20 February 2013

Victory Dance

I have the baby itch. Abigail's going to be two in just a few more months, our future looks stable, and I feel like I have enough of a handle on the responsibilities of my life right now to devote myself to a new little one. Not to mention that I ran into a rack of newborn onesies at Target the other day. Slew my heart, that polka-heart onesie with a pink and purple cupcake did.

But before you start sending me congratulations, please know that we are not now nor will be pregnant soon. We we have one serious reason and one minor reason to post-pone a family addition. Major: no health insurance. Minor: I never ever want to move while pregnant ever again. So we have to wait.

In the meantime, ABIGAIL WALKS WITH PUSH TOYS! She walks while holding hands and she stands independently for brief seconds as long as she's distracted. She's been able to walk while holding hands for about a week now. Yesterday in physical therapy, the therapist stood Abigail up in front of a push toy and she took off like a shot, making it about 6 feet before she hit a rug and tumbled over. It was a wild, wide-legged, fast-paced run/walk, but it was a damn good first attempt. As soon as the therapist left, we ran to Target to pick up a play shopping cart I'd had my eye on since Christmas.

This is the first push toy I've ever seen that is appropriate for Abigail's height. She's so short that the handle on most push toys is about at eye-level for the poor girl. Validation arrived today when the occupational therapist showed up with a toy shopping cart that she was planning to lend us for a few weeks so that Abigail could practice. I guess our lack of push toys was noticeable.

She prefers to push it backwards, pulling out items as she goes. You can follow the trail of cardboard boxes and plastic canned goods around the apartment.

I am eagerly awaiting the day that she toddles across the room to me without a plastic shopping cart, but I know from friends that it usually takes kids with Ds a few months to transition from walking with a push toy to walking independently. We're hoping by her second birthday. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying this moment of bliss.

Today I walked into the living room to discover this:

Today is the first time my 21-month-old has climbed up onto a piece of furniture by herself. I've been working with her for about a week to climb on that trunk. I've spent a few months working on the couch, but to no avail.

When I say, as I do so often, that the life of a special needs parent means we experience higher highs and lower lows, this is a prime example. Abigail first started pulling up to stand in July. It took her seven months to go from pulling up to stand to walking with a push toy. And during those seven months, I worked with her for 20 minutes 3-4 times a week. One-on-one physical therapy, just me and her 20 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week. For seven months. It was really. damn. hard. At times it felt so completely hopeless. I felt like she was never going to walk. I think if her MI physical therapist hadn't sucked, things would have gone faster, but we'll never know for sure. So yes, that is a really damn low low. I remember sitting at the salon getting my hair cut when the stylist found out I had a baby and asked how old she was.
"15 months now!" I respond.
"Oh! Such a cute age! So she's walking now, right?"
"Not yet!" I say cheerful.
Enter awkward pause. The stylist is confused. She has an 11-month-old niece who is just on the brink of walking. She's pretty sure her best friend's 15-month-old is able to run. She's wondering why my 15-month-old isn't walking yet, but she doesn't know how to ask politely and I'm not volunteering anything.
I'm pretty sure preferencing every discussion about Abigail with "Oh, she has Down syndrome" would feel way worse than letting the stylist stammar awkwardly for a minute or two, so I don't bring it up. I have a cute, sassy daughter at home and sometimes that's all people need to know.

But it still feels low. 7 months of low.

And then? Victory! Walking with a little pink shopping cart! Climbing on a foot locker! I know how hard we worked to get to this point, because I was right there with her. My hands gently tugging on her quads 20 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week for 7 months. My pinky finger scooping her lower abs to encourage her to engage her core. The frustration, the crying, the falling down. Abigail didn't just start toddling one day. She won't just start walking. It'll be a long painstaking process.

But when there's victory, there's victory. Like the man with no legs winning the Olympics. No? Too soon? How about the man with terminal cancer coming back to win seven world championships? That doesn't work either? Yes, but you get where I'm going with this. The underdog winning the World Series, the kid from the poor side of town growing up to change the world for the better. Their accomplishments are so much higher because of the muck they had to get through just to get to everyone else's starting line up.

And so we do a little victory dance around here when Abigail climbs on top of a trunk. Or signs "water." Okay, we do a huge victory dance and there's usually tears and a video camera involved.

Because she earned it.


Amelia said...

Yay! Go Abigail!

Matt said...

She's so gosh darn cute!