We took our first family vacation a couple of weeks ago…to Seattle!
It was awesome! Jake was a rock-star…he slept on the plane all the way there, and was awake all the way home, but didn’t make a peep! Yes, I was nervous about flying. I was nervous about being “that person”…you know, the one with the annoying child who won’t stop crying. And I noticed something in the airport: when we walk around most public places, we get the “awww…your baby is so cute and little” stare. When we walked around the airport, we were getting the “oh no, a baby…I hope they are not on our flight” stare! But all that to say, it was a moot point, because Jake was an amazing traveler! Which bodes well for us, since we love to travel.
We did the typical touristy things in Seattle, and had a blast! The Space Needle, Aquarium, Ferry Ride, Pike Place Market, etc… were all amazing, and it was such a good experience for me, to realize that yes, we can still do things now that we have a child! Granted, we may have to change some of the plans, but that is almost more exciting for us – figuring out all the amazing things that we can do with Jake, to teach him, to stimulate him, and to watch him as he enjoys life! All in all, we had an amazing time. Saw some great sights, had some great family bonding time, relaxed, and got refreshed.
On a completely separate note, we seem to be moving into a different season with Jake.
When he was first-born, he spent 6 weeks in the NICU at the hospital. That first season was the hardest by far. Driving back and forth to the hospital everyday to visit your child, feeling like a failure because you can’t control the situation, hoping and praying for weight gain, for normal breathing, for the ability to eat, for normal heart rhythms, and for quick recovery from surgery. Waiting with anticipation for the day your child will be able to come home to you.
June 27 signaled the start of the second season. That was the day Jake came home from the hospital. That season was consumed by getting to know our little blessing. Spending 24/7 with him, getting to nurse him, figuring out his quirks and his personality, his likes and his dislikes. And figuring out how to live our new lives with an infant: what has to change, what stays the same, what this new life looks like. This was a great stage too, because I felt like it was just us and Jake. Just our new little family. In a way it felt like a period of hibernation, not from our family, friends, and life, but from the inevitable beginning of appointments, therapies, early interventions, etc…
I feel like with the advent of autumn, we have moved into the third season of little Jake’s life. This season will last for the next few years. This season is characterized in two parts. In the first part, we are still just our little family, living life together, and enjoying our son. We take trips to Seattle. We play ultimate frisbee. We hang out with friends and family. We celebrate the milestones of infancy: first smiles, first laughs, the holding up of the head, etc… But in the second part, we have begun to deal with the reality that Jakey has a unique situation. We have had visits from the Child Development Specialist from the Down syndrome clinic. We have had audiology appointments to check for proper hearing (he has fluid build-up, so next we need to figure out how to deal with that). We have started a parent/infant course. We are going to be starting “water therapy” after thanksgiving, to work on muscle tone.
I am so thankful for the second season. The transition into the third season has seemed more fluid and seamless because of the second season. Starting to deal with the aspects of Jake’s life that have to do with his diagnosis of Down syndrome has been so much easier because we are doing it in the context of Jake as a person. We have gotten to know our son, not just his diagnosis. Because over and above everything else, the diagnosis, the therapies, the doctors appointments, the specialist, the tests, etc… we realize this: Jake is Jake. First and foremost, he is OUR SON. And we love him to bits!