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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Friday, November 19, 2010

My Journal - Week 65 (19Nov10)

W is for Walking!

On Friday Hunter had his usual monthly assessment visit from Jenn (Early Intervention Senior Consultant) and while there isn't much to teach or stimulate Hunter with (since he's pretty well on target) there are other things that we can do to help Hunter along cognitively.  One thing I can say is, showing Hunter the Baby Can Read videos are helping him so much more then I expected that I am proud to say Hunter can actually sight read at 15 months old.  Believe it or not!  I so very much wish I had video recorded my last session with him, but since I was the one who just decided to test him at that moment, it was kind of random.  To back track, last week we went to the Baby Show held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to find a tandem stoller and we happened to see Dr. Robert Titzer who is the creator of Baby Can Read.  A little more history on that:  Last Baby Show we had seen Dr. Titzer speaking about his product Baby Can Read which is the reason I went out and purchased it.  This time around, I wanted to first hand speak to this wonderful man and let him know how his product is working.  He told me that I should be playing word games with Hunter using the provided word cards in the package.  So far I had only been showing Hunter the videos on the TV and seeing how much he loved them, I continued to show him more of the videos.  Admittedly, I had not read the full instructions on the package on how to maximize all the items in the program, but Dr. Titzer made sure he explained how I could help Hunter along by using the word cards to see if Hunter was making progress.  In a round about sort of way, I tested Hunter by one day a few weeks back showing him a book with the word "baby" on the page.  I asked Hunter to show Mommy the word "baby" and he readily pointed to the word and laughed while continuously pointing at the word, Baby.  I was so impressed, I knew at that moment he could sight read the word "Baby".  I passed on this information to Dr. Titzer who promptly pulled out his word cards and tested Hunter himself.  Though Hunter was shy and weary of this man, he definitely pointed to the card that said "Baby" when confronted with three different word cards.  Which brings me to the fact that when I showed Hunter randomly about eight different word cards, he selected the proper card each and every time - five out of five requests to find the correct word that I said aloud despite the fact that I had two different cards up along with the one that I asked him to show me.  Again, I wish I had recorded the entire thing.  Five for five, in a row - no mistakes.  I am very proud of my little boy.  Smarty pants.

So back to Jenn's assessment, while we all know that Hunter now doesn't enjoy performing for anyone on command, AND that he doesn't like to be shown how to do things - since he prefers to do them on his own, practise when no one is looking and then just surprise you when he is ready... I decided to make sure that Jenn was able to see that Hunter can walk and cruise on his own.  I dragged out Hunter's walker, which I have to say doesn't get used a whole lot due to my back injuries - I took Hunter out of his caged play room area (which used to be Daddy and Mommy's family room) and into the hallway for him to show off.  I would just like to say for the record, Hunter loves to walk with that thing and I wish Daddy was home more often to help Hunter with this!  I know and blame myself for Hunter not walking independently because I know if I could spend a bit more time with him working on walking, he'd be a pro at it today, independently running up and down the hallways!

When we were showing Jenn Hunter's ability to walk with the walker, (and you will see that we are holding the walker with Hunter but our only reason for holding the walker is because our floors are tiled and though the walker has settings to slow down and also lock the front wheels to prevent it from rolling fast, the floor being tiled makes me think that option might almost useless.  I have no proof that it would run away on Hunter, but I don't want to take that chance.) everyone was pleasantly surprised, especially Jenn who you can hear saying - how this was a first and that she could see just how happy Hunter was performing for all of us!  While the video is only two minutes and 40 seconds long, Hunter actually walked up and down the hall for about five minutes.  I did take three separate videos but I figured it was obvious to post only one.  Immediately after the walking with the walker, Hunter decided that he should try climbing the stairs too!  How crazy!  He was just in a mood to learn and do do do!  Stair climbing (supervised of course) is an excellent way to teach coordination for baby's who are walking or crawling.  It was a recommendation by Jenn and also Hunter's Osteopath who said that learning to climb stairs would encourage him to be able to crawl by using his arms and legs oppositely.  We never did do the stair climbing exercises after the first time we tried it because right after that he decided to crawl independently.  That was what seems like a while back, even if it really was only a few months ago!

So, here is the video that we are all so proud of! 

As a product review - the Little Tikes Infant walker is a terrific walker.  I love this walker because it converts from a flat play centre to a walker with wheel speed that can be controlled from stopped and locked to free rolling.  The walker can be used on all kinds of surfaces from carpet, wood, laminate to tiled floors surfaces.  It took literally moments to assemble with screws and a screwdriver and then apply the stickers for fun.  It can be weighed down depending on how strong or new to walking your child is.  For Hunter, we added a 2.2 lbs weight in the compartment on the front of the walker because we have tiled floors which means the walker could possibly be pushed faster then we would want it to go.  Before Hunter could walk, he enjoyed playing with the pretend mail and doors for the mail.  To this day, (as you can see in his video) he still loves to play with his plastic mail!  From a mother who has purchased different walkers in the past and even used ones that we had received as gifts, this one has been the best. 

Here are some photos of the walker in both positions:
Front view of Litle Tikes walker in open walking position

Front view of walker open with compartments open

Side profile of Walker fully open

Back view of Walker open

Front view of Walker collapsed or closed for infant play

Side profile of Walker in closed position for infant play
Hope you enjoyed this update!

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