Saturday, June 29, 2013

Slow Dancing

That's the groom. Woodsy. Not his real name, but that's how my husband introduced him, so that's who he is to me. That spectacular young lady he's dancing with is his sister, Meaghan. Watching them last weekend reminded me instantly of those first days.

It was spring, 2010, and I was ten weeks pregnant. Sean and I went in for our first prenatal visit where I gave several viles of my blood for the first half of the sequential screening--the blood test that looks for genetic and other disorders. It was Friday. On Monday, my OB called. Not the nurse, my actual OB--not a good sign. The test revealed a one in ten chance that the baby had Down syndrome. She tried to reassure me, pointing out the obvious fact that a 10% chance in favor means a 90% chance against. And to be fair, if a medical procedure had a 90% success rate you'd be nuts not to believe it would work for you. So after my initial shock and flood of tears, I was confused when Sean came home from work and suggested we visit Woodsy's mom. Huh? What for?

When we arrived, Eileen, gave me a loaded hug. The kind of hug that says, "I get it, and you're not alone." A hug that serves as a lifeline when it feels like drowning is the only option. And as all the walls were closing in on me, she introduced me to her daughter. 

Meaghan, about 26 at the time, was the first person with Down syndrome that I ever really talked to. I mean, said more than simply, "Hi. How are you?" She was witty, sassy and very aware of her syndrome, which surprised me at the time. I left her home that night, just as confused and scared as I arrived, but very conscious of the lifeline that Eileen had thrown to me.

The next day Sean and I visited the perinatologist who performed a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) to check for genetic disorders. That was Tuesday. On Friday our genetic consultant called me while I was driving. The preliminary results were positive for Down syndrome. "What's the chance that these results are false?" I asked. Less than one percent, she told me. In fact, it seems she had never heard of a CVS ever being wrong.

"Do you want to tell Sean or would you like me to call him?"

"Could you call him, please?" I couldn't bear to tell him, to say it out loud.

He was standing on the threshold of the front door when I got home a few minutes later. He didn't say anything, just smiled big and wrapped his arms around me. I cried. I cried for a long time. And what followed were minutes, days, weeks, months of intense emotional turmoil and discovery, but I'll save that for another post.

Eileen was my beacon. I visited her a few more times before and after Max was born. Where some people try to paint everything rosy, Eileen was honest. She talked about what was great, and she talked about what wasn't. She gave me endless resources. She even compiled a bunch of photos of her daughter at different ages, just so I could get used to looking at the physical markers.

Eileen has since passed away, and though I didn't know her for very long, I miss her. She offered me something I haven't found anywhere else. Experience. And she told me to write. Write everything down. The good, the bad. All of it. She felt it was the best way to process the emotions and experiences. I think she was right.

Thank you, Eileen.

And since this post began at Woody's wedding, what better place to end.

Baby Chance's fans:




Uncle Richie

Little miss thang!!

Michelle...diva and doing it right.
 And lastly, a funny face...
Be careful! They might stick that way!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Second Chance

I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself. And to think, just today I was telling my mom that I'm afraid Sean and I have set him up for a lifetime of teasing. Oh wait...where are my manner? You don't know what I'm talking about.

Meet Chancellor James. We call him Chance.

He's our June 4th baby boy, and Max's little brother.

At two weeks of age, he eats and poops, but mostly he sleeps.

He sleeps bundled up in his hat,

He sleeps with his binky,

He sleeps hands in the air,

He sleeps snuggled into Mommy,

Oh, and he chews his tiny hands,

Big brother Max is having a hard time adjusting. For the first seven days Max hit me, threw things at me, and became skilled at the temper tantrum. Any mention of "little brother" was met with a very aggressive "all done" sign. Clear indication that Max had no interest whatsoever in this tiny freeloader who was suddenly occupying so much of Mommy's time.

These last seven days have seen a shift in Max's anger away from Mommy now directed toward Daddy. Sean has several bite marks as proof, including a small amount of flesh removed from his shoulder just the other night. Time-outs have increased exponentially. But as difficult as it is for Max right now, we know it's not permanent. He'll get used to Chance, and soon he won't even remember a time before Chance came to us.

And to help the little man out, I'm trying to fill his time with fun. Like today, my mom and I took the boys into Boston to one of the "water parks". To say our little fish had fun would be a massive understatement.

I'm looking forward to many more joyful summer days with my boys in the weeks to come.

But as I read, and reread this post, I find that my fatigue has gotten the best of me, and I can't add any wit or cleverness. So, I think it's time. Goodnight, friends. I'll be back soon.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

What Max Knows...

"So is Max excited about being a big brother?"

You know how many times I've been asked that since we announced we're pregnant? I can't possibly count, and my response is always the same,

"I don't think he really knows."

A lot of that is because he doesn't talk, so it's hard to get a good feel for what he knows and what he doesn't. However, to be honest, if he could talk I'm not sure he could say just what it is that's about to happen, or why Mommy's belly makes her lap so small, or why carrying him up the stairs has become so difficult. But for the last few days he's been trying to tell me...something.

Something's up. Max can feel it. He knows his world is about to change and he's letting us know what he thinks about it. Recently we've been treated to napless afternoons, super-nuclear temper tantrums, and endless supplies of energy. "Feisty" and "spit-fire" don't quite do it justice. It's hyperactivity with a capital H.

Most of his efforts are directed at me; Daddy seems to be able to quell the savage beast. But then, I'm the reason for the inevitable change, aren't I? I wonder what it is he senses. Does he realize my belly is rounder than typical? Can he smell a change in hormones? Is he simply responding to my lack of energy?

Who knows, really. And I guess it doesn't matter. And I should be thankful the beast didn't rear it's head until I passed my due date a week ago. And, now that I'm thinking about it, I find his behavior rather interesting. In some ways it mirrors my feeling about these last few days of Max's life as an only child. I have little fantasies of spending beautiful mornings with him at the park and creating  lasting memories that we both can share. But then I realize there is no way on this planet I can take my 30-lb toddler to the park by myself at 9+ months pregnant. I can barely make it up the stairs!

So today I took advantage of an opportunity. My mom took us for ice cream. While Max and I waited for Grammy to come back with our scrumptious cup of chocolate peanut butter Heaven we sat in the sun and sang songs. Max gave me lots of wet kisses and cuddly hugs, and now I have a wonderful memory of him in the last days as my only son.

My only son...

He's gonna be a wonderful big brother.