21 Magazine and Skeptics Be Damned!

A mom post today…

Late last year, during Down Syndrome Awareness week, I saw a picture that the CDSS (Canadian Down Syndrome Society) had posted to twitter of a bunch of their staff sporting these awesome CDSS temporary tattoo’s.

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I sent a reply quickly, not thinking anything would come of it, asking where I could find one. To my delight, I got a tweet back from their design and communication coordinator, Kaitlyn Pescon, saying that while they weren’t actually giving them away, she would make arrangements to send me a few. From there, a lovely twitter friendship was born and Kaitlyn started reading all about Lily’s Big Adventures.

Fast forward a few months and I received a very unexpected email from Kaitlyn: the CDSS was putting together their Spring edition of their quarterly magazine, 21, and she wanted to know if I would be interested in writing an article for them. I was overjoyed, not only because it meant that I got to write for real, but because (as I’m sure is obvious), I love being able to share with people how amazing our lives have been since Lily joined our family. They gave me no real direction on what to write, just a word maximum – which was the hardest part to stick to! It took me several attempts to get the right feel for what I wanted to say: that facing life with a child with special needs can sometimes feel incredibly daunting and outright scary, but that when you become a parent the rest just falls into place. As parents, regardless of our child’s abilities, we worry that we’re not doing enough for them. We bask in their accomplishments and are constantly amazed at how fast they learn and change and grow, but we don’t allow ourselves to feel the pride in our own abilities – to nourish them and to cherish them and to make them feel secure and safe enough to develop.

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And so, now that the CDSS Annual Conference is wrapped up for this year, I can put this article out there for the rest of you to see. It’s not a masterpiece, it’s not going to win any awards and you’re not going to wake up and find me on the talk-show circuit, but it’s just my own little piece of our world, out there for anyone to see…

Adventures in Adopting; Adventures with Lily

And very quickly, on a happy Lily note – we had our latest check-up with our Neurologist this week and she is incredibly happy with how Lily is progressing: it’s been just over a year without any signs of additional seizure activity! She, as always, reminded us that between being born early, having Down Syndrome and her brain injury that she is at a much higher risk for developing additional types of seizures, and so the plan is to keep her on her medications for 4 more years (as opposed to 2 years in a typical child), and then re-assess at that time. Seeing neurology, of all the clinics, always seems to be so incredibly rewarding. It was neurology, after her cardiac arrest, who told us that she was blind and that she wasn’t going to see again. It was her brain injury that kept her in that hospital bed, not moving her left side and keeping her personality hidden from us. But here we are, almost 2 years later and she’s thriving. She can see across the room and scoot her bum over to pull her toy off of the couch; she watches the cat stalk across the room and tries to grab her tail at every chance; she’s figuring out how to make her hands and her feet work together to keep standing in her playpen and she’s babbling up a storm. So, take that Neurology – don’t doubt her abilities!

 

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The Flu, the Army and A Little Extra Physio

Do you know what I’m not such a big fan of? Throwing up.  I mean, technically I do it all of the time, I’m kind of awesome at it, but when I’m not expecting it and it happens all night when I’m supposed to be sleeping I really really hate it.  The mom’s called it a “bug”, which is a really horrible name.  I’ve seen bugs and if that’s what I had then I want to take that up with someone!  The mom’s tried to explain that it wasn’t really an actual bug but a horrible stomach thing that knocked each of us (plus a few other casualties – sorry Randall’s!) on our butts.  First Mama C had it, and we thought she was just faking it to enjoy staying in bed for one whole day, but then Mommy got it a few days later and she passed it along to me! It was seriously bad people…seriously.  Our bodies shouldn’t do things like that, it’s just not right.

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We were a bit worried that this bug would interfere with the big adventure we had planned for the weekend.  You may not know this, but my Pa is a very cool guy.  When he was younger he was in the army and got to go to places called “Korea” and “Japan”, and he hung out with a whole bunch of army people called the third battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment.  Well last weekend, this other cool guy, Prince Phillip (who is actually married to the Queen!), came to Toronto to give these guys a new flag (it was called presenting them with their new colours, but I guess they’re not as smart as I am because it was clearly a flag).  What made it especially cool was that Pa got to be there and got to sit up close and watch it all happen.  So, the mom’s and I met up with Auntie CC, Uncle Rico, Thor, Ollie & Gramma, and we went to watch the Prince and Pa hang out with the army.  It was so so busy and I was still a bit cranky because of the “bug”, so I didn’t get to see a whole lot of the ceremony, but afterwards we got to watch a military parade and we got to see so many army guys! There was lots of bagpipes (Pa really liked those), and drums (Pa liked those too, he used to play a big bass one), horses and swords and even a canon! I really liked that part – there were so many colours and music.

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I took it nice and easy this week, to make sure that I was feeling all better, but then today the mom’s surprised me with a trip down to Sick Kids.  Luckily I wasn’t there for a bad reason! The mom’s had been asked if I could be a volunteer for a course for a group of physiotherapists.  They were learning something called NDT (neurodevelopmental treatment).  This kind of treatment helps kids specifically like me – with both some physical and neurological challenges.  I got to work with the instructor, an amazing woman named Jane Styler-Acevedo from Acadia University, who was super patient and kind and knew instinctively that I needed some extra time to figure things out.  We worked on trying to get me moving from sitting and standing, because I’m finding it very hard to figure out how to do that, especially because I don’t like using my hands.  By the end of the session, the mom’s had some good ideas of how to keep working with me, plus everyone in the class clapped for me and spent a long time telling the mom’s how cute and adorable I am.  It’s hard work trying to make my body do the things I want it to so that I can be independent but I’m getting very frustrated at not being able to do it.  I keep reaching for things and get very annoyed when I can’t get to them and I hate being strapped into my high chair to eat now because all I want is to be down on the floor playing! Hopefully the things we learned today will help.  Keep your fingers crossed for me okay?

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Other than all of those things, I’ve just been very very happy these days.  I’m chatting up a storm and trying to figure out different sounds.  I figured out how to knock on doors and now I like to think that everything is a door and I want to knock on everything.  I’ve been loving the spring sunshine and especially that we’ve been going on lots of walks with the mom’s and Gus.  I love spending time outside and trying to grab the bushes and leaves – they feel so funny in my fingers, but mostly I love to grab Gus.  He’s so nice and just lets me keep grabbing his fur and his mouth and his ears and sometimes even his teeth.  The mom’s say I’m lucky he’s so patient with me, but I think it’s just a bribe – if he lets me pull on him, he knows that I’ll keep throwing food on the floor for him to eat – we have a good thing going.

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New Year and New Adventures

I hope you haven’t missed me too much.  I’ve been very busy blossoming into a new little girl over the past few weeks and it’s taken up most of my time and energy.

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Guys, did you know that you could reach for things? That you don’t just have to wait for one of the mom’s to get off the couch and bring the toy back to you, you can actually just move and get things yourself? I can’t believe I didn’t figure this out before, but I know now and there’s now stopping me! I reach for everything – things I shouldn’t even be allowed to have but the mom’s get so excited that they let me have whatever I want….even the cat!

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I’ve also been working hard with my OT Kristen.  I’ve decided that 2013 is going to be the year when I grow in leaps and bounds and abilities! Kristen came in to our first session of the year, took one look at me and started to laugh.  She told Mama C that she had been worried before Christmas that I had started to plateau again and she was going to have to start working out some new techniques to get me moving forward again.  But then she came in and saw all of my reaching and babbling and knew that we were going to be okay! So we’re back to working on great things like turning pages and stacking blocks and eating! The mom’s keep letting me try really great things – so far I like Sugar Donuts the best, but sweet potato and tomato sauce are pretty good too.

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I’m also working hard to make my eyesight better.  My brain injury caused something called a Cortical Visual Impairment (you can read more about it here, because it’s a a long thing to explain).  If you read the description, you’ll see that a lot of the symptoms are things that you may see me doing.  One of my big symptoms is strabismus, which causes my right eye to turn in towards my left eye.  Clearly this is not good in the long run, so for the next 6 months, for 2 hours a day, I have to wear a patch over my left eye to remind my brain to pay attention to my right eye.  It was a bit confusing at first because my brain injury also caused the left side of my body to be a bit weak so we kept thinking that it was my left eye that needed work, but we just have to keep remembering that the injury switches above my neck.  Bodies are crazy crazy things.

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Clearly this was the mom’s first attempt – wrong eye AND wrong direction. They need help!

Lastly, I just need to clear up a little rumour: I am NOT on the cover of Today’s Parent (although I don’t know why I’m not, I think that someone should really inform them that I would make an amazing cover model).   Today’s Parent knows that parents love to see their children everywhere and so they allow anyone with a subscription to upload a photo and it will be used as the “cover” for the December issue.  The mom’s ordered an extra copy for Gramma and Pa and somewhere they got confused and thought that it was real.  I wasn’t trying to trick all of you – but it was pretty funny!

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The Lily Pond

I’m guilty.  It’s totally my fault.  The mom’s have been bugging me to write a new post for ages and ages, but they wouldn’t accept my excuse of not knowing how to type!

So, here I am, back again to fill you in on all of the going-on’s in my very busy life.  I promise that from now on, these posts will happen in a far more timely manner – it’s too hard trying to remember everything that’s happened if I let it go too long.

We had little out of town adventure with all of the mom’s favourite ladies for one weekend. We drove so so so far and went to a place called Bancroft – we barely even had cell phone reception, which was a big big step for the mom’s.  Most of the weekend was rainy, but there was a big big big fireplace and lots of boardgames and lazing around.  And the best part was that there were so many doggies there too! Rachel brought my Charlie, who I hadn’t seen since Florida, but then our friend Toby also brought her dogs! And two of them are even famous! Ginger and Buddha were in the movie Snow Buddies! They played Buddha (obviously) and Rosebud! Buddha was fun and has a tail that likes to wag all over the place, but Ginger was my very favourite.  She likes to snuggle up close and was so gentle and sweet and let me pet her for hours on end.  She could be my new best friend.

This fall has been very adventure filled for our little family.  I eventually learned what “escrow” meant. At first I was very excited because a new house sounded very cool but then I learned that what it really means is a LOT of work, especially when you’re trying to move in just 3 weeks! Mommy worked very very hard for those 3 weeks trying to get everything organized for us so that we didn’t go totally crazy.  In the last week, I got to spend some time with Mrs. Auty (that’s my Steve’s mom – she keeps telling me to call her Fran, but for some reason I just can’t do it.  It must be genetic), and then Gramma came and spent 3 whole days with me so that Mommy could actually be at the new house and not worry about me getting into trouble. It also meant that the mom’s dragged me all over the place – Home Depot for paint, Ikea for a whole bunch of new furniture!  On our actual moving day we had a whole lot of help – not that I got to see most of them because I got to spend the day with MeMa.

Then, ass soon as we got moved in, ALL three of us got sick! Mommy had it first and then she gave it to Mama C, who then got even sicker and had to take medicine – she even had to wear a mask when she and I were hanging out.  And we were hanging out a lot – especially at night.  You see, I was sick too (mean mom’s!) and it was really hard for me to breathe in my bed, so I decided that it was just better to stay up as much as possible.  I mean, I wanted to sleep but when I did, when I woke up I just felt so gross that I would just cry and scream and I didn’t want anything except to be held.  I heard Mommy tell the doctors that she thinks I only really slept about 4 hours in a 48 period.  I don’t know if that’s really true, but I decided to throw the mom’s a bone last night and I slept through the night.  Now, if only Mama C would stop coughing and waking me up!

With all the busy-ness and the sickness, I’m especially sad that I haven’t had a chance to go and check out my new pool.  Yup, you heard me, my new pool.  Mama C works with swimming pools, which is a pretty cool gig, but even there people seem to love me more than they love her.  These guys decided that Regent Park needed a brand new pool because it’s getting to be such a cool neighbourhood and part of the amazing new Regent Park Aquatic Centre is a tot pool with all of these really cool features – bubbles and spray features, and it’s always warm and shallow enough for little kids to play.  And one of Mama’s C’s bosses decided that this new tot pool would be named after me! I’m not even kidding…I even have a sign! I’m super sad that I haven’t had a chance to go swimming there yet, but it’s my pool – I totally have time!

Sadly, being sick also meant that we had to cancel a bunch of physiotherapy appointments too.  Which is a little sad because this fall I’ve started doing some really crazy amazing things! I decided that I was getting tired of just sitting around, so I’ve been working on scooting all around the house on my bum (which works a lot better on the floor at the new house), reaching for anything and everything that I can get my eyes and hands on, especially people’s faces, and the hardest thing has been learning how to stand up! I still can’t quite do it all by myself, but my legs are so so so much stronger than they ever have been and I’ve even started taking some steps with some help from either the mom’s or Kristin or Anne Marie.  I still have some work but trust me people – I think I’ve decided that 2013 is going to be the year I start to walk!

Cookie Monster….I mean, Master….

A mom post tonight….

Although we try not to dwell on it too much, there are certainly some aspects of Lily’s diagnosis(s) that can be challenging as her parents.  It can be really hard to see her work so hard and not make the gains that you want her to be making.  It can get frustrating when you finally reach a long awaited milestone (sitting for example) and realize that there’s no real time to celebrate, you just have to jump back in to keep working on the next skill (transitioning between lying down and sitting – she can get down, but getting up is proving to be a pretty tough skill).

But then, then there are days like today, where all of the work pays off and you end up amazed at such a simple thing – like eating a cookie….

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lips can be a very big distraction – who knew?

Success!!!

And just to make it even better, she moved that cookie right to the other hand

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We only got about 3 full bites and then she spit them all out – that little down syndrome tongue is a great hiding place…

But speaking of new skills, Lily has mastered two other things this week: the skill of the fake cry, complete with squeezing her eyes to make the fake tears come, and the art of staying up past her bedtime by becoming the smiliest, most giggle filled girl you’ve ever met.  She’s a sneak this one…

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Parties and Brains and Zombies…oh my!

We’re having a quiet day here at home.  It’s raining outside and the mom’s say that makes people sleepy, plus I think I have this other tooth coming through and it’s making me slightly miserable.  I’m thinking about having another nap, but at the same time it’s kind of fun to watch the mom’s get so amused by me refusing to sleep and then fall asleep on the living room floor in a few hours.

It’s been a busy week for our little family.  Last weekend the mom’s threw a really big party  for me.  Originally it was called “Lily’s One Year of Ass Kicking” party, but then someone shortened it to just my “Re-Birthday” party (which frankly sounds nicer because I’m little and technically not aloud to swear yet).  We had an amazing time at MeMa’s house – swimming in the pool, playing Bocce ball in the backyard, eating delicious food and just hanging out with all of the people who were so supportive to the mom’s when I was so sick last year.  People were tricky though and brought presents, which was totally against the rules because it wasn’t technically a birthday party (don’t people follow rules anymore, geesh, kids today) but it was really kind of them.  I even heard a rumour that there were sparklers at the end of the night but someone fell asleep and missed out (okay, I’ll admit it, I fell asleep.  I’m so embarrassed).

After the party this week, I also had to go see my neurologist at Sick Kids to check and see how my brain is doing.  We got there bright and early and got my head all hooked up so they could take pictures of my brain activity while I was resting to see if I’m having any seizures.  And the happy news is, after waiting so long for me to fall asleep and then visiting my nurse Jane and getting weighed (I’m finally bigger than 20 pounds!!), I finally got to see Dr. W and she said that I look amazing! She said that my brain activity looks amazing for a kid who had infantile spasms! She said that we’ll switch to a safer medication for 1 year and then I can start to come off of it.  Fingers crossed everyone that my brain will keep being as healthy for the next year!

Lastly, I just wanted to show off my incredible new talent.  I’m getting really good at impressions – this is my version of Zombie Lily.  I’m tucking it away until next Hallowe’en…

Merrily We Roll Along

The mom’s and I are doing really well these days at just rolling with the punches.  When we were first getting used to all my little quirks, it was easy for the mom’s to become overwhelmed when I hit a little bump in the road, but lately I’ve noticed that they seem to be better at watching how things unfold before they start to get really worried.

For instance, last week the mom’s noticed that I started having small seizures again.  They were the same kind as last time, little muscle contractions that I can’t seem to control.  There weren’t many, but since the mom’s have seizure eagle-eyes now they were able to spot them pretty quickly.   They got an appointment with our pediatrician who managed to get in touch with my neurologist and they worked out a plan to change the dose of my seizure medication because I’ve grown.  The doctor’s also let the mom’s know that if my body is fighting any kind of virus, even if I’m not showing any symptoms yet,  my seizures become harder to control, so we need to go back to being very very careful about being around other kids and adults who may be sick.  The mom’s took all of this with stride and have just spent the weekend keeping a pretty close eye on me.  I don’t think that I’ve had any more seizures, but we’re going to see the neurologist again, just in case.  Either way, I’m pretty proud of the mom’s – they’re really growing.

Otherwise, I’ve had a really great week! Last weekend, I got to meet 2 new cousins (well, Mama C says they’re not new, they’re just new to me!), Melissa and Brittany.  They came all the way from BC just to see me!! (Mama C says that they actually came to visit my Aunt Bev, but I obviously know better).  We had a nice afternoon at Gramma and Pa’s house, with the two of them and Aunt Bev.  Auntie CC, Uncle Rico, Thor and Baby Ollie were there too and we had so much fun together! I thought that maybe I would be a little jealous that there is this new baby to take over my spotlight, but it turns out that being the only girl does have some advantages.  Luckily Baby Ollie is super duper cute, so I don’t mind sharing the attention with him at all (and especially because Mama C like to cuddle with him a lot).

Then, the next day, Mommy and I decided to have a group date with my other two friends Thano and Jack and we went to the Zoo.  We let their mom’s, Rita and Irene, come along too but mostly because they can drive.  We saw the brand new baby polar bear, but my favourite were the penguins! Mama C was sad that she couldn’t go too, but said that if she goes on strike then we can go to the zoo all of the time.  I don’t know what “going on strike” means, but it’s sounding great to me…I just wish I could figure out why the mom’s don’t look so happy about it.

The most exciting part of my week though was going to Sick Kids to see my OT Lisa! I hadn’t been to visit her since I was in the hospital in August and she was shocked to see how much I had grown and how great I was doing.  To my great surprise we were there because everyone thinks that I’m ready to really start eating! This was the best day! I got to sit in a high chair and Lisa fed me all kinds of great things! Thickened formula, apple sauce, cookies…even cheesies! I got to start drinking from a cup (Mama C was helping me and she looked really nervous!).  Lisa told the mom’s that I can have anything that I want now! She said to try lots of different things so that I get used to different textures and tastes – like ice cream and yogurt and fruit and pasta.  I have to work pretty hard at it because I have no teeth, but so far I really like this eating business.

Lastly, on Friday (and then again on Sunday), I got to see my Jacquie! Now that she’s not my adoption worker we don’t get to see her as often so the mom’s made a special date so that we could all hang out.  We had a great afternoon (even if Mama C hogged me and Jacquie barely got to hold me at all) but when Jacquie left, she forgot her sunglasses.  So then on Sunday we drove to her house and dropped them off.  We even got to say hello to her family who were all very wonderful – mostly because they thought I was so cute, especially the dog Gracie.

Really, when you look at it, there are way more good things happening then not so great ones.  I’ll take that.