Friday, August 22, 2008

Filler

Poor Philip - when Matilda was his age she lived the blissful, cocooned existence of an only child (for about one more month!) safe and protected, nothing to threaten her. She rarely had a scratch on her. Philip on the other hand is constantly covered in battlescars. Here he is a couple of days ago:

His foot, where Domino scratched him -by accident! He was just chasing around with Scrabble, did a spectacular leap in the air, and Pip's foot got in the way.
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His cheek. Guess whose teeth marks are these. Apparently he was "agnoring" (annoying)her, and he had it coming. Yikes!
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And finally, the charming welt on his forehead.
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He got that by walking into a door. Seriously. Clearly he's his mother's son.
(I once tried making flirty eyecontact with someone I fancied as I was walking past him and walked into a watercooler. Another time I bent to cross under a bar, in the presence of someone else I fancied at the time, and didn't bend enough, banged my head on it and fell on my back on the floor. I have such a way with men.)

Yesterday we met up with Hannah, Gordon, Elliott and Bethany along with some friends of theirs I hadn't met before. We went paddling in a river close to Hannah's house. We had to sit through a 40 minute bus-ride to get there, but it was sooo worth it.
Especially for the Greeks, pictures!

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I wish we had a place like that for me to go to when I was little.

There are more pictures from the day and also from Matilda's birthday party last weekend, but that will have to wait until Hannah and Gordon make me a cd with them...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Expect the Unexpected

I've been wanting to blog about this for some time now, but I was waiting to tell my family in person first, and with my mum being in hospital it sort of fell back.

I wanted to let all of my online and real life friends know that we're expecting again!
Peter and I have already started the process required to adopt a baby with Down's Syndrome. We have a lovely Volunteer Agency doing our homestudy at the moment. When the homestudy is done, in a few months' time, we will be aproved to adopt, and then we will be looking for our child. We are hoping to be parents of three by next summer!

We are looking for a little girl, and because of adoption regulations and the age of our children, she will have to be as young as possible, probably between 6 and 10 months (although we would not mind a slightly older child if they decided to place one with us.)

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THE FINE PRINT

Now I know that I've blogged quite a lot already about DS (Down Syndrome) and a couple of people I know told me they find it "depressing." I'm sorry to hear that, as I don't think it's depressing at all. I don't blame anyone, ofcourse, but I would like to believe that as you get to know our daughter you will grow to find her delightful instead of depressing (this seems to be the reaction of most family members I've encountered on and off line.)

In any case, I know it is a very unusual decision, and it will take most people by surprise; so for your benefit, here is the full story:
How we came to want to be the parents of a baby with DS.

When I was pregnant with Matilda, I did an awful lot of research. Peter and I wanted to know what everything meant, what every test offered was for and what the risks and benefits were for each one. We wanted to be able to make an educated decision about everything (we're control freaks like that.) As a result, we looked into the most common genetic and birth defects -what could go wrong with a pregnancy, that the tests could detect; what the implications would be; what could be done about it. We decided pretty soon that we would accept any baby that we made, and that we would not terminate for any condition that was compatible with life (and the latter ones come with physical defects so great that they would be obvious in our 20 week scan.) So we refused all tests appart from the ultrasounds.

In our research, we read not only medical descriptions of the various conditions, but also blogs, books and essays by the families of children born with various chromosomal or genetic defects. We saw videos, looked at photographs. I found myself especially drawn to the ones about DS. So I went on reading more and more. I started feeling that I was "preparing" myself for something, like it was meant to be.
When I was pregnant with Philip, we repeated the discussions about diagnostic and screening tests; again, we decided to not have any. We went on doing our research; and I went on reading about DS. We were touched and impressed by these people. I, especially, felt a really strong sence of "destiny." I know it sounds corny. I'm not religious, and I can't explain it, so you'll just have to accept it. Believe, if you will, that it was what I was "meant" to do, or that I just convinced myself about it, and then made it happen by taking certain decisions, following certain paths. It makes no difference -there it is. Do with it what you want.

Peter, being the wonderful person that he is, took me seriously and thought hard about adopting a child with DS. He can be very thorough. We mulled it over, weighed the pros and cons and did yet more research. We went to group meetings. We visited families with children of various ages. When we decided to go ahead with it, it was not a rash decision.

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So what might our daughter be like? She will probably be short and plump (people with DS tend to be shorter and stockier than average.) As a young child, she will be like all babies and toddlers, but she will probably be reaching her milestones at a slightly delayed pace. She might be 9 months when she sits up, or 2 years when she walks (as a very rough average, children with DS have a developemental age approximately half of their chronological age. This means she might be Matilda's age, and behaving like Philip. That's all there is to it -nothing scarier than that.)
She WILL learn how to walk, run and talk. She might take longer to do so, and her speech will probably not be as clear -but we will be able to have chats with her like we do with all our children. She WILL go to school. She is more likely to have a heart condition that might need monitoring or medication, she is more likely to have hearing problems and need hearing aids, she is more likely to have low muscle tone, which means she will find it more difficult to do things such as run, or hold a pencil steady enough to write. Thank goodness for computers then. As she grows up, she will have friends, things she likes to do and places she likes to go to. She will tell jokes, or play practical jokes on us (like her daddy used to do!) She will get angry and get sad and ask questions, but she is likely to be a happy, friendly, empathetic person most of the time. She will probably be more innocent than her years, and she will probably be slower to respond to things, or learn things -but she WILL learn them. She will need us to look out for her, but she will NOT need us to be looking after her 24 hours a day (this is what a lot of people seem to think it will be like, for some reason!) She is very likely to be able to live semi-independently. This means she might have her own appartment, or share a house with room mates, and probably need someone to check up on her during the week, help her with planning, bills etc. Or she might need to live with us all her life -we don't mind. We enjoy having our children now, we are sure we will continue to enjoy having them later. We LIKE being interdependent.

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Have we thought about what this will mean for our children?
This is a favourite question. The answer is: yes, we have. We understand that having a sibling with additional needs will probably make some things more difficult for them than they would have been otherwise. We don't believe this is a bad thing. Having to deal with difficulties is how you learn to overcome them. We KNOW they will love and value their sister (we came across many siblings of people with DS, of all ages, and they all loved their brother or sister and said they learned things from them.) We believe that having a sister that society doesn't see as "intelligent," "attractive" or "valuable" (read: likely to make lots of money or get famous) will teach them that looks, brains, money and success are not the most important things in life. Being happy and a good person is. They will learn to be patient, they will learn to accept difference and they will learn that making fun of people is hurtful and wrong. We will not have to make an effort to teach them these things; they will learn them from their sister.

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What about if we can't look after her when we are older?
Ah, the second most common question. I'll humour this one too.
She is more likely to live semi-independently than not. IF she is not, we might be able to look after her. IF we can't, she will have at least 3 brothers and sisters that might want to have her live with them (we're not finished having babies yet.) IF none of our other children want her to live with them, they might decide to all chip in to get someone else to look after her. Or another family member or friend might want her. Or the world might have ended by then. I don't understand this question, I have to admit. That's an awful lot of IFS. Peter and I might be unable to live independently in our old age too, but no one seems to worry about that. We might end up in a home, she might end up in a home, any of our other children might end up in a home.

Learning more
Heh, I know this is wistful thinking, but this child WILL join our family. If you would like to learn more about DS, to prepare for her arrival or answer any other questions you might have, here are some good links:
http://www.downsyn.com
http://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/

I know that a lot of you will not understand our decision, but we just want to share it with you, and hope that you will accept it and wish us best. The rest will come later.

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(Photocraphs courtesy of google images.)

Bliss

It's so wonderful being together with all my family again! When I was in Greece, Matilda didn't really want to talk to me on the phone. "I don't want to talk to mummy on the phone, I want mummy to be here," she said. We told her that Yaya was sick, and I was going to Greece to help her get better, and make her happy. When I came back, by the time I was home Matilda was asleep. I got to bed too, and when she woke up in the middle of the night, I took hre in bed with me. She just opened her eyes, groggy. "Hello mummy," she said. "Is Yaya happy now?" What a beautiful child I have!

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She was so excited to be with Philip again too. She just kept running up to him and hugging him. "I love my baby brother!"

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Philip is saying soooo many words now. We've counted about 40. He loves animals and will make all their sounds ad infinitum. He's obsessed with cows and ducks.
Have some cuteness overload:






Matilda is 3 now and is FINALLY starting to use the potty. She has to be reminded and bribed though. Never mind, it's progress.
Peter brought in a new plastic bin and Matilda wanted to "be a rubbish." Ah, ambitions!

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Do you think Philip likes chocolate milk?

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Here's my happy girl!

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Crickets

*chirp* *chirp* *chirp*
Boy it's been quiet around here. Sorry about that. All I can say is, it's been a hectic couple of months. My last post was about my mum being in hospital. She's doing well, and recovering a lot quicker than the doctors expected. She is still bedridden, but that's not as bad as it sounds. Because she has a sore on the sole of her foot, she's not allowed to step on it until it's healed -and because she is so heavy, the physio is worried that she could damage her other leg if she puts all her weight on it. Her foot is almost healed up though, and she should be on her feet as soon as this happens. She got discharged from hospital in the beginning of July and I flew over there with Philip to help. Matilda stayed home with Daddy, Nanny and Pop Pop.
We spent three weeks in Greece with mum and Andreas, and then had to come back. In the end we got mum to agree to a 24 hour helper, so a lady called Irina moved in to our spare bedroom. I didn't get to meet her, but mum said she's nice.

Sorry I didn't blog about this sooner, and also sorry to all my greek friends for not letting you know I was coming and not getting in touch when I was there. I really didn't meet with anyone, I was too busy playing nurse (my mum needed her catheter emptied, and to be turned several times a day to avoid bedsores) keeping house and chasing after Philip -not easy as the house was completely non-baby proof. I'm hoping to travel again soon and make that a normal holiday.

Anyway, I'm back now, and will return to the normal brainless posts we all know and love. Heh.