Monthly Archives: May 2013

Itty bitty baby pants!

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Another friend of mine is welcoming her first baby this August. Julie and I met through my friend Meagan. I was so lucky to spend one of my coop terms in undergrad in Guelph, because I lived with them. To this day, I have been known to say, “I wish we were next door neighbours so life would be like it was when we lived together.” Honestly, these girls, the kind of friend every woman deserves. I don’t know what I’d do without them by my side.

We are silly together. These gals make me laugh. A lot.

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We make a mean tray of nachos and we’re the self-proclaimed nacho champs. Meagan is a bit nacho bossy, but it works in our favour ūüėČ

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They are some of my biggest supporters – and are always by my side.

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I love these girls. The only thing that sucks about being friends with them is that I can’t get enough of them.

In August, the third installation of the next generation will arrive. Madeleine, Abby, and another sweet little girl will be making mischief together.

IMG_2185We celebrated mama-to-be Jules this past weekend. In preparation of her shower, I decided to make Rae Hoekstra’s Basic Newborn Baby Pant, a free online tutorial. These are a great project for a new sewer, and I whipped them up in an evening. Maddy even had a hand in it, picking out the fabric.

We stood in an aisle at Len’s Mill, and I asked Maddy, “What fabric should we use to make the baby some pants?” And she pointed and exclaimed, “Monkey!”¬†Maddy has also requested her own monkey outfit.¬†I’m so glad I let Maddy pick the fabric, because I just adore the final product.

In just a few months we’ll have another little one that will fit into these itty bitty baby pants. I am so excited for her arrival!

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A whole new world

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Since Maddy’s diagnosis¬†we’ve been all kinds of busy over here making appointments, faxing reports, and doing intakes. A whole new world of opportunities has opened up with those three little words: autism spectrum disorder.

IMG_2180We had a multi-disciplinary meeting yesterday at Maddy’s daycare – an hour for everyone to come together and get on the same page. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience. We are so blessed to have an amazing support team behind us, who are cheering Maddy on every step of the way.

I was so humbled to hear Maddy’s daycare very openly and honestly tell us that they were confused, and just didn’t see it – without pushing any sort of agenda. All they wanted was to understand. It didn’t take long before they did. Our support team was able to explain in a much more articulate manner than I would have been able to. At the end of the meeting they told me, they understood, and their new understanding allowed them to see it.

I picked Maddy up today at my usual time. When I arrived, one of Maddy’s teachers started by sharing with me some of Maddy’s sensory quirks she had not really noticed before. Our meeting had given her a new lens and she was picking up on cues she had previously missed.

She went on to tell me that at one point in the day, Maddy was starting to become agitated (or, for those of you who are familiar with the phrase, her engine was running too fast). There were extra people around, creating a lot of noise and chaos in the room. Maddy’s teacher decided to try something we had talked about yesterday – deep pressure. She asked Madeleine if she’d like some squeezes (this is what we call them at home). Maddy said yes and proceeded to show her teacher all the places on her body she wanted squeezes (I know – amazing!). With tears in her eyes, the teacher said to me,

“For the first time, Maddy looked at me like I finally understood her.”

My heart just about burst into a million little happy pieces. We might be taking baby steps, but we are moving leaps and bounds.

Received the beautiful mama blog award

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beautiful-mama-blog-award1I am completely honoured that Jenny from The Jenny Evolution and The Sensory Spectrum nominated me for the beautiful mama blog award Рthank you!

I initially started this blog last year because I wanted a place to share my bumpy road of learning to sew. ¬†It also gave me an excuse to take a break from my challenging but adored role as Maddy’s mom.

It was not long after I started writing that I poured my heart and soul out to the readers of sewrite. That was a turning point for me, and I realized how much writing about the darkest moments of my parenting journey, sharing my most exciting and brightest moments, and documenting ‘things that worked in our house’ was a way for me to cope better with our situation. I love how my blog has also connected me with so many compassionate, loving, wonderful parents who have ‘been there’ and can shine the light forward for us.

I’m fumbling my way through this whole parenting thing, but I love where we are headed. In an email exchange with a friend today, talking about experiences with our kiddos, she commented that I am “very determined”. I responded back to her, tongue in cheek, that “I’m not sure the correct descriptor of my parenting style is very determined as much as it is stubborn to the point of [self] destruction.” This blog certainly helps me take a step back, and not let my stubbornness for working towards a specific goal with Madeleine take over who I am as a person – not just a mother – but a person who also needs to be taken care of.

As part of the beautiful mama blog award, I’m asked to tell you three things I love about being a mom. This is a really tough question, but I’ll do my best to say something worthwhile.

  1. I love seeing the world through Madeleine’s eyes. I love getting excited about bubbles, trains, and music.
  2. I love how much Madeleine is teaching me. I love that she pushes me past my comfort zone, and forces me to learn skills that I would otherwise gloss over. Some of the things she’s teaching me are: more patience, the comfort of routine, and speaking up for myself (and her too). The more I learn about Madeleine, the more I learn about myself.
  3. Every day Madeleine is the best reminder of what is important in my life, where my priorities lie, and who I want to be – I am so thankful for that.

There are so many beautiful mamas out there it’s hard to pick… but here are a handful of them in no particular order:

Lindsay @ Food for Thought

Lee-Ann @ Lee-Ann’s Crazy Life!

Brandi @ yee wittle things

Shannon @ HighFunctioningMomism

  • Save the award image and include it in your acceptance post
  • List three things you love about motherhood
  • Nominate other deserving mamas – as many as you’d like!

 

The day we’ve been waiting for: Diagnosis day

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It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down to write. I’ve been spending a lot of time processing information. I’ve been processing since April 26.

April 26, 2013, the day the words Autism Spectrum Disorder officially entered our world.

I returned to my desk at work late afternoon after a whirlwind of meetings and a team lunch to find an email sitting in my inbox from the clinical psychologist (Dr. K) we had visited a week earlier. I opened it expecting a question or clarification from Dr. K. It wasn’t a question. It was an email indicating that Madeleine had a provisional diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I’m still not quite sure what it felt like to finally see those words. In all honesty, I didn’t feel much except a surge of adrenaline that had my hands shaking. I was not surprised, but I also wasn’t expecting it. My supervisor let me leave work a half hour early, because I couldn’t concentrate, and really, just wanted to be near Eric. I’m not sure why, but the words she said to me just burned into my brain, “Go home, be with Eric, and enjoy your weekend.” I don’t think I’m ever going to forget those words.

My commute was just long enough to allow myself a good cry. I wasn’t crying because I was sad. I wasn’t crying because we had a diagnosis. I’m not really sure what the exact feeling that was attached to my tears, except I knew that it was my body releasing all of the frustration of the previous 22 months. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. In a sense, I felt a new kind of freedom. Someone had heard us.

I’ve read a lot of blog posts about others’ experiences or thoughts on “diagnosis day”. Some really great reads I’ve found are here, here, and the one I connected with the most is here. My experience is not quite like anything I’ve found online so far, which I guess is to be expected. Each family has a different journey, including diagnosis day. What I did find in each story was a hidden gem that I connected with, and that allowed me to feel connected to parents I have never met.

I think that our process began when we first saw the words “Suspected Autism Spectrum Disorder” and we’ve felt any emotion you could name since then. What I find the most interesting, is that we left our assessment process feeling more positive than we had felt in a long time. Five days later when I read Dr. K’s email, I felt more at peace than I had in over a year. We have a name to describe our experience, and, although the label doesn’t change much in terms of who Maddy is, it does give us access to a world of information that applies to Maddy. We will be better able to fill Maddy’s toolbox with the most appropriate tools, and she will thrive.

Our therapists often very correctly tell us that it’s not the label that’s important – and I agree with them. You don’t need a label to identify and work with strengths and weaknesses. But, I gotta tell you, as a parent, that label sure brought me a sense of inner calmness that I can’t eloquently describe to you.

I do have some feelings about the diagnosis that don’t exactly pertain to the diagnosis itself:

  • I don’t particularly like that this diagnosis has tied us to a longer term investment in inconvenient therapy sessions, daycare/school meetings, and extra life challenges as Maddy is growing and learning.
  • I am angry at how the public system treats families, and frustrated more than ever by our two-tier system that prevents many families from receiving the support they desperately need.
  • I’m not particularly fond that we’re now part of a world that is full of conflict (philosophical, theoretical, and diagnostic…). We’ve already been exposed to some of the politicized aspects of autism already, and it’s not exactly a walk in the park.
  • I’m¬†not happy that Maddy will have to live in a world where some people do not accept, or even tolerate, differences. The differences that make the world the interesting place that it is.
  • I’m really not thrilled that I have to be more assertive than I’m comfortable by nature, but I am willing to concede that this might be a good thing.

You know what’s not on that list? Anything about Maddy being on the autism spectrum. All of those things I listed could be changed without¬†changing who Maddy is. The public system could be much better at working with families, people could be kinder to one another and acknowledge that different opinions about issues related to autism are okay – we don’t need to fight to be right, the world could become more accepting (not just of people with autism, but of everyone), and, well, I could learn to be more assertive.

If all of those things were to happen, my life would feel a lot less stressful without changing the daily challenges that our family might be working through, or changing who Madeleine is.

We’ve decided to make the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event a family day to mark this important step in our journey. I know that Autism Speaks is one of those hot button issues in the autism community, but we’ve decided to stand with them on June 2. If autism is a cause close to your heart, or you have a few extra dollars looking for a donation home, you can find our team here: Movin’ for Maddy!

Diagnosis day has been a great reminder to us of how lucky we are to have friends and family who are accepting of all kinds of differences in people. ¬†Maddy couldn’t ask for better (great) grandparents, (great) aunts & uncles, cousins, second cousins, or family friends to support her with the love and respect that she deserves. We know that everyone will be waiting patiently with us to see the amazing things that Maddy will do.