Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shnuggles


Ah, the sweetness of sleeping kiddos. Carver and I have a tradition of "Shnuggles" in the morning. He wakes up around 6:30, which is too early for the little sister he share a room with. So we're thankful he almost always comes to find me instead of flipping on the light in there. I should get up at 6 or 6:30 on my own, but I'm not a morning person and we don't get to bed before 11 so I'm desperately tired when he comes in. I hear his little footsteps across the floor, climbing onto the cedar chest at the foot of my bed and then I feel him climb up beside me. Othertimes I see his face peeking at me from the side of the bed.

He climbs in beside me and wiggles a lot, trying to comfort himself by playing with my hair or stroking my arm. He kicks a little, too, or pushes off my legs - probably seeking propioceptive input. I try to tickle his back, rub his arms or give him tight squeezes and hold his hands. But honestly, I'm mostly wishing like crazy I was still asleep. Some days are more like 5:40 and then I try not to feel just down-right frustrated. He'll stay in bed with me for up to an hour on those days, not as long when it's later.

When he's done, he sits up and tells me "wake-up" or pulls the blanket off me. Lately he likes to tickle my feet. Usually I think this whole routine is a bit frustrating, but I realized yesterday how LUCKY I am that he gives me that time I need to wake up slowly. I love talking about breakfast with him, too. He'll start with "scones? chocolate chip scones?" Nope, Carver. It's not Friday yet. "pancakes?" "mini-wheats?" It's so fun to hear him wonder what we're having that day.

I love that I get to shnuggle with my little man, even for all the kicks and hair twirling in the early morning hours. Because I know that someday (probably soon) he'll outgrow it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lesson #1: Letting go of the guilt


This is the start of a series that'll probably last my whole lifetime. I want to record lessons I'm learning from being Carver's mom. One of the first things I learned was about guilt. When Carver was just months old, I worried about how he wasn't smiling at me. He didn't do that normal infant behavior of watching your face, opening his mouth and cooing along with you. I kept waiting and waiting and FINALLY he did it once right around Christmas. He was 2 months old. He didn't engage with me often, even after that point. This was the first time GUILT started to sneak in.

I worried that because he was number 3, I hadn't spent as much time talking to him as I had with the girls. He spent more time in his bouncy seat, less time just being looked at - all that firstborn stuff. I swear I just sat around and watched Lydia grow! :) As Carver continued to miss milestones, there was lingering guilt and worry mixed together. That somehow I'd not been nurturing his development enough, that if I'd done something differently he'd be on track.

Even though I worried, there came to be a stronger sense of peace that Carver was just Carver, that I didn't cause it. I'd been careful during pregnancy, his birth was fairly uneventful. He'd been posterior, I hadn't had an epidural - but otherwise, no warning signs. I really believe that the Lord was helping me feel that it wasn't my fault.

A scripture that has become really meaningful to me is John 9: 1-3.

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

What a beautiful reminder that disabilities aren't punishment! And that our lives are in the hands of God, that He has a plan for us. When I reflect on all I've learned and all the ways I've been stretched (both as a mom and as a person), I see that the works of God have been made manifest in my life, in Carver's life, and in the lives of so many more. And I know that everything is going to be okay.

So the lesson I learned early on about letting go of the guilt has continued to be important. You have to let go of the worry that you've CAUSED the problem, but I also have to continue to remind myself that I'm doing the best I can. I'm not a perfect mother to my typically developing children, I'm not ever going to be a perfect mother to Carver. And my faith in God comes into play here, as well. I know that Carver wasn't accidentally sent to our family, that the Lord knows that I can do this. I can be his mom, I can be good enough. That gives me courage to let go of the guilt and keep trying to be better.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

heroes on the basketball court

This video isn't very long, but shows what a difference one outstanding coach and supportive friends can do. I cried and cried, especially at the end when the reporter talked about how he'd always felt different, but never THIS kind of different. I've learned that kids with special needs require a team to teach, educate and love them. I can't keep Carver in my house all the time, I have to trust him to teachers, bus drivers and other kids - to help him and to be kind. And with people like this out there, I have no need to worry. We are blessed with good friends now and I know that Carver will always have a cheering section, no matter what.

video

Monday, February 9, 2009

the smell of drool and other mountains to climb

I realized the other day that I'd been rather subconsciously waiting for SOMETHING to blog about here. And then I remembered that the main point of this blog was to record thoughts and feelings and ideas relating to Carver - everything I don't want to forget. I'm committing to be better at that!

Right now what's on my mind is social interaction. Carver started primary at our church and attends a class for 3 year olds, "sunbeams." The first hour they sit on chairs with lots of other kids, sing songs, listen to a lesson. The next hour is in a little classroom with only his class. This is a HUGE change from the "nursery" he attended before, a 2 hour block with toys and books and snacks. The transition hasn't been easy for us. He wasn't excited to leave nursery, but he likes being with his big sister for the first part, sharing time. And he has lots of friends in his class. His dad sits with him during sharing time and helps him stay on his chair, not run around the classroom, etc... I think the first or second week, he zipped right up the aisle to try and touch the pretend birthday cake on the table in the front of the room. :) Week by week, he's more excited about sunbeams and he likes that Daddy comes with him. He's adjusting.

It's actually much harder for me because I feel like he's outgrowing life as a toddler. He's expected to do more preschooler type activities and his peers are noticing his differences more and more. I've had kids say that he smells bad - either his breath or they say he needs his diaper changed. Now, I'm not losing sleep over what other 3 year olds think - BUT it clues me into what's coming ahead. And honestly, drool smells bad. His shirts sometimes do smell like that. I try and try to get them clean, but we just can't help it. And his peers are all into who's potty-trained and who's not. That's a very normal issue and Carver could care less what the other kids are doing. But someday, some of that is going to sink in.

Last week we went to the park after the bus stop and there were lots of kids from the neighborhood there. Not any truly big kids, everyone was under 10 or so. Carver had the HARDEST time. He couldn't run around and have his space to play on his own, kids kept banging on the metal slide and scaring him (not on purpose) and it was just too much for him. He cried and cried. Sometimes he stopped dead in his tracks and cried. At one point, he came sobbing to me and put his face hard on my shoulder, while I held him and hurt for how frustrated he must be. One of the neighborhood moms asked how old he was. I knew what the underlying question was and told her he was 3, but he has some speech and sensory integration issues. I got an "oh" and then she didn't know what to say, although I could tell it confirmed her suspicions. I don't blame her at all - it's the right kind of question if you want to know what's up with a kid that's not acting his age. But the whole experience left me feeling exhausted and discouraged.

Looking through a different angle, I've seen Carver grow more and more capable of helping around the house. He cleans up his toys better - he especially loves to help rescue all his bath toys as the water goes down the drain. He washes the dishes a little when he plays in the bubbles. The other day he came off the bus holding his little baggie of gum and a chewy tube that he takes to school. He told me, "homework!" He wants to be just like his sisters. That same day when THEY came home, he went running for his backpack to find homework to do with them. I picked up a new alphabet coloring book for him at the store so he has his own homework book. The funny part is that he has very little patience for coloring and table work like that. But the desire to be included is real.

Carver is learning letters - M, O, S, are his best ones. He knows some of the sounds to those and K and T and P. Thanks to the "Letter Factory" for hours and hours of repetition. :) I've been working on counting and wondered if we'd EVER get past 2. Really, he still uses 2 words together MOST often so that makes sense. We've occasionally heard him say "3" and the other day at the park, a QUIET day before the kids came home from school, I was pushing him on the swing and counting each push. He not only said the numbers with me but anticipated a couple of them! WOW! I figured that the movement of the swing was regulating to him, enough to help him get those words out in the right order. It was very cool.

Carver's preschool class has grown and split! He is in with a new teacher, who I've met and really liked. He doesn't mind at all. He's with a friend, Jordan, a little girl that his old teacher told me about. She said that they run around together and are such cute little buddies - pulling on each other's arms to go play. When she first emailed me, she said to ask him about her. I did and his face really did light right up! He said, "snap, snap" like an alligator and I think he was trying to tell me what they played together. I'm so grateful for preschool!

AND Carver has been really growing in his friendship with his little sister, Grace. They play in the bathtub together and get into mischief, too, these days. A couple nights ago after the school science fair, we came in and Grace was super tired and cranky. She sat and cried by the door while I looked for a pacifier. Carver took the one out of his mouth and popped it in hers to calm her down. I LOVE that. He is such a sweet boy!