In my last post I mentioned that we were going to a conference called “the Wonder Years” put on by Ups & Downs. It was really really great! We both really enjoyed it for a number of reasons…
First of all, it gave us the chance to meet some new people. Some people who are living life with a very similar spin as ours. Some people who have some really great kids. Some people who are a couple of years farther in the journey, and are living testaments to the joy that permeates life with our children! Both Curtis and I definitely felt a unique camaraderie present throughout the day, and it was just such a blessing to be in the presence of other people who have traveled the same road.
Secondly, it was a great learning opportunity! (although, in the true fashion of learning, I felt as though I came away from the day with more questions than answers!) We learned about everything from baby sign language, to available resources in Calgary, to RDSP’s (a Disability Savings Plan through the government, much like an RRSP or an RESP), to understanding our emotions and feelings as parents, and so much more.
One of the things that really stuck out to me was something called “Chronic Grief”. Basically, our facilitator told us that as parents of children who are diagnosed with Down syndrome, we will experience this “chronic grief”. It does not mean that we are constantly sad, every day for the rest of our lives. But it does mean that we will experience grief for the rest of our lives, because of our child’s diagnosis. This was never more clear to me than a few weeks ago, when I had the appointment with the ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist) and she told me that there was a possibility Jake might need some help hearing. I drove from that appointment straight to Curtis’ work, and we just sat in the car in the parking lot and I bawled on his shoulder. I didn’t have a word for what I was feeling, and I almost felt guilty about being so upset. I mean, I knew what Jake’s diagnosis could entail as far as physical ramifications, and yet I still found myself overcome with grief. At the conference, however, we learned that this is not only okay, but it is normal, and expected. So, that was a pretty freeing moment for me.
Thirdly, we were introduced to some great resources that I will be looking into going forward from here. And along with those resources, the possibility of greater interaction with other moms and children who are in the same boat.
So, although I did not feel like the conference “solved” everything or answered all my questions (which of course it would be impossible to do in one day!), I came away with a sense of hope for the future. With a sense of direction, and some ideas as to where to go, going forward from here. Was it a success for us? Definitely!!
(and of course, my blog would not be complete without a couple of pictures of my cutie!)
This is at Brilliant Beginnings, the parent-infant class that we attend. Each week is a teaching time for the parents, followed by some singing and activities centered around a theme. This week’s theme was pirates!