in Italy and even Holland seemed far too lovely with its windmills and tulips to be the equivalent to all he was facing.   Over time, as I was given this poem periodically, it became easier to read and I was able to feel some connection of experience.  Through a more recent discovery of the blogs of several individuals who are also parents of special needs children I have felt even more real, raw connections with others who have found themselves in similar, yet individually unique, circumstances.  Upon a blog written by Dana Nieder (uncommonfeedback@gmail.com) I found her modified version of “Welcome to Holland” entitled “Amsterdam International.”  It can be found at http://niederfamily.blogspot.com/2010/10/amsterdam-international.html .   This depiction sounded much more like our experience and alleviated much of the guilt for not being able to appreciate “Holland” after Logan’s birth.  The courageous stories of others have been such a gift.  I have loved reading the unique journeys of several individuals and families who have embraced a child with special needs.  I have learned so much from them.  It is my hope that I can give others even one bit of what I have gained from so many courageous writers.  I also hope that this can serve as a celebration of the lives of our two children.
Whether we are in Holland or still stuck in the airport, we’re there.  When I think about such a deviated trip I cannot help think of the not so famed wonders of the world.  I kind of imagine it like taking your kids on a trip to see the world’s largest ball of twine.  You wish you could have taken them somewhere grand like the Eiffel Tower but for whatever reasons you could not.  However, even though you know the world’s largest ball of twine is not the prized destination of anyone, you do your best to help your kids enjoy the trip.  You mask any disappointment and shout out as though it is the best thing you have laid eyes on, “Look kids!  The World’s Largest Ball of Twine!”  You do your best to make this experience live up to those you know their friends and classmates will be talking about one day.  You finally get everyone out of the car for the full effect.  You do your best to gain the most memorable, meaningful experience you can get out of twine because it is what you’ve got and you are going to make it damn amazing if it kills you. There will be eye rolling and questions of why so and so got to go to anywhere but here France, but there is nothing you can do to change this destination.  (Lucky for us our kids are too young to yet to make such a fuss so hopefully we can convince them of the wonderful qualities of twine by then…)   Along the way you will find that on such a journey you will have unique, unexpected and cherished memories even though parts of the trip were much harder than the well planned, predictable AAA vacation.  Only those along for the trip will fully understand your journey giving you something so special to share between you.  You will also meet others who have had similar journeys.  Those who can share a laugh or cry, swap stories with you and provide travel tips.  So here we go kids.  Holland!  Sure beats the hell out of twine right?