Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hannah is patting Kit to sleep. As I said they both are really enjoying role playing and imaginery play at the moment. They are jsut adorable together.

Stella - our child substitute has done very well since the twins were born. She is my first pedigree dog - a poodle (the manly name of Stella was kept so as my husband's first ever dog he could call her at the park - in imitation of the gutteral STELLA! from Streetcar Named Desire or for the more pop culture oriented as Elaine did in a fabulous Seinfeld episode some years back). Anyways I used to walk her every morning at our local park - even while I was pregnant, she sleeps with us and Phil has her trained to expect treaties after our dinner (a sample thanks!) and marshmallows/snakes or BBQ shapes as a midnight snack. She is great entertainment for hte twins. Kit is a bit more of a cat boy I think (must be in the name) but Hannah in particular loves Stella and signs 'star' for her name and has a good attempt at vocalising 'Stella' too. Stella for her part is a friendly dog who won't tolerate childish abuse but is happy to be around people - especially if they throw her favourite toy - a yellow duck she got as a welcome present form a friend of mine who also likes dogs. One day I would like to get teh twins their own dog - or maybe cat as they both respond so well to animals.


The twins and I have survived 5 days without my husband - Whoo Hoo! I know - for many people that is nothing but we are a very close family who also rarely spend time away from each other - I need him home for the 'witching hour'! Anyway I must admit that I have quite enjoyed it - am feeling a bit tired because the days are so full on and I tend to sit up late at night just pottering and setting my own agenda which is a bit of a treat I admit - not one I would want all the time but every now and again it is rather enjoyable! It reminds me that often I tend to end up doing 'jobs' on the weekend while Phil gets to play with the twins. Today I didn't get many 'jobs' done but had a ball at the park with the brats. We also had a lot of fun in our courtyard with its 'boats'.
Hannah's boat:

The separation is hard on the twins as they are not used to it - and Kit was already going through an 'I want Daddy' stage. He has coped beautifully - we have talked to Dad on the phone and I have reassured him whenever he asks that Daddy is coming home - in a little while. It has been a bit harder with Hannah as she doesn't communicate as much as Kit - one morning she kept signing Daddy (he normally gets their breakfast and feeds her her dinner too) and then one evening when I took something off her at the dinner table she cried and cried all the while saying (quite clearly - the good girl!-) 'Daddy, Daddy'. I tell her the same as I do Kit but I am not so sure that she accepts my explanation - after all at 2 the whole concept of someone being miles away, going on an aeroplane and the notion of time itself is pretty much on the can't grasp yet list.
Kit is a great helper. He is determined to do what we do and imaginary play is also very popular with him at the moment. Here he is sweeping out the back as he has seen his father and I do countless times before.

I know they will be overjoyed to have him return - even without the little gifts I happened to pick up for him to give them as treats - I know that it is unlikely he will have time to go to toy shops while he is there - when he isn't working he will be watching the football grand final with some friends of ours.

As for me - I am on HOLIDAYS!!!! Yay! Two weeks to enjoy the gorgeous spring weather we are having at the moment.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Infertility Crisis

And so I learn that fertility issues don't end once you fall pregnant. The waiting for each cycle to begin - all the while praying that it it won't - guess what! It doesn't stop once you have achieved your goal of pregnancy - or at least it does but only for 9 + a few months. So now here I am exactly where I was before but now with two - TWO children and still not satisfied!!! I can't believe it - it makes me crazy! How can that be? For so long I focussed on the outcome of falling pregnatn with no thought to the future - but I want more!!!!!!! It is as strong a desire - a call of the wild as ever before - but this time I feel so totally ridiculous. I have TWO absolutely beautiful children. We are in no way financially able to cope with any more - never mind the difficulties it presents - we had icsi for the twins after all. I wish I could feel some peace about this. I need to feel sme peace. I know the glass is half full - but where is the rest of it?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How do you know when enough is enough? Is it when financial, emotional or physical considerations coincide? What if only two of the preceding are in sync? If you believe in God is it in his hands? But what of medical interventions - the use of His intelligences at work? When is there enough love? Enough babies? How on earth am I to know? Yes the great baby debate - when does it go away? Will menopause kill it dead? I hope so!

It isn't correct to say that Hannah is potty trained - she isn't but she certainly knows what to do with one and it has been marvellous for her constipation - she used to scream in pain but now she goes on the potty every night before bathtime. I am planning to try and get the full ticket happening for the twins in January sometime as really at just under two they are still a bit young. Kit has been suspicious of the whole procedure and whenever we broach the topic he says 'Hannah's potty'. Today off his own bat he decided to 'play potty' with 'baby' going first! He is such a beautiful boy. It is nice to see him learning from watching his big sister.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Beautiful Bubs and Magnificant Mums

I was pondering life as Hannah's Mum because DSA NSW asked me to come along to their annual 'mums and bubs' morning tea and to speak a bit about my journey so far. Of course I said I'd go - how could I miss an opportunity to spend time with a bunch of new babies?? Last year when I went, I was one of the 'mums and bubs' as the twins were not yet 1.

Most of the babies there were under 18 months so Han really was an oldie! God, those babies were beautiful! Their Mums had come from all over greater Sydney and some from even further away. At the risk of being overly sentimental: given that the only thing that those women knew they had in common was a baby with DS - there was a variety of people, backgrounds, stories, health problems, concerns ... but the love - that was the same for everyone and magnificant in its passion and in its completeness - they really were amazing women. And I have to say that for some of them still raw from coming to terms with the diagnosis it was brave to attend such a function.

I have never believed or particulary liked the adage that 'God chooses special people for these sort of babies' line - I believe (perhaps a bit naively) that any parent would and should do their very best - no matter what the situation and by and large I think we all do - there is nothing special about the person per se but there is something about the parenting experience that is unique. And as many of you know also very 'normal'. As I listened to these women talk about themselves and thier babies I felt great respect for what people with open hearts and eyes/ears can achieve. There were some heartrending stories too but I don't feel it is my place to share them in such a public space. Enough said. It was a great day and although I 'fluffed' what I had wanted to say - the day was really for those new mums to share their stories and there was plenty of that going on - it was wonderful to be a part of the whole thing.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Some thoughts on this parenting gig - as the twins rapidly approach their second birthday.

I thought it was great being the mother of twins in their first year – now I look back and think of that first year as the hardest. Learning as a first time mother what on earth to do with these strange critters, coping with medical appointments and learning about EI and what needed to be done to best help Hannah reach her milestones. I remember how happy I was when she sat on her own at 10 months – I was ready to break open the champagne!

The twins had three weeks in special care – I had some difficulty getting Hannah to breastfeed but eventually we got our acts together without too much trouble. When she was 2 months old she had to have heart surgery for a complete AVSD – I think the doctors and surgeon were concerned that she would struggle if they left the surgery until after the Christmas break when the hospitals operate on a skeleton staff and so they scheduled her op for the first half of Dec. The surgery went well but there were some complications afterwards. We were told that she would ‘take off’ after the surgery but I didn’t experience that until she was about 5 or 6 months old.

This year I have returned to work part time. The twins are in child care two days and with their grandmother the other. On Tuesdays we go to EI – where there are two other babies in our group – one of whom has DS. As you can see Hannah is absolutely gorgeous! I have found that we have established a good rhythm this year.

She is progressing well and meeting her milestones – at her own pace. Her muscle tone is low and although I am really hopeful that she will be walking by Christmas I know that I might have to rethink that a bit as the time draws closer – no extension past Easter though!

We sign with the twins at home and that has been a fun way to help both of them communicate. They still get frustrated but if a word is not clear the accompanying sign really helps. Hannah is just starting to use two word phrases – her speaking is not always clear but she does attempt a good range of words. I found it useful to use signs when reading to them – they have a good collection of books (especially about animals) that they love. It is a good way for us to see that Hannah’s receptive language is much greater than her expressive language at this stage.

I have also been aware of helping her get her drawing and painting skills up to scratch – she now draws more lines than dots and is starting to attempt arcs and circles.

As she has grown, like her brother, her individual personality has become more obvious. Two aspects of this that I love are her cheeky ways and her gentleness. For example, she loves to tease her brother. He is so much bigger, stronger and more capable in many ways than her but she can have him crying because she has stolen one of his toys and is holding it above her head supposedly out of his reach –all the while with a big grin on her little face. The other side is best demonstrated by an incident that happened just last week. I was minding a friend’s nine month old the other day – and holding him on my lap to soothe him. Kit was in front of me crying because he wanted to get on my lap. Hannah climbed up next to me and was rubbing my back – as I was rubbing baby Hugos.

I guess I have learned to relax a bit more about things – she is doing so well – she is a perfect member of our family just as she is. Our friends and family have all accepted her and provide a great support for us and for her. She has a wonderful relationship with her Nan. I have learned that the main differences between her and her brother are those caused by personality more than anything else. I feel like I am getting the hang of all this EI – it comes more naturally with practice. I know that there will be times ahead that I am dreading – like letting her go out into the wild world of preschool and heaven forbid primary school – but those issues are in the future and I have begun to establish good networks – a mix of professionals and family that I can trust to help and guide us as we need – we will be ok – I know that more surely now. I know it more surely now because I have confidence in Hannah – in her determination, in the fact that she deserves the best and will thrive if we give her the opportunity to do so. So yes the future is still scary but it is also exciting, just as it is with her brother Kit.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Today we walked over to a friend's house. We met K through an old friend of my sister's - before he married K - in fact the first time I recall meeting her was not long before our wedding in 1994. Later we made friends with her best friend E and her husband. So today we went over to E's house to celebrate her birthday and on the walk home I couldn't help but think how luck we are to have such amazing and wonderful friends. When we first met we 'clicked' staraight away - then we used to go out to restaurants, play pool in local pubs and sit up all hours of the night drinking and playing music. Now we all have children. They are all gorgeous. The eldest - at 9 and 7 entertain the twins and the youngest at 9 months.

It was so nice to sit outside in the spring weather and enjoy the wonderful food and hospitality of these dear freinds. Both have totally accepted Han and are fiercely protective of her when need be. E is signing like the star she is with her little man. She is returning to work this week and I will be looking after Baby Hugo on Wednesdays until she can get that day at childcare - I can't wait besides the fact that he is gorgeous and sweet - he feels like my nephew. It will be fun to have three toddlers marauding through the house.

I am so grateful for the wonderful friendship of these women and their partners. They are truly kindred spirits. Here are some pics from our day ...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wishing their Godfather a Happy Birthday - at breakfast so the guest of honour is not present ... but that didn't dampen the brats' enthusiasm.

I bought Hannah her first pair of 'real' shoes this week. Up until now she has been wearing a leather 'bootie' to make crawling easier. These sandals are very cute and give good support to her ankle. I am monitoring them to see if they stop her getting around too much - that is - if they make crawling too difficult. She cruises a lot but still crawls a lot too. We will have to wait and see. She has already started trying to say 'butterfly' though which I am pretty impressed by!

Visiting the neighbours.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

On having a deaf sibling

I have two sisters. The sister in this photo is my sister who is deaf. She is helping get her three children (the big ones) and the twins as well as their cousin Daniel ready for the 'cousins' photo. This was taken at the christening of the twins and their cousin Daniel. My sister Deb is godmother to the twins. I was godmother to my other sisters son, Daniel.
PS: I am godmother to two of the big kids in the photo - Deb's boys Mitchell and Cameron.

DeafnessWelcome 2 My Deaf World DVD
Synopsis: Bethany Rose and Scott Masterson are schoolmates, a pair of energetic and charming teenagers who share three things - adolescence, school, and deafness. We (the hearing) might see deafness as a disability to be cured. But to Bethany and Scott, their deaf world is a rich culture of human possibility, with its own language, rules, challenges and inspirations. Welcome 2 My Deaf World follows Bethany and Scott through the last few months of their schooling at the Victorian College for the Deaf (VCD), Australia's first school for deaf kids, and now the only school that teaches in sign language from Prep to Year 12. With dreams of creative, sporting and academic success, both teenagers appear eager to move beyond their sheltered lives and enter the wider world. This documentary follows two teenagers on the edge of change, but it is also a story about what it means to be deaf in contemporary Australia. It is an exploration of a culture with its own language and history.
Product Code 6SBWDW
Format DVD
Duration 52 mins
Year 2005

My sister emailed me earlier tonight suggesting I might want to watch the above doco when it airs here on Thursday night. She is a profoundly deaf person in her early forties. As her younger sister I grew up around signing - but my sister was raised in an era when families were often in the dark - struggling to do the best they could for their children. There are things about being a sibling of a teenager with a disability that I still regret today - adolescence is such a tough time - for all of us but especially for those who are 'different'. As a child and an adult though I love having a deaf sister - it is because she was in my life that I am a more visual learner. I think I have a strong sense fo justice, patience and compassion - that may or may not have been fostered by my relationship with her. I know however that when I found out my own child might have DS - even though I knew very little and nothing constructive about DS - I was already at an advantage - I understood as only experience can tell you that difference is ok. No - more than that. It is GOOD!

I am so proud of my sister - she copes in a hearing world so well. She is married with three wonderful children and she has built a strong marriage and has confidence in the deaf community. Just this year she has returned to part time work as a data processor - for anyone such a return after 17 years as a stay at home mother would be hard - try entering the hearing world of work after such an abscence!

Once I became a parent it also gave me greater insights as to how my own mother relates to my deaf sister - something that I don't think even my sister (even though she is a mother too) fully understands. The depth of feeling a child who is vulnerable can bring, the fear that you could do more for them - and believe me - my sister was raised forty years ago - I hope things have improved for deaf children - I can see things that I wish had happened differently in our family. Now like my mother I too must deal with these issues - I am doing my very best for Hannah - and perhaps when she is older she or her siblings too will see the mistakes I made. The things I could have done better - I pray that ways of helping children with DS continue to improve and develop but I also hope that what I am doing will be something to be proud of - for the rest of our lives as a family.

We had the twins' cousin Jacob come to play for a while on Saturday - they had great fun together - Kit especaially loved the game of chasings down our hall - and it was wonderful to see Hannah determined to join in - she can crawl very fast when she wants to!

I have been snowed under with work but managed to read the Memory Keepers Daughter - a book I would have liked regardless but I especially liked the way she wrote about Phoebe and the different characters relationships with Phoebe. As the mother of twins, all I had to do was look up at my own brats to see what Paul and Phoebe were missing out on - I also like that the book was not especially sentimental though and both Paul and Phoebe had full and complex lives without knowing of each other at all. Some of my favourite parts were Paul coming to terms with having a twin with Down Syndrome - and meeting her as an adult.