Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New shoes!

Tera currently has four therapists; physical, developmental, occupational, and speech.  They really do cover every area you can imagine.  This has both positive and negative aspects to it.  The biggest negative would be that we have to actually fit four therapies into our schedule, which by the time I go back to work, will be each one of these weekly.  It's become a very routine part of our lives, but it's also a reminder of how Tera is different.  I don't often come across other moms, except at Gigi's, where the topic of conversation is how everyone fits the various therapy techniques into their routines or who's working on what gross motor skill or feeding technnique this week. 

On the plus side, we do have access to a team of professionals for pretty much any developmental and oftentimes health related issues.  We know there are trained people watching her progress at every stage and making sure she is doing it correctly and catching any issues that she may develop. 

However, even along with that plus, I still feel like I should check in with her therapists on some of the most routine types of things that parents do to make sure we're not doing something that will hinder her progress. 

What made me think of all of this is that we had to buy Tera shoes.  Now anyone who knows me is probably still in shock that she hasn't been wearing them since she was discharged from the hospital.  I have been known to have a bit of a problem showing restraint in the footwear department, however, everything I've read says that babies shouldn't learn how to walk with shoes first, and to be perfectly honest, I'm obsessed with her feet and really can't bear to not be able to see them.  But at daycare they want kids who are standing to be wearing shoes with rubber soles so they had to be bought and here's where the therapists come in.  I felt like I should check with her PT to make sure I was getting something that would be ok for her to walk in (when she's ready).  I'm not reallly saying I think this is a good or bad thing, it's just a reminder that things are different for us (and by the way, she actually got two pairs...). 

When I need to buy her straw cups I check with her speech therapist, when we made her Christmas and birthday lists we checked with all of them to make sure we were getting things that would actually help her, even when choosing a car seat we asked for input to make sure she would be properly protected given her low tone.  But it's not just buying things and I've mentioned this before, it's play time.  Just this morning I was sitting on the floor playing with her and the whole time I was thinking I should be working with her on something, but I couldn't think of what.  I realized that she had been doing pretty well with pointing to her nose and tummy when asked, but then we stopped practicing for a bit and now she doesn't seem to be able to do it anymore.  She loves looking at books but often doesn't have the patience to sit and actually read one; though she is very good at turning pages which is a developmental skill apparently. 

And now we have a new skill to work on: wearing shoes. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday night-finally?

It's been a hell of weekend; one where Tom isn't so terribly upset about going back to work tomorrow.  It's nothing incredibly dramatic, just somewhat of an exhausting couple of days. 

We had decided about a month or so ago that we wanted to redo our entire bedroom (and by we I mean I'm the one who brought up our furniture and paint) and that led us into deciding if we were going to redo it, we'd do it right, and that meant refinishing our floor.  Our house was built in 1959 and therefore has gone through some trends.  The house originally had hardwood floors throughout our entire main level and all of upstairs, but at some point, as was popular at many different times, someone decided to carpet the bedrooms.  Two of the three bedrooms still had carpet when we moved in and after a particularly bad experience with a new brand of food for Jaina, the carpeting in what is now Tera's room had to come up.  Tom refinished her floor while I was pregnant and it turned out so nice that we planned on doing the same thing to the other two rooms at some point.  That some point is now.  This is really the first major project we've attacked since Tera was born and it does come with its complications.  None of the those anticipated complications included her being sick all weekend though.  On Friday afternoon Tom undertook the literally back breaking, head ringing task of sanding down the whole bedroom floor.  After five hours, he had a little more sanding to finish Saturday morning before he could start staining. 

I'm an incredibly lucky lady for many reasons, but one of them is that my husband is incredibly handy and can tackle most home projects by himself.  While many do-it-yourselfers attempt to do what he does, he also does it very well and the floor was no exception, it looks fabulous! Next up is painting the ceiling and walls where my sister and I come in. 

But back to my sick baby.  She's managed to make it a whole couple weeks, maybe even close to a month now of being healthy, but as they say, all good things must come to an end and this one did rather abruptly.  She was fine all of Friday until about 2pm.  While Tom was still sanding away, I was entertaining a very cranky child for several hours.  We finally caved and gave her some Motrin and my sister was able to push her on her swing until it finally kicked in.  Friday night was not what I would call a good night followed by an incredibly lethargic, feverish little girl all day Saturday.  Tera is not a kid who sits still, ever, but she managed to fall asleep 45 minutes after waking up in my arms watching Big Cat Diary and slept for two and a half hours.  She was ok for a little while, then fell asleep again at around 11 until 2.  When she woke up this time, she just wasn't herself.  We spent the rest of the night trying to make her feel better, alternating medicines, and then she finally crashed around 8 only to wake up at 12:30 throwing up.  Fortunately it was short lived and she went fairly easily back to sleep.  When she woke up warm again this morning we decided it was time for sick call and after spending and hour and a half at the office, the doctor basically confirmed my original suspicion of some sort of virus along with teething.  She's still seems incredibly uncomfortable without Motrin and hasn't eaten a whole meal since lunchtime on Friday. 

So pair my weekend of trying to soothe a cranky, sick, uncomfortable baby with Tom's exhausting floor project and you have kind of a crappy weekend.  Not all together bad, but not relaxing in the least.  So we're currently sitting on the couch, enjoying some wine and a beautiful breeze, just waiting to go to bed (which is currently located in our living room). 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Things I think about when I'm home by myself

I went into Tera's room this morning to put away her laundry and then realized I had to move her books around since we switched her furniture a little and I ended up sitting on the floor of her room just thinking.  I looked around at all the pictures on her shelf and the piles of books and just thought. 

I remember how much time we took carefully picking out all the things that went in her room and how we would make it all fit and trying to decide on a "theme" and then putting it all together.  When we found out we were having a girl we kind of decided we'd try and keep her room neutral just in case there was a surprise in the delivery room (boy how we had no idea!) and also in case we were to have another one it would all still work.  Plus, I'm not really that into pink (I know, shocking).  We had already painted the room when we first moved in and had gone with the Ralph Lauren suede paint in green so fortunately the color worked because it was supposedly a pain in the ass to paint over. 

After months of debating between superheroes and Star Wars, we went with Star Wars for two reasons: one, there isn't that much decor with female superheroes and two, we already had more than a bedroom's worth of Star Wars stuff.  I did tell Tom my limit was villians; if we were going to do her room in Star Wars it had to be limited to the good side of the Force.  We narrowed it down to just three characters and her bedroom theme was born: Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and R2D2.  Tom pulled out the figures he wanted to use in there, we hung up his two most relevant movie posters (not so coincidentally the two that I bought him), and we found an artist at the ComiCon that had these really cute cartoon version prints of the three characters we had chosen. 

I decided on a very neutral bedding set, we picked out a crib, rocking chair, and bookshelf from Ikea, picked up Tom's brother's old bedroom dressers and one hutch from his parents house, bought a double bed with twelve drawers of storage underneath, had a friend make us curtains as a shower gift, and added one final touch, a Wompa rug.  All in all the room cost us very little and looked great. 

As we got closer to my due date and after I'd had my baby showers, we had some empty picture frames just waiting to be filled.  My very good and very talented friend did my maternity pictures and got some great shots of Tera's room.  As I sat on the floor this morning, I looked through one of her little photo albums which had the room shots in there and I saw all the empty frames, and then I looked up and saw all those same frames, and some new ones, but all filled and it hit me once again as it still so often does, that's she's ours.  I can't believe that this whole motherhood thing still hasn't quite sunken in and I'm not sure at what point that's supposed to happen.  Does it ever? I keep thinking maybe we can she say "mom", but even then I'm not sure. 

At the beginning of all big things I think most people question the reality of what's happening.  When I first found out I was pregnant, the first thing Tom said to me was, "So we're really doing this, huh?" And even now, I still think that.  I see her toys in her crib, and her clothes in her drawer, and the pictures of my beautiful little girl and it still seems surreal to me.  I have said the words, "I am Tera's mom" so many times, but what does that mean?  So far it means pain in my heart like I've never experienced, and joy in my heart like I've never experienced.  It means every morning that I wake up and see that sweet, beautiful face smiling at me my heart just melts.  It's a house full of chaos that in my wildest dreams I never thought I'd be okay with.  I look at the pictures around her room and around our house and realize one year has already gone by and still I don't know how it's gone so fast.  She can do so many things now and she's communicating with us and she's starting to sign and she has favorite things and recognizes people.  I do miss those baby moments, so much at times, but I really am excited to see her become more and more her own person.  And the more she develops in that person, I realize just how much more everyday that I love her.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The sequel

Now that Tera is one we've been asked a few times if we're going to have another one.  For a long time Tom and I had pretty much figured we'd only have one kid, it was just the way we saw our life and envisioned our family.  For a while my deal was I wanted one kid and five dogs, then I amended that to two kids and four dogs.  There was a stretch of time when things got dicey because I had no kids and only one dog.  And now I have one kid and no dog, but while we want another kid, we have no plans right now for another dog just yet.  If you've followed all of that it means that yes, we are planning on having another kid.  This isn't news to our close family and friends; I think they thought if they just pestered us enough we'd eventually cave just so we didn't have to hear about it anymore, but regardless of what they may believe, this was all our decision and not one we came to quickly.  As we got closer to me getting pregnant with Tera our conversations occasionally revolved around whether or not we still wanted just one or possibly two.  Both of us figured at that point we'd see how the first one went and go from there. 

It didn't take us long after Tera was born to know that we did in fact want another one and then the conversation revolved around when.  There are so many things that factor in now that we have Tera.  I'm sure many people, for better or worse, don't put nearly as much thought into this as we do and they just have the kids and worry about how it will all work out later.  We researched our vacuums for weeks on end so this decision was probably not going to be a rushed one. 

Once we had made the decision that we did want another one, we refer to it as the sequel in our house, we thought that this summer would be a good time to try and then I would be due around the same time as Tera was and I could take the rest of the year off and everything would be perfect again (well almost perfect, it wasn't without it's slight complications the first time around).  But the more we got into Tera's therapies and experienced the first year of seemingly endless illnesses, it became more evident that our proposed time frame may not have been ideal.  And so we pushed it back a year with the idea that Tera would be transitioning into the Early Childhood program and out of Early Intervention.  Early Intervention is done at our home, which don't get me wrong is incredibly convenient, but Early Childhood is in an actual school where she will be bussed by Montessori and have whatever therapies she needs done there.  This theoretically frees up our time at home. 

Now comes the worries that go along with a sequel.  First and foremost in my mind is my stress level during the next pregnancy.  I was relatively calm with Tera because while I was aware of the potential problems, I didn't have any specific reason to worry.  Now I do.  I now have a slightly increased risk over the general population to have another child with Down Syndrome.  I'm also aware of so many other issues that exist.  We haven't decided yet whether or not we will do any prenatal testing and if we do, what kind we will do.  I would never change that I didn't know with Tera, but knowing what I do now, I don't know that I can go through a whole pregnancy again without knowing something.  Which brings up another worry: having to deal with what I assume will be a steady barrage of questions regarding exactly that. I'm not good at hiding my irritation and frustration with people so at some point I'm going to have to figure out a strategy for dealing with that. 

On top of the increased risk already, I will be a few years older so that worries me.  We worry about how we'll handle the added time commitment we know exists with Tera on top of another child.  We worry about the financial aspect and the space in our house and many more mundane things that lots of families worry about. 

So there it is.  Yes we're planning on Baby Theodore Episode 2 (or 4 depending on your preference) and it's not right now.  And in case you're also wondering, we're hoping for a girl because we have way too many damn clothes to not use again. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Back to reality

I should be paying bills right now but I'm way overdue for a post. 

We had an amazing few days away.  Days where I literally didn't worry about anything and I'm not used to that feeling.  Talk about a bittersweet end though; I was missing Tera, but the idea of going back to reality, worry, bills, and problems was almost too much.  I had a hard time on the way back home trying to reconcile those feelings.  I was in such desperate need of the time away and when it was over I had to figure out how to go back to it all.  I'm not a good end-of-vacationer.  I'm not good with transitions in general as is evident by my weekly neurotic Sunday night meltdowns.  But I managed to muddle through and was so happy to see my baby. 

Unfortunately that baby hadn't napped well and was cranky, then our garage door broke, then at her ENT appointment on Friday we found out one of her tubes was out and I now have to schedule her for another procedure which means putting her under again, then she wasn't herself again on Saturday which I eventually figured out was because she got her second tooth; a molar.  I know, many of you will be thinking to yourself that molars aren't the second teeth to come in so here's another lesson in Down Syndrome: their teeth have a tendency to come in in the wrong order. 

Which is probably also why she's been a terror when it's come time for any type of sleep today.  She was exhausted by the time her morning nap came around because her speech therapy pushed it back a little.  However, despite her exhaustion, she refused to go to sleep, for over an hour.  She finally passed out on our bed while I was trying to get her to sleep while watching Sesame Street.  Unfortunately I had to kind of wake her up after an hour and a half because if she sleeps too long in the morning, she has a tendency to not sleep in the afternoon and that never ends well.  By late this afternoon she was showing signs of needing a nap again but it was an exact repeat of the morning.  Two hours after I initially tried putting her down, she finally fell asleep; at 5:00.  So then we had to wake her up after about 45 minutes because again, it would throw her off completely for bed time.  So after spending much of the evening tired and whiny, we tried putting her to bed.  Which ended up being an exact repeat of both nap times.  I'm currently listening to her cry hysterically waiting to see if she'll wear herself down.  Just what I was hoping for after a nice day of poor napping.  So yes, vacation has worn off. 

On the plus side, we had a very nice Father's Day as a family.  Tom didn't want to do much and we didn't.  We took Tera outside for a little while to blow bubbles, her new fun thing, and had a nice relaxing day at home.  I'm trying to remember the peacefulness of that day right now. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fifteen years?!?!?!

There's a movie called Playing by Heart and it's one of my favorites.  It's about new love, old love, loss, and family.  Love, loss, and family are all things that seem very familiar to me, especially lately.  The movie reminds me about how exciting new love can be and how completely amazing "old" love can be.  When Tom and I first started dating, I looked forward to every date, waited impatiently for every phone call, hated saying goodbye, and dreamt about our future.  Tomorrow we will have been married for eight years and on Wednesday we will have been together for fifteen years.  We have been through some incredibly difficult things in those fifteen years, but through it all he has been my best friend, my rock, my laughter, and most recently, the most amazing dad to our little girl.  And after fifteen years, I still look forward to our dates, still love seeing his number come up on my phone, still hate saying goodbye, and still dream about our future.  While new love is always exciting, the love we've developed over these years has made me happier than I could have ever imagined and for the next few days we'll leave our little monster with my in laws and celebrate having survived it all and hopefully get a few days of rest and relaxation to try and recover from it. 

I think the loss part of the movie is pretty evident by the emptiness I still feel in our house.  I can now look at her things and not cry though so it's getting better.  Unfortunately, the loss in the movie is more of the human kind which is also very prevalent in my thoughts right now because of the losses in my friends' families. 

And then there's family.  Where do I even begin? Mine includes all my friends as well and this family of mine came together yesterday to show how they could raise over $8000 for an organization that has meant so much to us.  I think I've said thank you hundreds of times already but it still doesn't feel like enough.  All the different ways that our family, and their families, and their friends were able to support us was nothing short of miraculous.  And one little person inspired it all.  Tera.  That's not to say that many of our team members and donors didn't have someone else in their life that they may have been thinking about, but our $8000 was all in her name and I just couldn't be more amazed at that fact.  I am of course completely biased (I've heard motherhood can do that), but she makes me smile every single day.  Even when I'm so frustrated at her for flinging all her food off her tray, she will inevitably smile at me and it takes everything in my power to remain serious and not smile back at her.  Sometimes I fail at this.  I'm not sure what about her inspires other people, because really, she's only one, but I know that for me it's her energy, her love, her excitement, her willpower, her strength, her laughter, her sweetness, and even her tears. 

I will make sure to reflect on those things about her that inspire me while she stays with Tom's parents and we eat out, sit by the pool, and sleep. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I'm somewhat beside myself right now because I spent part of last night and part of this afternoon writing what I thought was a great post on Jaina and in the span of a second it somehow got deleted.  It was a little lengthy and took some emotion on my part and I just don't have it in me to rewrite the whole thing.  So I'll write a shorter version that I hopefully feel just as good about.

Well it's been a few days now and the tears are fewer and farther between.  It seems to be the oddest things that will trigger one of us.  We slowly moved all the rugs that have always been there only for her, her food and water dish that Tera was always trying to get into are gone, and the spot on the living room rug that she spent so much of her time, is empty. 

We packed up her collars and her food dishes to keep and pulled aside her food, treats, and fleece to be donated.  I haven't yet tackled her toys, I just can't do it all at once.  It actually took me until this afternoon to vacuum the living room rug because there were little tufts of her fur still on it.  Even stupid things like cleaning the yard seems difficult because I feel like soon there won't be any traces of her and even seeing that in the yard is a reminder she was here.  Since I'm home, it hits me when I come downstairs and she's not there, when I come home and she's not there, and when we go to bed and she's not next to me.  Our house just feels empty.  For Tom it's some of the routine things like not having to be home to let her out or take her out at night before we go to bed.  And then there are moments when we both just become overwhelmed by her absence.  While cleaning out the cabinets in our kitchen that had her things in it, we came across some things that just hit us both. 

What we've tried to do is spend some time doing is remembering some of the funny, weird things that were Jaina.  My dog was nothing if not a creature of habit and that came out in so many ways.  She would only walk certain ways in our kitchen to get to her food dish or the back door, she wouldn't go outside in the rain without an umbrella, when she heard the tv go off at night she knew it was time to out and when we said it was bedtime she went upstairs and laid down.  She loved stuffed animals and would always attack the face first, pull out all the stuffing, and then search for the squeaker.  When she had the squeaker out, she would just carry around the "shell" for weeks. 

She has always been Tom's dog and I always told him her whole world would rise and set on him.  A few years ago Tom had to go to Indiana for three weeks for work, but he came home on the weekends.  On those Fridays when he came home after being gone all week, I had to wait until Jaina got all her excitement out before I could even get near him.  But when I was sick, and definitely when I was pregnant, she was always by my side.  Also, when Tom would tickle me, she would put her head on my lap and very gently growl at him. 

When Tera was born Tom brought home one of her receiving blankets from the hospital to get her used to Tera's scent.  One of the nights that we were home before Tera was released, I woke up in the morning to find Jaina sleeping with the blanket.  When we did finally bring her home, she sniffed her briefly and the bond was complete.  When people would come and visit and hold Tera, Jaina never left their side and when we would take her somewhere and come home, Jaina would just look at us as if to make sure we had brought her back with us. 

I always wondered how I would feel when this time came about another dog.  We have decided that we can't have another dog for a while mostly because we just don't have the time to devote to one with all that encompasses Tera.  When my mom had to decide to put down our family dog a few years back, it made it a little easier to deal with because I came home to Jaina.  I cried on her and snuggled with her and she was there with me.  I had always thought I would want to have another dog already when this time came and there have been some times in the past few years when we've come close. I also wondered if I would want another dog right away; some people want another one right away and some can't handle replacing something so special to them.  Since I knew we weren't getting a new dog no matter what, I suppose it made the idea easier to dismiss.  But I now also realize I don't think I could have even it would work.  Jaina was so special and unique and I feel like I would just get frustrated at not being able to find another dog that was the same as she was and I also realized that I didn't want to. 

I know that it will just take time and that there's nothing that makes it any easier.  The house will feel empty for a while and I'm guessing in a few weeks it will feel a little less so.  In the meantime I'll just continue to miss my sweet girl. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Goodbye my love

This will probably be one of the more difficult things to write.  The one thing I have been dreading for nine years finally had to happen today.  It still seems a little surreal, but then I feel the pain in my heart and I know that it is real.  My sweet little angel puppy had to be laid to rest.  A few weeks ago we noticed that the lymph nodes in her neck were very swollen.  During a visit to the vet, we decided to switch her from her very effective arthritis medication to Prednazone to help reduce the lymph nodes but which also meant we couldn't keep her on her arthritis medication.  For a while it seemed to be working, but in the past week she had a rapid decline.  We discussed the possibility on Monday and on Wednesday we made our decision. 

In the hours following our decision, we were both very emotional.  I spent much of the evening, for better or worse, thinking about how it would be her last night at home and with that realization, my heart started breaking.  I knew that everything that happened today would be her last and I'm thankful Tera was at school because it gave me time to just be with Jaina and spend some last quality hours with her.  I told Jaina yesterday that I needed a sign to know that we were doing the right thing and while people may think I'm crazy, my sweet girl is insanely smart and so I don't doubt for a second she knew what I was talking about.  Between that time and when we took her in today, she gave me the signs I needed to know that it was the the right time and so that part was made easier.  The horribly difficult part was acknowledging that when we took her out of the house and put her in the car, it was the last time she would be home. 

From the minute we left the vet to this very minute, Tom and I have just been trying to work through the pain of missing her so very much.  Jaina was so unique and special that her mark is everywhere in our house and it's been a little rough seeing all the reminders.  Because she's always had bad hips, the hardwood floors have always been difficult for her and so we have rugs everywhere so she could get around.  The coffee table in our living room was moved to the edge of the rug so that she had the whole area to try and lay down.  Her food dishes, toys, bones, blankets, and all her usual places to sleep are all so painful reminders that she isn't here with us tonight. 

I have so much more to say about her and want to share some of the best parts of the last nine years.  Since I use this blog as a journal, I want to make sure I remember the good parts, but it just can't happen tonight. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Good news and bad news

One might have thought that since I'm off work I'd be a blogging maniac, but alas, I've actually been catching up on projects and visiting that I didn't have time for while I was working.  But here I am!

In the past several days we've had some very good news and some very bad news and it's one of those times that make you reflect so much more on the things in life. 

The bad news was that two different very good friends of ours lost someone close to them.  Having experienced loss several times myself, I very clearly remember how much the pain can seem overwhelming and difficult to handle.  There's really nothing anyone can say to help alleviate that pain and as a friend, you want nothing more than to take it away and tell them it will eventually be ok.  I remember when I lost my grandpas and my uncle that I thought the pain would never go away.  It felt at the time that there was no way I wouldn't always feel that loss so deeply as I did at the time.  As the months passed it gradually improved and while I've never stopped missing them, the pain isn't there as much.  I will say, the times that it has hurt the most even now, have been when I realized they aren't here to meet and know Tera.  I know all three of them would have absolutely adored her.  I've grown to realize over the years that I do not believe in any particular religion, but I do have enough spirituality to believe that each one of them has been with her every step of the way since she's been born. 

The good news was that Tom's cousin and her husband were finally given the chance to be the phenomenal parents we all know they will be.  They have been waiting to adopt a baby for way too long and we found out this past Friday that they are in fact new parents to a beautiful baby boy and they are all home and a family.  They have been waiting since before Tera was born and I don't know that I could have understood the excitement and love they must be feeling now, before I was a parent myself.  I've been wishing this for them since we found out they had chosen adoption, but until I had Tera I didn't understand what this would actually mean for them. 

People will say that their life wasn't complete until they had a child; that's not true of us.  Tom and I had a very complete life when it was just the two of us; we had fun, we enjoyed our time together, we sometimes spent money recklessly, we went out whenever we wanted, we stayed up late, and enjoyed the freedom our life allowed us without any children.  We had always made a conscious decision to not have a child until we were both ready and when we knew the time was right, I got pregnant.  I can't honestly say I didn't know happiness until Tera; I did.  With the addition of Tera to our family, I experience a new kind of happiness and completeness; that of a family of three instead of two. 

I cherish my new life and my new family.  I don't look back and I don't regret anything.  If there's one thing that death and tragedies tend to teach us it's to enjoy life and to appreciate what you have.  I hope that my friends and their families find peace and can enjoy the memories that they have.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Parent vs. Teacher

Today was my almost official first day of summer break.  I had to go in for an hour or so to turn things in and sign out for the year, but I'm officially done.  I brought Tera with me to visit some of the people that have been so supportive of us this year and she didn't disappoint.  After leaving school Tera and I had a delightfully enjoyable brunch with some of my favorite ladies (minus a few) from work and we got on with our day. 

This hasn't been an easy year for me or my colleagues. We had the stress of a strike and it seemed that the stress, while uniting us as a staff, extended for the rest of the year. 

It was the first time I've had to balance being a mom and working and I'll admit there were times I didn't know if I could successfully do it.  I always felt that I wasn't giving myself enough to either part of my life and it wore on me significantly. 

All the days that Tera was sick were difficult to manage because I was trying not to go through all my sick time but still wanting to be with her when she wasn't feeling well.  Trying to schedule her therapies at both home and daycare so that we knew what was going on and so that her teachers knew what to work on was another significant challenge that won't be changing anytime soon.

One of the parts I didn't necessarily anticipate was the constant battle between setting expectations for my students and dealing with what seemed like constant rebuttal of those expectations and trying to see things from a parent's perspective.  Much of what I did was thought about from my new role as a mom and I often wondered if what I was expecting was too much.  I feel confident that what I was expecting is what I hope Tera's teachers expect of her when she is a student.  I don't feel like these expectations are unreasonable either; respect, accountability, and some sort of work ethic. 

I've read a lot from parents of older kids with DS that they have to constantly fight for their children to receive a fair education.  Most of the time the parents aren't concerned about the academics being too difficult, it tends to be more that their children aren't being challenged enough because teachers aren't expecting enough.  I've seen both sides of this as a teacher; I've seen students who clearly need special help and whose parents don't want to admit it, and I've seen students who perform perfectly well in a regular classroom despite having been classified as a special education student.  I see these things as a teacher and I start to worry that as a parent I'll be blindsided by my concern for Tera to make the right decision for her. 

In my career I've seen so many students whose parents have done all the right things and they still struggle both socially and academically.  And then I see the students whose parents want to do everything for them, assume that their child couldn't possibly be capable of doing anything wrong, set no limits or boundaries, demand no responsibility of their children, and encourage the type of behavior that results in them crying to me and begging to pass when they've done very little to deserve it.  It's this latest situation that has worn me down the most.  The feeling that because they chose to ignore their classroom responsibilities, I'm somehow to blame for the resulting grade.  See the best part about math is that for the most part, it's right or wrong.  Test scores and homework scores, aren't just handed out; they're calculated, totaled, averaged, and a grade is the result.  I don't "give" grades, they are earned by doing, or not doing, what is expected. 

As a parent and a teacher, I will probably always hold any children of mine to higher standards than some of their classmates might be held to.  I will never expect more than they are capable of, but I will always expect that they do their best.  If their best is an A and they get a C, there will be consequences, but if they work hard and always try their best and they get a C, I will be proud and I will make sure they know that I am.  I have never demanded perfection from my students and I won't demand it of any of my own children, but I do demand effort.  This is how my parents raised me and I am very proud of my work ethic.  I only hope that my kids, and my students, understand that at some point.