January 30, 2010
Yesterday was one of those days for me. It had just been a long couple of weeks with Gavin being sick and then this week he was very needy, wanting my constant attention and John was at work most of the time. I was starting to get really frustrated and overwhelmed with not being able to get anything done or having ANY time to myself. He still doesn't sleep through the night, so even after bedtime I'm not guaranteed a good break.
I have these days from time to time...sometimes a little too often! I have learned to recognize that when I start feeling this way it is time to call in the reinforcements. We are very blessed to have such a great support system. Unfortunately my parents live 2.5 hours away but they still visit often and I'm so grateful that John's family are only a 10 minute drive away and are always glad to have Gavin over for a visit!
So I called them up and Uncle Easton saved the day! Gavin went over to play and I got to have the house to myself. I didn't really do anything exciting, but was just happy to have some time to myself and be able to organize some things and do some cleaning that I had been putting off.
Then today I got to go over to Leslie & Laura's for a scrapbooking day. This doesn't happen very often. It used to be something I did on a regular basis but once Mr. Gavin came along, that hobby kind of got pushed to the back burner! So it is always nice to spend time with the ladies, gossiping, eating, and maybe even accomplishing a few things. I came home at the end of the day missing my boy and feeling refreshed! I'm looking forward to spending the day with him tomorrow. I know I will have a whole lot more energy to chase after an energetic toddler and a whole lot more patience too. (How long it will last is another story!)
I know there is a lot of pressure on moms these days. We have all these ideas in our heads about what the perfect mom would do. We want to raise happy, healthy, respectful, intelligent little people and there are all these things "they" or "the books" tell us we should or shouldn't do. We worry what other people will think of us as parents. We try to make the right decisions and provide the best for our children. But there is barely enough time in the day for all the things you're "supposed" to do. It seems like by the time you cook one meal and then clean up afterwards, its almost time for the next one! When are you supposed to find time to do everything else?
What if someone was to drop by unexpectedly and discover your stash of dishes piled up on the counter, toys scattered all over the floor, while you chase after a half-naked screaming toddler who refuses to let you change his diaper?! Would they judge you for still being in your pajamas at 3pm? Would they think you're a bad parent for trying to pawn off a can of Zoodles as a well-balanced meal? WHY DO WE CARE?!! Why do we feel like we have to be perfect? We don't! Let's face it, none of us are! Even that friend you know who resembles June Cleaver and does EVERYTHING perfectly...I bet if you spied on her any day of the week you would see that she's just like you & I!
So don't feel like you have to do it all on your own. Don't feel like asking for help is a weakness. Its a STRENGTH! We all need a break from time to time. It actually makes us better parents! I promise.
Remember all those people that have told you so many times, "If you ever need anything, just ask." Why is it that we never ask??! Take them up on their offer! (These offers do not usually come with expiry dates!) Even if it is just to get an hour to yourself. Get in the habit of setting aside a little time for yourself at least once a week to do something you don't get to do as often as you should.
That leads me to my next question. What is your favourite thing to do when you have the house to yourself? Comment and tell me!
January 29, 2010
I have to give a shout-out to our friends Tommy & Michelle! They taught their daughter, Cahill A LOT of sign language when she was just a baby. I thought it was so cool that she knew so many signs and could communicate so well at such a young age. Since then, I had a big interest in it and knew I wanted to try it when we had a child. So when Gavin was a few months old we went to Chapters and bought a few Baby Sign Language books. They were really simple and colourful with big, bright pictures. They had mostly the basic signs relating to eating/feeding and the daily routines of a baby.
We decided to start with "milk" (the sign for "breastfeed" was a little less discreet and looks like a mouth opening and closing on your breast. Makes sense but not really something you want to be signing in public!!) We also did "change" when we changed his diaper.
It took us a while before we actually remembered to do it. Mostly I would try to remember to sign "milk" every time Gavin nursed. John started catching on too and every time we said the word, we would do the sign too. Sometimes we would remember to sign "change" but not as often for some reason. And we didn't do "more" very often either. We were kind of lazy signers.
Once Gavin was 6 months old and we started introducing him to solids, the signs started coming in more handy and we would try to remember to sign "more", "all done" and "eat" at mealtimes. He would just stare at us as if we were crazy. The months passed and it seemed like he would never sign back! But I was kind of having fun learning new signs and I was determined that he was going to catch on. It would be so much easier if he could just tell me what he wanted!
Finally when he was around 11 months old he signed "milk" to me! I was so excited! From that point on, he started signing it so much that it got annoying! There was no way he could want that much milk! But he was so proud of himself!
We started signing more consistently and once he started signing them back, we would introduce a few more. We have gotten a bit lazy with introducing new ones again but there are several main ones that we do on a daily basis and it really helps us communicate better with less frustration and less tantrums!
January 27, 2010
Anyways, thanks for commenting on my last post! It was nice to know there's actually people out there!
OK so onto the questions.
Have you thought about how you will discuss it with Gavin when he is older, that some physical jobs might not be open to him because of practicalities?
I have trouble thinking of jobs that he wouldn't be able to do. Especially after I saw a show on TLC called "Born Without Arms" where a young woman with no arms got her pilots liscence by using her feet to do everything.
In my mind there are no limits. I might be naive but I would still encourage him to try it before suggesting that he might not be able to.
If you could be anything in the world, do any job purely because it was your passion rather than having to worry about $, what would it be?
Hmmm...well I would love to be a stay at home mom and not have to work and have lots of babies. But I actually really love my part time job at the maternity home for young mothers. The pay kinda sucks but the job is a really good match for me and I enjoy it.
I have also always wanted to travel and volunteer in third world countries and work with the children, either teaching or counseling them.
I would also love to have my own store. It would be a natural parenting store and I would sell cloth diapers, slings/baby carriers, books, nursing bras & clothes, natural products, eco-friendly toys, handmade items etc. And it would have a sitting area where moms and little ones could hang out and have play dates or meetings etc.
Do you plan on signing up Gav for any sports once he gets a bit older and if so, which one(s)?
Yes, definitely! He just started swimming a few weeks ago, which is his first sport I guess, although its more just clinging onto me in the water or going down the mini slide!
I think we would definitely try him in soccer. He loves kicking the ball around. We want to get him skates soon too. He likes watching hockey with Daddy sometimes and loves hitting a ball around with his little stick and he has good balance. Hockey is expensive but I can see him loving it.
I guess we will mostly just take our cues from him and see what he's most interested in. I don't want to be one of those parents that have their kids enrolled in a million different things and never have time to do anything else!
When are you having another little beauty?
Haha! People love to ask us this. We have our hands quite full with one right now! We don't plan on having any more for a while yet. We would like to have our own home first and I would like to have only 1 in diapers at a time if possible.
Has Gavin learned the word "no" yet? It is now Edie's favourite thing to say!
Thankfully he hasn't! He shakes his head or does the hand sign for "no" but he doesn't say it to us yet. I'm sure that will come soon enough and I'll be missing the times before he could talk back!!
I would love to hear more about your signing! I think it's so cool that Gavin signs to you, and would love to learn more about it
I have been meaning to do a post about his signing. I wanted to get some videos of him signing different words but he's not very co-operative when the camera comes out! I'll work on it!
January 25, 2010
So since I haven't had the time or energy to piece together a coherent thought, I'm going to turn the tables on you guys. Is anyone reading this thing anyway? I challenge everyone (whether I know you or not!) to comment below with at least one question. It can be about Gavin, me, our life in general.... its up to you. But I promise to answer them all honestly! If you can't think of a question, comment with a topic you would like me to write about. Its just nice to know that people are reading and I'm not talking to a brick wall. So comment with your question(s) and I will respond with my answers! And don't try to pretend you didn't read this and just continue on with your day without commenting. I will know!! (OK, so maybe I won't, but just do it out of the goodness of your heart, OK?!)
January 20, 2010
So how did this awesomely adorable duo meet, you may be wondering? I think it was fate! OK well here is the story but I think it really would have just been a matter of time before we crossed paths!
I think it was just over a year ago. After hearing so many people gush about how he was the cutest baby they had ever seen (it didn't really take much to convince me but I am a little bias of course!) I decided to see what his options were. I came across one that seemed legit and filled out an application online. I was supposed to include 3 pictures. Of course I was wondering if his limb difference would have any affect on his chances. So I decided to only include pictures of his face. That way, if he didn't get accepted, I would know that it wasn't because of his arm.
Weeks went by and I totally forgot about the application. Then one day I got an email that they wanted to represent Gavin! I was very excited and proud! So I called them back and we discussed some of the details. I wasn't really sure how to approach it but near the end of the conversation I just blurted out that Gavin is missing part of his left arm and I hope that won't be a problem. To my surprise, she told me that actually, they already have a client who is missing her left hand. A little girl named Gabrielle!
WOW! I was amazed by this. Maybe the modeling world wasn't so superficial after all! (I will have to write more about this later since unfortunately I don't believe this to be true at all). Anyways, she asked me if I would be interested in speaking to Gabrielle's mom and I said "Sure!" and agreed for her to pass on our phone number.
Not long later, the phone rang and it was Gabrielle's mom! She introduced herself as Janelle, and we immediately started chatting away like we had known each other for years. We had so much in common and also lived ridiculously close to each other! I think we probably could have talked for a week straight without running out of things to say.
We arranged to meet up for their first little play date. I was a bit nervous of whether we would get along in person. I remember hoping that she wouldn't be weird in person!! Hahaha!!! Thankfully I thought we had a great connection and it was awesome meeting them both. I was so amazed by Gabby. She is 7 months older than Gavin so she is always a few steps ahead. Which has been great for me to see how she does certain things and kind of know what to expect when Gavin gets to that stage. For example, the first time I saw Gabby clapping away on her left arm. It makes sense that she would clap like that but it was the first time I saw it. I had thought Gavin wouldn't be able to clap since he doesn't have 2 hands but I was so wrong! And now that I have met several little arm amputees, I see that its just a natural thing. They all clap pretty much the same way.
I was also so impressed with the way Gabby would walk around sticking toys under her armpit. She could carry a million things at once! That's another common thing for arm amputees but when you have never been around anyone with a limb difference, you don't know these things. It can be overwhelming having a young baby missing a limb or a hand and wondering how they are going to do all these simple, every day tasks.
CHAMP has a Matching Mothers program (which is more about Matching FAMILIES). Janelle & I just happened to match ourselves, but it is an awesome resource for parents. It is an indescribable feeling to have someone that completely understands. No matter how much support you have from friends & family, its not the same as having a friend who knows EXACTLY what its like. (also it doesn't hurt that you can get meals and travel expenses reimbursed from War Amps for visits with your matched family).
And most importantly, it is SO wonderful for the kids. Gavin & Gabrielle are already such great friends. They've already had countless play dates and both attended each others birthday parties. We also got to spend the weekend together at a hotel in London, ON for an annual CHAMP seminar back in October.
Janelle & Josh are awesome parents who have raised a super awesome little girl! We feel very blessed to have them in our lives. And I should give them a big CONGRATULATIONS because they are expecting another little one in March! It might be a little strange because their new baby is said to have all of his or her parts but I'm sure they will adjust just fine! :P
Gavin doesn't talk much yet but when I asked him today if he wanted to go see Gabby, he gave me a big, enthusiastic, "Yaaa!"
They have a very special bond and I hope it continues into a lifelong friendship! (Sorry guys, but you're not getting rid of us that easy!) ;)
January 18, 2010
Gavin is a LBE (left below elbow) amputee. With long sleeve shirts its easy enough to just roll up the left sleeve twice and its the perfect length for his arm. (He does not like to have it covered up and will get ticked if you don't roll up his sleeve immediately!)
Some parents get their children's clothes or jackets altered by having the arms shortened and sewn up professionally. It looks really nice but can get expensive unless you're handy with a sewing machine. We didn't want to do that because we want to save his clothes for future kids. But if you do decide to get your child's clothes altered you can always pass them on to a younger child with the same limb difference.
Gavin HATES to wear his prosthetic arm (which I will write more about later!) and we think a big reason for that is that he doesn't like having the end of his arm covered up. He loses his sense of touch and he uses that arm for everything so when its covered, its harder to do things the way he's used to doing them.
So my point to this post is FLAUNT WHAT THEY GOT and BE PROUD of your BEAUTIFUL child!
January 17, 2010
John had so much fun playing with the O.P.P. even though they got their butts kicked! The guys on the Canadian team were crazy good!! Amazing to watch and I was inspired by everything they've overcome to get where they are. A lot of them have lost limbs in accidents which I imagine is incredibly difficult to learn to deal with compared to being born without a hand or limb.
I forget what the actual score was but lets just say they tried to go easy on the O.P.P. but it was just too easy for them to score. It was so fun to watch and we can't wait for March when they're coming back to Minden for the Scotty Morrison charity game. We are so excited to see them again!
Please take the time to check out this great video to learn more about the team. They are an awesome group of guys! The 2010 World Championships will be held in Montreal, Quebec. If they win (and I'm willing to place bets that they will!) they will bring home Canada's 5th consecutive Gold medal!! (Sorry Team USA!)
* To outreach to amputees, especially youth amps to ‘Put their Disability on Ice’
* To establish CAHC contacts in each province across Canada;
* To recruit more amputees World Wide to play Standing Ice Hockey;
* To continue to develop the Standing Ice Hockey internationally through World Amputee Ice Hockey Championships and events, with at least four nations being represented;
* To foster the “Play for Peace” initiative, and help war amputee and disabled individuals, through efforts like banning landmines internationally;
* To fulfill the requirements to allow Amputee Standing Ice Hockey to be recognized as a full medal sport by the International Paralympic Committee, IPC;
* To be full members of Hockey Canada by 2009
January 16, 2010
This is how Gavin fell asleep during our walk home from the library today! So cute :) He had a busy morning at the Early Years Center building a tower out of foam blocks and knocking it down. Then we stopped at the library on the way home to get a few books and I knew he wasn't going to last! Thankfully he stayed asleep when I brought him inside!
January 15, 2010
This is one of my all time favourite photos. It was taken by the lovely & talented Annya Miller on Sept. 1, 2008. Gavin was only a month and a half old. *sigh*
I love the dimples in his chubby little hand. I also love the two dimples on the end of his arm and his tiny little fingers. A lot of people refer to them as nubbins but we just call them his little fingers. That's what they are :) That's how big they got before they stopped growing and I think they are so cute. Gavin loves to get kisses right on the end of his little arm. It is just so extra soft and lovable that I can never resist!
I think it was a positive thing for us that we found out about Gavin's arm when I was pregnant. We had a lot of time to think about things and it just wasn't a very big deal to us. But I have heard about others who were very surprised when their baby was born missing missing a limb or some other little bit. Some people have a hard time dealing with it because it is such a shock. There are a lot of different emotions involved and it can feel very overwhelming at first. Especially if you don't have much support and don't know of anyone else who has had a similar experience.
If I could give parents a little bit of advice, it would be to just show your baby as much love & affection as possible! Of course you would do this naturally, I know! But I think it is really important. There are lots of studies out there about the importance of touch to a newborn's bonding & development. There are so many benefits to skin-to-skin contact with baby and mom and dad! But pay lots of attention to your baby's "special part" (I don't know what to call it because it could be anything! An arm, leg, foot, hand, ear, cleft lip, birthmark...) I just mean that we want to show our children that all of his or her parts are beautiful, even (and ESPECIALLY!) if they are different. Babies pick up on our cues from a very young age. They understand a whole lot more than we give them credit for.
I think one of the most important things about raising a successful child is instilling a good sense of self-worth in them from the very beginning. A child who has good self-esteem is much more resilient and better equipped to handle all the challenges and hurdles that life is bound to throw at them. And if they receive all the love & support they need from their family, they are a lot less likely to care what other people think about them.
So give your little one an extra kiss and an extra long cuddle today and make sure you tell them what you love about them that makes them different from everyone else! As my husband likes to say, if everyone were the same this world would be a very boring place!
January 14, 2010
Here is one of his masterpieces from today. Isn't he so talented?!
(It was done in orange crayon but the scanner made it look brown)
Anyway, there is a really cute four-year-old little girl that we see there a lot. She is so talkative and friendly and loves helping out with the younger kids. During music time we all had to hold hands to sing "Ring Around the Rosie". Some kids don't really know what to do when they're on his left side and there is no hand to hold. But she just grabbed onto his arm and they went to town.
As we were getting ready to leave she came and proudly told me, "I have a baby brother at home too. He's 6 months old but he wasn't born with his hand stuffed in. His is out." (She gestured with her hand waving in the air.) "He has two hands and so do I."
I agreed that most people have two hands but some babies are born with one. She went on to say that at least Gavin can hold the big ball with his arm and do other things too.
She made me smile :) I thought that was funny and it ties in perfectly with yesterday's post!
January 13, 2010
I guess my point is that you don't have to pretend you don't notice. We know when you notice. Don't think your little sidelong glances and whispers go undetected. Its OK to acknowledge it. Its no secret that he is missing a hand! So I just wanted to say that if you notice someone who is different, its better to just approach them in a friendly way and start a conversation or ask your question than to stare or try to ignore it.
You know what I love about kids? They are SO HONEST. They aren't afraid to ask questions and they'll tell you EXACTLY what they're thinking. Kids are usually the only ones to acknowledge that Gavin's arm is different. When adults notice it they usually feel too awkward to ask about it. Some even get embarrassed when their kids start talking about it.
I have heard kids say some pretty amusing things. When Gavin was just born and our neighbours came over to meet him, their little boy said, "Aww his arm is tucked up inside his sleeve." I laughed and explained that actually that is the way his arm is.
A lot of kids have asked me why he's missing his hand. Some want to know where it is. (Did he lose it somewhere? Did something happen to it? Will it grow back? Does it hurt?) I usually explain it by saying that when he was in my belly his arm didn't finish growing so now he has one little arm but it can still do lots of stuff! He just has to do some things a bit differently but that doesn't stop him.
Most kids are familiar with the Disney movie "Finding Nemo". Nemo the little clown fish was born with one little fin (hence the name of this blog). We didn't come up with that comparison on our own. A lot of parents of children with limb differences use that example and we thought it was so cute! And when you say, "Gavin has one little arm just like Nemo has one little fin", most kids just seem to understand and that's usually the end of the story. Its explained in their own language and now they can move on and continue playing with him without any further questions.
We get a lot of "awww"s and "I'm sorry"s. He doesn't need any of those. Trust me, he is JUST FINE! There is no need to feel sorry for him in any way.
Last month we took Gavin to the McDonald's play place for the first time. As he was coming out of one of those tubes you crawl through, a little girl looked up at him and said, "Oh, what a CUTE baby!" As he crawled all the way out and turned around to look at her, she exlaimed, "OH! He doesn't have a hand! Awwww poor baby." She looked genuinely upset so I told her that its OK. His arm is different but he's just fine and it doesn't hurt. She was asking me lots of questions and I told her that some babies are just born that way. She thought it was cool and asked me if she could show her mom! LOL I kind of ignored that part because I don't like it when kids want to "show" other people. He's not here for your entertainment!
But suddenly she was YELLING across the play room. "HEY MOM! THIS IS GAVIN! He only has 1 hand but some babies are just born like that mom! Isn't he cute?" It was pretty funny. Her mom apologized to me but I told her there's no need to apologize. Her daughter was very sweet. She was just fascinated by Gavin's arm. She wanted to look at it and touch it. Gavin was loving all the attention. He started poking her with his little arm and laughing.
Its different when kids are rude about it. It makes me sad to know that some kids are just mean and he is bound to get his feelings hurt by these kind of comments. I tend to get upset when I hear kids describing it as, "weird." I usually tell them that its not weird, its just different. And there's nothing wrong with different! Some people have curly hair, some have straight hair. Some have a big nose, some have crooked teeth. Most people have two hands but some people have one!
When I was pregnant, my sister and I used to joke about getting shirts made for him with sarcastic comebacks on them like, "I'd rather have one hand than your face!" and "I still have one hand to slap you with!"
I just try to remember that every kid gets picked on for something at some point. He'll be no different. We will just do our best to raise him to be a confident young man with good self-esteem and hope that he can handle it. As his personality shines through more and more each day, I don't worry as much about it anymore.
January 12, 2010
Since this is my first post, I guess it makes sense to start from the beginning.
I found out I was pregnant on Nov. 6, 2007. It was a very welcomed surprise! I went for the routine anatomy ultrasound at 19 weeks where they measure all of the baby's little parts. A few days later I got a call from my midwife that she wanted me to come and see her so we could talk. She didn't want to tell me what it was over the phone. Immediately I was afraid something was wrong. No news is usually good news.
John & I went to her office and she told us that the ultrasound technician had some concerns. She suspected that a bone in our baby's left arm was shorter than normal and she also thought that a few of his fingers might be fused together. It was so hard for me to hear this about my precious baby. I did a lot of crying that day but I tried to stay positive. I had heard a lot of stories about ultrasound technicians telling pregnant woman horrible things that turned out to be totally untrue and these woman went on to have perfectly normal babies. So I prayed that this would be the case with us and that the woman was wrong.
We had to wait 2 weeks for our appointment at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto at the Special Pregnancy Program. Finally the day came (Feb. 29, 2008) and we didn't have to wait for answers any longer. After my ultrasound the doctor asked us to come into another room so we could talk.
He started talking about the different bones in the arm and was drawing a picture as he talked. He drew a complete right arm and labeled the different bones. As he drew the left arm, he stopped just below the elbow and explained that our baby's radius and ulna were shorter than normal. It took a minute for it to sink in as I looked at his drawing. Then I realized that my baby doesn't have a left hand.
As you can imagine, that was a very hard day. No pregnant woman ever wants to hear that ANYTHING is wrong with her baby. Thankfully my husband was so incredibly positive and supportive that I didn't waste very much time feeling sorry for myself. It was a bit of a grieving process for me though. I went through a lot of different emotions; sadness, guilt (Was it something I did?), anger (Why did this happen to US? Its not fair!) and finally acceptance.
Whenever I would start to feel sad or upset, I would focus on all the positives. We were so blessed to have a healthy baby. A hand is just a hand. It could be so much worse. What if something was wrong with his heart or his brain? What if he had a chronic disease or disorder? Suddenly, it wouldn't seem so bad.
It was also a huge positive that he had a functioning elbow. We could see him bending it and moving it around during the ultrasounds. (He was always very busy in there!)
At first we didn't share our news with many people. We didn't want anyone feeling sorry for us or our baby. We wanted to enjoy the pregnancy without having people being focused on the fact that our baby was missing part of his arm.
I began to do research online but really couldn't find very much information. Then someone told me about a yahoo group called "Sammy's Friends" for parents of children with limb differences. I immediately joined, started reading posts and looking at pictures of different children. I was so inspired by the pictures of these children riding bikes, rock climbing, playing sports, etc. The parents all seemed so proud and positive. It helped me more than you can imagine.
Once we had processed the information ourselves and come to terms with it, we began to feel more comfortable sharing the news with our family and close friends. We received so much love & support that it made it easy. Before long, it didn't even seem like a big deal to us anymore. That was just the way he was and it would have seemed weird if we found out that he had 2 hands after all. It just seemed like that was the way he was meant to be.
I'm the type of person that believes everything happens for a reason. I feel blessed to have been given such a special child. He has already touched so many people's lives and proven that his limb difference can't slow him down at all. I'm excited to see what life has in store for him. I just know it will be something amazing!