Saturday, October 31, 2009

I did it.

I got the H1N1 vaccine yesterday. After many hours of research and debating in my head I decided to just get the shot. My PCP had them and they were mercury free so I went yesterday morning.

Boy, does everyone have an opinion about it too. I can't believe the reasons people were coming up with that I shouldn't get it. Like its a government conspiracy? Seriously?

Right now, it seems like everyone we know has swine flu. The pediatrician (solo practice) up the road was seeing 100 kids a day! I think we may have had it back in August. That was when I had bronchitis and took antibiotics and still coughed for 5 weeks. But, if that wasn't it, then I would really be in trouble if I did get it. Then again, if we did have it, why get a vaccine I don't need?

I know a lot of people say the media is making it out to be worse than it is. Well, after Goldie's surgery in September a woman who lives near us passed away from H1N1 complications (pneumonia). She was only 44. That was when I really started to worry. This was someone we knew. Not someone considered "at risk" or with health complications. I drive by her house everyday and think about her husband and daughters.

I'm also going to see if Goldie's ped has the vaccine available. She barely drinks enough as it is. I hate to think of her getting dehydrated again.
In the meantime, when we are out and about, we'll keep taking baths in hand sanitizer. Then scrubbing again at home. The truth is we did that most of the time anyway. I learned pretty fast that 3 sick kids is no fun. I don't care who thinks I'm crazy as I wipe down the highchair at the restaraunt. Because you know they won't be the ones scrubbing my carpets at 2 am or using a syringe to get fluids into a lethargic 2 year old. And you would be suprised by how dirty the tables are, let alone the highchairs!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More pregnancy stuff

Thanks to everyone who left such reassuring comments on my Pregnancy and PPD post. It's nice to reminded that what I'm feeling is normal for the situation and that everything does work out in the end.

I also wanted to mention that I don't dwell on the serious stuff most of the time. Goldie doesn't allow me any time for that! I am really looking forward to this little guy's birth in December. It will be our first out of hospital birth. There is something I really enjoy about labor (yes, really) and thought this would be the ideal way to give birth. I will not miss dealing with OB's who agree to a birth plan and then change their mind or nurses who can't fathom why I don't want an epidural and have the nerve to tell me "its not fair" when my baby is born before the woman in the next room's. Or staying home until the last possible minute. And don't get me started on that automatic blood pressure cuff. Since we're aware of the various complications that can arise, I am always praying that everything goes well and our baby gets the birth he needs.

Another thing I love about the midwife's office: When you walk in the door their is a series of posters on the wall. I didn't pay much attention at first. Then, I noticed that the first one is of a mother with her baby in a sling. I had to do a double take because that baby had some very familiar DNA! My heart just got all warm when I saw that and I knew I had made the right choice.

Can you imagine that hanging in an OB's office? Gasp

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baby Update Week 32 and Post Partum Depression

I know some of you have been wanting a pregnancy update, so here it is...
I'm happy to say I'm feeling really good and everything has been wonderfully uneventful thus far. I'm measuring exactly where I should. (This was an issue when I was carrying Goldie because she was so small.) I think chasing a 2 year old around is an excellent way to stay in shape and prepare your body for childbirth! The midwife did let me know I should be drinking more water. Duh. I spend all day obsessing over how many ounces Goldie has had to drink that I completely forget about myself.
We also discussed the emotional side of pregnancy. Specifically when you already have a child with a diagnosis. I lost something when Goldie was born. My peace of mind. Before, I assumed I would have healthy pregnancies and typical babies. Now, I am very aware of the myriad of things that could happen to change our lives. I no longer feel that "it won't happen to me" because it has. As God would have it, the midwife I saw that day also has a child with special needs. It was so nice to talk to someone who gets all these feelings. She also brought up some things I hadn't thought of. For instance, did you know some mothers in my situation have a hard time pushing. They feel as long as they are still pregnant the baby is perfect and are afraid of that changing once the baby is born.
I also asked about Post Partum Depression. I dealt with this after Goldie was born and would like to be more proactive this time. Again, she understood and suggested speaking to a psychologist before the birth and taking a childbirth class that deals with overcoming traumatic birth experiences. Not that either of think her birth was traumatic, but it certainly left me with some guilt and hurt feelings.

I don't think I've ever blogged about the PPD I had after Goldie was born. I denied it for a long time because I thought it would mean I wasn't happy with her. I also wasn't really depressed. I didn't sit around in my pajamas all the time. I did everything I was supposed to do in a day. But, I was very angry. All the time. I would yell at my kids over little things and then feel guilty, but do it all again the next day. I also had nightmares and irrational fears. There was a recurring dream that Goldie was missing and I couldn't find her. I tried some natural remedies, like taking Omega-3s. But they didn't help and some actually made the dreams worse. Finally, when Goldie was 8 months old I went to my OB and got a prescription for Zoloft. It helped tremendously and I stayed on it for 9 months and then slowly stopped weaned myself off of it.
Why am I worried that this will happen again? I had the dream again. Only it wasn't Goldie that was missing, but our new baby. It was reassuring to wake up and know that I'm still pregnant. I'm also nervous about having a typical baby. I worry that it will take me back to when Goldie was a baby and I will mourn, again, for the experiences we didn't have. Or even that I will miss the things about her that he doesn't have. I loved that chubby neck and the hugs that melt into you like butter.

I hope that all this worrying is for nothing. These thoughts may all disappear once he is here and in my arms. I imagine we will be so happy with him that there won't be any looking back.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Pictures

My 7 yo grabbed Goldie and the camera and took these pictures. She is so thoughtful and know how I love to take fall pictures of them. I think they turned out much better than the ones I tried to take of the 3 of them.

Self portrait of the photographer and her subject.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Who Stole the Apple from the Apple Bag?


She snagged this right out of the bag on the counter. I took it back long enough to wash it. I figured it would keep her busy for about 15 seconds and was a little doubtful that she had the jaw strength to bite off a piece. I buy the very crunchiest apples I can find. She, of course, showed me that even the crunchiest apple is no match for her!

This has already proved to be an easy snack to give her on the go. I'm notorious for not remembering to bring snacks when we go out. I blame it all on breastfeeding. I always had food on hand when they were babies and it got me into a bad habit of not packing snacks. Anyway, after we went on a nice, long hayride this week I was able to buy Goldie an apple to eat. How convenient? Too bad I can't do that when her drink runs out! (I've been caught without "Think-It" more than once this week.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Transition - The First Meeting

This week was the first meeting in Goldie's transition from home based to school based Early Intervention services. I still remember the very first IFSP meeting. I think she was only 5 weeks old. There was a woman named Brenda asking me what my goals for Goldie were during the first year. Who ever thought I would be coming up with goals for our new baby? All I wanted to do was feed her and take a nap. Somehow, thought started forming about what I wanted her immediate future to look like. I went back through 8 years of being a mom and watching my other babies grow and decided that is what we would aim for. One thing I specifically remember telling them was I wanted Goldie to eat real food. Not baby food, just like my other kids did. Brenda looked up at me to see if I was serious. Then she said " Well, we'll have to make sure she can do it safely." Goldie did accomplish this goal. I had to compromise a little along the way, but not much. The lesson I learned is that you can't be afraid to aim high. If I had been wrong it would have been ok. We would have given Goldie the support she needed and adjusted our expectations. But, we should always give her the chance to succeed.

Now that I've gotten way off track from my original topic... I admit I've been pretty worried about how this transition will go. You just get used to dealing with one system and now its time to move on to another. I've also never liked the idea that my daughter is part of "the system". I've always enjoyed my parental autonomy and really resent anything that infringes on it. I was laying in bed thinking about how I could be at peace with this process when I realized the obvious. Hank and I are still her parents, we are still in charge. We have the final say in what services our daughter receives. If we don't like what Early Intervention has to offer, we have choices. We can even choose to take her to private therapists and pay for prek ourselves. We are not at the mercy of the system.

I woke up in a great mood the day of the meeting. I made a list of all Goldie's strengths and the things she is still learning to do. (Good thing, because I was asked for these) I also wrote down some questions. Hank was watching the girls, so I went alone. This is fine because he tends to be too nice to people. He's great at compromise and I'm great at sticking to my guns! The meeting consisted of myself, Goldie's current SC, and a man whose title was Early Intervention Service Coordinator. I guess he's going to be the new SC.

It went about as I expected and he wasn't able to answer all my questions. I give him props for admitting that and not just giving me bad information. He asked what we had in mind for Goldie. I told him, "We decided that the Fall after she turns 3 would like to enroll her in a typical preschool setting." That was followed by him trying to convince me to enroll her in the special ed pre-k in March. I simply repeated "We won't be sending her anywhere until the Fall after she turns 3." He realized rather quickly I wouldn't be changing my mind. I did explain our reasoning (new baby), but he just raised his eyebrows and went back to writing. Whatever. I guess he took it personally.

Next came the question of how will Goldie receive services if she is not in pre-k or daycare. He didn't know and told me to ask at her eval in January. Wrote that ? down. I also have to ask how they will implement her oral motor therapy in the classroom.

Then we talked about typical pre-k options. Not far from us is a typical preschool that has slots for students with IEPs and has staff from EI in the classroom in addition to their own teachers. I had already heard about this option and we are very interested in this for Goldie. My big question is how do I make sure she gets one of those slots? I was told "We just put her in there" Yeah, right. I don't believe that for a second.

Finally, came the paperwork. I was asked to sign a paper allowing them to bill Medicaid for Goldie's services. I asked if this would cause a problem if we pursued private therapy. He said "no, well it shouldn't, unless their billed on the same day for multiple services." I said I would bring that form back later. I could have signed "No" and her services would still be free, but I wanted more time to think about it.

Overall, I wasn't impressed. I had some big safety issues with the building. Goldie could have easily walked out the front door. (I know people who work there that have found kids wandering the building) There was no interest in Goldie as a member of our family. There was a brief explanation of why inclusion is a great idea, but segregation (my word, not his) of children with special needs is sometimes necessary. Then it was my turn to make faces.

The best part of the day though - while I was gone Hank decided to play outside with the chainsaw so the girls were on Goldie duty. They got her to sleep for a nap, fed her a snack, and took her to the potty. Where she did number 1 & 2! (Now that's a whole post for later.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Transition - Getting Ready

Next week is the first meeting in the transition process for Goldie. She won't be 3 until March and right in the middle of now and then I'll be having a baby. I've been dreading this since our first IFSP meeting. Honestly, I would like to say "no thank-you" and go back to having a "normal" life where I don't have to deal with THE SYSTEM. I think part of the reason I find this so daunting is that none of my kids went to preschool. I was the lone mom in my circle of friends who didn't believe in preschool. I do believe most parents provide all the enrichment any preschooler needs. They have many years of school ahead of them, why let them get burnt out before kindergarten? Childhood is short and I want my girls to have as much of it as possible, TOGETHER. The day will come when they don't share a roof over their heads, let alone a bedroom and these years will be what bonds them for life.

I was all set to send Goldie off to school when she turned 3, sort of. Then, sometime in the last year I started thinking that everything I believed was best for my other children could still be what's best for Goldie. Does she deserve less time chasing chickens and making blanket forts because she has a disability? Is there anything preschool will teach her that I or her siblings can't?

Of course, she does have different needs than her sisters. Can I meet them? Yes. But, I know when I need help. Hank and I talked and (as of now, plans may change as we get more information) we will not be sending Goldie to pre-k in March. Our plan is to send her to a typical pre-k, twice a week, in the fall, following her 3rd birthday. I don't think its wise to send her off to school less than 12 weeks after getting a new sibling. I know from experience that can be a rough time for the youngest.

This plan means we have to decide how Goldie will get her speech and OT services. I thought I had that figured out, until the Service Coordinator was telling me the laws changed back in January. I've been told we can bring her to the school, just for her services. I've also been told the state doesn't allow any one-on-one therapies. Her current OT and ST both feel that all of her needs will not be met by the school district and that she would need private therapy in addition to what the school provides. Fortunately, a pediatric therapy center opened up a mile and a half from our house. Still, my head is swimming with the different choices and if they are even choices we will have. I hope to have some answers next week and a clearer picture of what will happen when she turns 3.

On another note, Goldie met an OT goal this week. The one were she learns to remove her pants. She even went above and beyond and took off her diaper. Sorry, no picture! But, here's another cute one I had to share.

I should add that is a water baby in the sling. It is much heavier than our other baby dolls and is a sneaky way to help Goldie with her arm strength!

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Favorite Thing

Down Syndrome New Mama posed the question "what is your favorite thing about DS?"

It would have to be the way I feel every time Goldie smiles at me or laughs along with me. I get a feeling when she smiles at me that I don't get with my other kids (shh, don't tell). Her pure happiness and unconditional love are contagious. She can change my mood in an instant. Its like looking up and seeing a rainbow. You never get tired of it. Even if you've seen one, you want to see another.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Electric fences

For 3, maybe 4, months a year our property borders an electric fence. It is about 8 feet from our chickens and the garden. It is so beautiful to get up and have coffee while watching a newborn calf nurse from his mother. I love it here. My children are growing up in the same house I did and playing in the same yard I did. Hank grew up on a small farm, so this property was a good fit for him.

I slowly feel we are becoming our own small farm. There is always something that needs done. Like yesterday. I took Goldie outside to swing. While we were out I noticed the walnuts on the ground needed to be picked up so Hank could mow the grass. I walked over to get a wheelbarrow to put them in. While getting the wheelbarrow I see that the chickens need water. I take the bucket back to the house. While I'm dunking it in the rain barrel I turn to check on Goldie. She is headed toward the cow pasture. Despite my running and screaming, she beat me to it. By a mile. I felt like I was in a race against the electric current. This time we won. The fence wasn't working. (FYI, they don't deliver a continuous shock, it travels around the fence, which is very long. I've been shocked and it hurts, but it isn't dangerous, kwim?) The neighbor called later to see if everything was ok. She was outside and heard me yelling. I told her Goldie was fine, but I was very sore and would be spending the afternoon on the couch. I'm 29 weeks pg, not a good time to start sprinting.

I really believe inclusion begins at home, but I struggle with including Goldie and keeping my sanity her safe. She usually stands and watches the chickens while I get the water. Hank taught her to pull grass and feed it to them. This is very cute, but she's gotten her fingers pecked already.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Overwhelmed No More

I've spent the last week trying to get a handle on our home and my time. Over the last year I've felt increasingly overwhelmed by the day-to-day stuff that needs done around here. So, on Saturday I handed over a volunteer job to someone better able to handle it. This is something I should have done a looong time ago. Like, after Goldie was born.

I have to come clean and admit thinking to myself after she was born, "I'm not going to change. I'm not going to let Down syndrome take over my life. I'm still going to do everything I did before. I won't become obsessed with it." Its taken me 2 1/2 years to admit that I have changed, my life and interests have changed and its not as bad as I thought it would be. Down syndrome didn't take over my life, but my love for Goldie has. She demands more of my time than I anticipated in the beginning, but who can think of a better way to spend their time.

The volunteer work I did was bookkeeping. Which is best done without the help of a 2 year old. I tried waiting until she was asleep, but she would wake up constantly and I still didn't get anything done. The bookkeeping kept getting further behind and my guilt kept growing. I put off doing crafts and projects around the house because I felt like I should be getting caught up on the work I was already committed to. I ended up getting nothing done for myself, my family, or the charity. Which led to more guilt.

Now that I've relinquished my duties, my time is once again my own. Like Hank said, "Now all you have to do is take care of the kids." Yep, that's it. HA! HA! But really, I've been planning field trips for them and organizing their rooms. I'm good at organizing when I'm pregnant!

Totally unrelated to this post, but when I was looking at my calendar, I saw that Goldie's first transition meeting is next week. Eeek! I don't feel ready for this process.