Monday, March 3, 2014

the final countdown to another year

"Your 23-month-old: Week 4", was the heading this time.

You know those weekly emails for parents of babies, where you can read little tidbits about what they should be doing, tips based on their age, or insight about what's right around the corner?  I've been getting that weekly email from BabyCenter since I was expecting Leo. Sure, I kept up with them for most of the first year. Interested in the information and reinforced by where Leo was at in his milestones. But close to the first birthday, as Leo started to drift somewhere behind the expected milestones and the information seemed geared toward a toddler instead of my baby, I stopped paying attention and just started deleting them. 

Until this one arrived. This one caught my eye. This one cemented the fact that my baby boy, my little guy, my now toddler, is on the eve of turning 2.

The countdown is now on like no other. The last "monthly" birthday has come and gone, 1 month old to 23 month old celebrations have passed, and soon he will only be 2. Just plain and simple 2.

Excuse me as I get into my feelings...

Leo is my last. The last one to cuddle, to rock in the middle of the night, to play pat-a-cake with. Thank the sweet Lord he is my last one in diapers! But even still, he is the last to look up at me with that sweet little face and hold on to my leg, unable to speak yet what he really needs but able to communicate it with his eyes and his voice. The last one to drool on me, have the snot wiped away with my sleeve, to be carried around until my shoulders hurt, share with me those giggly belly laughs, and capture me with the rosy chubby cheeks and big blue eyes. To pull my hair, scratch my hands as I struggle to get him to sleep, wake me night after night after night with teething, scream when I put him down, and yes... he is my last baby. 

And now, he is truly in the last few days of being my last baby, because in less than 1.5 more... he will only be my toddler.

With Leo, I've had a full two years to enjoy his being a baby. I think he knew that. With my first, I looked forward to each milestone and checked each one off like clockwork. For the second child, he flew through each milestone so quickly I barely kept up. With both, the year of being a baby whizzed by. But with Leo, he took his time and allowed me to savor each moment with anticipation and celebration. His time as a baby stretched fully through 23 months, but there is nothing I can do to slow down time or stop the process.

When you're expecting a child with Down Syndrome, you encounter lots different reactions and comments. One comment I remember is "you'll get to enjoy your baby longer." It was confusing to me at the time, but now I understand. Now I know, she was right. Yes, I did. Twice as long! I consider myself blessed.

Because now, my baby boy will be no more. My toddler who just began walking steadily at 23 months and is now walking all around the house, is walking right into a new phase. 

I'm being honest when I say I'm sad to say goodbye to my sweet little baby... 

yet somehow, I'm excited to welcome him to this new adventure of toddlerhood, and to see him growing into who he is meant to be. 

with love,

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A New Year. Leo's 2013 Wrap-Up!

November and December were absolutely the busiest months of 2013... weren't they?  Now that we're in agreement, it's time for Leo's 2013 Wrap-Up!

Backtracking just a little, Leo finished out October 2013 with a round of pneumonia.  This was pneumonia round 4 for him. It made mom feel like a bit of an expert on the symptoms and luckily it was caught early. After a full month of antibiotics, it was time for another big surgery (number 2).

On November 20th, Leo had a combo surgery (two different procedures). First, surgery to remove lingual tonsils (his palliative tonsils were removed at age 9 months), clear out any regrowth of adenoids (there was none, yahoo!), and a deep cleaning of his ear canals for tubes to function well. The second procedure was bilateral eye muscle surgery to correct exotropia. Due to his low muscle tone, Leo's eye muscles were not strong enough to focus properly. Surgery to correct this will keep him from losing function of his eyes and losing actual eyesight. Both procedures were a big success, both immediately and on follow-up. The lingual tonsil removal was supposed to be an easier recovery than his first tonsillectomy, or at least it is for most. Being the usual "exception" that he is, it was just as difficult for Leo the second time around. He refused food, even strictly pureed or ice cream, for a full 15 days!  He lost more than 10 percent of his body weight and looked pitiful. He also developed a respiratory infection right after surgery that led to the return of pneumonia (pneumonia round 5). Also in typical Leo fashion, he regained everything nicely and then some, and recovered well. 

Another highlight of November was the Thanksgiving celebration with families of those kids featured in the Down Syndrome Guild 2014 Calendar, hosted by Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers baseball team. We were extremely privileged to be a part of this special event! Let me just say what a caring, loving, and selfless person Elvis Andrus is.  He spoke about how he spent time giving and sharing with families of children with disabilities in his home country (Venezuela), and he wants to do the same for families here because he holds a special place in his heart for children with disabilities.  Over the summer, he gave of his time for a photo shoot for the DSG calendar and connected with the little lady that he posed with.  Because of that, he wanted to give more to the Down Syndrome Guild.  Not only did he put on a beautiful, catered event for our families, he also gave us a spectacular gift basket and our Thanksgiving turkey.  Without hesitation, I canceled my order with Tom Thumb (take note that Leo was less than a week post-op at this point!), and we savored our very first Kuby's smoked turkey.  I'm now completely spoiled, because it was one of the best turkeys I've ever had! 

Elvis donated $10,000 of his own money to the Guild.  How cool is that??

Another special part of the evening was the amount of time Elvis took to pose for photos and give autographs.  We, and especially our children, had his undivided attention for an evening. I loved seeing him carry on conversations with extreme patience, smile genuinely and hug freely. He impressed me. 

Leo was a Superstar on the news in Dallas that evening! 

Leo was only five days post-op for this event.  We made sure he had plenty of pain meds on board before going.  As you can see in his eyes, he was not himself. His eyes were still red from surgery and he just looked like he wasn't feeling well. He was such a little trooper, but the evening definitely had it's toll on him. By the time we left, he cried all the way home!  It was one hour and 15 minutes in traffic with a non-stop crying boy. Pitiful... but a memorable time. We are just glad he won't remember being in pain!

December was filled with Christmas parties, Santa, a trip to see Ice at the Gaylord, and fun times with family. We had a LOT of family time (as our teenager will testify!) over "Christmas Break".

On Christmas day, Leo even opened a few gifts on his own this year. He still had the attention span of a one year old though. Ha!  He really enjoyed having a lot of time to play with brother Seth over the break.

Don't let this picture below fool you... he did NOT enjoy the cold air at the Ice exhibit....

... and Santa was also questionable, but tolerable!

2013 went out with a bang when we celebrated Grandma Elsie's 100th birthday!  After ringing in the New Year at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Kerrville, Leo had a blast at her birthday party on New Year's Day.

We were blessed beyond measure this past year. Looking forward to a fresh start that brings new adventures. I hope you will continue to follow Leo on his journey, as we share the story of how he blesses our lives every day.

Happy 2014!

with love,