I’m finding myself more and more excited every day as we await Parker’s arrival. Chelle and I were talking the other day about just how scary parenting is because of all the unknowns, DS or not. It’s scary not knowing if this baby will be as healthy as we hope or as good a sleeper was we hope (we REALLY need a good sleeper this time :-) ). Ultimately, there is nothing we won’t be able to handle. If there is one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that you get past even the toughest moment and look back on it as if it was no big deal. We are just getting past one of those things now. Lydia went the better part of two months without sleeping through the night or even much of the night. We were left with very few options to get her some much-needed rest and ultimately the both of us as parents went without a good night’s sleep for most of two months. That was killer, but now, just a few weeks removed, it’s nothing I even think was that tough now that I’m not in the moment.

The lesson I’m learning every day as a parent is to truly take things one day at a time. That’s as true for the good times as it is for the bad. I’d be devastated if I didn’t enjoy the little moments with Lydia that happen every day cuz I was worried about tomorrow or next month or next year. There are just so many wonderful things happening every single day with her that I am amazed by and cherish. I know that if we keep that attitude and perspective with Parker, we’ll have a great life, even if some tough stuff is sprinkled in there.

When we found out about Parker, we kept feeling this difficult sense of shock that our best laid life plans would never quite happen as we had dreamed. Well, good. I’m ok with that now. I think it’s better to not have it all figured out. I can’t control a lot of things, so why even bother. It’s all about not missing opportunities to grow, love and be loved, and to just be happy in the moment.

So, with that, I am very excited…almost to tears sometimes. It’s been surreal at times that we are having another baby at all and with this baby being “special”, I know we’re just gonna have so much to be happy about and thankful for. I drift into daydream a lot…that’s the artist side of me that I can’t control. I think about all of the things I am going to have in my life with Parker and it’s just cool. I want it all now. I want to go to ballgames, play in the yard, learn to ride a bike, go fishing (well, my dad has offered to take Parker fishing and I’ll stay home…I’m an “inside kid”) but you know what I mean. All of the stereotypical memory-making events are things I just can’t wait for. I’m mostly just looking forward to meeting him. What is he gonna be like? Will he be a blondie like his sister or will he have Chelle’s dark hair and skin? I just want to hold my little perfect son in my arms and feel him breathing. That will be enough to start with. We’ll all learn a lot about him and each other in the time ahead. In the time between now and his birth, I’ll just keep getting antsier and antsier in anticipation. It’s gonna be so great and I can’t wait.

-CH

Well, it’s been crazy busy around here. A lot going on and breathing room doesn’t look too close. Amongst the recent and upcoming events are:

  • Advertising Awards Season – some of you know, but I have been highly involved in the American Advertising Awards for the past many years. I recently completed my term on the national Board of Directors and the Council of Governors. It’s been a great run. I have always been highly involved in my local ad club competition, as well, and am again this year. And this past weekend I went up to Fargo to help get their competition steered in a little straighter direction. On the ride up, I brought with me a judge, and former client/colleague from Minneapolis. We had a lot of catching up to do, so it was a nice time in the car. We shared some stories and I mentioned Parker’s DS. He mentioned that his two children go to a charter type school in MPLS where all kids, including many special needs kids, are all immersed together. He asserts that this young generation will be the most accepting of all people, regardless of disability, race, creed, etc. It was a great talk and also gave hope that all the people in Parker’s life will treat him like anyone else.
  • Liddy’s Birthday – #3! Gotta get a plan figured out officially, but it sounds like we’ll be doing a little gymnastics date with her gal-pals (and their mommies) and then some family stuff at some random times due to travel plans for various people.
  • Polar Plunge – only a few weeks away! You can still sign up to be on our team, or donate to our team by checking out THIS POST.
  • Finishing Parker’s room – while this isn’t an official event, it’s a project that needs to happen. Big strides have happened, but there’s still work to do and the clock’s certainly ticking.

There’s lots of other stuff happening, not to mention just coming off Bubba and Hailey’s wedding weekend just 2 weeks after the Holiday season. but it’s just generally been crazy busy.

In other news, my grandpa (my dad’s dad) isn’t doing well, has been in slow decline since late last year and on Saturday he was taken to the hospital where it appears that some of his major organs are continuing to function poorly.  He has had a rough, but long and great life. He’s had many times of trouble, but many more of triumph. He’s been a great example of what to do, and, frankly, what not to do at times. Deep down, he’s this soft-hearted wonderful man. I think his being able to overcome his alcoholism for the good of his family (not to mention himself), is something I think of often. Shortly before Michelle and I decided to try for our first child, I quit drinking and eating poorly. I knew that if I was to be the best parent I could be, it would mean I was always level-headed and I was, well, around to be a parent. Not that I necessarily think I am going to die young, but I figured it’s important to start working toward health in my older age by developing great habits in my younger days.

I’ve been over to visit my grandpa at the hospital a couple days this week and he’s doing much better. They’ve got the big things under control, which is great. We took Liddy over there yesterday and he brightened up quite a bit. She’s so fun and sunny and her smile is contagious. I think he was in better spirits the last couple days anyway, but you know it’s special to have 4 generations in one room enjoying each other’s company. At this point, there is no telling how much longer he has left, but I’m hoping that Parker gets to meet his Great-Grandpa for sure…I think they’ll like each other.

-CH

One thing that has been on my mind a lot over the past couple months was the idea that we didn’t think twice about bringing Parker into this world, regardless of his number of chromosomes. I know this is a touchy subject, but one I think is worth talking about.  In our reading and even more in our discussions with people in the DS community, we’ve heard some staggering statistics about the number of parents who elect to terminate the pregnancy when they find out that they may be having a baby with DS. Some have even suggested the number of early detection abortions is around 90%. WOW. That’s been in my head for sure. Regardless of where you stand on abortion, it’s hard to argue with the fact that some, if not many of those abortions would have resulted in a baby without DS. If I’ve learned anything from our roller-coaster experience, is that NOTHING, NO TEST, NO SCREEN is right all the time. In fact, many are downright unreliable and very ambiguous.

During my brother’s wedding last weekend, I had a nice talk with a life-long family friend who, herself, happened to be adopted. We were talking about our situation and I had mentioned just how common it might actually be if there were less terminations. She made some powerful statements about how important choosing life is because she is the product of someone making that decision. Given all I’ve learned and what we fully expect to be the case about DS people’s quality of life nowadays, I see it as completely selfish and wrong to prevent that child from having a chance.

That all being said, we didn’t consider it our option to terminate this baby. We did, in all honestly, quickly discuss the idea of putting him up for adoption, but once the shock of the situation wore off, we laughed at that moment of weakness.  We are responsible for this baby’s life and we are ready, and even excited, to have him join our lives despite the very unknown nature of what lies ahead for him.

Politics aside, I hope that Parker will be an example of life to everyone around us and help steer people toward valuing all life, it’s certainly reinforced my views.

In lighter news – Parker’s room is gonna be awesome. Almost done and pics to follow, I swear!

-CH

 

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Liddy couldn’t stand to be away from me during the church service, so made her way up to stand by me and the other groomsmen. I couldn’t turn her away…too darn cute. Chelle and I managed one quick photo…not our best work :-)

This past weekend, my brother Bubba, got married. The wedding was at a beautiful lakefront resort about 75 miles north of where we live. It was a pseudo-destination wedding and we all moved into the lodge and it’s surrounding cabins and cottages for the better part of the weekend. Needless to say, it was a nice set-up and a great escape from the city.

I was a combination of excited and anxious to see the hundreds of people I haven’t seen in awhile. Many of those faces were on people who know about Parker, many weren’t. Being part of the wedding gave me a little shelter from a lot of the “what have you been up to?” obligatory chit-chats, but also made it harder to find a lot of time to talk with some of those people I haven’t seen in awhile. Honestly, given the logistics of everything, I did a lot of quick hello’s cuz there just wasn’t really time to have meaningful conversations with a lot of the folks I would have love to have chatted with.

The wedding did, however, clearly demonstrate that many people are reading this. Of the dozens of people I talked to to, almost all of them mentioned they’ve been following, which was pretty cool to hear. It also made me feel less like I had to give everyone a big run-down, and we could get to just talking and catching up. One of my goals in writing this blog was to let people keep up and save me from having to re-hash everything every time I saw a new face.

Everyone had really kind words and a lot of positive reinforcement, as well as compliments about out attitude and approach during what could easily be a sad and trying time. It always feels good when someone says nice things to you, but it’s also nice to know that people care enough to keep up and pledge their support.

When we got back to reality early this week, Chelle and I started talking about how much fun we had and how great it was to see everyone. We also talked about the fact that the reality of it all is getting much closer. If things time out like Lydia’s birth, the baby will be here in the early part of March, so that’s not terribly far away when it comes down to it. Between now and then we have a lot of stuff on our schedule between work things, Liddy’s b-day, the Polar Plunge, etc. It’s gonna come up super quick, so we can’t forget to get all of our ducks in a row…less about parenting a special needs child, but more about PARENTING. It’s been 3 years since we dealt with an infant…I think I forgot how that works ;-)

We’ll be good, but it will be happening sooner than we are ready for.

In other news, support our Polar Plunge effort by clicking HERE

And I did some cool stuff for Parker’s room and I’ll have some photos up soon.

Ciao!

-CH

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I’ve always known about the Polar Plunge – for those of you who don’t, it’s an event where a bunch of people get together and jump in a lake.  Sounds harmless until I tell you that it’s in mid-February and in Minnesota, so it’s usually a nice day if it’s 0° and the water could be negative temps – I’ve never thought of doing one cuz it sounds, well, insane. Well, the less insane part is that it’s been adopted from a fun activity for a bunch of crazy people into a fundraiser for the Special Olympics.  That, as you might have guessed, is a cause we now have a special interest in.

A month or so ago, I read about the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics, but didn’t think I’d do it by any means. Then, just earlier this week, Chelle’s cousin Beth texted me to see if I wanted to do it with her.  Of course with other people on board, I was all in. Her and her husband said they’d be doing it and she tossed out an invite to our other family members on their side to join up. I think some others are gonna get on board soon, but many will come cheer us on for sure.

I LOVE the idea of doing this just as one of those crazy/cool things to do in life, but for sure for this cause. I also can see it being something we’ll do maybe even annually as a way to help support something that will for sure be a part of our lives forever.

There’s more to come on this topic, but I wanted to let all you readers know about it and ask that if you are so inclined and want to sponsor us, our team is called Plungin’ 4 Parker and we have a page set-up with our members and you can just click on my name to go to my donate page.  I set a high goal, but I think I can reach it in just a month+.

Visit our Plungin’ 4 Parker page and donate now!

Thanks!

-CH

I want to start off by saying minivans are amazing vehicles that provide an unmatched set of features in one single package. Now, that being said, they kill your street cred like all white New Balance shoes with khakis would. Not our new van…NOPE! It’s amazing!

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So what? It’s a nice minivan. What’s the big deal?

Well, the big deal is that we have been looking seriously at vehicles to handle our growing family for months and months. When it came down to it, vans made the most sense and we are in love with our Nissan Murano (SUV) and Chelle has been smitten with the new style Nissan Quest (van) since its redesign a couple years ago. We decided to look hard for the right Quest.

Without dragging this story out forever, Quests are really hard to find since they are so new and no one has really been trading them in yet. We have kept our eye on the listings since Summer and only a couple worthy listings showed up anywhere within 150 miles away. In mid November a fabulous local one-owner Quest popped up at a dealer about an hour away. I called and texted with their sales staff for about a week to work out all the details and scheduled a time to drive down and buy it on a Saturday. I was working out all of this on the day we had our Level II ultrasound. Literally as I was driving to the hospital, I was on the phone with the salesman agreeing to some terms and when I arrived at the hospital, I hopped out of my car to take some photos of it since we were going to trade it. Before hanging up, we agreed on a price for the trade and the sale and it was fantastic. It was the right Quest, the right price and we were very excited. They agreed to hold it for me til Saturday when I’d come pick it up.

Well, a couple hours later, I was leaving that appointment, tearful and distraught over the news that we were very likely having a child with DS and my mind was racing with a million thoughts. Chelle and I were both very emotionally reactive that day and we immediately thought that our only options with this kid were to have him and never have any more kids, or (stupidly) have him and give him up for adoption. In either of those cases, we didn’t need a van to handle our family that would either just be the 3 of us, or at max the 4 of us.  So, based on that emotional mindset, I texted the salesman that due to unforeseen family issues, I’d have to back out of the deal.

After a few days of processing our emotions, we started thinking more clearly and realizing that whatever the results of the test, we were going to have this baby and, amongst other things, we would definitely still want the van. So, first thing Monday AM, I texted the salesman and he texted me right back that it sold over the weekend.  That was a big opportunity missed for so many reasons, but really hurt because I had a gutless reaction and blew our chance.

I remember telling a bunch of people that after we came to grips with the realities and possibilities of this baby, the only real negative feeling I had was blowing our chance at the minivan ;-)

Fast forward to last Wednesday where I made my (almost daily) check in on the auto sales websites in hopes that a Quest would just show up miraculously at a dealership within a reasonable drive and guess what came up?  Yep!  The best part, too, was that it was a local one-owner, mint, the more upgraded package than the other one (i.e. the one we REALLY wanted) and it was a decent price. It happened to be in a town about 2 hours drive away. It also happened to be at a dealership that was in the same family of dealerships as the one I worked at on my first job out of college. That was nice cuz I knew their process and was able to very easily work with their sales folks to work out all the details from a distance so our trip to go get it could be quick and easy.

I ended up going to get it on Saturday, which happened to be the onset of this amazing polar weather patter that hasn’t come in decades. It was a terribly cold and icy trip down, in my old car with bald tires (I wasn’t gonna put $600 worth of tires on a car I was gonna trade for not a lot more than that), and due to that weather, the trip that is usually 1.5-2 hours, was more like 2.5 hours.  Thankfully, at the last second, I got ahold of my dad to see if he wanted to ride shotgun and keep my company. He was a great addition to what would have been a white-knuckle nightmare.

In the end, Chelle got her dream machine. It’s really great and we are so excited to have it for when Parker arrives. It’s so much easier to get the kiddos in and out and it’s gonna be so great for when they are a little older and can enjoy some of the fancy stuff.  For now, we are just thankful and blessed to have it and I am especially happy that we could get one before he arrives and I can stop kicking myself for blowing the last deal.

Road trip anyone? :-)

-CH