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Eighteen Years Ago…..

October 3, 2011

I had grand plans of uploading this on August 7, but as you can see that didn’t happen — life happen instead.  So, just to update we gone from:

To this:

In some ways it seems like only yesterday while in others it seems like a lifetime ago.  What happened that day changed my life in a way that many experience and yet, in a way that few experience.  That day was spent in labor starting around 9a with a trip to the hospital.  Since we had made this trip a few times before we weren’t positive that today would be the day we’d meet the baby I was carrying (based on the ultrasound the baby wasn’t due for another month, based on my calculations he was due next week). {I always told my doctor being single had some advantages you should be able to pinpoint a due date, but he would laugh and say the ultrasound was right — well, I think Mama was right and the ultrasound was wrong.}  As I said, I spent the day in labor and after a heated discussion with the doctor on call that we weren’t stopping my labor and starting me back up in the morning, my LDR nurse made a suggestion which encouraged the baby to drop into position for imminent delivery.  Of course the dude with the MD after his name wanted to argue with the lady with the RN after hers, fortunately for me and the baby the RN won the argument and less than 10 minutes after the MD wanted to stop my labor, my son joined me in this world with his Nana as my support partner.
From there things got crazy….the staff got quiet (after announcing his apgars 9/9) and the doctor mentioned wanting to run some tests.  I don’t totally remember everything that happened at that point, I remember my mom (or me) questioning they doctor and making comments like…”so, mom and I have a space between our big  toe and the next one” to “his bio-dad has _______.”  At any rate, they move me to a room and Nick to the nursery (yes, this was back when WVU still had a newborn nursery and you labored in one room and recovered in another).  I remember a nurse (one my mom had golfed with in the WV Women’s State Am the week before) coming in at some point and asking me if I knew what they were testing for and Down Syndrome being mentioned (still don’t remember if she said it or if I did).  I remember not hearing anything from anyone (medically) until after my parents came down to see Nick the next day and my Dad yelling at the nursery staff for not bringing me my son or at least coming and getting me so I could see him.  (Dad had found out that Nick was having some issues and was on oxygen and had a NGtube.)  However, by Monday morning I was being inundated with information the OB showed up, the ped showed up, the geneticist stopped by — one of the first things out of her mouth was “there is a list of people who love to adopt children like this” — {hmmm, do you say that to all new parents or just the single ones?}, the cardiologist, the orthopedist and the social worker all showed up.  Can we say information overload?  I don’t even remember if my parents were there during all the consults or some of them or none of them.  I do remember feeling overwhelmed.  I do remember the geneticist saying that it is hard to just look at a newborn and say conclusively that “baby has Down Syndrome.”

Nick ended up spending a week in the newborn nursery learning to suck/swallow and breathe and making sure his heart was functioning properly.  Mom and I scurried around to finishing getting everything ready for his homecoming.  We also took the time to take care of the various other issues that having a child with Down Syndrome brings to one’s life.  I think it was around this time I found this (well not this version exactly but the poem,WELCOME TO HOLLAND. by. Emily Perl Kingsley. c1987):

Now, one thing I’d like to say, some people might find this poem depressing saying “I didn’t plan on a trip to Italy” why are you trying to sell me on Holland when I never had a designation in mind in the first place.  To them, I say great this poem probably won’t apply to you.  To those that had your life as a parent plotted and planned out and once you got a diagnosis that didn’t fit into your plans, then I encourage you to read, listen, watch with that in mind.

It was also during this time I met Cindy & Tim Casten who started the UpsandDowns group on AOL and later Yahoo.  Their youngest son, Matthew, was born just 11 days after I had Nick.  So together we navigated this new adventure, while they had some experience with parenting versus my total inexperience with parenting we were both novices when it came to navigating the way through the special needs world.  I tackled raising Nick from a “he’s a baby and my dream for him is to do what babies his age do.”  They were coming at it from a slightly different perspective (often from more of a “but ___ did this at that age”) and we were both able to balance each other out (or at least I felt we did at the time).

Nick and I spent the first 5 almost 6 years of his life on our own and then we met Jeff.  On May 29, 1999, Jeff and I got married and shortly, thereafter, Jeff adopted Nick.  Let me just say, Jeff has been a total blessing to both us especially as Nick has gotten older and bigger.  Today Nick is just at (or slightly above) 5′ tall and weighs close to 120.  Since I’m only 5’3″ he is almost as tall as I am, I’m still hoping and praying he puts on a few more inches (especially since I noticed this weekend that little brother Mitchell is about to surpass him in height).

This summer Nick has gotten a chance to do volunteer/work at Goodwill and he is loving it.  We do have to watch saying work or Goodwill because now Nick thinks every time we say Goodwill he needs to get ready for work.  He also won a laptop computer which he loves — just need to locate really good net-nanny program.   I did figure out how to limit the time he is allowed to log on — he is currently trying to figure out how to beat that.  (He just announced — his computer doesn’t love him.)

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