Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm only human

As a mother you try your very best to be perfect. You want to make sure you are doing everything you possibly can to ensure the brightest future for your children. You strive to make sure they eat well, sleep enough, don't watch too much tv, brush their teeth, learn their manners, and on and on and on. It's a full time job and one I am honored to have.

As a mother you look at your kids and see the perfection in them that others may not see. When they are throwing a tantrum you remember how sweet they look when sleeping and you manage to maintain your calm.

As an expectant mother you dream of your new child. You make plans and have hopes for her. You imagine holding her for the first time and seeing her little angel face. You try to get ready for the road ahead, making sure her room is perfect, her clothes are clean and ironed, you have the perfect pediatrician in place to care for her, you take your vitamins. Your whole world revolves around a person you have never met but you feel every second of the day.

When I was carrying Casey and Connor I did all of these things. I planned their futures. I painted their room. I washed their clothes. I dreamed of their arrival. I was over the moon excited to meet my sons. As you all know, when they were born and I heard the words "Down syndrome" all my planning and dreaming went out the window. I was left to grieve the children I had been expecting for 36 weeks and 2 days. I was shattered and heart broken. I was unable to dream or imagine a new and different future for them. That's when my husband saved me. He pulled me into his arms and told me our sons were perfect.

Knowing he looked at them and saw "perfect" allowed me to look at them and see "perfect" and it also allowed me to dream again- just differently. No words could ever express the love and gratitude I feel for Matthew because of that moment. My husband was my angel that day. He will forever hold my heart for the words he said that made me look at those tiny little boys and see miracle men.

With all that being said, I have a confession to make.

As we are getting closer and closer to the arrival of our daughter I am getting more and more nervous about who she is. I try so hard to believe that God will give me the baby I am meant to have and to blindly accept that He knows best. I try so hard to believe the geneticist who told us that the odds of having another child with Down syndrome are slim. I try so hard to believe that no matter what I will look at my little girl and see perfection.

The truth is- I am terrified. I declined all prenatal testing with her- just as I did with her brothers- because I KNOW it doesn't matter. In my heart, I KNOW that no matter what I will love her.

But I'm only human. A weak and scared one at that.

My biggest fear is that Reagan will arrive and I'll see immediately that she more closely resembles Casey and Connor than Matthew or me and that I will be sad, or mad, or just... heartbroken.

Don't misread that. If by chance our daughter DOES have DS I will love her and advocate for her and adore her as much as I do my boys. I will accept that God had chosen the path for me and I will walk it with my head held high and my heart filled with love for my children.

Let me see if I can explain this better. I will love her regardless of her chromosome count. My biggest fear is my reaction. Despite EVERYTHING I have done with and for my sons, despite all the love and affection, I feel so much guilt for EVER being upset about their diagnosis. I feel so much guilt for ever thinking they may not read or enjoy life the same way a child without DS does. I hate myself for ever looking at them and crying.

I feel like a terrible mother for ever thinking "I hope the doctors are wrong."

So, it's not Down syndrome I fear but my own weakness- my own limitations as a person to accept anything immediately.

On the flip side- I worry how I will feel if she DOES NOT have DS. Will I treat her differently than her brothers? Will people just assume I am thankful to have one "normal" child? Will that piss me off that people look at her and think she is the perfect one? Will my dreams for her be bigger than the dreams I have for Casey and Connor? Will one of my 3 babies feel less loved than their siblings?

Gah! I have so many worries. I am actually surprised at my willingness to share these thoughts with all those who choose to read my ramblings. It's not easy to admit you are so flawed. It's an uncomfortable thing to say I am scared of how I will feel about my child.

I guess that's the point of this whole blog though- to write what I feel and think- even the ugly crap- so other people know that it's ok to wonder or worry so long as in the end you try your hardest to be the best parent possible.

I am a far different person than I was when C&C were born. I like to think I am far better. Clearly not FAR better but better nonetheless. As much as I would like to think I am a super mom I know better.

I am scared.

I am weak.

I'm only human.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It's good I have a GREAT sense of humor!

I often say that Casey and Connor are pretty typical boys and today they set out to prove just how typical they are!

This morning they had physical therapy. We had to leave the house by 8:20 am and it can be a struggle to get all three of us ready and out the door on time. Today was no exception. While I went upstairs to finish getting ready- all of 7 minutes tops- Casey decided he needed to be on the desk. He figured out how to pull out the desk chair, climb up on the chair, and use the chair to climb up on the desk. Once on the desk he got hold of the computer mouse in one hand and was typing with the other hand. Somewhere in between mousing and typing he thought to include his brother who was waiting on the floor to get in on the action, and he threw several pens, pencils and other things on the floor for Connor to play with. The most impressive feat of all these was just how quietly and QUICKLY they accomplished all these tasks.

Once I got that mess cleaned up and all 35 windows closed on the computer I loaded the guys up to head off for PT. What a great session they had today! Connor walked for 4 minutes on the treadmill. This is a great accomplishment for my littlest miracle man as he really struggles to find balance and he is not as strong in the core or legs as Casey. He is getting there! I am so proud of him for all his hard work. He really makes me see that no matter how big the challenge you can overcome anything if you keep trying and working hard! He is just awesome! Casey also did well today and seems to really like the workout and spending time with Miss Kristin and Miss Joan. I adore our PT team- they are wonderful!!

After PT I had the brilliant idea of going to Target to pick up a few things we still need to prepare for Reagan's arrival. Mind you, I am getting pretty large right now- at 30 weeks 4 days I am starting to feel the 3rd trimester lag.

When I pulled into the parking lot I scanned for a double cart in any of the cart corrals and found most of them completely bare- not many shoppers this early in the day. So, since Casey man is walking so well I decided to carry Connor and hold Casey's hand while letting him walk in the store. Overall it was a smooth transition.

Once we got into Target and I managed to get both boys strapped into their seats we set out for the baby section. Casey likes to take up as much space as possible in the cart so he stretched his feet across the seat and used Connor's legs as foot rests. At some point he had the notion to stick his fingers in Connor's mouth. It should be noted that Connor doesn't really bite too often- he is the less aggressive of the boys by far but if you put something in his mouth... you can only imagine. Shoppers for 15 aisles around must have heard the waaAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH that came out of Casey when his brother chomped down- really hard- on his fingers. He cried like his heart was broken. He also decided he could not ride in the cart anymore and it was necessary for mommy to carry him.

So there I am- in the back of the store, with a double cart, a screaming toddler and a giant pregnant belly. Sure, I can carry you, Casey! And so I did. I managed to maneuver the cart and contain Casey and finish up the remainder of my shopping list.

By the time we reached the checkout I was sweating profusely, breathing hard and aching- but still smiling because I just can't get enough of my crazy boys!

There is a wonderful employee at our Target and I feel terrible I don't know his name but he is awesome to the boys and Casey especially loves him. He gives them stickers when we come in so he is definitely up there with the guys' favorite people.

When Casey saw him today he practically threw himself into his arms. Casey thinks this man is the business. He came back to me pretty quickly but went back and forth between the two of us at least 4 more times. Best friends.

Then the gentleman who checked us out smiled and said hi to Casey and Casey lunged over the credit card machine and into the cashier's arms. To C's delight he got more stickers. And I was reminded again of how NOT shy my son is becoming.

As we were leaving a nice woman asked all the usual twin questions then asked if I was crazy having a 3rd one. I assured her I *am * crazy but thrilled to be adding to the madness. She asked if she could help me out to the car or with my cart but I explained I am a master multi-tasker.

She was really nice.

Once the boys were buckled into their seats I made the decision to go to Mr. Bulky to buy a giant bag of red gummy bears and a bag of chocolate covered peanuts for Matt. We pulled into the lot and I hauled the double stroller out of the van. It was then I made a massive error in judgement and decided NOT to use the lovely 5 point harness system provided for my sons safety (and apparently my sanity)by Kolcraft. I figured we'd be in the store for 3-5 minutes tops. Why buckle them up?


After about 30 seconds in the store Connor discovered the bulk bins all had tongs or scoops that were simply too intriguing to pass up- he got himself in perfect position to grab a pair of tongs and in a miraculous half ballet, half gymnastic move I managed to catch said pair of tongs as they went flying. It was at that moment when Casey decided he was leaving the stroller. I caught him by the armpits and attempted to buckle him in- not so easy when he gets in his I am stiff as a board and just a straight- fighting position. While wrestling with Casey, Connor found a display of Mike and Ike's on the right side of the stroller. He happily threw 2 boxes of no less than 15 packets each of candy on the floor in approximately 2 milliseconds. So, now I have to hold on to a squirming Casey while lowering my ginormous self down to pick up 400 packs of candy. Are you still with me?? Mind you, I'm still smiling and talking to the boys very calmly all while cussing myself out internally.

It is while I am in what must have been a very glamorous pose that a nice old man walked up behind me and said, "I love children. I wish I could have had 100. I only had 1 because my wife got cancer and they wiped all that stuff out of her. Enjoy them." (Did he really just tell me about his wife's hysterectomy?? Awesome!)

I smiled and said I do enjoy them, every single day. They are my biggest blessings. He then noticed I was pregnant and he said, "Keep having babies if you can figure out how to pay for it. That's the hard part."

I wished him well, finished picking up the candy, got the bag of peanuts for Matt, found my purse- 2 aisles over- how did *that* happen, steered the double stroller to the register, still holding Casey and managed to pay. The cashier held the door open for me and we were about 200 feet from the van and a much needed breather when Connor decided he wanted to try surfing.

In a move that would make any hardcore, Hawaiian surfer proud, my 2 year old stood up in the back seat of the stroller and was ready to hang 10. I got him halfway seated (still holding Casey) and proceeded to walk into the parking lot. Connor decided to stand again. He almost fell out of the stroller (did I mention I FAIL?!?) but I caught him with one hand under one arm and got him back into his seat.

It was then a nice man asked if I needed help. Uh, yes. But my mouth formed the words, "No thank you, I've got it. Just doing some juggling. Thanks so much, though." He was not convinced but walked away anyway most likely thinking my kids were crazy and I was some awful mother.

I hand Connor the keys to occupy him for the last few steps to the van. He decided to chuck them into the parking lot. Now, if you have never played catch with Connor you wouldn't know that my little peanut makes up for the strength he lacks in core and legs in brute arm strength. Those keys were flying.

By this time I am drenched in sweat, practically hyperventilating, my hair is no longer in a neat ponytail and I am still carrying Casey and now I get to bend down again to retrieve my keys. Did I mention Connor is standing again. I am laughing hysterically now because really, there was nothing else to do.

I get the keys, sit Connor down, hit the button to open the van doors and jog to those open doors, I happily toss my monkeys in their seats, buckle them nice and tightly. I kiss their heads and tell them how much I love them.

Never a dull moment.

I couldn't possibly be upset with them for MY error in judgement.

As I pulled out of my space I called my mom to share my story and she said, "I hope those gummy bears were worth it."

I have now eaten about 40 of them and yes- yes they were worth it. But I do think it will be a LONG time before I attempt shopping with the guys by myself again.

AND when I do- I am using those belts and possibly installing another set to use, just in case.

Is it nap time yet??

Casey passed out cold.

Connor passed out cold- same position. I love twins!