Every baby is a gift, even if the wrapping is a little different.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gratitude for my Son

I am very thankful for my son. I am very thankful that he's been so healthy and that he's doing so well. I feel very blessed.

When he was born, he had to spend time in the NICU because he wasn't getting enough oxygen. He was actually air-lifted to another hospital because the doctors assumed he had a heart defect. About 50% of those born with Down syndrome have a heart defect. I remember being so scared and wondering if he'd even survive the flight.

Thankfully, he did, and he didn't have the heart defect. He didn't have anything wrong with his lungs. He didn't have any problems with his intestines. He was able to suck and he was able to breathe, suck, and swallow at the same time. I'd been told he wouldn't be able to nurse, but I was determined to nurse him. I ended up nursing him for almost two years--even through an extremely painful bout with thrush that had settled in my milk ducts.

We never learned why he needed the extra oxygen. They'd suspected newborn pneumonia, but he didn't have that. I believe it was because he was induced too early. I hadn't kept good track of dates so the doctor relied on the ultrasound to pinpoint his due date. He was 8lbs 6 oz when he was born, most of my babies were over 9 lbs and I even had one that was over 10 lbs, which is a good size. I think his size threw off the ultrasound dates. Plus, the induction with him took so much longer than any of my others, induced or natural, I'm pretty sure he just wasn't ready to be born.

Four years later, I'm just so thankful it all turned out so well. Yes, he has some delays, but that's okay. He's healthy, he's happy, and he's surrounded by a family that loves him. Today, I am so grateful he was born into my family. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Memory Skills

Shortly after my son was born, I researched Down syndrome as much as I could. I bought and read books, read articles, met people connected to DS, asked questions, and posted on DS boards on online sites. I wanted to know all I could as fast as I could. Of course, I've since learned that all that book reading and studying was good, but it could never compensate for, nor replace, experience.

One of the things I read while researching was that people with DS have memory issues. I've been interested to see how my son does with memory skills. I was pleasantly surprised to see him be able to match picture cards to pictures in a book while at his speech therapy session last week. Wanting to help him with this new skill, I decided to purchase a game from Walmart called Memory.  I've been using it to help him with him memory and I've been very pleased to watch him correctly match cards from this game. I've done it a couple of different ways and with each match we go over the sign, the name, and the sound. He's been consistently trying to make more sounds and he's done it much more spontaneously. Not only is he having fun with the game, he's improving his memory. I'd expected, from my research, that he wouldn't have much memory retention, but I've learned from experience that at this point he actually has a great memory.

Update on speech therapy: last week, and this week, his therapist was quite surprised at his vocalization and willingness to try new sounds so I think we're making progress--yay!
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Speech Therapy Progress

My son had his speech therapy session yesterday. Unfortunately, he wasn't feeling well by the time we got to town so he didn't want to participate very much.

I visited with his therapist and asked her what she thought about his progress. She said she was happy with how he's doing and she's seen him improve in his verbal skills. She'd like to see him use even more words and consistently ask for things using either a sign or a word. The therapy sessions have been good for me in that I've become more insistent that he ask for things. As his mom, I almost always know what he wants--I can practically read his mind. In the past, I've let him point to things or take me by the hand to show me what he wants, but now I'm making him ask for it by either signing or by saying a word. So, the positive effect of his therapy is that it's making me more aware of how I interact with him when it comes to communication. Yes, it's easier to just hand him a drink of water, but that doesn't help him learn. Now, I make him give me the sign for a drink. Next, we'll move to the signs for both a drink and the water. Then, hopefully, we'll move to the words.

The therapist read him a book yesterday and he had to match the picture in the book to a picture on a card. At first, he wouldn't cooperate, but by the end of the book he was pointing to the matching cards, which is great progress for him.

I'm glad we've had him in speech therapy. I think it's been good for him and it's taught me a lot. He's learned to work with another adult and he's started to make connections between signs and words.

I've never been a very patient person. When I want something, I want it now. Of course, after having so many kids I've become more patient than I was as a teenager, but I still tend to get impatient. My son has been a great teacher. I have to be patient with him. I have to not stress that things take him longer. I have to be okay with the time it takes for him to learn things. I've had to let go of wanting him to do certain things at certain times and just be thankful for what he does, when he does it. After all, I'm in this for eternity, so a few extra months or years won't make much difference. Besides, learning how to be patient and grateful are things I might not learn any other way.
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