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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Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Journal - Week 69 (16Dec10)

Just a few lessons and watch out world!

I muse constantly about how quick Hunter is to learn a new game or toy.  It's not that I want to gush constantly about how my child does this or that, but in these cases it just makes me smile.  I guess for me, watching a child learn, absorb like a sponge is simply incredible.  In this journey of ours, I think it's even more fantastic and special that I speak about these accomplishments because it represents a whole different world for many who are walking and taking this same journey and it also serves as an educational tool for others who have old preconceived ideas about how children with special needs learn and develop. 

I have read many books, articles and magazine clips about how children learn.  From children with special needs, to just learning in general.  I have learned personally that while there are charts and gauges to levels of learning and such, no child will ever fit a typical mold or in other words fall into each and every category or slot that every book says they should.  That is not to say that I am disputing what experts say (far from it) but I have learned that typical or not, charts are just that.  I think I have said often enough that charts for milestones are interesting gauges for parents of typical kids who want to ensure that their child is learning properly and is not hindered by an unknown delay of some sort.  But following these charts religiously can cause parents to stress, which can lead to pressures upon a child.  On the flip side though, having expectations for your child (reasonable ones) is healthy and does promote learning if done with encouragement.  This is something that I learned I can do without unnecessarily pressuring Hunter or feeling guilty if he doesn't fall into a "scheduled" milestone for example.  It does me and Hunter absolutely no good if I sit back and say "he has Down syndrome, therefore he can't or might not do that yet...." and at the same time, expecting him to perform at genius IQ levels probably isn't going to do him any good either.  A subtle line somewhere down the middle where you can say, I expect him to learn (however and whatever way is best for him) and meet his full potential, is great, I believe.

What encourages me to tell others is how he learns.  Just this past Sunday, I dragged out a toy that was given to Hunter back when he was little.  He had received some Fisher Price "Roll Alongs" (which are balls that have various things inside them, from being see through with animals inside to being opaque with textures and sounds if shaken).  The toy that was passed down to him from a friend is a Fisher Price "Roll Along" play area.  It is a large dinosaur that allows the "roll alongs" balls to be used with the dinosaur.  When Hunter was finally able to hold these "roll alongs" in one hand (this past summer) I should probably have taken the Dinosaur out for him to use the "roll alongs" in, but quite honestly I forgot about it.  Just like his basketball net, and his skill with putting the basketball into the net, it wouldn't be far off for him to use the Dinosaur and roll alongs toy.  But having too much out of the same type of learning toy I think can be too distracting and possibly make him uninterested in both of them all together.  So while I forgot about the Dinosaur, it was probably a good thing. 
I lugged the Dinosaur out of hibernation and demonstrated to Hunter how the Roll Alongs new use (instead of being thrown around the family room...) was to insert them into the Dinosaur's various slots.  After showing Hunter how to do this twice, he showed me that it was a skill he could easily master.  Was I impressed?  Yes of course.  Why?  I am not sure!  I already knew that he understood the mechanics of placing an item into a hole designed for it, so what was so impressing?  I guess it would have to be that I showed him only twice and he took over.  He also seems to realize that while he has a small box of various toys (all the same size) where I keep his Roll Along balls, he never chooses any other item (such as the Tonka small vehicles) to insert into the Dinosaurs slots.  I was sure that he would experiment and put one of the other small balls or cars into the Dinosaur (since they are all within the same box) but he chooses the Roll Alongs without fail.  Now to me, that is impressive.  I know it certainly shows reasoning and a skill to differentiate that while there are other toys that seem perfectly shaped or sized to fit into the Dinosaur (and I know because I tried them myself....) he has not chosen them to go in there.  I am sure that if he had tried them I would have chalked it up to exploration and learning, but it would seem that he doesn't need to try it to understand.  And that I think is definitely demonstrating learning and comprehension.

I noticed I haven't been taking many photos of Hunter lately but I did manage to get this learning and playing of the Dinosaur Roll Along toy on video... so I am hoping that you will enjoy the two short videos that Daddy took of Hunter and I playing.

Here is Part 1 of 2:

Here is Part 2 of 2:

Hope you enjoyed the videos!

On a personal note, I am now 13 weeks along and things seem to be going well!  Besides the daily queasiness and the myriad of specialist appointments, things are great.  I had the NT redone yet again totalling three measurements which all ranged from .90mm, to .95mm and the final one taken this past Tuesday at Mount Sinai hospital special risk pregnancy clinic was 1.27mm.  All within normal ranges but being here before, (with Hunter's normal NT measurement albeit a bit higher but still within normal ranges) I know better then to think things are perfect.  As I mentioned before, measurements are a very tricky calculation, having to ensure by protocol that the baby lies perfectly transverse just to name one, and also that each measurement taken by itself is meaningless without the other correlating data such as blood screening etc.   But the fun still remains with guessing the gender of this baby!  We wont have a more clear picture of that area until at least two to three more weeks.  So keep on guessing!  (Poll is located on the right side of the blog is anyone is interested in casting a vote for boy or girl!)  And on another note, it would seem every ultrasound I have, my due date becomes earlier and earlier.  What originally started out as June 26th is now June 21st - so everyone is also free to guess what my due date should be - but I should forewarn everyone, I am likely having another C-Section due to my poor hip and back structure, so that date is up in the air too as my due date changes.

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