Thursday, March 20, 2014

Is she really mine?

It's been three years now since I became a mom and I have to admit, there are STILL days when I don't believe it.  I thought for sure that when Tera started saying "momma" that would do it, but sometimes I'm still surprised by the whole thing.  I can't say that I haven't experienced plenty of motherhood milestones; I was there when she was delivered, I've lost plenty of sleep due to nighttime feedings, crying, and worry.  I've answered the phone calls asking for the "mother of Tera Theodore", I've been to the doctor visits, the hospital stays, the therapy appointments. I sat in on her first IEP meeting, I've communicated with her teachers, I've filled out the never ending paper work, I've done the loads and loads of laundry, changed the diapers, bought the clothes and other less fun supplies, and finally heard "momma" uttered by my sweet little girl.  And yet somehow, on some days, it still doesn't feel real.

This is in no way a bad thing.  It's not that I don't feel like a mom, I just don't always believe that it's actually true.  I'm sure it's no surprise that I, like many other parents, have pictures of my child on my desk at work.  And for some reason, on some days, that smile on that face can light up my day like nothing else.  This past fall she took one of the best school pictures she's ever taken and I was able to leave her hair down and almost every time I look at it, I'm just taken aback with how completely beautiful she is.

In those moments, I'm not usually thinking about my daughter with Down Syndrome, I'm just thinking, damn, my kid is pretty damn adorable.  It seems to be hitting me a little more now that she's in preschool.  I'm communicating with a teacher, packing her backpack each night with a snack and drink, and in a few weeks she'll get a report card (of sorts).

Mostly when I look at her pictures (pictures are easier because unlike her, they are still), I really can't believe that Tom and I created such a perfect little being.  Sure she got an extra chromosome in the process which, I'll be honest, has come with a handful of complications and an abundance of stress, but she's perfect.

Tomorrow is World Down Syndrome Day.  My students have all been given the extra credit assignment of answering four questions:
1.) What is World Down Syndrome Day and why is it on 3/21?
2.)  What is one fact you know now, that you didn't know before this school year?
3.)  What is something you'd still like to know about Down Syndrome or what it's like to have Down Syndrome or have a family member with Down Syndrome?
4.) Have your views about Down Syndrome changed at all, and if so, how?

I will bring in treats for them and Tera is bringing in treats for both her classes.  We will also be going to Gigi's for their Family Fun Night/World Down Syndrome Day Celebration.  Tera will be wearing her new t-shirt ("I've got an extra chromosome, what's your superpower?"), and our family, friends, and coworkers will hopefully be sporting their Team Tera shirts.  It's a day for us to celebrate, not mourn, what Down Syndrome has meant to us and to Tera.  For me, it means getting to be part of an incredible community of people who celebrate differences and accomplishments.  It means being able to take extra pride in each milestone that Tera reaches because she works so very hard for each one.  It means acknowledging that this isn't a sentence, it's just a different life than what we had planned on.  It means daily challenges, regular tears, and more love than I've ever known from such a little person.

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

Sorry this kind of went in ten different directions, it was a thought process...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tera's first day of preschool!

Well the birthday has come and gone and I've yet to write my post on what she's actually doing at three.  This is mostly a record for me as I'm much more likely to include those things in a post and look back at it, than to actually take the time to write it down in her baby book.  But more recently, Tera had her first day of preschool.

Many of you saw the pictures I posted on Monday with her Pinterest inspired chalkboard, of her all ready for her first day.  I had cried and tried the best I could to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for Monday morning, and all things considered, I was holding up pretty well.  We said our goodbyes, I teared up once more as she left with Tom, and I headed to work.  The plan was for Tom to work from home on Monday so that he could go to the school and watch her get off the van from daycare and get into the building.  And then many of you saw my post that Tera has decided that, much like her mom, Mondays really aren't her thing so around 7:40 Tom called and informed me that Tera had thrown up at daycare and he was going to get her.  Monday would not be her first day of school. Tom ended up mostly working from home and taking care of Tera at the same time, who by the way, was totally fine.  We have no idea what made her throw up.

Tuesday we did a take two.  I changed the date on her chalkboard (added v2 to the bottom corner) and found that I was a little calmer on Tuesday before leaving for work.  This time though, she made it.  At work I waited anxiously to hear from Tom that she had made it successfully into her new school.  He called to let me know that while there had been some tears, she didn't seem completely distraught from what he could tell.  I also talked with the director of her daycare who had been the one to drop her off and she confirmed that Tera had cried for a while (and admitted that she had also), but that by the time she was pulling away, Tera had started walking into the school with the rest of the kids from her class.  Once I heard that she was back safe and sound at daycare, I was able to relax a bit, but was still very anxious to hear from her new teacher who had said she would email me to let me know how her first day went.

As I left work I decided that Tea and I both deserved a treat that afternoon.  Tom was working a little late so I was going to pick her up and take her to Starbucks. As I pulled into the parking lot to pick her up, I got the email from her teacher saying she had done really well for her first day.  She said there had been some tears at the beginning, but calmed down when she got in the room with the rest of the kids. She commented that she was very social (no surprise) and had waved to all her new classmates and teachers.  I chatted with a few of the teachers from daycare to let them know what the teacher had said (learned that a few of them had teared up as well) and walked down to get my girl.  As I opened the door she ran across the room and she gave me a huge hug.  I can't even express how proud I was of her and she was so very happy to see me.
So we packed up her stuff, I gathered up her Scooby Doo school backpack and we headed out for our treat.  I don't always get to do things like that with her because of all of our various appointments and just life in general and I always wish that I could.  I am very fortunate that those things do get to happen more in the summer when I'm home with her, but I'm so glad I made the made the time for just her and me.

So all in all it was a good first day.  And her second day went well also and with fewer tears; on her part, I'm actually okay now, although I do admit finding myself watching the clock a little more often in the morning to see where in her day she is and wondering if she's where she should be safely.

But I will say, this is definitely one of those times I wish more than other times that she could talk.  I want so desperately to know what she thinks of her new classroom, and teacher and friends, and how she thinks it is going.  I want so much for her to be able to tell me what she had for lunch at school, and that she played in the sensory table in her new classroom and if she liked it.  In our day to day life it would be really more convenient for her to be able to tell us what she wants and doesn't want, but that's just convenience.  More than anything I just want to be able to hear her tell us about her day and her likes and dislikes, what is fun for her and what she enjoys.  I know that time will come, and like everything else, I just have to try and be patient.  But that's never been one of my best traits...