Friday, July 31, 2009

Worries!

When you become a parent do ever stop worrying? It is amazing how it starts in pregnancy...am I eating the right things...do I have everything I need to be the perfect parent...you know changing table (waste of $$), do I have the proper crib..are the slats to far apart?? I actually made Chad measure the slats to make sure nothing could happen! You think when they are born at least you will not have to worry because you know they are perfect...you have counted 10 fingers and toes...and they are breathing...but you have to check every couple minutes when you bring them home....then you begin to question the color of your babies poop, to sniffles, to when is a good time to start your child in school..Max is no longer interested in going to school...his short experience was 3 weeks... 4 days per week...a total of 12 days...he tells me he has a belly ache and can not got to school...he is 3! so now I have to wonder do I keep him out of school this coming year...I do not want him to be bored and start to hate school before even gets there! I really never comprehended how stressful parenthood would be...I really thought this would come in the teenage years!

Today I have to go to an early childhood conference..I have gone the last 3 years..it is a good conference I just hate being social with adults! I much prefer a 2 year old! Conversation seems to be more productive with a younger audience! I am frustrated that there is no classes on working with children with special needs...I remember in college I thought I was going to open a preschool for special needs children...now I have a special needs child and I have no clue on what I should be doing...The therapist comes in weekly and I read everything I can get my hands on but still I think is this enough for my little Maddie...she is 11 weeks this week..she is smiling, laughing, and learning how to use her screams to get what she wants...she sat in her bumbo and tried to grab her favorite ball and ring and bring them to her mouth...her nose is still stuffed up..I am not sure she will ever have a clear nose...worries when will it stop!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bills oohh Bills!

Today I think we have gotten the last of the medical bills for the birth of the princess Maddox! It is so hard to negotiate payments and have people understand you owe everyone not just there Doctors! I can be thankful that there is no interest...In 21 months we will be payment free!!

I am still having a hard time being the mom of a baby with Down's Syndrome...I guess I have still not grasped the whole unknown of her...I get that you can have these feelings with a "normal baby" but I am just very leary of people who say she is so cute...I have actually had someone say she is not cute but she is kinda of pretty...while I was pregnant with Maddox I had several people labeling her and using derogatory statements to reference her...I think this is why I am so weird about people looking at her or trying to see her...I have prepared my statements back to people with ignorance against my girl but I am still nervous I will freeze up when I need to stand up for her...I just have to remember for the most part people are nice and mean well..and you cannot fix stupid! Remember I am the special parent!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sharpe Family

Rainy Morning

It is 8 am and all my babies are sleeping! I am enjoying the quiet rainy morning... but I am very concerned I am not making good parental decisions..My 3 year old Maximus is in enrolled in summer preschool...but he is soooo tired and not to excited to go...he loves it once he gets there but not so much in this early morning..I can make every excuse for him not to go..he is tired, could be getting sick, wants to play with my childcare kids, thinks he is missing something at home...just not ready for school...got into trouble at school..the list can go on and on! so I let him sleep peaceful in his bed...My other baby Maddox is also sleeping sound with daddy...she is sleeping through the night...but those darn nasal cavities are just too small and she gets sooo stuffed up...I prop her up and she is good..Yes our kids sleep with us..it was not suppose to be this way but it happens!! I guess I should not worry about it if they are sleeping through the night and they are happy! I think!

Maddox's therapy rocked yesterday she is holding her head up on schedule and her leg muscles are incredible...I once had a guy tell me he would reproduce with me because of my great strong legs..I guess Maddox got my legs!! funny! lets just hope she got Chads butt!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday

This is my first daily post...and feels a bit unnatural...I am sure I will get better as I go along! Today Maddox had her session with the OT Kelly. We get very excited about this and are videotaping it for the first time. She is 2 1/2 months old and I put pig tail in her hair! Very cute! Maximus is crazy and not being very nice today. He has decided not to go to school. I think we have tired him out and he needs a chill day. His friends are coming to play and we had a full house. Chad is throwing Maddox in the air and she is loving it! She is getting such a personality. Tonight I am going to the Farmers Market! I love the Farmers Market and I hope it is good with lots of veggies, and goodies.

***The Farmers Market rocked!! the peaches were yummy and fresh bread was ooohhh so good!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Time for Delivery of Maddox Rose

Trip to Denver
It is time to go to Denver and have Maddox I have packed for the family and myself knowing I have forgotten almost everything! We arrive to drop Maximus off at his Aunt’s and his Grandma will assist in taking care of the great Maximus while we are in the hospital. Naturally things are not going as I have planned Chad is working most of the day and I am overly nervous! We arrive in Cheyenne to drop off Max and Grandma is not there for the drop off. It is not what Chad and I were expecting and I am pissed. We are not in a good frame of mind and we are as nervous as we have ever been. It is the first time we are leaving Max over night and he will stay for 6 days an eternity in Max time! She finally arrives and we leave for Denver. We stop in Loveland for our last meal and all we can do is talk about our kids and what the future may bring. We stay in a hotel that I cannot remember the name of. That morning I shower I do not recall much of anything else but walking down to the lobby for Chad to get some breakfast and watching the people go by and thinking that they have no idea what is going on in my life or with the life I hold inside me.

Birth
Finally we arrive at the hospital Chad is having a hard time with knowing in 2 short hours he will see his wife cut open again and have a baby that may or may not survive. We are joking around trying to keep it light and not on topic of what is lying before us. Soon the nurse gets me hooked up to monitors and doctors start coming to explain the days events and what will be happening. Before I know it I am walking to a “sterile” hospital surgery room. Finally we get to the room and I am lying there butt naked from the chest down. The anesthesiologist starts injecting me and I was becoming numb from the toes to the chest. Even my nipples were erect and numb it was a very strange feeling. Dr. Perrecco makes his entrance and tells the nurse to prep me again he was not impressed with how she had done the prepping. They did and I knew he was in charge and everything was going to be ok and I was not going to die! Soon the room filled with doctors and nurses and everyone introduced themselves including Maddox doctor. Her name was Dr. Lawrence the most important person I thought in the room and I would not forget her face. Soon I was cut open and Dr. Perrecco says he sees a gush of black hair then Maddox swims up towards my chest and Dr. Perrecco has to push her down and out! She came out screaming and pissed. Dr. Perrecco said “are you sure this is a baby with Downs? She has great muscle tone”. And with that they performed some tests on her in the delivery room to the right of me. I can remember Chad looking at me and saying it is EA I just cried I thought she really could die. I prepared myself for this but I always held out the hope that she would survive. Dr. Lawrence brought Maddox over to see me; I was able to hold her for about one minute. She was so beautiful I could not get over her black hair it was almost overwhelming. I noticed right away that she was frothing at the mouth; I looked at Dr. Lawrence and said she has TEF to. And with that Dr. Lawrence and her team took her away to begin the VACTRAL.

Diagnosis
As I was recovering Chad was with Maddox going through some of the tests. I kept asking the nurse if she had seen Chad or if she heard anything about my baby. She new nothing and she actually started getting concerned about what was going on. She took me to my recovery room and went off to see if she could find someone who new something about Maddox. My dad came up to be there for me and he was a life saver; he was there when I entered the recovery room and for Maddox surgery. When the nurse found Chad he was ready to be away from doctors poking and prodding his little girl. He confirmed that she had an (ASD) a 5 mm hole in her heart but that it was nothing to worry about that it was the good hole. He said that everyone is born with an ASD and that in most people it closes with time. He said that Maddox was crying hard and that would help close that hole. This was the best news yet that we were getting answers that we were wondering about for months with in a couple of hours of her being here. Dr. Shippman and Maddox’s anesthesiologist came busting into my room. I mean she was running! She said “why did you not call me! I was clear across town when I got the news I was doing the surgery!” Mind you this is 4 hours after Maddox was born. They had determined no heart surgery was needed and that they would repair the EA/TEF with a scope. I think that this was Dr. Shippmans first repair alone and she was crazy excited! The anesthesiologist drew pictures on how they would repair the EA which is the gap in the esophagus; we still did not know how big it was but we new we would have all the answers with in a couple of hours. This was relieving in a weird way. 4 hours after Maddox was born she endured her first surgery and 3 hours after that she was “fixed”. Maddox had a 2 cm gap in her esophagus (EA) and a fistula between her esophagus and her trachea (TEF). Dr. Shippman entered the room looking tired and proud of herself; she told us the great news and what we could expect for the next 5 days. Maddox was not to eat and could not be picked up. She would be sustained by fluids. They would take her blood everyday to check what carbs, proteins, fats, etc. needed to be supplemented for her to thrive.

Maddox's Recovery
Finally, the nurse came in to my room and said I could go see Maddox I remember it was dark out I was so excited and scared. I had to brace myself for all her tubes and what she would look like. Chad wheeled me down to the NICU. It was a crazy place to be in I never thought I would be there. I never could have imagined what it looked like the sounds, the smells, the nurses and doctors and the babies the sick babies everywhere. Chad and I got our badges to enter the NICU and made our way back to the last room on the left room number 4. There she was Maddox Rose was lying there with nothing but a diaper, a hat and tubes everywhere. The floor 3 NICU is a very loud place something I did not expect; there is always bells and buzzers going off. You soon and very quickly learn what all the sounds mean. But besides that there was my little girl she was so beautiful, she was so cute, I loved her. All me and Chad could do was look at her. We were not to touch her. We could talk to her but that was it. It is very unnatural for parents not to touch there baby. We learned very quickly that the nurses would answer most of question on how to care for our baby. Most of the nurses were amazing and talented they were teachers. But there was a few nurses that were challenged with working with parents one NICU nurse said to me “don’t worry you do not have to touch your child to bond with her” I can say I was visualizing that I was beating the shit out of her. The next morning 6:00 am my catheter was removed and I was instructed to start walking I walked straight to the NICU to see Maddox I could not get there fast enough. My next 3 days was learning about Maddox and what challenges lie ahead. The staff at the hospital were incredible there were people to help with breast feeding, social security benefits, and how we were going to pay for all of this! They even gave massages to women in the hospital it was great. I cannot explain the incredible feeling of helplessness you feel when your child is in the NICU. There are doctors and nurses that think there way to do things is the only way. Literally depending on the nurse it will depend on how your baby is swaddled to how they are fed. Some nurses encourage you to breastfeed some bottle feed or even if you should be involved in the care times. Care times are the feeding, changing diapers and taking your babies temperature. But no matter what no one could have prepared me for leaving the hospital with out her. This was the worst day! I cried the entire time we where checking into the Ronald McDonald House. Chad had to fill out the paper work and move us in. I was helpless. That night I just new I had to buck up and get over myself! I also new Maximus would be joining us and I needed to get things together for him. That Monday was a big day Maddox had her swallow test to see if the surgery was done perfect and if there were any leaks in the esophagus and if she would have to re due the surgery. Maximus was coming to join us at the Ronald McDonald House I could not wait to see him. By 3:00 pm Monday and 6 days after she was born we were told she had a perfect fix and now she needed to heal. 5 minutes later Maximus came running off the elevator and he looked like he had aged a year! He was no longer my baby he was my big boy with the best smile! Maximus is truly beautiful I missed him so much. A routine soon followed Chad would take Max to play dates all over Denver and I would visit Maddox. We would always come back together for dinner at the Ronald McDonald house. I can not explain how cool the Ronald McDonald house is; it child centered and made us feel so welcome. It truly saved us financially. By Wednesday only one week after she was born she graduated to the 7th floor NICU this was the NICU that babies are released from the hospital to go home! One by one all of the tubes were taken out. Pretty soon she was the only baby in the NICU that had no tubes. I got to stay the night with her in the hospital it was amazing and very exciting. I did not sleep a wink! On day 13 I received a call from the NICU that needed milk I rushed it over and the nurse told me we were going to be released from the hospital. We were going home! I called Chad and he began cleaning the room and packing. Maddox had to go through a series of things to be released including a car seat check. She had to sit in her car seat for 4 hours to see if she would survive! she did! we were told that she would have to go home on oxygen and not to stop in Cheyenne. It was finally time the room was cleaned and we checked out; we went to the hospital to pick up our baby! The funniest thing happened when Maddox was released from the hospital Max was playing with some kiddos in the waiting room; I said "Max come meet your sister" and he said "no he was playing"! Then he looked over and saw her in the car seat he came running over and "said is this my sister; I love her"! It was amazing! He then looked at Chad and said "can we team work her". Which means can they do it together! So Chad and Max carried the car seat with Maddie to the car. The next morning Max woke up and asked do I still have my sister! YES!!

Home
Home has been good. Maddox is off oxygen, the pediatrician knows I like Maddie to be referred to as Chromosomally Enhanced! I do not like when people call her mentally retarded or put limits on what she will become. I think Maddox can do anything! I think she will go to College and fall in love. Maddox has a OT that comes in weekly to teach us how to stimulate her. She is amazing and Maddox loves her. Maddox is for the most part very healthy and strong. She smiles, giggles and loves her big brother. Did I mention she is really cute..She may be the cutest chic ever! I still have hard times and moments when I question my ability to be her mom. I still freak out that she may not walk which I know she will but I freak out because she has two webbed toes. I know this has nothing to do with walking but I can make something out of nothing! the biggest thing I have learned is that she really is a baby first and she does baby things!


Pregnancy of a Down's syndrome child

August 17, 2008 we went to Rapid City SD to Reptile Gardens. Our 2 year old son is a fanatic about everything nature! My husband and I discussed throughout out the day/year about having another child. I just could not believe how perfect Max is, so beautiful, so smart, so funny, such a huge personality. When we got home there was a perfect ending to our day. We put our perfect son to bed and well one thing lead to another and a baby was conceived. I knew immediately I was pregnant. I knew we were ready; I had prepared my body I stopped taking the pill a year and half before, I was taking folic acid, I was exercising regularly, I was eating as much hormone free foods as possible, I limited all caffeine and never drank alcohol. So I bought an economy sized pregnancy test pack and began testing; the test was POSITIVE! Of course I am one of these people that has to take multiple tests to be sure all 15 were positive! I was pregnant with another perfect person and I was so excited but very scared more scared then my first pregnancy. I told my husband that we were pregnant and he hugged and kissed me with love, joy and excitement! We choose not to tell anyone without confirmation from the doctor. I made my appointment with the doctor and it was official I was pregnant. At 8 weeks pregnant I had my first ultra sound. I remember the doctor saying this is a strong heart beat you have nothing to worry about. I hung on to those words for months how strong the heart was beating. I went in for normal check ups and everything was normal no sick, no worries, just anticipating the babies first movements.

It was time for a routine 5 month ultra sound it was in January 2009 and we decided to take our 3 year old to meet his new sibling. It was an experience! He stole the show with his comments and enthusiasm he had everyone in the room laughing. We did not want to know the sex of the baby we loved the surprise. At the end the doctor lightly mentioned that she did not see a stomach bubble and would like to do another ultra sound in a month. Both my husband and I did not think much about this. I mentioned this to friends and they reassured me that if she is looking in a month it must be nothing to worry about. I did no research during this time which is unlike me but I just did not think it was a big deal. The ultra sound day came February 17, 2009 I told my husband not to come that it was nothing and that there was no worries besides I was feeling the baby move and it was very reassuring. In the waiting room I remember getting really excited that they had a 3-D ultra sound machine I really wanted those pictures. I joked with the nurse then the doctor and laughed at my son and how much of a personality my son is. As I lay on the table we went through all the anatomy of the baby her assuring me things looked good and the doctor got quiet and she changed her tone and her conversation to me. She started frantically going to the heart, to the brain, measuring the bones and talking in medical terminology. I froze and I knew then something was wrong with my perfect baby. I tried to hide the tears and be strong but it was impossible. All I remember about her comments are no stomach bubble, Tracheal Esophageal Fistula (TEF) and Esophageal Atresia (EA), Down's Syndrome and when is it good for you to go to Denver to see specialists. As I cried she hugged me, the nurse hugged me and the office people could not look me in the eye. It was the worst day, the saddest day so I thought. I called my husband and I was a mess I could not get to the Internet fast enough to learn about everything that was just being said me. I could not believe that my little baby was going to be possibly born without an attached Esophagus. How would she eat or how will she survive. My husband called the doctor to get more details and she assured him like she did me that the risk for Down's Syndrome is very low and that we needed to see the specialists to see about the TEF/EA that this is a very rare occurrence 1 in 4,000 live births. So we made the appointment for the following week.

We went to Denver as a family during this time I could not let go of my 3 year old son it was like I had to keep him close to protect him from what was growing inside me. On February 21, 2009 we saw the specialist and still there was no bubble in the stomach. Then the doctor said to us he would like to do an amniocentesis to rule out Down’s syndrome. He only gave us a 20 percent chance of having a Down’s syndrome child. I was reeling I could not believe what was going on it was like I detached that day from the baby growing inside me. The doctor said we will see you in a month to be drained of amniotic fluid because the baby could not swallow he explained that I would fill up with amniotic fluid dangerous levels that could put me in to preterm labor this is technically called polyhydraimnios. Again I did not realize the challenge with the baby not being able to swallow there own pee how huge I would get, how uncomfortable I was looking 9 months pregnant and I was about 28 weeks. Also, during our next visit we were to visit with the pediatric surgeon.

On February 23, 2009 2:10 pm it was confirmed I was carrying a child with trisomy 21; Down’s syndrome and asked if I would like to terminate the pregnancy. 92% of child diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are terminated. All I could do was ask if the baby was a boy or a girl I needed to know this information. It was girl he said. I threw myself on the ground I was hysterical and alone how was I going to tell my husband this terrible news. The moment I stopped touching my belly I wanted nothing more to do with this pregnancy or this baby. My husband got home from work and I told him the news. I cried so hard I thought I was dying. I think something in me that day did die I buried the notion that I was having a perfect child a perfect little girl. I could not picture this baby as a little girl; a baby I pictured her as a teenager or an adult. I grieved that I was never going to plan a wedding with my little girl, that I could never relate to her emotionally or socially, that she would never be the little girl that I expected or wanted. I did not want this thing growing inside me. I hated her. I hated myself for feeling this way. I could not believe my own reaction to the diagnoses. I thought I was stronger then this, better then this, I thought I was open minded a free spirit that I was up to anything. I am a glass half full personality. Then I turned my grief to my son; what had I done to him how and why does he have to live with a special needs person and have attention always going to his sister instead of to him. To be referred to as the boy that has the Down’s syndrome sister. I was just sad and there was no going back.

I did think about terminating this pregnancy I thought long and hard about this. It was crazy how I did not think my husband should really have an opinion on this topic. I really thought that this was my decision to make and solely mine. As it got harder to make this decision of course I wanted his feedback I was sure he would say lets get rid of this baby it is just too much for all of us. To my surprise and dismay my husband was fine with this news. He took about 24 hours and then bounced back and could not wait for the challenge of this little girl he was excited. During this time the little girl growing inside me was very active. I mean she was so active I felt like she was beating me up, she was actually hurting me she was already feisty! I realized that she was speaking to me she was trying to tell me that I am alive and you are MY MOM so either rise up to the challenge or get the fuck out of my way because I am coming no matter what.
All the while I was sick of people telling me that it would be fine, that she was coming to special parents, or the “right parents” you see I am a daycare provider and my husband is a teacher. I guess that meant that we were up to this challenge. I beg to differ on this. Everyone just kept on saying Down’s syndrome children are nice and sweet and always happy. Like that was supposed to make me feel better that she would be living with me forever. I even had people say well at least your child is alive and not dead or that you did not loose her in miscarriage. Really that is the best they can do I hated all those comments. The worst comment was probably when a lady who I did not know said congratulations on having a child with Down’s syndrome. I came unglued with this comment it was one of the most insensitive comments I have ever heard. I remember discussing the hard decision of if I should continue with the pregnancy and my friend being revolted by notion of abortion. She actually said you would never do that; that is awful I told her not to comment on this until she was pregnant and had the news that she was having a Down’s syndrome baby. For a month at least I was in a deep depression and angry about the situation that I had put my family in. I refused all help and refused to have a baby shower. The results from the amino and blood work confirmed that my husband and I were at no greater risk to produce a Down’s syndrome child than any other couple at our age. When I went to the doctor I wanted to tell every pregnant person in the waiting room that they had no worries on having a Down’s syndrome child because I was the statistic 1 in 733.

I went in to preterm labor at 30 weeks it sucked they gave me shots and was put on medicine to stop the contractions. The medicine made me thirsty, nausea, and very shaky and will be on them for the duration of the pregnancy. But in the hospital that night I realized how much I wanted my baby that this was my little girl. I remember screaming at the nurse that if she shoves that thing up my vagina much further and ruptures my water my baby will die so to get another nurse. That was the first time since hearing all the news that I referred to her as my baby, my little girl. I wanted her and I wanted her to live. That day I touch my belly and started to massage her and love her like she was mine. She is mine and her name is Maddox (Maddie) Rose and she is my perfect little girl.

I read about all things Down’s syndrome and saw I was completely wrong on all my views and assumptions of children with Down’s syndrome. In the meantime we went to Denver for our second visit I was drained of amniotic fluid 2 liters. It hurt but it felt good afterward I was as big a 37 week pregnant person instead of being just 30 weeks. We also met with the pediatric surgeon. She is a young aspiring surgeon only 5 years experience pretty new but has great doctors to learn and mentor from in her practice and will be only assisting on the surgery. Tracheal Esophageal Fistula (TEF) and Esophageal Atresia (EA) was explained to us and did not sound as daunting as everything I had read on the internet. She said if this is the only this wrong with our little girl she will have a smooth recovery. She explained how the surgery would be done with a scope, that only 2 places in the United States perform this surgery with a scope. We feel very confident with our little girl’s surgeons. Of course we are hoping for a TEF Fistula (obstruction) instead of a full EA Atresia (Open gap between stomach and esophagus). The hardest part of the TEF/EA is the unknown of what she has fully until she is born. She will have a series of test done a VACTERL which stands for V-vertebral, A-anal imperforate, C-cardiac, T-teteflea, R-renal (kidney), L-limb to determine everything that needs to be fixed. TEF/EA will be determined by a simple x-ray. Then she will have surgery within the first few days of life to hopefully correct the TEF/EA. She will suffer from severe indigestion or acid reflux for most of her life that will be helped with medication. With Down’s syndrome children a heart defect is a big concern we are hoping for the best, her heart has always been strong. A huge thing for me was she may not have a butt hole. I know this is crazy but I was freaked out about this. The doctor explained this is a simple surgery and has a very good success rate.

Some good and surprising news is that I will be able to breast feed with a pump and after surgery hopefully I will get her to latch on. After that visit with all the doctors it was four hours later and we were ready to go home. Both of us were encouraged with the news of little Maddie and that she was gaining weight and as perfect as could be! Of course there was a snow storm in March that stuck us in Cheyenne for another 24 hours. It was par for the course!

I did not realize after that trip to Denver my life would be filled with Doctors visits. I see the doctor 2 times a week for an ultra sound and NST non-stress tests. By now I am sick of ultra sounds and the pictures that come with them. I do have to admit the 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds rock and I have seen my little girl and she is the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen.
I knew I had gotten full of fluid again the contractions were coming stronger and more often. The Doctor told me I had to be drained within 7 days! So off I went to Denver to get drained. And another April snow storm! They took 2 more liters off me. This time it hurt and I was tired; very tired and sore. There was not much relief and I was contracting pretty hard and consistently after the procedure. Again I got shots to stop the contractions. But there was the best news of all! My little Maddie had a partial bubble in her tummy. Something we have never seen before. I can not tell you the joy and excitement; it is the best bubble I have ever seen. It still means she has TEF/EA but at least there is hope for TEF. During this visit she was tested for lung development of course it was not good news. We have gotten used to this. She scored a 31 she needed to be above a 55. The doctors assured me that this is miner and that she will most likely just need a ventilator.

I am continually monitored twice a week but there is an end in sight I will deliver May 13, 2009 in Denver. I am so excited and nervous and scared shitless! I finally bought her a blanket and some clothes. I prepared her bed and have a car seat. I am ready for her and I am up to the challenge of being her mom. I have specialists coming in once a week to work with her until she is 3 years old, then she will attend their preschool and then she will be placed in main stream public school. I know that early intervention is best for child with Down’s syndrome. I am doing everything I can to make sure she has the best. I will continue my in home day care for her stimulation and development.

I am at a good place emotionally however; I have good and bad days and then really bad days! I have experienced people’s ignorance and prejudice towards my child and she is not even here yet. I know I need to remember you cannot fix stupid and that is what we are if we do not try to understand the unknown of being a parent of a child with Down’s syndrome.