Friday, May 13, 2011

Mother's Day Reality Check

Goldie is seldom is sick, so it is easy for me to slip into a mindset that we have beat the "low immunity" aspect of Down syndrome. And maybe she has, but what has yet to be conquered is the darn dysphagia. So, on Mother's day, I sung my baby girl through IV sticks (3) and breathing treatments while my would be dinner of pasture raised filet mignon and NY strip, still wrapped in white butcher paper, lay in a pool of red juice.
While Goldie may catch less than half of the bugs I do, her low fluid intake makes fighting what she does come down with very difficult. This is compounded by the increased difficulty in swallowing when her sinuses are draining. A cold was making its way through our house and I had been worried that she wasn't coughing as much as her siblings and that mucous was, instead, settling in her chest. Mother's intuition, trust it. When I got her to the ER Sunday morning her oxygen levels were in the low 80's! A chest x-ray showed that Goldie had pneumonia. The rest of the day included IVs, oxygen, breathing treatments, antibiotics, and an ambulance ride. Listening to some folksy kid's music on Pandora, we rounded out the afternoon snuggled up in the hospital bed for a nap.
Hank still needs me at night, so I left Goldie in the capable arms of her Daddy. Then, I drove home, crying and feeling torn between my children. Repeat all of this for night two and add in a couple middle of the night phone calls with Goldie SCREAMING in the background. While all of this really stunk, my husband mentioned how much closer he feels to his little girl and I have found even more trust in him as her father, advocate, and protector.
She is home. She is tired. A trip to the post office yesterday, yielded a three hour nap! As for the rest of us, Hank has a double ear infection, the nine year old woke up with the stomach flu, and my hubby worked over fourteen hours yesterday. (I'm thankful for that because it means he has a job and we need the money to cover visits to the hospital). My promise to him when he left earlier: I will not crack up, today.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Finding a Preschool

Well over a year ago, while I was pregnant with Hank we looked at some preschools for Goldie. I did this as part of the transition process when she turned 3. I didn't see a place that I loved, so we decided to utilize some community programs this year and revisit the preschool options when she was turning 4.

I began my search anew in February when I saw that a Montessori school was having an open house. It was nice, but it seemed like there would be a lot of rules for Goldie to remember and the room had a lot of furniture for her to navigate around. Goldie also learns best in an environment that is free of visual clutter. I spoke with the teacher and explained what Goldie's strengths and weaknesses were. I did not tell her my daughter has Down syndrome. In my experience, it brings up too many stereotypes.

The school's only tuition option was for 5 days a week, so I decided to keep looking. It would cost us a fortune in gas to make 10 trips a week! My next call was to my neighbor. Her kids went to a Montessori school that was 5 minutes away, but only advertises by word-of-mouth. She was happy to call the owner and talk to her about Goldie.

The owner, Miss M, has really exceeded all of my expectations. She has met Goldie one-on-one twice and has had me observe the classroom one morning by myself. Before I sat in on a class, she told me "I don't want you to get overwhelmed and think that Goldie can't do this, because she CAN." Miss M. has asked me to bring Goldie once a week for 1/2 just to get her used to the classroom and allow them to get to know her. I must have looked a little nervous because she assured me that Goldie will be going to school there as long is that is what I want. The plan right now is for Goldie to attend two mornings a week in the fall and maybe add a third day after the Christmas break.

A couple months ago I was asking myself, "Am I crazy to think that my child with Down syndrome can go to a typical preschool without an IEP and supports?". But, after seeing Goldie in the classroom and feeling the kindness of the students and teachers, I know Goldie will just blossom at school next year. She is already requesting "school" on a daily basis.

This is my first post using a blogging app. If it works out, I may be able to post more often than once a month!