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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Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Journal - Week 78 (20Feb11)

Splish Splash, Kick Kick & Step toddle Step!!

Look Mommy, no hands AND no legs!!  No hands??  Yes that's right, Hunter took more steps unassisted over the last few days but seriously needs to be distracted to do it!  No legs??  Yes, that's right too, today we took Hunter swimming for the very first time and this little boy is a natural water baby!  For months we have been teaching Hunter the art of splashing and kicking in our bathtub so naturally we figured the next step in water progression was to introduce the swimming pool!  I had arranged a swim play-date with Hunter's favourite buddies at our local community centre which has a wonderful swimming complex that includes a stand-alone toddler pool as well as a regular sized swimming pool with a three story water slide!  In order to make this work, Mommy did have to invest in a few swim items including a brand new swim suit for Hunter (his original one that I purchased some time ago never got used and ended up being too small), $3.00 water wings (one can never be too safe with a squirmy boy) as well a brand new maternity swim suit for a quite pregnant Mommy! 

The swim-date was a successful hit!  Our family swim time was 2 hours and Hunter enjoyed every minute of the event.  He showed us just how much swimming, splashing and kicking come naturally and even allowed me to dunk him under the water 4 times!  He swam on his front, he swam on his back!  I only wish I had video footage or even a picture to post but I didn't think the community centre would allow me to take videos or be snapping photos considering the many families and children in swim attire etc.  So I will have to do my best with wordy descriptions of the day.  One thing I do have are photos of the water wings we purchased from Zellers (like a Target or Walmart who actually did not have a single pool item yet) which despite the age indication on the package (for ages 6 years to 12 years) they worked like a charm for Hunter!  It's not like he has muscular bully arms but the wings fit where they suggest them to be.  I totally suggest these water wings (aka floaties) made by Bestway "Splash and Play" for anyone thinking of introducing their baby to water - especially if their child is squirmy or wiggly when being held or it's their first time in a larger body of water then the usual bath tub.  The only thing to consider if thinking of purchasing water wings or something similar is that at some point it becomes a moot point if attempting to have your baby or child learn to swim.  Which was our whole reason for doing the swim date... I had decided to enrol Hunter into swimming lessons because our home backs onto a conservation area which includes two ponds right behind our house.  These ponds are not fenced off and are also not monitored by anyone.  I myself know how to swim and have known since I was a young child.  I also know the benefits and safety of ensuring a child knows how to swim.  Organizing the swim date was our way to proactively ensure that Hunter would be okay with taking swimming lessons before I enrolled him into a series of classes.  Looks like we will be going ahead with the spring swimming lessons.  I am happy to say that Hunter's buddies will also be enrolling right along with him after their own successful swim-day.  The cute and wonderful thing about Hunter having his buddies with him is, they will have fun together and as an extra side - so will the Mommies!  My girlfriend Penny (buddy Vaun's Mommy) will be going with me and the joke there is, we are both pregnant!  So, perhaps the fears wont so much be on our boys but on ourselves in trying not to look like plump potatoes with arms and legs!

As another interesting side note, I discovered something while at the end of our swim date.  Since the location we were at (the McLean Community Centre) has the separate toddler pool and which has a gradual declining slope (from nothing to 4 feet of water) it allowed me to stand Hunter up in the water at a level that would keep the water at just his tummy height.  Since Hunter has been walking and also taking steps unassisted, I encouraged Hunter to walk around in the water.  I know that water does not have much gravity and also causes us to be somewhat buoyant - but it is also a workout for anyone walking or moving because it adds resistance to movement.  I figured that walking in the water would help Hunter with walking in general (despite the fact that he doesn't necessarily need help with walking but more so with confidence) and he seemed to enjoy doing it.  Later on it was apparent that doing "water walking and standing" had definitely given Hunter a boost in confidence that he needed because he was able to stand up and dance with Grandpa unassisted.  It wasn't his usual stand for a few seconds and sit, he managed to dance standing along for quite a long period of time.  Later after that, he managed to walk 3-4 steps toward me without any help whatsoever.  Was it the water that was so beneficial?  I have no idea, but if it works, why not do it.  As another note of interest, I also discovered that holding a piece of string (such as the string-ties from the necks of my sweaters or waists of my pants) and giving it to Hunter to hold, gives him the MOST craziest self-assured confidence to walk.  He literally thinks that he is holding something that will hold him up!  Going back - Hunter has always had a fixation for the neck strings on my sweaters and waist ties on my pyjama pants and so for the last few days I decided to use those same strings as a lure.  Little did I know he'd actually think they were something to hold him up!  I am pleased (SO PLEASED) to report that Hunter can officially walk on his own!!  BUT, we have to work on more than 4 steps and also, GET IT ON VIDEO.  (The problem with that is, since I work with on the walking during the day, by the time someone is around to help me video the event, he's really sick of showing me he can do it.  My next plan is to try and set up the camera to record while I work with him if no one is here to help.)

REVIEW: So, as promised - here are some shots of the water wings (sans Hunter who was asleep at the time of shooting):  Note - the arm bands are to be worn at the top most part of the child's upper arm or Humerus (bicep part) with the flat portion down and triangular portion (or point) up.  The wings do have listed on the back of the package different sizes and weights and ages but these particular ones I have here were the only ones available at the store.

Package of two arm floats - blown up

Shown here on my arm (NOT IN THE CORRECT SPOT) but upright.  To be worn on upper arm.

The many warnings listed on the back of the float

Both arm floats shown here (again to be worn on the upper arm or humerus)

The package they came in for $2.99 Cdn.  Comes in Purple and Orange!
These arm bands were a source of comfort for me more then Hunter.  While I know they defeat the purpose of teaching a child "how" to swim, they gave me the added reassurance that if Hunter got out of my arms (during our test swim) that he would not go below the water and me be unable to grab him.  For a very first time in a pool, it was an additional safety that I could live with.  But it never gave me a false sense of security.  I know very well that a child can drown in less then 3 inches of water. 

Keep posted for some photos or videos of Hunter walking and or swimming!  (If I can get them!)


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