Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Smarty Pants

Max is amazing! Here's the proof:

Laundry day. I'm in the basement gathering my clothes from the washer and I can hear Max banging his ball around the living room. Then it's up the stairs and into the kitchen to hang my more delicate items over the chairs to dry. As I near the final piece (a pretty little pink bolero I like to wear with sundresses) I notice the silence. It's that dreaded silence--the signal that something's wrong. "But there was no thud," I say to myself. "No one's crying. But I better check it out." So a few quick steps and I round the corner to see my boy Max, binky in the mouth, head cranked back, mesmerized by the television. "Baby Noah? I don't remember putting that on." And then it hits me. Max did it! Max turned on the DVD player and started the video by himself! What a smarty pants!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Welcome Connection

I'm at work right now, and being a teacher, I have little time for checking emails or making phone calls. Max is at pool therapy with Sean this morning, so when my second period students left I thought I'd check my phone to see if there were any last minute calls about where I put Max's trunks, or did I remember to wash the towels. As I reached for my phone I noticed it was ringing, but I didn't recognize the number. I often don't answer those calls, so it is surprising that I felt compelled to do so this morning. I'm so glad I did! Sarah, the director of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, was on her way to work and just decided to check in!

We chatted briefly about how amazingly well Max is doing. It turns out her teenage son has some of the same  medical history as Max. It was encouraging to hear how well he is doing all these years later. We talked about being working moms, and how it is difficult to juggle everything. She reassured me that I'd start to feel more connected to the community once Max gets a little older. And, of course, I promised that we'd be participating in the Buddy Walk again this year.

It wasn't a long conversation, but that moment of connection was so welcomed...and welcoming. Thanks, Sarah!

I assure you, these tears are happy ones.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Max and I had a busy day today. First stop: the doctor's office. One of the odder (in my opinion) characteristics of Down syndrome is small internal passages--nasal, ears, intestines. As a result, Max's colds tend to last just a little bit longer and hit him just a little bit harder. During today's out-of-routine morning bath, and a few hardy coughs and sneezes, it became clear that Max's cold was getting the best of him. So off we went.

From there we headed to the garden center for deer block to protect my fledgling vegetables. Then on to Babies R Us for gates. Max has so perfected the combat crawl that no part of the house is off limits, expect when blocked by gates. Then finally, a quick stop to say "Hi" to Daddy, who unfortunately has to work on holidays.

After lunch and a nice long nap we headed to the back yard. While I installed my deer block, Max enjoyed the sun with the company of several toys. His new game is to knock over anything he can, and then try to set it upright again.


Back inside we attempted some finger-painting. I should've known better. As far as Max was concerned, the paints were clearly edible. Perhaps some sort of yogurt, or a yummy, colorful chocolate sauce! Don't worry, they're non-toxic. I checked.

By this point, poor Max was losing steam again, so we headed into the living room for some relaxing play before dinner. Max is now sound asleep, and I'll be joining him soon!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Another "Do You Think...?"

     Sean and I were snuggling on the couch. Max was seated on the floor, glued to the TV, a giant toothy grin on his face as he watched the Baby Einstein puppets dance on the screen. Sweetly, Sean said, "Max, Daddy loves Mommy."
     "Do you think Max will fall in love?" I responded.
     "Of course! That's a stupid question."

Thank you, Sean, for your perpetual optimism. That's why I love you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

While Kayaking

My friend, Heidi, and I spent Saturday kayaking on the river. The warm sun, the breeze through the tall river grass, the tranquil water. Oh, and the cranes. They were magnificent. Most were white, but there was one, a smoky gray, with a huge wingspan. It glided gracefully through the air. I missed the opportunity to get a photo, leaving my camera on dry ground, afraid I'd accidentally drop it in the water.

As we made our way back to home base we saw a father and two kids paddling a canoe towards us. Seeing the little boy working his paddle through the water, I imagined Max doing the same when he's a little older. I told Heidi I couldn't wait, and she voiced the eternal question that floats around in my mind. "You think he'll be able to do it?" "I don't know," I said, and then felt guilty. Of course he can do it. Why wouldn't he be able to do it? So I said, (more or less), "Well, we'll have to see. But I'll definitely bring him." And that's really the whole point. The only reason kids like Max don't or can't do things is because people think they can't. If they don't get the chance to try, how will they ever learn to do it? It's a never-ending battle between optimism and pessimism. Too far in either direction and we've gone of course. Assuming Max can do anything his peers can do, and not being disappointed when he struggles is probably the perfect balance.

Way to go, Max!

I'm so charming!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

In the Morning

Morning is my favorite time of the day. On a sunny spring morning like this one the air is crisp, the birds are catching up on the latest birdie news, the dewy grass sparkles, and all the colors look freshly painted.

I love my boy Max in the morning! He is at his most magnificent when he wakes from a full night's sleep. When I scoop him out of his crib he is nothing but smiles. Usually by the time I get there he has been awake for some time, and has resourcefully turned on the music on his mobile's base. He reaches up to me and we both head downstairs. Everything is exciting! I lay him on the floor to give him a fresh, clean diaper and he makes a break for it on his belly! He bursts into belly laughs when I grab his ankle and slide him back my way. I get him on his back and his eyes dart from side to side searching for Scout, his talking green dog that has become his best buddy. I hand Scout to him and he sighs a beautiful sigh full of contentment. And then the dancing begins! Max squeezes Scout's paws until one of his favorite songs starts and then lets it all loose. His head sways like Stevie Wonder, his hands flap (not quite to the rhythm), and his little feet clap together again and again and again. I can't help but smile.

How could you ask for a better morning?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Beginning

I've never really understood blogging. To be honest, I've never really enjoyed writing. At different points in my life I've attempted to keep a journal with only moderate success. When Sean and I got the prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, I started keeping a journal about the process of acceptance, but again, it didn't last very long. Now that beautiful red leather book sits idly on my headboard. So in light of this, why am I starting a blog?

A few days ago I was listening to NPR on my way home from work. There was a man on there (I don't remember his name) who was a psychologist (I think). I've tried to find the segment online, but have been unsuccessful. The topic of the interview was a study about self-disclosure and it's impact on mental health. Somewhat to my surprise, the study showed that individuals who talked about themselves reported feeling happier than those that didn't. To be clear, I believe the study was performed only on people speaking, but the psychologist did liken such self-disclosure to what people do on Facebook and in blogs. So I thought, why not? I'll give it a try.

The thing is, my boy Max is the love of my life (so is his daddy!), and he has Down syndrome. Despite all the heartache and despair that followed the initial prenatal diagnosis, I truly couldn't have asked for a more perfect son. Those of you who know him know what I mean. But, things that are out of the ordinary are difficult sometimes. Maybe this blog will help me with that.