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, January 21, 2011

My Journal - Week 74 (21Jan11)

Terrible One and a halves or Two's!!??  
Discipline starts now!!!

Hunter is only 17 months old, but it would appear that age is certainly not a factor in determining when the "trouble" starts!  One thing about Hunter is, despite his lack of words - he is very vocal in expressing his emotions.  He is also quite aware of when he is doing something that he shouldn't be.  Add those two behaviours together and you can have a recipe for a tantrum of sorts.

Hunter is now at the age of discovery and testing limits.  An example of some behaviour that I am not liking very much is his hitting faces and biting arms and shoulders (ours not his).  Now, understandably it's very easy to explain WHY he is doing either of these two "problems" but the solution is not as simple as just saying "NO".  Nor is the solution black and white.  The hitting I have realized is Hunter's way of trying to get our attention, regardless of whether he has it or not (for food, attention, fatigue or whatever it is at the moment) and the biting started with teething.  In psychology and general common sense (both of which I have backgrounds in...) I know that patience, consistent discipline and understanding are the basics for dealing with behaviour modifications.

Discipline requires us all (as parents and caregivers) to do the same for the learning to be effective.  If an unwanted action occurs, all the responses must be the same so the child understands that the behaviour or action is unwanted.  It's clear that it isn't okay for one person to demonstrate being upset and another to say nothing.  It sends a mixed message that no one person would understand let alone a child.
Saying it nicely, “Don’t do that” is not enough.  The message must be obviously clear so that in each instance Hunter knows it is NOT okay to do it.  But lately, our showing a discontent emotion for his negative or unwanted behaviour hasn't been enough.  If I raise my voice, he now raises his back.  If we tell him "No" in a stern voice, he holds his breath, turns red and literally shakes - fists closed and all!  This kind of response is one I have never seen in a baby!  And I should elaborate, I am not even sure where he got that from, since one would think that he could only do something like that by imitation, and no one in our home has ever done something like that.  This reaction that Hunter has (as weird as it is) is simply bizarre and cute all at the same time.  But, it's clear to me and makes me understand he comprehends by reaction and that he is responding to our displeasure. 
What is frustrating however is, despite our discontent look or look of complete displeasure, he is not changing his behaviour.  I am aware that every child reacts differently to discipline and no one model fits all.  Some children simply need a look and they can burst into tears.  Some, a raised voice is enough.  Some are resistant to all but physical discipline.  I don't think any person has all the answers, and that any person can criticize how another parent disciplines their child.  I think when it comes to parenting and discipline, just like any other investigation of how something works, you have to start with the least invasive methods and see what works.  I do however believe as a rule, excessive anything is not okay.  Everything has limits.

With the onset of new behaviours it appears that the people of parenting magazines and online resources also feel that this is the key time to provide me with information on this very topic.  Just today I received an email from Pampers.com which actually talks about Discipline at this age.  I found it ironic since today has been one of our troubling days.  Hitting, biting, screaming and all in one day.

The Pampers team seem to discuss and put a lot of stake into what most parents today are using as a discipline tool.  "TIME OUT'S".  Funny, today I think I needed a "TIME OUT".  They explore the idea of starting to introduce the "Time Out Chair" or "location" and how consistence with delivery is key.  If not one time, or one hundred times, you must keep at it until you reach the level of success for that specific "punishment".  Any deviation or buckling can cave the whole effort and stall the entire process of learning.  Worse, it can create rebellion.  They explain even at this age (18 months or so) the teaching of the "time out" can be effective, so long as you are consistent in the punishment and also the delivery.  For example, if there is an unwanted behaviour, minimize the explanation to "No" and if the unwanted behaviour is repeated, then announce what was done wrong IE: "You are not to hit your sister and you must have a Time Out".  At this point you are to remove the child from the unwanted behaviour (and area) and start the time out.  If the child moves from the location (perhaps a chair or corner) then replace the child and explain the Time Out starts all over.  At the age of 18 months, the time must be short enough (example, one minute) to redirect the attention.  The advice on how to do this is strict to the parent though, as they explain in order for effectiveness, even if the child has to be placed there once or one hundred times to achieve the full minute, it must be done.  They advise once the time has been met, bring the child back, give a hug and move on with life.  Do not talk about the problem again.  At early ages, it serves no purpose to bring the topic back up, as it will only confuse the child.  The idea (while targeted for the age of 18 months up to the age of 5) is that isolation from the event or parent is what modifies the behaviour.  If it is impossible to keep a child in a chair or there are issues of abandonment to consider, it is advised to move rooms and not to communicate with the child for the length of time.  It is noted, NO child should ever be left completely alone or in a dangerous location.  Once the punishment is over, talking and normal communications should resume.  The child in essence learns that unwanted behaviour has negative consequences - but it is warned that if there negative consequences achieve more attention then normal good behaviour, your child will soon learn that acting inappropriately gets attention.  So it is mentioned that there should be an understanding of better behaviour gets good attention and negative behaviour gets bad.  It's important to ensure that you are normally giving your child "well" attention, and by that they also indicate it is better to spend 20-30 minutes a day playing on the floor with your child to potentially avoid a child associating negative attention for getting any attention at all.

After all this psychology, (and in fact I have been doing some of this without even having read it in the first place) I may try timed - time outs.  One thing that I was actually pleasantly surprised to read in the Pampers article was that they did include a section regarding children with delays.  They do want parents to be cognisant that you have to adjust your discipline on understanding of behaviours rather then chronological age.  And that makes the most important sense.  So we shall see how it goes now that I am somewhat studied up on discipline.  I just hope that everyone in our household can ensure that it's the same and consistent.  Nothing is worse then having one parent trying desperately to discipline using a certain method while another one or caregiver is doing something completely different.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Journal - Week 74 (18Jan11)

Future or Present?  
A blood test that can Diagnose Down syndrome.... 
Good news or Bad???

Some of you may be aware of the talks regarding the newest and latest testing for Down syndrome which will be part of the new prenatal testing sometime in our near future.  The new method of prenatal testing to genetically test for Down syndrome will eventually be conducted by a simple blood test of a pregnant woman.  This testing is not the same as the current maternal serum screening or blood tests available now which check various hormone levels, alpha fetoprotein etc. in the triple, quad screen and IPS (Integrated prenatal screening) that give doctors an idea of whether there is risk or possible risk for Down syndrome.  This new blood test will definitively tell doctors (or geneticists) if a fetus has Down syndrome with the same accuracy as an Amniocentesis or CVS procedure.  The only difference is that this test is not invasive and will not carry the same known risk for loss (albeit small, less then 1/2 a percent) as Amniocentesis or CVS are known to have.  The reason I am posting about this new procedure is because I was asked to participate and be involved in the study of this new blood testing procedure to identify Down syndrome by my genetics clinic.  This request took place when I went in for my recent Amniocentesis on the 6th of January for my current pregnancy.

Now, I had many many questions to ask the doctor involved in running the study and she answered everything that she could.  The obvious question of when the testing will officially be available here in Canada was not told to me but she did mention that science has literally already allowed them to identify what to test for by way of blood, and so it occurred to me that they (genetics) probably already can identify a "Down syndrome pregnancy" but are "fine tuning" the procedure and also the political side to the test such as who will be eligible to get the test, who will be able to request it (since it is a "simple" blood test), where it will be processed, and most importantly, who will pay for it - since the one thing that this doctor did advise me on was that the actual procedure for the analysis of the blood - is/will be a very costly testing procedure.

One thing about me, I am very pro medical science and the involvement to move it forward.  So, knowing that, I wanted very much to participate BUT there was one issue that immediately came to my mind which nearly derailed me from participating in the study.    The study only would require three vials of my blood which would be compared with my results from my Amniocentesis procedure sample taken.  (They would not take any additional amniotic fluid, only my blood sample was required for the study.)  My issue was not a sceptical one, it was not a fear of my DNA or identity being misused, it wasn't a doubt of the science for this actual new testing procedure.  My issue surrounding my involvement in this study was an emotional concern.

I explained to this doctor that I understood currently, the statistic for termination of a fetus which was identified as having Down syndrome was 94%.  This means, of the babies born with Down syndrome as a pre-diagnosis - only 6% of them are born to parents who have knowledge that they have Down syndrome.  This statistic does not include babies born with Ds that are diagnosed at birth because no prenatal screening or testing was undertaken.  In other more realistic words, more then 95% of the time, when a woman (or family) learns via Amniocentesis or CVS that their unborn baby has Down syndrome, the decision to terminate is made.  Only 6% choose not to terminate and continue their pregnancy.  What I wondered as I contemplated being part of this new medical prenatal testing procedure was, would this blood test now make it unequivocally easier to make the decision to terminate?  From my perspective (confirmed through personal research and support), I know many women do not choose to undergo Amniocentesis for many reasons.  Some of those reasons are, but not limited to: fear of potential loss of a pregnancy due to the slight chance of miscarriage from invasive testing; fear of the test itself (needles); inadequate or lack of prenatal testing altogether; or fear of an absolute answer or negative diagnosis; then there is the reality of availability (world wide); cost or inability to afford an amniocentesis; or even knowledge that the test exists.  Knowing this, it's obvious many babies born with Ds are born to parents who had absolutely no idea that their baby even had Ds or that there was even a remote possibility that the baby had Ds.  I challenged the doctor with my theory that - since this is true in many cases (which then account for the thousands of babies born locally and around the world every year with Down syndrome) outside of the lonely and sad statistic of the chosen 6%, are we (rightfully?) giving people an easier way to decide to terminate pregnancies that are diagnosed as positive for Down syndrome?  While the obvious answer from the doctor was "yes", it will be easier to get a diagnosis, we can't change the decisions that people will make or suspect that people will make the decision to terminate.  But I disagree with her entire answer.  She is correct, the new blood test itself wont change the decisions people make, but given the data, it is obvious that it will be easier to make that decision.  Let me be clear, I believe everyone has the right to decide about continuing their pregnancy - it is also law.  But when I told the doctor that the test would simply allow MORE people to choose termination because the diagnosis would be easier to achieve (for all the reasons I listed above that stop people from getting (the currently available) definitive diagnosis via Amnio) she countered that there are services in place that would help to provide people with references and resources to help them make an informed decision.  My jaw dropped.  I explained that this is and was simply not true or was the case even currently!  She was under the impression that someone provided a couple with all the information about Down syndrome which might help them decide if they should choose to terminate.  Unfortunately, I learned this is not what happens.  The genetics counsellors are pretty quiet about educating people about Down syndrome.  It's debatable that all the information is anything more then clinical (text book information) and without being disrespectful to the genetics community here often the decision to educate the parents is left to the parent to ask for it, it wasn't offered.  More over it seems that the information that can be given is only imparted after they know whether or not you are terminating or continuing the pregnancy.  Which to me, defeats the purpose of making an informed decision!  I get that it makes absolutely no financial sense (for any government) to spend time, money and or resources educating a parent(s) if they don't seem or want to continue the pregnancy.  To the "bean counters", it's a waste of time/money.  They therefore don't offer the education etc. unless the decision to continue pregnancy is made.  And what about elsewhere - where counselling information isn't provided free, via health care, insurance or even available??  I guess they go without.

The doctor wasn't sure how to answer after that.  I further mentioned that if she believed that appropriate counselling occurred immediately after a diagnosis, (instead of assuming that everyone would choose termination, which we can see purely by statistic why this assumption is made) to help with decision making, my question was, how would this be achieved, controlled or monitored if the test was able to be requisitioned by a pregnant woman's family physician or walk in clinic?  After all, it will be a simple blood test.  She admitted that the final details of where or how this test will administered, sent to for analysis or who/where could give the results obtained, had not yet been determined or better yet, if they would even discuss those things.  (That wasn't her involvement in the study).  Personally, I don't feel comfortable assuming that they will ever iron out those details or issues because frankly statistically 6% of peoples emotional concern is not enough.  It's hard to argue that 6% matter if 94% normally choose termination.  Currently even the professionals in my medical world still use the term "Downs" and are so undereducated about Down syndrome that I shudder to think how that number of 94% termination will dramatically rise - if that's even possible.  That is the reality now.  94%, and that's currently after receiving the diagnosis from a "Genetics involved specialist" - since in North America most diagnoses for Ds are currently obtained through a genetics referred test - NOT a simple blood test.

So, at the end of the conversation what did I choose to do?  I participated, mostly for one major reason alone.  I, like the current 6% (who chose not to terminate after receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome) wish that there was/were a less invasive way to get/confirm a diagnosis of Down syndrome with out risk or fear that I could be jeopardizing my pregnancy because the current (invasive) methods available do have potential risks for miscarriage - even if very slight.  It would make absolutely no sense for an advocate, who wants to see that more people out there know or learn that Down syndrome is NOT the scary, stereotypical, negative thing, others think it is - to want to keep a potentially harmful test around that could reduce babies with Ds by inflicting potential loss.  We want our children to flourish, not perish.

I suppose, ultimately the new test is bitter-sweet.  In future, I will have an option available to me that will be less risky (to be able to confirm a baby has Ds) but it ends up making it easier for the other 94+% to decide on termination.  Sadly, the doctor also advised me aside from being a participant in the process, I would not learn before the public when this does become a reality.  So, like everyone else, I will have to find out when it becomes a reality be reading the news.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Journal - Week 73 (12Jan11)

Looks who's "Steering" all by himself!!

So it appears that if you let your baby walk all around the house, he'll eventually get that he has to steer the walker on his own!  For Christmas I bought Hunter a new walker, one that has a little more entertainment and learning to it then his first one which was great for the first steps of learning to walk with a walker.  In just two tries around our house, Hunter learned quite quickly and all by himself how to turn his V-Tech Sit to Stand train!  And I don't mean little turns, I mean huge turns which would definitely need someone to correct and steer in order for him to make a complete circle.  Now, he's literally taking off, running laps (well walking fast) around the whole first floor of our home.  We were so impressed, (probably almost as impressed as Hunter was) with this new ability!  It gives new meaning to being able to explore and learn to walk that much quicker!  I do believe this has given (or will give) Hunter that extra added confidence that he needs in order to take that first unassisted step without his "train" walker.  He's able to stand with objects in his hands and once and a while he forgets he isn't holding onto something and takes that teeny tiny step, but as soon as he realizes that he's not holding anything but his book or toy, he plops down onto his butt!  I know it will probably be sooner rather then later, and I hope that I am able to catch that wonderful moment on video!  But for now, I hope you will enjoy the three videos I was able to take consecutively of Hunter having so much fun learning to Steer and getting it!

In this first attempt Hunter needed a bit of help but you can clearly see him asking for the help!

In the second attempt you can see that Hunter has now got it and is having so much fun doing it all on his own!  But gets a bit distracted when the cat shows up!

In this last part, Hunter fully shows us that he is a pro at steering his Train - except for the "speed bumps" and the penguin waddle!  This time around I captured his "Train walk" from a rear view.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing the progress Hunter has made, as much as we are!  I can't wait for the next "steps" literally!

Stay tuned... and nope, we haven't yet settled on a girl name (quite yet) for our next bundle - but so far, it would seem that Ryleigh and Sierra are strong favourites among my support board friends.  Luckily I still have my best friend searching through thousands of names for me while we continue to see if there are any other possibilities!  (Yes, Daddy has literally given up and told me to call in the reinforcements.)

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Journal - Week 72 (07Jan11)

The AMNIO NEWS is IN... and What to do with a little one who's ill?

So as of New Years Day, Hunter was officially sick.  When I posted all the photos about New Years, I wasn't exaggerating about Hunter not being well.  Turns out he may very well have Pneumonia his Flu is so bad.  Since New Years Day Hunter has been coughing, sneezing, mousy.  This in just two short days turned into wheezing, crackling chest, mucous everywhere and fevers.  At first, I wasn't too worried - these things happen and every child/person gets the flu.  But I am afraid to say, I don't think this bad.  I called our Doctor on Thursday when after three days Hunter's fever had not broken of 100.4 F (38 C).  The fever alone was not my only reason for calling... (though it's a great one) Hunter refused to eat solids.

Luckily we do have an appointment for our Doctor on Monday.  It was the first one I could get, and able to take him since having my Amniocentesis on Thursday.  When I called to speak to the doctor yesterday morning (on the phone) to at least get an antibiotic of some sort, Hunter was coughing in the back ground and the doctor actually mentioned that it sounded like a Pneumonia.  Originally I wasn't going to call for medication (I don't believe in rushing antibiotics for every little thing since children/adults often develop tolerances for antibiotics when really needed later in life) but he was getting so bad and with the fever not breaking by the third day I knew it was time for some medical intervention.  I even called for a home doctor visit (which I just learned we have here in Ontario) which is covered by our health care system, but as life would have it, getting a visit is/seems to be as difficult as getting rid of the flu - they are fully booked each day by the crack of dawn and you can't book advance appointments.  So thankfully we can see our doctor on Monday.  I just hope his lungs don't get worse but if they do, our hospital is right down the street.  (I however don't like our ER dept there, one could nearly die waiting to see a doctor in that hospital... last time I went in by Ambulance I waited 12 hours to see the ER doctor.  That's what free health care does in our Country - Another story altogether.)  All the same while I wish Hunter did not get this Flu/Pneumonia and I am not really sure where he did get it from (My mother believes it was when I took Hunter to the doctor on the Friday of New Years Eve for his vaccinations.  I don't recall anyone being sick in the waiting room though...).

Since Hunter became sick, we have all literally caught it.  It was kind of hard to contain when the littlest member of the family has it first.  Of course we don't seem to be as bad off - or perhaps it's just that we are more worried for him then ourselves.  (We can blow our noses and hock up the phlegm unlike Hunter, who has coincidently courtesy of the length of this illness somewhat learned to blow his nose - not perfect of course mind you but it's a great effort!!  Talk about a weird way to be proud of mastering a milestone!  We now have Azithromycin (An antibiotic for Community/Viral Pneumonia) which we have given Hunter two doses of.  Time will tell but at least he seems to be showing some signs of improvement by his willingness to finally try some soft baby foods.  His chest on the other hand still seems and sounds extremely congested and full of fluids.  Hopefully on Monday when we return to the doctor we will find out if X-rays are needed and if he is getting better.

While for Hunter the news of possible Pnuemonia hasn't been the greatest, I did receive my phone call from Genetics regarding my Amniocentesis I had yesterday for this pregnancy.
I learned the following:  This baby has no Trisomy's that they were able to test for (Trisomy 13, 18 and 21 which is Down syndrome) and the sex chromosomes are typical.  So far the genetics side of things looks great.  Then the counsellor asked me if I wanted to know the gender of the baby (since Amniocentesis definitively tells you that information also) and literally if you can believe this, I was definitely more anxious and excited to hear the answer to that long looming question!  As I have mentioned before, when I was pregnant with Hunter, I seemed to "just know" he was going to be a boy.  For my pregnancy with Taylor (our little lost angel) I somehow knew that she was a girl (though I had no proof).  This time around, I just didn't know and couldn't put my finger on it but something told me that judging by the way our technician and nurse acted at our visit to Mount Sinai hospital for Special high risk pregnancies clinic, this baby would be a girl.  This observation of her actions and comments conflicted with my natural feeling (or want) for a boy.  And today while I held my breath through listening to all the news and praying that our counsellor would say "boy", she told me "GIRL!"  Now, don't get me wrong - I am certainly not unhappy about it, just completely surprised based on my own maternal feelings/wants and also the Ancient Chinese Gender predictor - which is in fact obviously NOT accurate. ** Edited later (8Jan11):  Turns out the chart I was using was not correct BUT the real Chinese Gender predictor charts were correct.  I later checked 4 charts and they all said GIRL.  The one I had originally looked at (back in November) I could not locate.  It therefore turns out so far (for all my pregnancies) the charts ARE accurate. 
It does tell me that I am a great observer of people and what they try to hide (since our nurse technician would not confirm the gender at the time she made her comments saying, "What if it is a girl?" when she asked us what we were hoping for.  Which brings me to explain why we were wishing for a boy.  For absolutely no other reason then pure convenience and the obvious reason that I know what to do with a boy, we wanted another boy.  I am often humoured by the saying or reasoning that some people naturally are comfortable (or want) the same sex that they had the first time simply because they had it the first time.  It's all about comfort.  But the flip side to that is, having/wanting one of each gender.

So there you have it, Hunter is getting a little sister!  I guess I should have known instinctively that was what was coming since if you look at my baby name book you will see I chose a mere 6 names under the male category and wrote 3 pages of girls names (some 34 or more).  If anyone has any suggestions for Girl names, please send us your thoughts!  We certainly aren't desperate for names but we are having a tough time choosing.  It's hard to come up with a name that is just as strong as Hunter (and we do want something complimentary) but that also is unique and less common.  Some ideas we have so far are:  Ryleigh, Sierra, Akira, Isis.  (Don't laugh but those names in that order might just end up being her name one less of course.)

An exciting day to say the least!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Journal - Week 71 (01Jan11)


Even though I am not posting a whole lot for this specific post (I will do a seperate post on my reflections on the year) I wanted to share some photos that were taken for New Years of Hunter.

I had made the mistake of waking Hunter early in the morning of New Years eve, because I had a doctors appointment that morning and needed my mother to watch him for that time.  In hind sight, I should have left him to sleep longer so that he wouldn't have been so crabby come midnight.  He fell asleep at around 9:30pm which I was completely fine with but I realized that he would likely be woken up with our little family get together (of our usual cousin collective who we spend most of our holidays with) cheering in the New Year.  At 11:30pm Hunter woke up on his own, but certainly wasn't too happy about it.  I would later learn why he was in such a bad mood, miserable and crabby which is just not in his character - no matter what time of day he wakes up.  But this time around he was unusually very tearful and sad.  So getting a great New Years photo was quite the challenge, as you will see by what I post below.  (It turned out that he was in the beginnings of a terrible chest cold and was probably feeling so horrible and unknowingly to us since he was not yet showing obvious cold symptoms.)

Even though we had a crazy and short ring in of the New Year (my silly PVR satalite recorder switched the station we were watching exactly 1 minute before the 10 second countdown, due to an unscheduled show that was to record at 12:00 am on the 1st Jan) and though we missed the usual perfect chime in of the New Year, we managed to cheer it in none the less.  After the crazy photo session we all returned to what we were doing moments before (which was playing our family card games) without skipping a beat.  Thanks to a joint effort we managed to get one "mostly" nice family photo for the New Year!

Just testing out the camera only 7 minutes before New Years
Just for fun, a photo of the "Count Down Clock" on TV
I may be looking happy here, but I just woke up 20 minutes ago...
My Mommy always wants kisses... but since I love her I will comply.
Hugging is fun too.  Mommy loves to hug me.
My Uncle Oli likes to give me money!  I was reluctant but Mommy said I could take it.
Exactly 1 minute after midnight & I am not a happy camper.  What's so special about New Years?
Honestly, no one gets why I am so upset!  I don't care about New Years... I don't feel well!
Mommy is trying to explain that I should smile, but I really don't feel well....
Okay, just one photo.  I will give it my best, but I still don't feel well.  A 1/2 smile will have to do.
I think my mommy is making fun of me.  She's pouting now too but I don't think it's funny.
Yep, taking those photos were like pulling teeth.  But I have to say, we had no idea that Hunter was feeling so yucky until the next few days after when the mucousy coughing started.  Then it all made perfect sense.  Poor Hunter.  But he did put on a brave somewhat smiley face for us, for at least one or two photos.  What a way to ring in the new year.  His first cold of the year, and technically his first bad cough cold ever.

And just for fun (since I am posting photos...) I had forgotten to post a picture of something that we caught Hunter doing a few days ago....  Literally moments before I took the photo, I had just noticed that Hunter took off his pants all by himself.  (The funny thing was all day long, the pants were constantly falling down past his butt because the waist was too big).  So I guess Hunter got tired of his pants giving him the plumber bum look and with that, he took them off!  The funny thing was, when I noticed that he had taken them off, I asked him to show Mommy what he had done with his pants, and like the compliant boy (and smarty pants) that he is, he did just that, he showed me!
If these silly pants can't stay up, off they come!  Is this what you wanted to see Mommy??!

I also decided that since I haven't posted any of my newest ultrasound photos, I would post a picture of my all too fast growing belly.  I can't quite believe how quickly my belly is popping out and showing!  While I realize that after a first pregnancy, your body knows just what to do... I had no idea it would be this fast!  I hope I don't get much larger... but I don't think that wish is going to be granted!  Time is flying by as my first trimester is long done.  I have my scheduled Amniocentesis on Thursday the 6th of January (I have always been the type of person who likes to know before hand exactly what is in store for us) so just like with Hunter, we had no idea what to expect since all our prenatal tests so far have been "normal".  Given the maternal odds of 1:100 due to a prior Ds pregnancy we decided that having another Amniocentesis made perfect sense.  Without a previous Ds pregnancy my risk for Ds would have been 1:225.  But either way, I know that odds and risks don't mean much of anything because Non-Disjunction Ds (Trisomy 21) ~95% of the time is random.

At only 15 weeks pregnant... !
I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's eve and day.  There is a lot in store for us this year and while our lives became full of fun and joy in 2009, this year will be "double the trouble" and fun!  Keep safe for the rest of the holiday week and enjoy.  

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A family portrait
Mommy, Daddy and I

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