Welcome to Our House - The Analogy ©

Having a baby is special. For some, it’s a lifelong dream, for others, a wonderful surprise. Either way, many of us have thought about taking this journey and whether it’s planned or a pleasant surprise, we all have preconceived ideas about what our child will look and be like. But what if it isn’t what we planned or expected? This is a short story I have written for parents who have or are expecting an exceptionally special child.

Welcome to our House – An analogy

After many months of dreaming, you finally decide it’s time. You are going to build that perfect house of your dreams. You have saved and saved, and now it’s time to put your plan into action. You find a wonderful, perfect piece of land in the city. It’s exactly what you are looking for – because it’s the plan that everyone talks about. You envision the all brick house sitting on luscious green grass, surrounded by a white picket fence. Inside is a marble foyer leading into a family room with beautiful oak hardwood floors. Granite lines the kitchen counter tops and there is an island sink in the middle. Upstairs has four perfect bedrooms and the master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and an enormous walk-in closet, of course. It’s truly a dream come true, and it’s only a matter of time. You purchase the land and think to yourself, in nine short months, you will have it all.

But suddenly your agent calls to tell you, the land is not properly zoned, and the city has not approved it for building your perfect home. They have instead, given you land in the country, where an old country home sits. You are absolutely devastated, your dreams vanishing right before your eyes. You know you can’t back out now, you need a place to live, and despite it not being what you wanted, you know that somehow you will manage and that you can continue on.

You tell everyone what has happened, and everyone is disappointed, some even offering their condolences. You know that everyone else has a nice city home, and that was what you had planned, but you have to come to terms with the fact that you must learn to live in the country.

You go to see the property every month until closing and something funny happens. You start to fall in love with the place. The air is fresh, it’s peaceful and serene. There’s a pond on the land, and the house, though not a new all brick home, is quaint, and has lots of hidden potential. You soon realize it’s not a awful place, it’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than the city, less noisy and flamboyant, but it’s beautiful none the less. And in the process, you soon realize you may even get to meet some new and wonderful neighbours.

Its closing day and you suddenly find yourself full of anticipation, but you are still a little worried. After all, it isn’t what you had originally hoped for, and the house may need some repairs. But you are determined to accept it, and tackle everything one step at a time. You open the front door, and suddenly you are thrilled with what you see. The house is lovely, and has lots of character. The rooms are smaller but it’s decorated with beautiful attention and detail. The kitchen has marble instead of granite, and the bathroom has a soaker tub instead of a Jacuzzi. There isn’t a walk-in closet in sight, but the rooms all come with an indescribable view. Somehow, you just know that it was always meant to be and that this is now home.

This is my analogy of what it will be like for people who discover that they will be caring for a baby with Down syndrome. For us, it is not a terrible place to be, it is a journey full of surprises, milestones and discovery like any other child. And as the story suggests, sometimes it’s only a matter of ‘point of view’, and surprisingly, once you have been there, you don’t want to be anywhere else. The journey, like all others doesn’t come without some bumps in the road, but once you find your way, it’s all about the place you discovered, in most cases - quite by random chance
Author: Sandi Graham-McWade, Copyright

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Journal - Week 55 (08Sep10)

Standing, Sitting and Standing up for more fun!

Last night, I finally decided and figured that it was time to give Hunter some more confidence with his independent (rather unassisted) standing.  Clearly, he knows how to stand up unassisted since the day he nearly made my heart jump out of my chest by doing so in his crib all on his own.

Since this child's schedule went way out of whack from our weekend in Cayuga, he has been going to bed around 2 am!  Really, the late sleeping problem was the lack of an early nap and then conking out completely for a nap at later hours which then only postponed his actual bed time.  I decided that since he was so wide awake around 1:41 am last night I would take the opportunity to work with him and also secretly tire him out!

I have to say, this child always amazes me.  I have learned to stop wondering for the future if or when he will do things because he continuously proves that he knows more then enough about the things he is learning about and will prove it to me when or if I ask him to do so!  Last night was no different.  I set him up in front of his learning centre play table, which in the last month or two he has been going to on his own and kneeling up to play with.  I took the opportunity to show him he can stand to play, which was the reason I put the legs back onto the table.  This idea to work on standing also stemmed from a few days back when I noticed Hunter attempting to stand up using his red "Cars" foam chair.  Hunter has always pulled himself to stand using my hands to help him.  What he isn't aware of is that I don't even help him up.  I know in my heart and mind that my hands are a safety crutch for him.  So long as my hands are there, despite my not doing anything to help him stand, he feels confident.  I used this to help him realize that he can do the same thing with his play table.  I sat him down in front of his table and let him place his hands in mine to stand.  I configured myself so that my hands were positioned on his play table for the height.  He used my "pseudo" help to stand up.  I did this a few times with him, gradually moving my hands further away from his reach and making him utilize the table instead.  He realized very quickly what I was doing, (there is no fooling this child) and he became what appeared to me as obviously more fearful.  So, I decided to move behind him, to help him stand up with my hands on his bottom.  I gave him a little support so that while he had his hands on the table to pull to stand up, he knew that there was still help behind him.  I repeated this for a few stand up and sit downs and slowly I removed my hands.  All of a sudden, there was my son - standing up and sitting down all on his own.  There was even a point where his butt was sticking out too far from the table and I told him to "step step" (something I always say when we work on walking) and he literally took the steps toward the table to stand himself up properly!  He managed to cruise around the play table also! 

The thing is this, I know Hunter can do these things.  I also know he waits to do many things because of his confidence.  The trick with Hunter is to defeat his fear.  And while there are sometimes some set backs because of a tumble or a fall, we work it out right away so that it never prevents him from working on it again.  He worked diligently on his independent standing and sitting for about 20 minutes, and while I was able to reach my camera (yes I caught it all on camera) I wasn't willing to reach too far away for my camcorder.  I hope that my many shots of him working it out somewhat capture the whole event!  I do know that using the camcorder will speak to the event much better, but at least for this first time doing it at his play table, I have it on digital "film"!

The only thing to do now is to make sure I repeat it over and over so that he doesn't loose confidence.  There is one thing I have to mention that I noticed while Hunter was working on this.  He became so confident at one point that he let go of the table with both hands.  What makes this special is that I know that wasn't a fluke.  Each time Hunter became more confident with sitting to standing - doing it alone, he seemingly wanted to remove both hands in order to stand up alone by himself!  I should have known that he wanted to try this because whenever we walk, he lately has been pushing my one had away, so that he can walk using only one of my hands for support!  I can only guess, standing independently with balance will be right around the corner - so long as we keep working on it.  Walking independently wont be that far off either, since Grandma and I have been getting Hunter to walk back and forth between us holding his one hand.  Thank goodness those baby gates have been up for a long time now.

As a side note, Hunter had gone to bed tonight at 9:15 pm tonight, so hopefully we are back on track with bed time.  This allowed me to get a lot of work done and also post this great update! 
Here are the photos:

Now, what happens when I take my hands away from the table?  Humm, I am still standing!
Carefully and slowly, I can do this!  I wonder how long I can stand here!
I am pulling and pushing myself up again!  I do it so quickly Mommy can't quite catch it!
See Mommy?  I did it again!  And I can reach inside the alphabet bowl again!
Ohh she caught me!  I am mid push/pull up!  All by myself!  How cool am I?
I know I am a good boy!  I just wanted to give Mommy a big smile!  I am working hard!
Now I am closer to the table.  Mommy told me to "Step Step" so I did!  I am still working hard!
What?  Did Mommy just take a picture of my bum?  Why Mommy?  I am tired now....

Again, I wish I had grabbed my camcorder if it were in reach.  It would have done this milestone so much more justice.  But at least I have it digitally.  The sad end to this milestone was, at the end of this great workout, Hunter sat down and fell back onto the Fisher Price doorway.  No boo boo's at all but just a slightly hurt pride.  The ionic reason for his tumble was not from being unable to do the stand or sit, but for something most people would find hilarious.  Everyday, Hunter plays while our TV is on.  During shows, Hunter pays absolutely no attention to the television.  BUT, when a commercial comes on - or more specifically a cable or satellite commercial comes on, Hunter's head whips around like the exorcist!  I kid everyone not.  The list I am about to type can stop Hunter in his tacks no matter what he is doing.  Time Warner Cable, Com Cast, Verizon, OK Cable, Optimum and Dish.... I know they have catchy commercials and I have to say the people who developed these commercials knew exactly what they were doing because they work!  My son is addicted to those specific commercials!  The funny thing is, these cable commercials are not even for Canada!  The thing that these commercials have in common is that they are bright but that is not what he likes.  Hunter loves the letters and huge phone numbers that go across the screen.  If you think I am exaggerating, I am not.  I will even endeavour to video his reaction.  He stops what ever he is doing to watch them.  He knows the commercials so well that whenever one of those six specific commercials come on and the tunes start to play, he will stop and watch the television intently.  He knows them that well, by their individual songs!   Thus, the reason for this lengthy explanation is that when the Verizon commercial came on at 2:00 am, his head literally whipped around and he lost balance, causing him to sit down and fall back over in an attempt to see it.  Thankfully he loved the commercial so much that he didn't even pay any attention to his tumble, but rather to the television to see the end of the commercial. 

Since this has been happening I realize that it is now time for me to use the "Baby Can Read" program!  We will put this excitement for words and numbers on the television to better use!  Learning to read!  Keep posted for the videos of Hunter standing and also cable commercials just for fun!

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