Tuesday, February 28, 2006

One Month Already?!

Tess turned one month old a couple of days ago. I can't believe she's already been here for one month! I know that time will just fly by, and it makes me sad. I so love being home with both Owen and Tess. I really don't want them to grow up and get older. I want them to stay just like this, and we live each day, caught in a time warp, nobody aging, both of them babies, and me perpetually 38 years old with the prospect of possibly having another.

Tomorrow night is the support group meeting that I started: I call it MOMs (Mentoring Other Moms) because we all try to reach out to other moms with babies with Down Syndrome. All the moms have babies with Down Syndrome, Owen is the oldest. One of the moms has a child with William Syndrome, which is very similar in delays to Down Syndrome, so she has joined us. I just found out one of the moms, who has a little girl named Rachel, will be taking her in for heart surgery this week. She was born with not just one, but three holes in her heart. If anyone out there is a prayer goddess, please pray for her.

I love the group of women that I get together with. In an alternate universe, if we had just met on the street, or at the store, these would probably be the kind of women I would hang out with. But we didn't. We met because we all share a common bond, our child was born with a different genetic makeup. I have to say, one of the reasons I love getting together with these women is that there is no pretense, no bullshit. We just talk, and we get to the heart of things. We don't bother with trivial conversations; we talk about what our fears are, what our hopes are, what we long for for our children. We only meet once a month, but it is like therapy for the soul. Maybe God did know what He was doing when He gave us our children. After all, I know that somewhere along the line, we are going to change people's perceptions of Down Syndrome, if only a little bit. And that will have made my son's life worth sharing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Random Thoughts

I have finally been able to get out and take a walk, and not just around the block either. The weather has been chilly here in LA, which has made for some gorgeous clear days. I have been trying to get my strength back (not to mention my weight down), and went for a long walk yesterday. I walked up to Mulholland Drive and did a portion of the Runyon Canyon trail. I could not only see the Hollywood sign, then the cluster of downtown buildings, but the ocean and the snow on the mountains. This is the season that I love in Los Angeles. I could care less about the hot summer days when it's so smoggy you can't see anything. I love this weather. It's sweater weather...

On my walk, I saw an old woman walking her dog, meandering down the road ahead of me. I was thinking about a friend of mine who just told me she is pregnant with her second child, and she is 43 (she had her first when she was 41). She told me that she was on bedrest because she had just had the CVS test done, and I had to bite my lip to keep from asking her what she will do if there is a chromosomal issue. As my husband said, it's a personal choice. I'm sure she will just tell me she lost the baby if she decides to terminate for any reason. But as I thought about it, I wondered why it is that women having children in their forties (at least the women I know), seem to be having children who are just fine, and typical. And here we are, 35 when I got pregnant with Owen, a whole EIGHT years younger than she is, and we had a child with Down Syndrome. Eight years. Just think of all the kids I could have in eight years...well, not that many, but still. As I thought about this, and saw the elderly woman walking in front of me, I realized that life was passing me by so swiftly, that I could hardly believe I've already been pregnant with my second child and birthed her. And here is this woman, who I'm sure didn't think she would ever be this old this quickly, and she is out walking her dog, the major portion of her life having been lived already.

I keep thinking about how I loved being pregnant and how I love being a mom. I seriously would consider doing this again, even though I wonder if I should just count my blessings that I have two wonderful children and not have any more. But, there is a part of me that wants another baby, and wants to have another sibling for my two kids. I already miss being pregnant, and the wonderful feelings that came along with it. My mom said some women just love being pregnant, and I never thought I would be one of them, but I guess I am.

My MIL said the other day that a friend of hers had called and asked how the baby was, and she told her the baby was fine. The woman was going on about how great it was that this baby was healthy, and made it sound like Owen wasn't okay because he was born with Down Syndrome. I looked at my MIL and said, "We are really blessed, we have TWO healthy children. Owen's just got a little bit different makeup, that's all." My husband's aunt, who is in town from Norway, looked at me and agreed. "Yes, you are really lucky," she said. I just wonder why my MIL will never just accept Owen for who he is, and let it go. I know she loves him...you can't help but love this kid. When she comes in the door, he runs to her and hugs her leg and pats it, saying "Ohhhh," and then he gives her a kiss. He is the most loving child. I think he has really changed people's perception of a Down Syndrome child.

I hear the baby upstairs. I have to get back up there. One more note: she is a great sleeper. She sleeps for four hour stretches, so if I time it right, I only have to get up once in the night. I had to tell my little brother (I know, a childish dig) since their daughter has been dubbed "screaming Mimi" and doesn't sleep at all during the night. But they keep emphasizing to me when they call how lucky they are that their child is "normal," and it pisses me off. What, and Owen isn't "normal?"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Settling In...

Tess is two weeks old already, what would have been her original due date, plus one day. She went to the doctor today and is already 7 pounds. One day I will tell her how excited I was when she hit seven pounds, and she will laugh... So, I ended up with a C-section, but I have no regrets. I feel like I tried my best for a vaginal birth, and it didn't work out. Actually, my doctor told me that chances are, I would not have been able to have a vaginal birth, ever. It seems that my cranial sacral bone is pushed forward, and leaves a very narrow passage between it and my pelvic bone. She told me that Tess was starting to turn into a brow position, just like Owen. The whole birth was mirroring my previous birth with Owen, but they did let me labor (for six hours, unmedicated, on pitocin!) and it was worth it to feel a part of childbirth. I felt as if we struggled, she and I, and the best solution was a C-section. Anna, the doula I had hired, told me that I did everything except have the baby come out vaginally. After hours of labor, my cervix was not dilating and it began to swell. Anna told me that that was a sign the baby was protecting itself and we would find out when we went into the C-section what was wrong. Sure enough, when I went into surgery, the doctor exclaimed "aha!" when they pulled her out. Apparently, there was a "true knot" in the umbilical cord, meaning it was a tight knot. It hadn't affected her at all up until this point, but if we had tried to deliver vaginally, it could have been very bad. Anna told me she's only seen it three times in the ten years she's been practicing, and twice it resulted in still birth. So, thank God for modern medical science! I have a healthy baby girl, who by all counts, can grow up to be normal and typical and ordinary. So, this time around, I feel as if I bonded so much more! I was able to have her on my chest after the birth, and then they let me breastfeed her for a few minutes in the recovery room. I also got to have her in my room with me. It was so different from Owen's birth, when he was whisked away into the NICU and we had to keep going there, and seeing him hooked up to monitors and feeding tubes. I feel as if this time, I got to feel like an ordinary parent. But the fears have not gone away. They sit on my shoulder and pester me, trying to make me paranoid about her. Both Erik and I keep questioning if what she is doing is normal. How would we know? We thought Owen was typical and normal for two weeks until we found out he had Down Syndrome. Now, we question what is normal. I told Erik that for once, just once, I would like to be a naive parent and believe that everything is fine and there are no problems. But, since we had Owen, our definition of normal, and life in general, are different from the typical parent. I'll write more later, I just wanted to catch up for a brief moment. Still, looking at my child with Down Syndrome, who I am incredibly in love with, and my new baby, I feel so blessed to have them both. I don't think I would ever feel so grateful if I didn't have Owen, and hadn't gone through the mental adjustment that I did. Maybe that's the difference. Maybe typical parents will never appreciate their children as much as I do, because my joy is perhaps more hard-won.