Baby Jacob

Baby Jacob

This sweet baby boy is Jacob.  (His mommy’s sister was a good friend of mine in high school!)  Jacob is having surgery to fix his heart early Monday morning.  Please pray for him, his family, and his doctors.  His surgery will be very similar to Matthew’s, and will even take place at the same medical center!

Like most of us, Jacob’s parents started their journey with him feeling pretty alone.  His mom, Susan, told me she was surprised to learn just how small the Down syndrome community is.  Here in Eastern Washington, there just isn’t much.  If it weren’t for you, my readers and on-line support group, I don’t know what I’d do!

Susan has also started a blog, The Ups and Downs of the Allred Family. They have already discovered that their lives have been forever changed, for the good.  In her last post, Susan writes:

“…What is it about this little child that draws me to him?  How can it be that after only a few short weeks I cannot imagine (or remember) my life without him? This one little soul, who has not spoken one word to me, hasn’t taken a single step, or even kissed my cheek had managed to utterly complete me…”

Please stop by their blog to check on baby Jacob.  Offer your support and encouragement.  Pray for them, and let them know that they are in your prayers.  I know that their whole family appreciates it.

. . .

Quick update on our family:

It has been quite a week.  All 3 boys are sick with a nasty cold, and as usual, Matthew was hit the hardest.  Last night, we were close to taking him in to the hospital because his fever was high in spite of Tylenol and Ibuprofen, his breathing was labored, and he just looked about as miserable as can be.  Aaron patiently held him in the recliner most of the night, and as he relaxed and slept, his breathing was more comfortable.  He was a little better today – taking fluids, eating a little, and even treating us to some smiles.  We’re hoping and praying for a restful night for all of us.  Thanks to good neighbors and my wonderful parents for helping to take care of us.

On top of it all, Wednesday morning held an emergency-room adventure for Micah and I.  “Superman” here was twirling in the living room when he fell into an end-table.  His bottom teeth sliced all the way through his lip.  Thankfully, no stitches were required – the doctors were able to use “super-glue” to patch up our little superhero.

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Christmas 2010, in pictures

… a little overdue, but not too much.  Enjoy!

The Gingerbread houses did not come pre-assembled, so after one frustrating attempt at building (and a 5-yo asking, “When can we start having fun?”) we converted it to a “cookie” project.  They tasted terrible, but it was sure fun!

We very much enjoyed spending time with my sister and her family, who flew in from Wisconsin to be with us for Christmas.  We got to meet our newest nephew, Anders.  In Micah’s words, “he’s a cute little guy, with big eyes.  Doesn’t say much.”

We exchanged gifts with the cousins the weekend before Christmas.  Ten little blondes, age 10-and-under!  This picture was taken right before we let them tear into the gifts – a time my dad refers to as “nearing critical mass.”  What fun, joyous chaos!

Then, we headed to Spokane to spend Christmas with Aaron’s parents.

Is that a halo above Micah’s head?  He was trying to be extra good for Santa, but that might be over-doing it.

The boys were so handsome dressed up for Christmas Eve Mass.  After Mass, Micah saw one bright star in the sky, and was sure it was the star of Bethlehem.  It was very magical for him!  Christmas is so wondrous and so much fun with a 5-year-old around!

Of course, there was plenty of excitement left for Christmas morning, too.

Matthew’s speech therapist has wanted to hear a “p” sound from him … nothing like “puuuuuulll-ing” off ribbons to practice that one!  We heard lots of “p” sounds, as well as “dat-doo” as he politely said “thank-you” for each gift.

Santa brought Micah some “real” paleontology gear, including a compass, tools for delicate fossil digging, a nifty vest to wear out on a dig!  Nothing could be better for my little dino-lover.

We got to spend some time with our sweet nephew, born only a week after Jesse.  The two of them made quite a pair.

Even with all the gifts and excitement, nothing was more coveted than time on Papa’s lap.

Medical Update: Cardiology and ABR

Matthew saw our wonderful cardiologist, Dr. Anderson, last week.  His heart is still looking good!  We didn’t expect any less, but good news is always appreciated.  His repaired valve is still leaking mildly, but not enough to be of concern, and the right upper chamber of his heart is slightly enlarged because of the leakage, but it hasn’t changed from last year.  Matthew was SO good and cooperative for the tests, the doctors were able to get a really good, clear pictures.  So, with smiles on our faces, we said goodbye to Dr. Anderson until next year!

. . .

All of Matthew’s hearing tests since his ear tube/tonsil surgery have been equivocal, meaning the doctors really can’t tell how well he is hearing.  So today, Matthew had a specialized hearing test called an ABR.  He was under anesthesia for over two hours, while doctors measured his brain response to sound.  It is the best way to know what a child can really hear, and although we were not excited about another procedure and more anesthesia for our little guy, we need to make sure he is hearing as well as possible.

The doctors took very good care of him, and we were even able to get his annual bloodwork done while he was under anesthesia.  They gave him some Versed before they took him back, so he was very relaxed about going back for the procedure (and probably won’t remember much about the whole ordeal!)  The anesthesiologist gave him a pretty hefty dose of anesthesia, too, to make sure he didn’t wake up during the long procedure.  But, waking up was difficult.  It took Matthew a long time to come out of the anesthesia, and when he did wake up, he was mad.  He was pretty upset for several hours, and even his favorite Signing Time videos weren’t able to calm him down.  Aaron finally took him for a drive, hoping to put him to sleep.  He didn’t sleep, but he did calm down, and when they got back around 4:00 this afternoon, he ate his first solid food of the day:  cucumbers, frozen peas, cheese, summer sausage, and crackers.  After a good snack, we finally saw some smiles, and an hour later, he was as goofy as ever.

The results?  Not quite normal, but good enough.  It’s what we’ve come to expect from this one.  Nothing is ever “normal,” but we’re happy with “good enough!”  He may have some small hearing loss of very low tones, and some of the readings weren’t quite normal, but it looks like one of his ear tubes may be plugged, interfering with the readings.  For now, his doctors are satisfied that he’s hearing everything he needs to hear, and we’re happy to not enter the world of hearing aids … at least for now.

It’s been a long day, and we’re all exhausted.  I wish we could say we’re done with anesthesia and procedures for awhile, but Jesse’s tear duct is still plugged, he has another infection in that eye, and it will need to be probed again soon.  The staff at St. Mary’s same-day-surgery are getting to know us a little too well.

Growing Up

It’s no secret that we have a busy house.  We have 3 energetic boys who are very, very busy with the business of growing up.  Micah is starting to read, Jesse is starting to talk, and as he does, we also hear more and more words from Matthew.

And, it seems, every day a little more of Matthew’s babyhood slips away as he lets us know that he, too, is ready for more grown-up things.

So, step aside sippy cups with lids.  Matthew doesn’t need you anymore.

Of course, Matthew, every accomplishment is celebrated by your big brother, too.  Micah pretty much takes the credit for teaching you everything you know … but he is constantly at your side, to encourage you, push you, and give you the applause you love.

He’s your best friend.  Really.

You’ve also let us know that you want to brush your teeth your SELF.  You do a pretty good job, too … in fact, you are more skilled at this task than Micah.  He was pretty shocked to hear us say so, and is working hard to brush as well as you do.

Thanks to a new step-stool that Grandpa built, you can reach the sink to wash your hands by yourself, too.  You are careful and meticulous – I can only hope that your brothers wash as well as you do.  You ask for the soap (“boap”), scrub away, rinse and dry your hands, then carefully hang the towel back on the rack.

Jesse thinks the new step stool is pretty great, too.  He can help himself to a drink if someone will turn the water on for him.  However, I’m afraid he’s not as tidy as you, Matthew.

But, you’ve taught Jesse a lot of things, too.  You’ve taught him to use sign language – most of the farm animals, more, please, water, milk, baby, Mommy, & Daddy – maybe soon you can teach him to wipe up his own spills and hang up the towel, too.