Monday, March 26, 2012

All Systems Go, Retro!

There is an ephemeral quality to life these days.  We seem to be showered in milestones.  It appears that every time I turn around, one of the kids is doing something dazzling that makes me stop in amazement.  Our latest accomplishments vary in degrees of success and bravado, but I can assure you that every single one of them has been noted and celebrated.  Like the stars in the sky, they each shine in their own way.

Take Zoe.  In the last two weeks, she has learned to clap and point.  It is adorable.  She has also taken up to five steps unassisted, which is fabulous.  On the "scary" side of things is her strength;  one of her latest tricks is pushing the playpen around.  I'm not talking a little nudge here or there either, as she can go up to the side and propel it across the room effortlessly, much like she would a shopping cart.  Two things happened the first time I witnessed this.  Initially, I stood open mouthed and completely agog.  A few nanoseconds later, that was replaced with "How in the hell am I going to contain her?"

Comparatively, she is mini-hulk.  At a recent weigh in (using our bathroom scale), Zoe is currently 19 lbs which puts her just under the 25th percentile (no change).  Wyatt, weighs 16.3 lbs which puts him up over the 10th percentile (an increase of about 5% -- w00t!).  She is solid. Fricken. Muscle.  Wyatt is also increasing his muscle mass, but at his own speed.

We are really starting to see the results of his hard work.  It gets a little disheartening at times as his learning curve is so much different than hers.  Yes, his "pushing up" is happening almost all the time now and for longer periods; yes, he is rolling all around the room.  Yes, he is sitting for longer periods and when he eventually bowls over, he is starting to naturally correct and roll onto his tummy.  He has also showed us a new trick;  pulling himself forward.  It isn't very graceful and it is only an inch or two maximum, but he can half push, half drag himself forward.

I have been encouraging him to do this for weeks, trying this toy and that one in the hopes of piquing his interest.  We have things that flash, things that reflect, things that rattle, chime and honk.  We have soft things and hard things and things that are fun to chew.  Nada.

You can imagine my delight when I looked over last week and saw him actually doing it!  That moment of squee rapidly dissipated as I realized what he was reaching for.  Hundreds of dollars worth of toys?  Not interesting enough.  A small piece of plastic wrap from a drinking box straw that he could possibly choke to death on?  It's milestone time, baby!

During last week's OT appointment, they asked if we had a kiddie car or the like to try Wyatt on.  I looked up from my laundry in semi-disbelief and pushed over our Radio Flyer Retro Rocket. I love this thing.  We bought it for Quinn for his first birthday and it has sat, unloved, in the garage for a few years.  It has lights that light up and buttons to push.  It has a Space Race/Golden Age male announcer voice that says things like "All Systems Go, Retro!  We're looking good!" and a rather patient female computer voice that informs the child that they are "Now approaching Warp Speed" or "Asteroid ahead".  The best is the countdown;  in the same Phil Hartman meets Buzz Lightyear voice, you hear "3...2...1... BLAST OFF!", at which time all the lights flash and the whole rocket vibrates.  The first time I sat Zoe on it, she looked around, saw the bright buttons and started hitting them at random.  When she hit the countdown and the vibrations started, she promptly freaked out (and has every single time since then).  I was very proud of my little boy as Wyatt sat on the rocket ship (with minimal support at his hips), with his back straight and his hands firmly on the hand grips.  He briefly looked at me in alarm the first time he blasted off, but then looked back down at the twinkling buttons to see what else the thing could do.  He was not disappointed.  Wyatt even got a ride on the rocking horse, which he enjoyed, grinning broadly all the while. 

With the (surprising) burst of warm weather, the kids have spent some time at the park.  I have been unable to go thus far, thanks to my work schedule and my silly insistence on sleeping a few hours a day.  Sean took them to one of the numerous playgrounds near our house, which unfortunately, only has one baby swing.  Zoe had the first turn and was apparently a bit apprehensive until Quinn started pushing her (then it suddenly became fun).  Wyatt, on the other hand, gripped the front of the seat in his chubby fists and giggled maniacally the whole time, hair blowing in the breeze as he zoomed higher and higher (which was probably a full 30° in total, but I'm sure it seemed much more to him).  They also took turns as Daddy held their hands and let them go down the baby slide. I so wish I had been there to see it.  Next time I am going and you can bet that I am taking the camera.

We've had a little progress with Wyatt's eating as well.  Previously I've mentioned that he would pick up a handful of food and then mush it around or just sit with it in his hand.  It's almost as if he forgot that it was there or couldn't deduce that he had to open his hand in order to put it in his mouth.  Since he has had some success with larger objects recently (such as cookies and birthday cupcakes) it got us thinking a bit.  As it was warm, a few days ago I was cutting up some little pieces of watermelon for Zoe.  Instead of chunks, I cut the melon into sticks for Wyatt (like you would carrot sticks).  He easily grasped them and was able to bring them to his mouth and bite off a chunk to chew.  The adaptation only fell apart when he started to shove too much into his mouth and gagged a bit.  However, both he and his sister were able to enjoy a tasty treat on a hot day.  They just did it a little differently.  We've now expanded the self feeding repertoire to include waffles, cookies and pancakes.  I'm hoping that the watermelon model works with sticks of cheese. 

Not so long ago, I asked a group of parents (who have multiples where at least one has DS) if they had a hard time once the "typical" children had very obviously surpassed the "atypical" ones.  How did they handle it?  How did they get through it?  Was it as upsetting as I was anticipating it to be?  The results were vague and lukewarm and I was a little disappointed with the lack of response.  What I realize now is that there wasn't much to report.  It isn't a big deal at all.  Having twins at two different levels of development is just like... having two kids.  Zoe may be babbling and mumbling to herself while toddling/crawling/scooting around the living room while Wyatt giggles while he rolls and inchworms about.  They are just two different little people that do different things.. and locomotion is no exception.

This age is astounding... and it shoots past all too fast.  It is all too easy to let the days blur together and stream by at warp speed until one day you realize they are about to start school.  I choose not to do that.  No matter how hectic or complex our days become, I am steadfast in my resolve to celebrate each and every little triumph.  When your child has Down syndrome, you no longer have the luxury of "expectations".  What we do have are adventures.  Instead of "potential reached" we have "mission accomplished!".  It may not be to infinity and beyond, but we are happy with our own little rocket ride.

All systems go, Retro.  We're lookin' good.

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