This past week, we had a number of firsts in our household which is really quite timely and fitting as I write this first post for my blog.
Emma had her very first play date at her friend Ella’s place without me. Not a huge deal in the scheme of things but big for her as it was the first time she has been happy to be left on her own at a friend’s house. For me, it was yet another reminder of Emma’s growing independence and that my baby girl is growing up!
|Emma and Ella|
Over the years, I have watched Emma build beautiful friendships with many of the kids that belong to my friends. Ella, however, is the first friend that Emma has chosen for herself. Emma and Ella became friends at daycare when they were about two years old. Ella started Kindy last year so Emma was without her at daycare for a whole year. For the first few weeks on the way to daycare, Emma would say “I think Ella is coming back to daycare today.” She really missed Ella and looking at her hopeful eyes and having to tell her that no, Ella was at Kindy now and didn’t need to come to daycare anymore made me sad.
We also enjoy catching up with Ella’s parents and we managed to get the girls together just a few times last year. No matter how long it has been between catch ups, these two are still the greatest of friends and at the top of each other’s birthday party invitation list. I love watching how excited they get when they first see each other. They are two kindred spirits with a very special friendship.
Emma also had her first day of Kindy. She couldn’t wait and when the teacher opened the door both mornings, she was the first one into the classroom. Although Kindy is only two days a week, it is still the start of school for her and my very last year of having her around during the week. How fast they grow!
|Emma’s first day at Kindy|
I cried in the morning of her first day and told her how proud I was, how much I would miss her and how I couldn’t believe she was old enough to be going to school already. On the way to Kindy, she said to me “Now mum, you can’t cry, ok? You have to be happy for me because I am really excited.” (she actually said “escited” which made me smile because that is proof that she is still my baby!) You bet I’m happy for you babe. These tears are just happy tears that my precious baby has grown into such a wonderful little girl.
Chloe had a couple of firsts this week too. It was the first time we were able to take her to Playgroup and it was so nice to have her there. All these months, we had to leave her at home in preparation of her heart surgery and then again while she recovered.
|Chloe and her new friend Tessa|
There were so many new things at Playgroup for her to look at so I am sure that she had a great time! I am looking forward to watching her grow and enjoy Playgroup and make friends just like her sister has done.
It was also Chloe’s first Early Intervention therapy session this week. For the first 20 minutes, she enjoyed being rolled and stretched and played with by the therapists. When they put her on her tummy, however, she let us all know how unhappy she was about it. She started crying very loudly and when I picked her up, she used her baby words to tell me how unimpressed she was and then immediately fell asleep. Bless!
I have been feeling a bit apprehensive about Chloe’s therapy. Don’t get me wrong, I am truly grateful that there is all this support available to help her be the best she can be, but it’s also a reminder of the condition that she has and the effort we need to put in with her. When I look at Chloe, I see a sweet, beautiful 5 month old baby whom I love and adore. I forget that she has Down syndrome but obviously, things like therapy will always be there to remind me. I am sure that over time, the positive outcomes that we see from therapy will make the overwhelm fade and therapy will become a normal part of our weekly routine.
Andrew is planning on doing the run /paddle legs of the Anaconda event later this year so accordingly, he did his first run in over 20 years. When I say “first run”, I mean that he ran up and down the outside of the squash court while he waited for his turn to play. The reason Andrew doesn’t normally run is because he has really bad knees and what I find funny about this whole situation is the limping and hobbling that went on for the next few days. It’s not like he ran 10km or anything. Apparently, it was because he didn’t warm up his hammies. I really shouldn’t laugh because bad knees and all, Andrew has the most amazing will. He believes that anything is possible and his desire to win is unlike anyone I have ever known. Do I aspire to be like him? Definitely not!! But I do admire him more than he realises. I just never tell him that because I don’t want to encourage him.
To give you an idea of Andrew’s determination, in 2009, he entered the Avon Descent but early on the second day, he got hit in the back by another kayak while going through one of the rapids. In extreme pain (and with hypothermia), he continued to paddle for another hour until he couldn’t breathe and reluctantly had to pull out. It turned out that he had broken ribs. It was such a shame because he had trained so hard and was super fit.
In 2010, Andrew competed in the Avon Descent again. This time, he had to work massive amounts of overtime and wasn’t able to train for the event much at all so he wasn’t as prepared or as fit as he was the year before. On the first day of the race, he pushed himself so hard to the point of exhaustion. When we got out of the car on the second day, he ran into the bushes and threw up twice. He then said to me that today, he would have to take it easy. At the starting line, however, when the gun went off, I watched as Andrew went as hard as he could and took the lead as the paddlers disappeared around the first corner. I remember shaking my head as I laughed. That’s my Andrew! In the end, he finished 25th in his class and 79th overall in the driest race event ever. Very impressive effort and definitely worthy of admiration! Anyway, I digress!
|Andrew (blue kayak) 2010 Avon Descent – Day 2 starting line|
Last Sunday morning, I somehow got myself out of bed at 6.00am and went for a walk. This was the first time in ages that I have been out on my own and being by myself with just my music was invigorating and very much needed. I am hoping to make this a habit but we will see if time allows me this pleasure. I love to exercise but it hasn’t been a priority lately. Must get onto that really soon though because I know that I will feel so much better for it!
And back to my first blog post. I have wanted to write a blog for a long time and in fact, a couple of years ago I started one that was called something patronising like “How to be a happy, organised fabulous working mum”. Blah! I only ever wrote one post and have since deleted it. I wasn’t in the right place to be writing at that time. Now that I have found my spark, I am really enjoying this writing and although it’s scary, I really feel that I have to do this.
Significantly also, this is the first time I have announced in a public forum that Chloe has Down syndrome. A huge step for me. Massive.
|Beautiful Chloe in her favourite outfit|
To many, I am now that friend of a friend; that girl they went to school with; that mum at the school; or that lady who comes into their shop, who has a child with Down syndrome. Often it is easier to identify a person we don’t really know with a label so I know I shouldn’t take it personally. It’s still hard sometimes but I will get there.
This week there will be two more firsts – Emma is starting dance classes and I am starting a photography course so our household is looking forward to some beautiful dancing and some half decent photographs, some of which I hope to share with you.
Until next time… J
what a brave step Suzanne 🙂
You sound so strong, I’m in awe! Congratulations to all of you on your firsts. Leah had her first week at kindy too, aren’t they so grown up now?!
x Jen Szijarto (Dunn)
Suzanne Loveland says
Thanks Jen. Yes, it only feels like yesterday that we were all in high school and now we have our own children starting school. Scary! x
You amaze me every day, sweetie. XXX I love love love what you are doing here. Also, I stole the below from someone else’s FB, and I hope you don’t mind, but it made me think of you and your beautiful girls. Much love to you all 🙂 Kylie Allan
Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit.
This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how these mothers of handicapped children are chosen?
Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth selecting His instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.
Armstrong, Beth: son; patron saint, Matthew. Forest, Marjorie: daughter; patron saint, Cecilia.
Rudledge, Carrie: twins; patron saint.. . give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity.
Finally, He passes a name to an angel and smiles. Give her a blind child.
The angel is curious. Why this one, God? She’s so happy.
Exactly, says God. Could I give a child with a handicap to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel.
But has she patience? asks the angel.
I don’t want to her to have too much patience, or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she’ll handle it.
But, Lord, I don’t think she even believes in you.
God smiles. No matter. I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness.
The angel gasps. Selfishness? Is that a virtue?
God nods. If she can’t separate herself from the child occasionally, she’ll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn’t realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a spoken word; She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says ‘Momma’ for the first time, she will be present at a miracle and know it! When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations.
I will permit her to see clearly the things I see-ignorance, cruelty, prejudice-and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side.
And what about her patron saint? asks the angel, pen poised in midair.
God smiles. A mirror will suffice.
May 11, 1980 – FOREVER, ERMA, By the late Erma Bombeck.
Suzanne Loveland says
Thank you Kylie. 🙂 xxxxxxxxx
Suz….I know I have said this before (but maybe I don’t say it enough!), I am in absolute awe of you and your family. The love, friendship, courage and determination that you show is truly beyond words. With everything that you have and are going through, both yourself and Andrew, you always take the time to listen and help with my “issues” which I feel pale in significance to yours.
I could not ask nor do I feel I deserve (once again my issues..lol) the friendship and the support that you have given me these last few years. I am truly honoured to count you as one of my dearest and closest friends. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Aimes xx
Deanne Baillie says
I was unaware of your situation till now and yes I am one of those people you knew from school:) I have watched and learned about you and your family for a while now as I have done with all of my old school friends , you seem to have an amazing outlook on life, you put your heart and soul into everything you do life love kids etc and now your faced with another challenge in life and going by what I know of you these days Chloe is going to be a happy child and will be able to do anything in life with a mother like you. This is going to get rough and there is going to be a lot of tears and pain and heartache for you and you family but know that there is people wonderful people out there that are there for you and support you I may not be a close friend or know you like most but I like i an sure hundreds of others are there for you in any size shape or form. I do not have a child with Down Syndrome, but I have worked with a lot of Disabled children with a range of problems and each day when i see them hurdle a new problem and smile and laugh and be proud of themselves I think to myself thats amazing! I have 3 children and they are all happy and healthy but the little things never seem to be enough for them a simple thing like running a race and winning second to them is not good enough but to the children i work with just to finish the race is an accomplishment to them and they all rejoice together, moral being they love life in the most amazing way that it inspires you to be a better person love in a way most people can not even dream of. Be proud and loud about it for the people who don’t understand show them her love and enthusiasm for life, I am not much into religion these days but he has given you a gift that most will never know or understand:) also here is a few words I live by thought you might like them
The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything, they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.
I am going to watch your blog as you all grow I hope that if you ever need someone to listen you know I am right here:)
Hugs to the beautiful Chloe
Trevor Aung Than says
Great step Suz…proud of you!! Keep up the great work; best of luck with the family, they are beautiful. You sound like you have some challenges ahead but I know you will take it in your stride, only the strong survive. Trev xxx
Suzanne Loveland says
Thanks Trev. Means a lot coming from a fellow writer like youself! xxx