We are the Stow Family and this is our story. Our lives are blessed by Love, Joy and Hope. Follow our sometimes interesting stories on loving our two boys, exploring parenthood, and celebrating a little extra - two parents, two boys and an extra chromosome!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Goodbye 2010

The end of the year is upon us and I find myself looking back, taking stock, trying to find the gifts that this year has bestowed upon us as the Stow Family. 

While I have often felt completely overwhelmed, a lot like 2010 turned me over and gave my butt a big kick... I feel like I should... like I must delve deeper and find those gifts, because I cannot look back at a year as if it's a 'black sheep' in my life.

Firstly, we welcomed our second baby. Little Harlan brought with him many unexpected challenges, and in a way I was completely blind-sided by my 'trip to Italy'... But today, after months of challenges, we are faced with an incredibly happy, incredibly adorable, incredibly special little boy. He has crept into our hearts and we're celebrating his outspoken, lively, determined nature with each passing day.

Secondly, this year has been one where Malakai went from baby to toddler. We've faced all the typical challenges that a toddler brings to the table, and we've been amazed at how Malakai has started to come out of his shell and interact with his world. He too is an outspoken, lively and determined little spirit!

Thirdly, for the second half of this year I've attempted to live my dream by writing full time from home. This too did not turn out exactly as I expected... But I am holding on, determined to find a way to continue. I may need to rethink everything in order to hold on to my dream - and this is where it gets tricky... Nevertheless, I feel as though I've achieved something by reaching for and grabbing hold of my dream with both hands.

So - this has been a year that can be summed up in three succinct words: Challenge * Unexpected * Determination

So yes, I am a bit relieved to see the back end of 2010 approaching. My dreams for 2011 are not clear at this point, but I am hoping that it includes instead: Learning * Stability * Abundance

OK - so that's my little piece on 2010. There is so much else going on around here - especially with the boys, so I'll describe each one!

Malakai

I have been faced lately with how Malakai is different. I think this is in part due to Harlan - I never had a 'typical' yardstick until Harlan arrived and now, I see everyday, where their differences lie. At first that was painful for me, as if Malakai's diagnosis was 'hitting home' for the first time since his birth. I would often be stunned into silence when Harlan did something that Malakai did so much later or has never done at all...

At the same time though, I've been amazed at how well Malakai is doing. There are some areas that make it difficult to understand exactly how much Malakai actually knows (like his speech delay for example), but we're overcoming this.

Malakai is extremely physically strong and amazingly reached all his major gross motor milestones within 'typical' limits. He spends his days climbing over and under everything, wanting to experience new things with his body. He's also imitating things on a physical level - like the dancing on his favourite Barney DVD's. It's too friggen cute!

We've also discovered, by accident, that Malakai can read most of his signing flash cards. If we cover the image so that just the word is showing, Malakai correctly gives the sign for the word 8 out of 10 times. This has given me such a hope and we're going to be expanding his signing repertoire. I honestly thought speech was just around the corner - about 6 months ago already - but this just hasn't happened. So we need to find a way to help Malakai communicate - and he just loves signing and flash cards!

Another blessing is Malakai's love for books - he truly loves to read and gets so excited when I pull out his Love and Learning books... It's such a pleasure to see him WANT to learn.

Another thing that Malakai loves is to sing/sign along to his favourite songs. Because he's not really verbal right now, we try to choose songs that we can do the moves to, so that he can participate. If we don't know the signs, we just make moves up as we go along.

We've just seen such a change this year in Malakai - he's taking part, learning, showing us just how much he does understand, and giving us grey hairs with his antics! Next year he starts creche (again). This time we've found a wonderful place close to home that is my idea of the perfect place to spend my days if I were a toddler! And to boot, his teacher has experience with children with Down syndrome - so she's positive and excited about including him in her class next year!

I can't wait to look back at the end of 2011 and see how much more Malakai has grown and developed - no flourished - in his new school!

Harlan

Without ever verbalising it (or even really being conscious of it at all), I have a sneaking suspicion that I saw Harlan as my trip to Italy - all flashy, fast and fashionable... What happened couldn't have been further from what I expected...

A six-month bout of severe colic left me totally depleted - feeling completely useless as a mother and unable to cope in general. This wasn't what I signed up for... I kept thinking. Where was my 'perfect' baby? I've said it before and I'll say it again - emotionally, I coped better with Malakai's diagnosis than with Harlan's colic.

Harlan hated being held, he didn't respond to my attempts to soothe him and basically had a terrible experience of 'life' for his six months. And I felt helpless and totally incapable of making it better for him. On top of it, I was not able to give Malakai the attention he needed, because I was forever attempting to soothe Harlan (and failing miserably). So I felt an incredible guilt for letting Malakai down as well.

Then seven months rolled along, and eight, and nine... And Harlan has grown into this super happy, gorgeous little sprite. I love his spirit, I love his smile, I love HIM! 

Harlan literally does new things every two days - he's hard to keep up with sometimes! And I've had to work through some emotions that tell me I cannot celebrate his rapid development because it will somehow be a slap in face to Malakai's achievements... I know it sounds ridiculous, and it is... So, I'm learning to celebrate Harlan for who he is, independent of Malakai.

To date, little Harlan is saying his first word ('ball'... go figure!), he's climbing all over the place, he's completely attached to me, he's standing and even taking a few steps here and there. I look at him and my heart swells. And for this... for this... I am so truly grateful, because for a long time I saw him and felt only pain and disillusionment.

So - here's to another year. A new beginning. A fresh start.

We say 'hello' to a plethora of possibilities in 2011 - it feels like Christmas (and it is!) with all this hope and yearning sitting full on my heart.

Bring it on!

3 comments:

Ruby's Mom said...

Colic is such a hard thing to go through my fourth child had colic when he was a baby and it is so hard not being able to comfort your baby.I'm glad that's in the past for you.I'm glad Harlan is doing so well now.
That is so cool that Malakai is able to recognize the words on his flashcards!
I hope your family has a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

TherExtras said...

All three of you have had tremendous growth! Looks like your Christmas was happy! Wishes for a wonderful New Year, too! Barbara

Elriza Paul said...

:-) Yeah 2010 was quite something hey, but you did an amazing job my friend, with very little support (sorry), you came out soaring at the other end. 2011 will be better!