When you're pregnant, you dream about maternity leave, the thought of not having to worry about work, instead spending your everyday with a little person you created and instantly love.
I was pretty lucky, maternity leave with Emmy was pretty cruisey, first time mum and it all went rather text book, lots of time learning how to be a mum, long walks and catch ups with friends and family were weekly events. So second time round I presumed naively I would follow the same routine, I can honestly say I never thought about how busy you get raising two kids. Eight months. Yep that's right eight months since we welcomed "no so little anymore" Leo into our family. It feels like just yesterday that I was making three daily trips to the hospital, not knowing when he would come home, not knowing what home life would be like, not having any clue what Leo’s diagnosis had in stall for us, but at the same time it feels like an eternity ago to us. I hadn't even started maternity leave when Leo decided he wanted to meet us, and maternity leave this time round definitely hasn't been the walk in the park it was the the first time round! Firstly, winter! Urgh, the cold, windy, rainy days being locked in a house with a baby and two year old was crazy, but we survived! Avoiding that whole "lose that baby weight" thing until I can readily access my gym during work lunch, I did set some clear goals and can proudly say that Emmy is daytime potty trained, knows most of her colours, can count to ten and knows an alphabet song (some random song that I made up) up to the letter 'I' .... it was only recently that Rod pointed out my mummy fail and that I had missed out the letter G, whoops! Leo ... well wow! He rolls, reaches, sits, smiles, laughs, eats solids and is learning to crawl, BUT he also does high fives, waves, kicks his legs (when you say kick kick kick) reaches his arms up to be picked up and gives kisses!! All normal skills of an eight month old! We've never set expectations for Leo, we decided early treat him like we did Emmy and haven't place any limits on him and in return he amazes us every day! Are there things that are different? Sure are, Leo is quiet! 'Lucky you' some parents would say, but he can go a whole day making no to little noise should we not interact with cuddles and biting his elbow or kissing his cheeks and neck to encourage a laugh.
Babies babble, babble turns into sounds, sounds turn into words, so instead of enjoying the silence since he was only weeks old we spend a lot of time speaking to him, lots of dad dad dad, mum mum mum and then silence to give him time to respond with a noise. A few weeks ago Leo started to babble out da da da...woohoo ! Great he is talking we thought, as speech is often delayed, well blowing raspberries is a lot more fun so the da da da has stopped and replaced with saliva bubbles (insert cuteness factor here).
However recently he started to mimic coughing which is a great sign (mimicking sounds), so daily the speech continues with lots of talking (not hard for us), signing and sounds and we will may look at introducing keyword signing to help his speech development along the way. So obviously the whole Ds thing has been a major learning curve but other than the physio it doesn't consume my day. I met some lovely families, I'm apart of a T21 mums group that has increased from a handful at the start of the year to almost fifty bubs born this year, a group of amazingly strong supportive women, all of us together muddling their way through motherhood, mums that I might never meet but are first to offer an ear and virtual hugs and positive advice. I've been back at work for about three weeks now and have well and truly handed the reigns over to Rod for the next twelve months, it's not scary leaving the kids with their dad, Rod rocks the stay at home dad gig and is 100% dedicated to raising the kids, we did exactly the same handover with Emmy. I'm somewhat jealous he gets to start off with the warmer weather but that just means the days are longer and I will have more daylight hours when I return home! Rod and I are one the same wave length, easy going and just get things done. He will be in charge of helping Leo crawl, walk and talk and teaching Emmy the rest of the alphabet song and the letter G!
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