Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bryce at 12 weeks

Hi Friends,

   I can't believe it, but it was 12 weeks ago today that little Bryce blessed our lives. I already look back on that day and can't believe how sad I was. He is such a good baby and has already enriched our lives so much. I had no idea at the time how blessed I was the day he entered the world.

    In just the past week or two, he's really started to change and grow up. For a while, I was worried because he hadn't changed much since he was born--he just ate and slept all the time. Now, he's much more alert and getting so strong. He has been rolling from tummy to back since he was 4 weeks old, and can now lift himself up on his elbows too. He loves looking at bright colors and patterns--especially polka dots. He watches his brother and is still teasing us with little half smiles. He is so content and really only cries when he's hungry. He has even slept through the night twice in the past week. Compared to his refluxy brother, he is a really easy baby.

    One of the overwhelming things about Bryce's diagnosis was (and still is) all the physical and developmental problems that can come with Down syndrome. We still don't know what he will be capable of, but so far he is doing so great. Mike and I often wonder if we are just in denial, but he seems just like a normal baby--ahead of where Connor was at his age. We have been meeting with Early Intervention teachers from the school district and he was evaluated by a private physical and occupational therapists. I am so proud to say that at this time he doesn't qualify for either of those private services. We got confirmation that maybe we aren't in denial--he really IS doing well.

     Until the age of two, premature babies have two different ages--their chronological age (when they were actually born) and their adjusted age (how old they would be if they were born on time). When Bryce was evaluated by the physical therapist yesterday, she did some standardized testing with him. For his chronological age, he scored in the 25th percentile. For his adjusted age, he scored in the 75th percentile. She averaged them out to 50th percentile. That means he is doing as well as half of ALL 2 1/2 month old babies. To say I was proud would be an understatement. I know this doesn't mean he'll necessarily stay that way--but any time he can exceed expectations I will be so proud of him.

    One problem many kids with Down syndrome have is low muscle tone and/or floppy joints. Their ligaments tend to be a little longer and stretchier than other kids'. All the people who looked after him in the hospital said he had really great muscle tone for a baby with Downs. The physical therapist said the same thing--the only place she saw a problem was with his ankles. The ligaments are really loose--you can bend his foot back so far it almost touches his leg. She said that when he starts standing or walking it may become a problem, but one that is easily fixed. He just may have to have some soft ankle braces for a while or maybe an insert in his shoes. I hope and pray that he continues to do well and keeps exceeding those expectations!

    Connor has really accepted Bryce as part of the family now. He is much more comfortable touching him, sharing our laps with him, and talking with him. If he sees Bryce laying somewhere, he'll go up and talk to him in the sweetest voice. We went to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Omaha last weekend, and as we were packing up and getting ready to leave, my brother-in-law was holding Bryce. Connor went up to him and said, "Um, Uncle Brett, we need Bryce". So sweet! A few weeks ago he either wouldn't have noticed or would have wanted us to leave him there!

    We are so happy with our family of four. Bryce is such a sweet baby and a wonderful addition to the family. We're getting our family pictures taken later today and I have to go get myself ready while the boys are sleeping. Take care everyone!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Proud Mama

           I've said many times throughout Connor's life that I just want to freeze him at a certain age...starting at about six months. It's true that there are fun things about every age, but I really mean it this time. I want to freeze him just as he is RIGHT NOW.

            My first baby will be three next month. I can't believe it. I've been really weepy and sad thinking about it the past week or so. Yes, he has his two-going-on-three-I-think-I'm-more-independent-than-I-really-am moments, but he is so fun right now. I am so afraid I'm going to forget what he's like at this moment. I know I'll remember general things about him as a toddler, but every day he does something clever or cute or funny and I'm so afraid I'll forget. One of the reasons I want to blog is so that I can record some of these things. This post is really more for me--so if you don't want to experience an obnoxious, bragging mommy, you can stop reading right now.

Some of the things I love about Connor:

           His SWEETNESS. He is the sweetest little boy. He gets it from his daddy. Ever since he became mobile, he will often stop in the middle of playing just to come over and give me a hug. He will spontaneously say things like "I love you mommy", "You're my sweetheart", "You're my best friend", "I miss my daddy", etc. He has lately been coming up to our bed when he wakes up and he will put his arm around my waist or shoulders, just like he sees Mike do--it is so cute. The other day at Cub, I saw a kid who was about 14 sling his arm around his mom's shoulder while they looked at the Redbox. I so hope Connor will still be like that at that age.

           His INDEPENDENCE. He has always been so good at entertaining himself. When he was about 15 months old, he fell in love with all things transportation--cars, buses, trains--and could sit on the floor literally for hours and drive them around. He would lay his head on the ground and watch the wheels move. He would line them up, create a parking lot, etc. All by himself. No need for attention . Now he continues to love cars and trains, but always has a storyline going while he plays with them. He also loves doing jigsaw puzzles by himself. He'll sometimes ask me to do them with him, but doesn't really want me to put any of the pieces together. He just wants my company while he does it all by himself. Let me tell you, I have never appreciated his ability to entertain himself as much as I have in the last few months, with my bedrest and having a new baby around. How many women could have kept their 2 year old home while on bedrest?? I knew I could occassionally because he doesn't demand that much of me.

         His VOCABULARY. Connor has always been on the later end of normal for reaching his milestones--certainly nothing to worry about, especially considering his prematurity, but I like to worry about things. The thing I was most worried about was his speech. The child made me wait 18 months to hear "mama"! Now, I sometimes remember those days fondly--because now he NEVER stops talking! It wasn't really until this past spring that Connor started taking off in the speech department. Ever since then, he has amazed us with his vocabulary. He not only uses a large number of words and phrases, but always uses them in context as well. The other day he was playing with this trains and made some of them fall off the coffee table. I was half listening to his narration of the events and I thought I heard him say that they fell into the canyon. I asked him if he said "canyon" and he said "No, they fell into the GRAND Canyon". Grand Canyon?? What does a two year know about the Grand Canyon? We were looking at construction vehicles on the road the other day, and I said "Oh, look at that digger" and he said, "No, mommy that's a front wheel loader." What?

           His ENTHUSIASM. Even though Connor has so much and so many people who love him, I am so proud to say that he is not spoiled. He is still thankful and enthusiastic about every little gift and treat he gets. I have known kids in the past that have so much/get to do so much that nothing is exciting anymore. I don't want my kids to get like that. I want even McDonald's to be a treat, not a weekly occurance. Everytime we take Connor somewhere special (the zoo, apple orchard, a different park), he will say things like "I had a special day", or "I had really so much fun!". And he'll talk about it and remember it for weeks. Give the kid an ice cream sandwich and he squeals with excitement! It's that enthusiasm for the most simple things that I don't want him to lose. I don't want him to grow up!

         His INTELLIGENCE. I am very proud of the fact that Connor knows so much. He has just always had an interest in letters and numbers. He recognized every letter in the alphabet and numbers 1-9 by the time he was 18 months. He now also knows the sounds that most of the letters make and can count to 13. He knows about 10 colors and many shapes. I could brag for days about how smart he is, but I am most proud that he has common sense. He doesn't do stupid things like shove stuff up his nose or chew on things. He has always been cautious, not putting himself into dangerous situations very often. He amazes me every day.

         His IMAGINATION. He has lately decided that every member of the family is a Lion King character. (Connor is Simba, Mike is Mufasa, I am Timone (for some reason), Bryce is Zazu, and Bauer is Pumba). At first it was just a cute thing between Simba and Mufasa, but it has been escalating and continuing on for a couple weeks now. I haven't been called "mama" for at least a week (unless he slips--but then he quickly corrects himself). In the elevator at the Children's Museum the other day, a woman asked him if he was excited. He responded "Yes, yes I am! My name is Simba". Last night when it was time for bed he said "Timone, you put Zazu to bed so Mufasa can come lay by me." He says it like it's just completely normal--like those are our real names. We get a little worried sometimes, but I know he won't be calling us that when he's 16 years old :) 

         I want to just bottle this up. I wish we could have a hidden camera to record him so I can always remember. When he was six months old, I wanted to freeze him and now I'm so glad I couldn't because I would have missed so much. I'm sure a few months from now, I'll be glad again, but I can't imagine much topping how he is at this moment. I am so thankful that he is healthy and will grow up, but I'm just really sentimental right now with his birthday coming up.

      Take care! xoxo, Julie