Saturday, October 28, 2006

Not my fault...blogspot was down

Okay, I tried several times to post, but every time I couldn't get on. So, here is my post from October 25:

Tess is nine months old today! I just can’t believe it, where did the time go? She still is not crawling, but she’s definitely moving around. She can get in and out of sitting now, which is something Owen was never able to do. He still looks a little awkward when he does get up, as if he is doing something backwards. I never noticed until Tess the bent leg thing. We were shown by our PT when Owen was young how a typical child gets in and out of sitting. They start with their legs out, then bend one leg to the side, in order to position themselves for the next move. Owen never did that. In fact, he had never been able to bend his legs backwards and sit that way, as I see almost every child do. And yet, he is so flexible everywhere else in his body. It’s as if he brain was rebelling and said, “I’m not going to do the one pose that will make your life easier…”

So, we went to the park the other day, in the late afternoon, as we have been doing quite a lot. When both of us are working, Owen gets stir crazy in the house all day, and just needs to get out. Erik and I both understand that. We have been going to a new park where there is a trail all the way around, so that I can walk with Tess and Erik can play with Owen. It’s a great way for all of us to get some fresh air and exercise. The other day, we got there and I sat with Tess for a moment because I wanted to finish reading an article in the paper. I wasn’t quite sure I was motivated enough to walk, so I was going to read for a little while. I noticed two moms sitting near me, and one of them I had seen before at the park. After I had finished reading the article, for some reason, I caught their conversation. They were talking about the CVS test, because I heard the one mom say it. I was still, trying to hear what they were saying. I saw the one mom sort of look around before she leaned in a little closer to tell her friend this: “I had the CVS, it’s the earlier test. I did that one because I would find out earlier. I mean, if it happened, it would be painful and really sad, but at least know one would know I was pregnant.” My stomach lurched. She was so cocky in her description of her plans to terminate if something was wrong, that I wondered, would she ever tell her little girl that she thought that way? That she was alive based on the result of a test? Then it hit me that they were talking about this because they had seen my little boy. They had seen Owen playing at the park. Otherwise, how random could it be that they were talking about a test that was specifically for Down Syndrome?

I got up to walk, because I couldn’t stand to be seated near them. I hate those secretive little conversations that people have, as if it’s their own superiority that makes them a better judge of a child who isn’t born yet. So I started walking, and suddenly, the world looked different. It was such a beautiful day, but I felt as if everything was tinged in sadness. I felt as if people were so afraid to have a child who was different, that they went out of their way to make sure that didn’t happen. Then I saw a woman playing with her dogs, and I wondered if she checked to make sure her dogs had perfect chromosomes. Does anyone check their pets? No, we just accept them and love them for what they are. Why is it that we accept so much more of our pets, than our children? Why is it that we treat our pets better and allow them the chance to live and have a life? Yet we can’t stop the testing, the perfection, the starting over from scratch if things don’t look like they will be perfect. It’s so sad.

Monday, October 16, 2006

No More Vacations This Year

Erik and I just got back from the Ojai Film Festival, where we were able to actually have an adult weekend together. His mom watched the kids, and, of course, I was fearful every minute that something would go wrong. She's really great at taking care of the kids, I think I'm just so paranoid in general that it doesn't matter who takes care of them.

Friday night, we had dinner with Laszlo Kovacs (cinematographer who shot "Easy Rider") and his wife, and Malcolm McDowall joined us for dinner. He was presenting the award to Laszlo the next night. He had a lot of great stories to tell, and we had dinner at Suzanne's Restaurant, which was so good. Then, we had a chance to spend Saturday golfing, which we have been able to do so rarely. On Saturday evening, it was the awards, and Bill Paxton showed up to support the filmmakers. They had dinner set up at an estate, and it looked almost like a wedding party. Then, back to the hotel for a much needed 10 hours of sleep! How wonderful that was...

When we got back, Tess was so happy to see me. She couldn't stop smiling at me, just beaming from ear to ear, and I almost wanted to cry. Of course, Owen was more interested in watching the Wiggles. But even so, I never knew Owen to be so happy to see me. Tess gets so upset when I leave, and she is so happy when I come back and smile at her. She had this amazingly beautiful smile, and her eyes just crinkle up when she uses it. There is a part of me that knows that Tess is so much more present, more than Owen was. Owen was, and probably still is, a little bit in his own world. Things just don't catch his attention like they catch hers. In a way, it's good, I guess, because maybe that's why children with Down Syndrome are so happy. Their world is a little more fuzzy, a little more rose-colored.

It's nice to be home, though, and to settle in. Our house is in escrow, so the plans to move into the next house are in motion. I can't believe we are going to leave our little house in the Hollywood Hills soon. I have loved this house so much, and we have made so many good memories here. But, it is time to move on. We really need to space, and the area and the schools, and how great will it be to be able to walk to the park, and the store and the library?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Back from Michigan

I can't believe that we are already home again. I feel as if I spent too much time there, and not enough. It's amazing how different it is to visit family when you have kids. With kids, every second is taken up with making sure they are fed, clothed, changed, and overall feeling okay. When I used to go home to visit, I would spend the time hanging out with my sisters, maybe go shopping, spend some time writing, and ponder my life when I lived in Michigan. Now, I feel as if it's: wake up with the kids, throw a cup of coffee down my throat, feed her, feed him, have a piece of toast, change them, think about running some errands, maybe make a phone call (are you kidding?!)...and on and on. When I was home, I barely got to have a full-fledged conversation with any of my family, because I was only listening with half an ear. The other half was making sure that the kids were okay, and I even have a husband who watches out for them! The problem is that I am so over-protective of Owen. It seems that everywhere we go, there is some danger lurking, especially stairs. I am so paranoid that he is going to die under my care, that I overthink everything. I can't rest for one moment!

What makes me the most sad is that I get to spend so little time with my parents. They are in their 70s, and who knows how long they have left, especially my mom, who has had multiple health issues. (I guess after 11 pregnancies and nine babies, there might be some issues...). But every day seemed to be as if we were running around, not really stopping to enjoy ourselves, although Erik did make sure we went to the park with the kids. The weather was beautiful. I really can't believe we had such amazing weather. The day of Tess' baptism, it was almost 70 degrees. I mean, this is the first weekend of October, that never happens in Michigan (although, with this whole global warming thing, of course it's almost 70 degrees in October in Michigan!). We had an amazing day, and the ceremony was beautiful. The priest, who has married all my sisters and done Owen's baptism, knows my family really welll, which made it that much more special. As he was doing the ceremony, he did what was a sort of homily, about what we need to give Tess. He reminded Erik and me that we need to always show Tess what love between a man and woman is like: we need to love each other and show affection, and respect, and take time out for ourselves as a couple. Otherwise, our daughter will never had a good role model to base her own relationships on. He also told us that we need to instill confidence in her; if we do that, she will be fine. He pointed out to Erik that as much as a mother has a guiding influence on her daughter, sometimes it is the father who shapes the world she will call love. That is so true. It made me realize how much our children learn from what we are. I look at my parents and I see how much they still love each other; how much they need each other. I hope that Erik and I are like that, so that our children can learn from example.

I'm always happy to come home, and be back in my own life, but I miss my family terribly when I leave. The day we left Michigan, Erik and I took the kids for a walk to the park before we had to get on a long plane flight home. I told him that as much as I love my family, there is something about Michigan that makes me feel claustrophobic. I can't explain what it is, but I always feel so much better when I get back to LA. Maybe there is something in my past that I haven't addressed, and it still haunts me.

Everyone was so in love with Owen. They all marvelled at how much he was talking, or trying to. He really has begun to say a lot more words, and also to put words together. I just love when he says "Mommy," so much, that I always answer, "Yes, Owen?" and then he says it again. I never knew I would be so thrilled to hear him say it. But I am. I'm sure Tess will say it a lot sooner, and a lot easier, but for me, Owen is so incredibly special that I really do celebrate every milestone.

When we got back home, we came into the house (which was so quiet, compared to all the loud voices of my family), and Owen went into the den, sat down in front of his bookshelf and took some books down to read. He seemed genuinely happy to just immerse himself in his books and the quiet. I can understand that. After I come away from my family, as much as I love them, they are so very loud, all competing to be heard above the other. Owen was so overwhelmed at the party that he wouldn't let go of Erik and then fell asleep in his lap at 4 p.m. and slept until the next morning! But I have to remember that Owen is a gentle soul, and he needs his quiet, and his space. Perhaps he is more like me that I know.

It is good to be home. And now, I must attend to my fundraiser for Down Syndrome Research. I will update you all soon on that.