Thursday, May 28, 2009


I don't often get pictures of Parker with Brennan. Parker gives Brennan a surprising amount of attention for an almost 3 year old, but I rarely catch these moments on film. Parker spends most of the day running around like a tornado, pretending to be batman or saving people from the "hot lava" - but he makes quick stops throughout the day to talk to Brennan, give him a toy or give him a quick hug and a kiss. I finally captured a couple of sweet moments between the two of them. True brotherly love.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Brennan at 14 Months

Our little man is 14 months old so, I figure it's time for an update.

He has been sitting independently for a while now and LOVES it. In fact, he loves it so much that he has absolutely no interest in putting weight on his hands or legs (which is going to make learning to crawl and stand pretty tricky!). Each week his physical therapist comes up with new things for us to try in order to increase his leg and arm strength despite his ability to quickly squirm out of almost any position other than sitting. The last couple of weeks, he has actually enjoyed being in his jumper-thingy and is getting better and better at using his legs to bounce himself.

His physical therapist also suggested we have him sit on a step stool which will force him to put pressure on his legs. I think sitting like this makes him look so much older.
He's a great little eater. He eats lots of fruits and veggies (either baby food, hand mashed or in small pieces) as well as chicken, veggie burgers, turkey meatballs, grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta, beans, cheerios....a good variety. I feed him mostly by spoon, but also let him feed himself. He's good at using his little fingers to pick up food and feed himself, but I can only put a couple of pieces of food on his tray at a time, wait a minute for him to actually chew and swallow, then put a couple more pieces on his tray. If I do it any other way, he ends up with a mouthful and I start get nervous about him choking. It honestly feels like he spend the majority his waking hours eating. As for liquids, he still relying solely on me. Yep, fourteen months old and still not interested in a cup or straw. I'm trying to be patient and keep the faith that eventually he WILL learn to drink from a cup! His speech therapist/feeding specialist is working on this with him and has suggested a couple of new cups to try (the honey bear and sip-tip cups for those of you "in the know"). So, wish us luck!

In the sleeping department, he's still doing great. He takes a 1 1/2 to 2 hour nap in the morning, a 2 hour nap in the afternoon and sleeps for about 11 hours at night. He goes to sleep easily and always wakes up happy. He often wakes up so quietly that the only way I know he's awake is if I hear him knocking his pacifier against his crib through the monitor. Sometimes I go to wake him and he's already wide awake, happily looking around his room.

In general, he's a really content baby. He rarely cries and if he does, he stops as soon as I hold him. He isn't thrilled by people he doesn't know well and will watch them intently with a very serious look on his face while being held, and then starts protesting and reaching for me. He definitely loves his family and especially his mom! He is such a sweet baby who makes me smile and fills my heart. I feel so fortunate to be his mom.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I'm not a saint, just a parent.

My post yesterday made me think of one of my favorite articles. My friend, Gretchen, sent it to me soon after Brennan was born. It's titled "I'm not a saint, just a parent" and was written by Simon Barnes, a sport writer in the UK who also has a son with Down syndrome. And while you're welcome to consider me a saint - I really am just a parent.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Good Life

The other day someone asked how Tanner was feeling after having been sick recently with a fairly unusual virus. They said something to the effect of "God must really have alot of faith in you because he just keeps giving you more and more to deal with." Over the past year, a couple of other people have made similar observations such as "after all you've been through...." that seem to be subtle references to "hardships" of having Brennan. Granted, these comments are not from close friends or family, but it is clear that some people assume that having a child with Down syndrome is somehow extremely difficult or something to be pitied. This, of course, could not be farther from the truth. We may have worries or challenges that parents of "typical" kids don't, but as most families similar to ours already know, the joy of having Brennan in our lives is so much greater than the perceived challenges. The smiles, love and laughter that he adds to our home brings us so much happiness. Seeing the close relationship between him and his siblings, and meeting older kids and adults with Down syndrome and envisioning what Brennan's future holds brings us so much joy.

I recently read the saying "There's more than one way to have a good life." This is so true for me, for our family and especially for Brennan. The definition of a good life means different things to different people, but I can assure you that we have a good life....a very good life. And I believe wholeheartedly that Brennan does and will continue to, also.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Belated Birthday Cuteness

Here are a few pictures from Brennan's 1st Birthday..........

He loved his first cupcake
(as evidenced by him grabbing all of the icing and stuffing it into his mouth)!
Jenna and Tanner helped Brennan open his presents.
Yes, he is in different clothes since we didn't open his presents until a month after his actual birthday....that's just the way things work around here sometimes.
Jenna showed Brennan how his new toy worked.

And I think he liked it! Happy, Happy Birthday to our Happy, Happy Boy!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Health Stuff

When Brennan was born, the pediatricians spent a great deal of time telling us about the "maybe's" related to his health. Our doctors and most of the medical information I've read say "increased" risk of this, "increased" risk of that. But, percentage increases are rarely given. And, if they are, they are often so broad that they are not useful. Fortunately, most health concerns are correctable or can be managed.....taking medication for controlling thyroid levels, getting glasses to correct vision, getting ear tubes or hearing aids to restore hearing loss.

One of the scariest health concerns is a heart defect. And, although having to worry about your child's heart and preparing them for surgery would be terrifying, it is almost always correctable...often with less than a weeks stay in the hospital. The other scary health concern is cancer. Yes, an increased incident of childhood cancer. To me, this was the scariest health risk by far....since it was the one that could potentially take Brennan from us. But, the doctors and literature never told me what the percentage increase of was.

Over the past year, I have attended a couple of workshops about health concerns related to Down syndrome. The first was on ENT concerns and was presented by Dr. Sally Shott. She provided a ton of useful information, but one part of her presentation really struck me. The reported incidence of hearing loss in people with Ds is 38-78%. However, during Dr. Shott's research, she found that what is defined as hearing loss in this statistic is not what is used to define hearing loss in typical kids. I was shocked. Shouldn't the definition of hearing loss be consistent regardless of a diagnosis? She went on to say that, with proper medical care and placement of ear tubes when necessary, hearing loss in kids with Ds is actually 5-10%.

Additionally, after an entire year, I finally heard the actual percentage of kids with Ds that get cancer. My initial assumption was 20%, maybe even 30%.....I figured it must be a pretty high percentage since it was always one of the first things mentioned by both doctors and literature. At the workshop I attended last month, I learned that the percentage is actually 1-1.5%. And, although when it comes to cancer any percentage is too high, 1-1/5% is still a really low percentage. I think if this percentage were presented to new parents, instead of the totally vague "increased" risk - it would prevent a great deal of worry that I know I had when I heard and read this in Brennan's first days of life.