Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A bit of who's who...

I have given you a little bit of background about Koosh and I. I want to introduce you to the Grandparents of Jessica. All four of them had major roles in Jessica's early years.

My parents were known as Grammie and Grampi. Grammie and Grampi had lived in New Hampshire until just before I gave birth to Jessica. They decided to move to Canada to be near Koosh and I especially with a new grandchild on the way. My brother and his wife also lived close by and they had four children. So Grammie and Grampi felt this was a good move for them. It was indeed my dad that formed the caregiver in me. Like myself, he never tired of holding babies and walking babies which I had witnessed on many occasions. I have already mentioned that they were the ones that drove me into my final appointment which led to the birth of Jessica. You could always count on them in a pinch.

Koosh's mom and dad were known as Grampa John and Gramma. Grampa John was already in his 80's when Jessica was born. I am told he never held a grandchild as a baby until Jessica came along. No small feat for an 80 year old! He called Jessica - Jessie Wren and was blind to any developmental challenges she was to endure. He always spoke to her about what he would do with her in the future and he had big plans! Gramma had quite a few health issues but this did not stop her from lending a hand. I can remember in particular one night when Jessica was having one of her screaming fits and Koosh just could not be aroused. I picked Jessica up for what seemed like the 100th time and went to the rocking chair. Beside the rocking chair was the phone. Now it was about 3:00am and with that rocking chair intensely going back and forth I dialed Gramma's number. As soon as she answered she knew who it was by Jessica's cries. I immediately began relating how frustrated I was and how I just had come to my wits end and what should I do now. Calmly and softly she spoke about the day. She talked about how I was feeling and slowly the rocking chair slowed down. The baby in my arms became quiet. Gramma and I talked a little bit longer before I put Jessica back in her bed. I thanked Gramma for being there and said I thought we could all go back to sleep now. Poor Gramma never did get back to sleep that night but Jessica and I slept through to morning.

I think it is important to note that Jessica's grandparents were important people and a strong support system. Along with grandparents, Koosh and I also each had brothers who also had families living near by. Koosh having grown up in this town of Eganville, had many friends who were there for us. Eventually you may have the chance to know them all!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A little background...

When Koosh and I met, we were both coming out of some pretty serious relationships. We both found ourselves in a place knowing what we did and did not want out of a relationship. We were both very sensitive people who had been hurt and certainly did not want to feel that hurt again. When 2 people have had the same experiences, the same hurts and come to the same conclusions find themselves staring at one another, magical things can happen. We fell hard.

We also discovered something about each other that would influence our life together. We both loved music. Not only listening to music (although one of my fondest memories is Koosh showing up at my door one night after midnight with a Murray McLauchlin album tucked under his arm which we listened to until the wee hours) but also singing and playing our guitars. I wasn't the best singer in my family but man could I harmonize! And Koosh, well Koosh was good. If anyone was having a campfire, you would find us there and between us we had quite a repertoire!

Through our courtship we discovered that we had something that would last a lifetime. Look no further this is it. Don't move, you are there. So when I discovered I was pregnant, it was most logical to get married. And we did one hot summer's evening in July. It was a sad day a month later when I miscarried. There were those who felt we had rushed in to marriage too quickly. It had been only 7 months since we first laid eyes on one another. But the commitment we showed each other during that hard time convinced any skeptic that there was something very powerful between us.

The next six months were ones of recuperation and discovery. For this brief time, we indulged in picnics, visits with family and friends and lots of music. But there was always a part of me that longed to experience another pregnancy. It's an ache to fulfill a dream that was ended too soon. One is not complete until they can say they are with child again. The day I told Koosh that we would have a child was one of the happiest days of my life.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tests, tests, tests

Within a couple of weeks an appointment had been set up at CHEO, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Jessica was seen by neurology, audiology, occupational and speech therapy, and developmental specialist and oh yes the optometrist. In layman's terms - brain, ears, large and fine muscle, speech and how does she grow? This makes for a very long day for a 9 month old. Koosh and I were exhausted! I don't know which one of us needed a nap more.

Her brain activity tested okay. She was making a lot of sounds so the speech therapist was encouraged. Her ears were inconclusive as her responses were erratic. The eye test was a hoot. For a child this young they project pictures on the far wall while the child is sitting in the mother's lap. She was so much more interested in what was immediately around her so this test proved inconclusive as well.

It was the developmental department that had the most tasks. Toys were introduced, taken away, hidden, revealed, squeaked, bounced and lets not forget the mirrors. The stimulation was immense. It did show that Jess although interested at times, could care less for the most part. She became very agitated by so much stimulation so I began to sing to her to calm her down. (Music was to be a big part of Jessica's development.)

Needless to say, the tests Jessica went through that day proved that her development was in fact severely delayed. The doctor expressed his belief that her growth would forever be behind and whether her muscles would ever support her he could not say. He felt that if she received some extensive therapy perhaps in a residential setting she may progress.

Excuse me? This child is only 9 months old and you are recommending that we give her up? Koosh and I were numb. This could not be happening. Surely with love and the right kind of stimulation her future would be brighter than that!

Koosh and I said very little to each other on the hour drive home. I was singing a great deal of the time anyway to keep Jess happy. We did know individually that we were a family and Jessica would grow up knowing her family and community.

Within a week, we would receive news that would impact Jessica's development as well as our family.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What's a little spit up?

Jessica had a very healthy appetite. She would nurse until she burst. I mean that in a very literal sense. Try to stop her before she had reached that point and you were met with screams you would not believe! So I let her go and when she stopped I would lay out the burp cloths for about a 5 foot diameter and wait. Along with the burp came the geyser and if I was rewarded with hiccups after that, then I knew no more would come up. People would ask to hold her and I would warn them and of course the retort would always be the same..."I have been spit up on before". So I would hand her over and the retort would always be the same..."oohhh".

The visiting nurse would come and I would tell her of Jess' need to give up a tremendous amount of whatever she had taken in but she would reassure me that she seemed to be thriving (yes, she was a bit chubby) so not to worry.

At about this time, Jess went for a check up to our family doctor. He heard me out about the spitting up and suggested she go see the pediatrician 30 miles away. I set up the appointment and was seen by a very nice elderly doctor who listened to my concerns and then examined her. His remarks caught me off guard. He wasn't too concerned about her spitting up but her muscle tone was not where he thought a 3 month old should be. He gave me exercises to do and said he would like to see me back in 6 months time.

I went home not too daunted. After all, did I not have one of the cutest babies on the planet? Look at the way I could get her to smile and laugh! She was certainly happy! I shared the visit with friends and kindly and patiently they would point out some things that they felt she should be able to do. She was beautiful, they agreed. But she just didn't seem to have motivation.

Those 6 months went by quickly. I had played my heart out with her. She especially liked her blanket time on the floor. I would roll her this way and that and was indeed rewarded when she went from back to front one day all on her own. That is most difficult so I was sure she was showing progress. She was a very contented child. I could give her a toy and she would turn it over and over in her hands for what seemed hours (although I am sure the clock would disagree but it was a very long time).

At 9 months I brought her back to the specialist confident that he would praise her progress. Unfortunately, like before, he did not seem too concerned with the fact that she had rolled from back to front but was very concerned that she showed no signs of wanting out of her infant seat. "Does she not struggle when she is sitting in it? Does she not distress when toys are beyond her reach on the blanket?" These questions and more I had to answer "no". All the while thinking - 'this is not good'.

When the exam was finished and he had asked all his questions, he turned to me and informed me that Jessica's gross motor skills were severely lacking. She is still a bit young to come to a full diagnosis so I would like to see her in 6 more months. I responded 'no'. I had quickly done the math and that would put her at 15 months and I felt I needed to get a grip on this now. I asked for a referral to the children's hospital in Ottawa. He, of course, agreed and would set it up for me.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Such a treasure...

I never tired of having Jessica in my arms. Perhaps I missed the closeness of having her within. I just could gaze on her perfection forever. To put her down I might miss pursed lips, a squint of her eyes, a hand clenched and unclenched or better yet - clenched around one of my fingers! I knew I had to get her used to being placed in her bed. After all, I did need to go to the bathroom sometime! She even looks cuter in her little crib! Does she feel me leaning over to gaze as she sleeps?

After sleeping endlessly (2 hours) in her crib, I could not wait any longer and would pick her up just to sit and watch her slowly open her eyes. I wanted to be there when she woke up. Now this may sound rather manic and I would not recommend to everyone but this practice actually served Jessica well in days and years to come. I will explain this later.

When Jess was about a month old, she would cry when she was put down. She would cry before she ate. She would cry after she ate. She would cry, cry, cry. No amount of consoling seemed to work. She would get small relief if she slept in her car bed on top of the dryer. The vibration would calm her somewhat. She mainly would respond to walking; bouncing and walking; bouncing, patting and walking. Up in Canada (possibly in the states as well) we had a product called "gripe water". You would give a crying baby this elixir and it was supposed to provide the baby relief of whatever might be ailing them. Of course I tried it! Experienced mothers raved about the product. It had an awful smell but it did seem to cause the baby burps to emerge. I believe she outgrew the cries and probably would have even without the gripe water.

I mentioned the car bed. Jessica traveled everywhere in it. This was before mandatory car seats. Hard to believe this time existed but it did. If you don't know what one is - an old time carriage without the wheels and handles. A baby could sleep soundly through all kinds of environmental changes. You can clearly see the benefits, as for safety, that was seriously lacking and the protective devices of today are clearly needed. But of course the reasons for such are lost on a sleeping 2 month old.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm pregnant?

Meeting the man of my life was one thing but when I was told I would have a child of my own it was more happiness than I thought I could hold! Yes I felt huge towards the end but by that time I was so mesmerized by the movement within that looks took a back seat.

I remember one night as I read in bed setting the book on my builtin shelf. Deep in the story line when all of a sudden the kick from within sent my book onto the floor! What strength I thought!

It was a beautiful October when the child came. It had been a Canadian Thanksgiving the day before. The day had been filled with friends and family, horseshoes and food. I went in as usual for my check up. Mom and dad had driven me the 60 miles that day to attend to my appointment. My doctor had been a dark skinned handsome man. He had on an ivory cable knit sweater that day. I remember that because as he gave me an internal exam, he accidentally broke my water and I was hoping none had gotten on that beautiful sweater.

After 7 hours of intense labor (begun instantly when the water broke) our daughter was born. Koosh had arrived by now which allowed my mom to join my dad outside my room and she was grateful for this. She had really not been there when her children were born so it was uncomfortable to say the least for her to be keeping me company. She was out the door faster than a speeding bullet!

Koosh had coached me through and now was the time we had waited for. She needed encouragement to come out, her head had been engaged for a month! I had been given so much epidural relief that there was no feeling anymore and all I could do was push and hope the right muscles were working.

She did come and I heard her cry. Such relief when after 9 months you realize your child is breathing on her own. She will never be as dependent on you again and there is a heavy realization to that too. She was the most beautiful little human that I had ever seen. We called her Jessica Lynn.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

When I was twelve...

I was in high demand to provide babysitting services to friends of my dad's. I could just see him at work when a coworker might say he is looking for someone to watch the kids. Dad might have said "my daughter looks after children" and home he would come and sure enough I would get a phone call.

I never minded. I loved children. Years before I would be the one playing with friends' younger brothers and sisters when I would visit them. Looking back I feel that I was very young to be "in charge" of 2 or 3 siblings or babies just home from the hospital. But at the time it didn't phase me at all. Even when I held down full time jobs, I would help friends and family out by giving them a break and allowing them to go out for the night.

Even way back then, I could pick up vibes being put out by children. This one seemed tired, that one was exhausted, he behaved this way because... I always felt like I knew what an underlying problem was, I would address it and children would behave better. Parents wondered what kind of magic I had over them. They marveled that I always knew what to do. But the secret was, I felt the children were letting me know somehow.