Saturday, March 8, 2014

18 Months

      Okay, actually, Bryce is 19 months now, but it's taken me a month to sit down and write his year-and-a-half update. Life has been busy around here. I have taken a long-term substitute teaching job for the remainder of the school year. It's just three days a week, and we are starting to settle into a new routine, but things were crazy for a while--having to suddenly find daycare and adjust to being busy every day of the week again.

      Bryce handled the transition to daycare pretty well, but of course got a wicked cold after one day of being there. He was a total bear while he was sick, and I wasn't sure if it was the cold or if he was punishing me for sending him to daycare. Bryce is such an easy-going kid that sometimes I fear we take his nature for granted and don't think about how things may be affecting him. Luckily, now that he's feeling better he was back to normal this week, so hopefully it was just the cold!

      After a very slow start developmentally, once he started, he hasn't slowed down. The child wouldn't even sit unassisted until he was 13 months old, and 6 months later he is crawling, pulling to stand, and cruising around furniture. It's so fun to see him have more control over his body. Things are a struggle for him due to his low muscle tone, but he's so physical and makes everything that much more special. I was always proud when Connor reached milestones too, but there's something so moving about watching Bryce struggle and accomplish things. He is always so proud of himself too!

     His personality continues to develop as well. He is still a pretty happy guy, and it's fun to see a real sense of humor coming through. He knows darn well when he's being silly and when something gets a laugh, he feels the need to do it over and over again (until it's not so funny anymore!). Bryce continues to worship his brother--Connor is the only one who can ALWAYS get a smile out of him, even when he's cranky and sick. Now that Bryce is so mobile, he and Connor can play a little more and watching their relationship grow just makes my heart swell. Connor is so protective of him and despite Bryce being a pest, he always wants his little brother around.

     We are working on sign language, and for a while he was doing a good job with a few signs, but now he's slowing down. I suppose it's because he's so busy focusing on developing his large motor skills right now, and a little guy can only do so much at once! Communication has always been my biggest worry with Bryce. Communication is my thing. It's what I do! The thought that he may not speak until he's three, four, five years old--it worries me. Add his inability to communicate with same stubbornness that helps him accomplish his goals, and it can make things a little difficult for us.We're getting a little worried about the terrible twos that are right around the corner!

      While we have adjusted to the idea of his Down syndrome, the pain and sadness is always there in the background. Most days I'm pretty good at suppressing it, but as he gets older, the developmental gap is widening, and it's getting harder and harder for me. I wish I could afford to buy him a whole new wardrobe, because wearing Connor's hand-me-downs reminds me of the things Connor was doing when he fit in those clothes. When Connor was 18 months old, he could recognize every letter in the alphabet. He could sing songs and follow directions. He could run and climb. Bryce understands so few words, it's hard for him to follow simple commands.  He's 19 months old and can't stand unassisted. I know you shouldn't compare ANY kid to another (especially an exceptionally bright child to a child with Down syndrome) but it's impossible for me to put it completely out of my mind....especially when Bryce is wearing the same clothes Connor did. I love Bryce as he is, and I am so proud of him, but it's hard. I just want him to have everything, and watching him get frustrated because he can't communicate what he wants is very difficult...and I know we haven't seen anything yet.

     It's hard to believe our little guy is on his way to being two! Two years since our lives changed in ways we never imagined. Bryce has been our biggest blessing in a lot of ways and has challenged me and changed me more than I ever thought a child could. I would say the biggest change I have experienced is in my gratitude. I still have moments of "why us?", but then God gives me a little reminder of how blessed we are. The other day, I woke up feeling sad and sorry for myself. Later that morning, Bryce and I pulled into the parking lot at the ECFE building and I saw a dad carrying a wheelchair-type device back out the car. I instantly thanked God for my healthy, capable kids. Yes, Bryce has an extra chromosome in every cell of his sweet little body, but that body functions just fine. Yes, it is taking him longer to figure out how to walk, but he will walk. Some people wake up every day wondering if their child will survive one more day. They wake up to a house full of medical devices and nurses. How dare I feel sorry for myself because I have a child with Down syndrome? I hit the jackpot with that kid.

It feels like Spring sunshine out there today! Enjoy, everyone!

xoxo, Julie


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