Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mother's Day

It seems I am a little behind with posting about holidays.  I really do try and get these things out in a timely manner, but I am often faced with the option of posting or holding Ella and having her smile at me. I usually choose the later option... Sorry... but here is my Mother's Day post.

7 years (or so) ago, I only wanted 1 child. I wanted to have this 1 child by the time I was 24 and I wanted to travel a lot, work a lot and love my one child more than life itself.  I didn't believe my heart had room to love more than 1 child and I didn't really care to find out.

I had this one child when I was 23. We managed to travel a lot, work a lot and love this one child rotten.  Because it was my first, everything seemed much more dramatic and awful then it really was.  He has a fever! Oh no, call the Dr. ASAP and put the hospital on alert. He didn't poop today, he must be dying.  Seriously, my neurotic mothering was out of control, but it was a happy little life, just the 3 of us.  I think I was a good mom to my first. He ate 3 meals a day, was spoiled with love and toys and never left my side.

Then, one day, we decided that having one wasn't enough. We would have 2 kids. I mean, everyone has 2 kids. I was OK with this idea, but I am not going to lie, I was afraid my little mommy heart couldn't love my second kid as much as I loved my first. I was worried about treating them differently, about favoring one over the other. I was worried that I was now being trusted with two little lives to mold. It was like double the chance for mistakes. Then, little boy #2 arrived.  Wow. He was nothing like my first. He screamed (a lot), he never slept. He made it impossible for us to leave the house. The weird thing was that once he was here, my mommy heart swelled with love and I had more than enough love for both my boys. I didn't have to work at it. I didn't have to pretend. It just happened.  It was awesome. I was an even better mom to both my boys. Somehow the chaos of having two little boys made me stronger and a better mother. It made me realize when to love and when to be tough. It made me realize that I need to be fair to both kids, but I don't have to treat them exactly the same. I really liked being the mom to 2 boys. I felt pretty accomplished in my mothering skills. We were on the fast track to our perfect little life.

THEN.... one day in June 2009, somewhere between swim lessons and packing for vacation, I found out I was pregnant with #3.  Really.... 3 kids.  I won't lie. I wasn't estactic about this news.  I spent the next 9 months coming to grips with the new reality of my life.  Even up to the day I gave birth I wasn't really sure I was ready to be the mom of 3.

Well, if I wasn't ready to be the mom of 3 on the day I gave birth, I surely wasn't ready to be the mom of 3 with my newest bundle of joy having Down syndrome.  I had to get used to not only having 3 kids (remember, just 7 years ago, I was happy with 1) but now I had to get used to a new world of parenting as well. 

Fast forward 3 months into this mom of 3 adventure and guess what.  Being the mom of 3 rocks.  SUPER ROCKS.  It is quite possibly the most natural feeling for me.  Craziness, I know, but it just feels right. When the 5 of us are all together having dinner or hanging out, I couldn't ask for a better feeling.  My heart not only loved 1 kid, then 2 kids but it pours out love for all 3 kids. My heart is happy. At night, when I go to sleep and my cuddly babies are all tucked into bed, I love it. I love the chaos the morning brings and I love driving my 3 kids around in my "mom" car and I love telling people I have 3 kids. That day in June was the best thing to ever happen to my family and made this last Mother's Day the best one yet. I have 3 awesome, totatlly unique kids that love me, that rely on me, that look up to me and it is the best feeling ever. I won't ever let them down and that is what makes me a good mommy to them (or so I like to think..).

Now, I do have a mother myself and a post about Mother's Day wouldn't be right without mentioning my mom.  See, my mom and I didn't always get along. Growing up I would have to say I was that teenage girl you read about in Redbook and Good Housekeeping who doesn't like her mom, says mean things to her, shuts her out, etc. Yeah, I admit it, I was a pain in the ass to my mom. I always needed her for something, but I all around treated her poorly.  Bless her heart though, she never gave up. She never walked away from me or just stopped caring. She either has a tough little heart or the ability to realize being a mother isn't always easy. At some point though, I grew up. I realized I was being a selfish little pain and I became friends with my mom and I stopped being mean and I started respecting her. I realized all she had been through in life and how hard of a worker she is and how determined and successful she has been. I realized how loyal she is and how much she loves me. I realized that no matter what happend, she would be there for me. I started to trust her opinions and rely on her advice. My mom has been a very big part of my life for about 12 years now. She has been there through everything that has mattered and she has helped me become who I am today. She taught me that you can raise a child and have a career and still find time to be Girl Scout Troop leader. She taught me that cooking is overrated but reading a book together is priceless. She is the reason my kids have clothes to wear and I never run out of toilet paper. She never sleeps and has energy for anything. She will do a shot of tequila and hang with us until 2 AM and then wake up at 7 and be ready to start the day :). She will sit next to me and let me cry when I just need to let it all out. She is amazing. She is a mom. My mom. Thanks mom, thank you for being you and allowing me to be me and for always being there and for giving up so much of your life for me. I strive to be successul to show you how much I learned from you.

5 reasons I live in paradise

I think, even with all life has thrown at me lately, I would still say thay I happily live in paradise.  Now, my location isn't exactly paradise, I don't have an ocean looking back at me when I wake up in the morning but overall my life is pretty paradisial (my new made up word).  What makes it so?


1.  Ella.   I am pretty sure she is magical. Like she has little magic baby powers and she cast them on me about 2 hours after she was born and now I am caught up in her magic baby spell.  That little girl is so amazing, so appreciative, so adorable. We are at this point where we are seeing her slip behind in some "milestones" and yes, it is hard, but she makes up for it in so many ways.  It's like she doesn't want to be behind. She tries so hard to hold her head up or roll over.  She never complains. She smiles at you like you are the best thing in the ENTIRE world. She is magic. I could write an entire book about her magicness and she is only 14 weeks old.  If having a baby with special needs means you get to experience this magicness, I think you all should have one.  Seriously.

2.  My other two monsters... Yes, even Ryan and Reed make my life paradise.  Watching them play football, watching Ryan become such a big boy (he's reading chapter books now!), watching Reed sing to his sister for 10 minutes just because.  These two boys are the lights of my life.  They push my buttons and bring me flowers from the yard. Reed tells me I am gorgeous. If that isn't paradise, I don't know what is.

3.  Work. Yep, work.  I love to work. Crazy, I know, but I love to work. I love to be the best at what I do. I love the fact that I created a business that has been succesful. I love the fact that I wear comfy pants to work and sit across from Erin.  I like that when I want to see my husband he is just down the hall. I love that someone at my work stocks the refrigerator with Diet Coke so it is always there for me without me having to ask. I love everything that has to do with work, even the crappy no fun things like paying bills and taking out the trash.

4. My family. Sure, I might act like I don't always appreciate them (gotta keep up my tough girl image after all) but really, I couldn't do 1/2 of what I do without them. My paradise wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for all of their help and support and putting up with me.

5. and of course, my husband. He puts up with a lot of shit from me.  He stands behind every decision I make, good or bad, and helps me get through the messes I might create when I am just sure that I am right and go full steam ahead without putting my thinking cap on first.  He gave me my 2 monsters and my magical princess and he is the number one reason I live in paradise, no matter what I say to him when I am mad.

Yes, sometimes it rains in paradise, sometimes there are even thunder and lightening storms, but the clouds pass and I am still right where I was before the rain, in my little paradise.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

This last week

We had the meeting, the very big, most important meeting. It was... Odd.

Let me first say that the one thing that you should not bring to the very big, most important meeting is food poisoning. It really makes it hard to concentrate and might even make the strange people in your home think you always sweat and take deep breaths at odd times.

Yeah, I have been waiting for this meeting for about 9 weeks. It has been drilled into our head by doctors, friends, support groups, etc, that this meeting is very important. It sets the tone for what our precious little baby will receive in terms of support for the first 3 years of life. You want to be on your A-game for this meeting. You want to bring it. Me, I brought food poisoning. It sucked.

Anyways, other than trying to act like I wasn't going to vomit in mere seconds, the meeting went OK. We had an odd group of characters on our couch all hovered around a sleeping baby and throwing questions at Mike and I left and right. The weirdest part? No one introduced themselves when they came in. It was like a party and everyone was invited, but not by us, the hosts. We had to guess why they were here. Once we got that all figured out, we realized we had a state case worker, a feeding therapist and a early intervention specialist all gathered around Ella. The case worker was representing the DDD (which, by the way, stands for Department of Developmental Disabilities....) and she asked us questions like "what do you want to accomplish for Ella"? They were very broad questions. I tried to bring it back to what we wanted to accomplish for her right now and think that by the end of the meeting we got the point across. What we want to accomplish is for Ella to be as much like her baby friends as possible. If that means she needs 7 therapists and a rhinestone tutu, then that is what I want them to deliver to me. She ended up stating that her plan would, for now, include a speech / feeding therapist, a physical therapist and a developmental specialist. We have an option to add occupational therapy at a later date. I also told them I wanted all these therapies once a week. I think the way this works is it now has to be approved by some higher authority, so we are waiting on approval from the DDD to get it all started. I am hoping that happens soon.

The next lady on our couch was with Rise Services and was there as a replacement for the woman we met with when Ella was 4 weeks old. I am still unclear as to what Rise does other than set up the meeting between us and the DDD. I have gone to them to ask questions about the services, etc and haven't really received a straight answer ever, so the purpose of Rise is a little unclear to me. The woman had a box of toys more appropriate for a 2 year old than a 11 week old and asked me questions that were pretty straight forward given the baby in question was about 2 feet from her. "Does Ella open her eyes?" umm, yeah. "Does Ella bring her hands to her mouth?" Yep. I don't really know what she did with this info other than tell me Ella scored on the 0-2 month range and that you can't score below that and for her age you can't score above it either so Ella scored as expected. She then seem to watch my every move as I was changing Ella's diaper. I don't know if she noticed I was turning green or if she is a spy sent into homes to make sure we are proper parents, but she was there and part of the pow wow and seemed nice enough, so we let her stay.

The final lady was the biggest mystery and honestly, I don't know who invited her. She was the feeding therapist. She brought a giant bag of nipples and a miniature stethoscope and proceeded to mess with Ella during her feeding to the point I thought Ella might actually pull this woman’s stethoscope right off her neck. Now, yes, she was annoying with her 12 bottle types and all, but she was probably the most helpful person at the meeting. She watched us feed Ella, listened to her suck and swallow and gave us pointers for feedings. I am more interested in a speech therapist than a feeding therapist, but I am told that they come as one package this early in our plan, so I will take her and her mini stethoscope and try to get her to focus on speech with us more.

In all, the meeting was surreal. I was sitting on my couch, the couch I purchased 3 weeks before getting pregnant, the couch I laid on for weeks on end when my body didn't want to be pregnant anymore, the couch I held Ella on and cried and cried in those first few days after she was born and now the couch where I listened to a group of people I had never met before talk about my daughter and her disability. Funny how it all works. I got that couch because it was comfy and big and wouldn't show wear. It has already done its job a million times over in just 11 short months....

So. That was the meeting. I was sick, Ella was charming, Mike was trying to take it all in and then as soon as they all arrived they left and Mike and I were left standing at the door staring at each other and wondering if it all really happened or if it was a dream. I then left Mike at the door and threw up. Note to self, never eat at El Zocalo's again, no matter how good the salsa is.

Since the meeting I have had the opportunity to talk with an amazing mom of a 2 year old with Down syndrome who is willing to share her therapists with us. I am working on getting them added to our plan with the DDD and hoping they can all start within the next few weeks. I am also trying to figure out about the costs of the sessions. The state budget crisis has left a big part of the cost of the therapies to be absorbed by the families and while Ella will one day qualify for government insurances that cover the costs, right now we are in waiting for them to just look at the application. I have been told that almost all Down syndrome babies are rejected the first few years of life. I believe they don‘t have to cover it until they are 3, so it will be a long fight, but hey, I am ready. We do have private insurance so I have to see what they will cover as well. I am sure it isn‘t much as we are self employed and our insurance isn‘t the best. Yet another maze to get through. I have a feeling that in the next few months I will become an expert at insurance and government programs. Yeah!!

That sums up our Tuesday of last week... Let's see, we also had a parent - teacher conference for Reed where I was told he has a pretend cheetah as a friend ( I suspected this, but didn't really dig into it as I was hoping his imaginary friend wouldn't be a jungle animal) I was also told he has a hard time focusing and would rather talk and be silly than learn. Yep, that sums up Reed. I hope by kindergarten he imagines a cage for the cheetah or we will have all kinds of problems. He is the type of kid that would literally get up and run around the room screaming his cheetah is chasing him and then just sit down a few minutes later like it never happened. His poor teachers….

Oh, we also got a boat, drove it home from Yuma, launched it, docked it in 40 MPH wind gusts and managed not to get divorced in the process. It was a very successful week...

My kids are pretty much ready for school to be over. They just want to play and hang out and to be honest, I am ready for a couple of months of not waking up at 5 AM and not trying to seem like I am a responsible parent who utilizes all 5 food groups when packing lunches.

This week... Well, it is just Tuesday and today I managed to get someone fired from their job (not intentionally), we were served with a small claims lawsuit at work (darn tenants) and my cheetah loving son managed to overflow the sink at the nail place with soap bubbles in about 15 seconds (yes, I did leave a bigger tip than normal to hopefully make up for the mess he created). If tomorrow is anything like today, I can't wait to wake up!
Have a good night my friends!