Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Slowing down in 2013

Welcome to the December 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Change . . .

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about life changes.


The more things change

Around the new year, my husband turned on his car to move it so the plows could come through our street, when he heard a strange noise and noticed flames. He jumped out of the car and watched it go up in flames. Our preschooler got to see a real life fire truck in action for the first time, and the car was totaled. 

After a few quiet weeks of spoiling my preschooler at home (remember, no car?!?) during his last few days as an only child, our second son made his appearance via a failed VBAC on a frigid Monday in January. 
The hospital was a tense experience, with nurses pushing me to supplement unnecessarily because my baby had jaundice (I had read enough to say "no" though!), and with a vague feeling something wasn't right. 

After getting home, we received word he hadn't passed the thyroid test on the newborn screen, and a flurry of blood tests followed. We followed up with a specialist and ended up treating for hypothyroidism. 

As the weeks went by, we noticed more features and behaviors that aren't typical of babies in our family. We researched and pondered, and eventually talked our pediatrician into referring us to a geneticist. 

It turned out we were correct, and we discovered conclusively, when our baby was about 3 months old, that our sweet baby boy has Down syndrome. 
To be honest, I mostly felt a sense of relief. We knew something was amiss, but with a diagnosis came certainty. Down syndrome, while there is still much to research, is largely a known quantity. Its specific combination of effects vary from individual to individual but it's easy to see what the options are and how likely they are. With an explanation came an ability to effectively deal with the hurdles that came up. 

For example, he was a sleepy nurser from the beginning. After finding out he had low muscle tone due to Down syndrome, I followed his cues and we settled into a comfortable pattern of nursing more frequently, for shorter duration each nursing session than my older son. 

Babywearing was another challenge, as our physical therapist and most sites I saw warned against carriers for various reasons. I ended up doing a great deal of my own research and consulting some of the experts amongst my friends and my sons caregivers, and figured out what WOULD work for us. 

Mostly, the challenges of Down syndrome and the inconvenience of only having one car have resulted in us slowing down. And to be honest, it's been kind of wonderful. Instead of the quick paced life I pictured us continuing with trips to libraries and museums and stores every week, we mostly snuggled at home and got to really know each other. I know amongst other things, my sons are much closer now than they would have been if we hadn't spent so much time cooped up together. 

It's also caused me to refocus on the Internet tribe. Locally there aren't many parents with babies with Down syndrome, let alone ones also interested in natural parenting. But through past carnivals, I knew Momma Jorje has a son older than mine who also has Down syndrome, and I've been able to benefit so much from her expertise and friendship as we find out what DS means for our family. And she's helped me find and connect with other moms who share our interests!

And delayed milestones almost means an extended babyhood. It's still going way too fast. But at 10 months old, my son has just started crawling, and I know I have several months at the least, and maybe even half a year to go before he walks. I'm thrilled every time he reaches a new milestone. But I can't say I really mind getting to savor each baby stage just a tiny bit longer than I did with my older son (who was walking at this age!) He's also smaller, so I know I'll be able to use baby carriers with him longer before its too hard on my back, and that is fantastic!

2013 hasn't exactly gone the way we planned. But a chance to slow down and focus on family might have been just what we needed!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon December 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Mature StudentAmber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she'd left behind - that of being a university student.
  • And then there were four — Jillian at Mommyhood learned how quickly love can grow when welcoming a second child to the family.
  • Handling Change As A Mother (And Why That Takes Things To A Different Level) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she helps her young daughter navigate change and why it is so important, as a mother, to gauge her own reactions to change.
  • Without Dad-One Year Later — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how her life has changed one year after losing her husband suddenly.
  • Family Ties — Lori at TEACH through Love realized that her most significant, most painful wound paved the way for her to share her greatest gift.
  • Rootless — After Dionna @ Code Name: Mama's parents packed up their home and moved to Florida this fall, she is feeling rootless and restless.
  • A Letter to My Mama Self in the Swirl of Change — Sheila Pai of A Living Family shares a letter she wrote to herself to capture and remember the incredible changes from the year, and invites you to do the same and share!
  • Junctionssustainablemum explains how her family has dealt with a complete change of direction this year.
  • Planning, Parenting, and Perfection — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how most of the plans she made for her adult life have worked out differently than she planned, but she's ended up getting a lot of what she really wanted.
  • Why First Grade Means Growing Up... for Both Me and My Daughter — Donna at Eco-Mothering discovers that her daughter's transition into first grade is harder as a parent.
  • First Year of Mothering — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot reflects on the quiet change that took her by surprise this year.
  • Building the Community YOu Desire — A recent move has Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children working toward setting up a new support network.
  • Slowing down in 2013 — A car fire and a surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome made 2013 a very different year than the one Crunchy Con Mommy and family were expecting!
  • The Seven Year Cycle — After 7 intense years of baking, birthing and breastfeeding 6 kids, Zoie at TouchstoneZ wonders, "Will I be enough for what comes next?"
  • Rebirth — Kellie of Our Mindful Life has found that each of her births leaves her a different person.
  • When a Hobby Becomes a Business — This year, new doors opened for That Mama Gretchen's hobby of writing and blogging - it has turned into a side business. She's sharing a bit about her journey and some helpful tips in case you're interested in following the same path.
  • 5 Tips for Embracing a Big Change in Your Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about a big change in her family and shares tips that have always helped her family embrace changes.
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes — Ana at Panda & Ananaso ruminates on how having a child changed her priorities.
  • Homeostasis — Lauren at Hobo Mama is finding that even as elements shift in her life — in cosleeping, homeschooling, breastfeeding, & more — they mostly remain very familiar.
  • Sally go round the sun — A new baby brings joy and unexpected sadness for Douglas at Friendly Encounters, as she is diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.
  • Embrace it — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen muses about the changes in her family this year and how she can embrace them . . . as best she can anyway.
  • Big Change; Seamless but Big — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how one of the biggest changes of her life was also a seamless transition.


Kellie Barr said...

I love that you've been able to support your son and your family so well, and that you've been able to find a community to support you. And I love that you were able to just reasses your situation and embrace it instead of struggling against it.

Crunchy Con Mommy said...

I think I watched Pollyanna and read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm enough times as a kid I just sort of internalized making the best of things, and being cheerful about it. It seems to work for me pretty well so I'm sticking with it :)

Sallie said...

You might like http://www.kellehampton.com/ blog. Their second daughter has Down's Syndrome.

Crunchy Con Mommy said...

Thanks! I've read her blog before, but I should do so more often!

Jaye Gallagher said...

Now that is some serious conscious parenting! Finding the truth, accepting it and then doing research to help integrate this unexpected change into your life. I really enjoy the way you are able to look back at your life for the past 10 months and be at total peace with it. I hope I can be able to do this one day.

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

I love that you've chosen to slow way down and just focus on your family this year. I'm sure that has helped your stress levels immensely!

Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook said...

Wow! Any year that begins with your car in flames is bound to be significant! It sounds like you're rolling with the punches very well. I hope 2014 is a little calmer, but at least as good, for you.

Lauren Wayne said...

First of all — whoa on the flaming car! Glad everyone stayed safe.

It sounds like an eventful yet fruitful year. I'm glad you've been able to snuggle in and feel so connected with each other.

When I heard about your Down syndrome diagnosis, I was hoping you'd get connected with Jorje — she's such a wealth of information and has taught me tons about DS!

Crunchy Con Mommy said...

Thanks all! You're all so sweet!

We were so grateful no one was hurt in the car fire.

And I agree, Jorje is awesome. I should probably tell her I mentioned her, haha.

Zoie @ TouchstoneZ said...

Whoa! Flaming car was a shocking way to begin the year.

I just loved reading about the changes you and your family have gone through this year. The obvious love and connection you have with your two children is beautiful and inspiring. I'm so glad to find your blog and keep reading about your experiences.

And I'll jump in the Jorje is awesome club. I hope she feels the love.

Momma Jorje said...

Aww, I *do* feel the love! When we got Spencer's diagnosis, everyone kept giving us people we could contact for support and it was so intimidating - the thought of reaching out to a stranger.

Now that I have nearly 2 years under my belt I get it... I get excited to talk to new parents of children with DS. And I remember when you first reached out to me, I was *so* excited and totally got the warm fuzzies that you felt comfortable reaching out to me!

Wow... a year of snuggling at home... I think I'm jealous!

Gretchen said...

Slowing down is SO HEALTHY - I've tried hard to do this with our family too. Designating specific days where we don't leave home and get "bored" together. It's been great!

And the internet is such a beautiful place for receiving support - we're here for you however you may need!