Jan 12, 2014: I’m Forty

Well, ladies and gents, I have officially entered my forties. My birthday was Wednesday (same day as Elvis’s!), and I wish I could say we had grand plans, but we really didn’t. We were saving them for this weekend instead, when we had planned an overnight trip for me and Chris to San Francisco, along with dinner at my favorite restaurant. Alas, that didn’t happen. Long story short: sick kids. And honestly, that’s the way it should be, right? Kids come first. But I’m not going to lie: I’m super, super disappointed. I spent about four months looking forward to this trip, and working so hard with Sam to get him taking a few sips of liquid out of a cup/bottle so I could leave him overnight. And then…kaput. I know I shouldn’t be disappointed, but I am. I cried, actually. Selfish, I know…but I cried. Darn, I was so ready for a night away! Strolling around a great city, eating a fantastic dinner, and then enjoying uninterrupted sleep for the first time in well over a year—I couldn’t wait! Sigh…

We have rescheduled our trip for Friday, which is fine…but I have my doubts that everyone will be well by then. Someone in our house has been sick pretty much nonstop since October, so what are the chances that we’ll all be well? Keep your fingers crossed—and I am trying not to get my hopes up. Current status, as of Sunday afternoon: I have a cold/slight fever that comes and goes/earache. Chris has a sore throat and general icky feeling. Theo has an ear infection (his first!). Sam has some sort of secondary infection, but the doctor couldn’t determine what it is, because his ear canals are so tiny that they can’t get a good look in them. Based on his symptoms, she suspects either an ear infection or a recurrent sinus infection, so she prescribed him another course of antibiotics. Given that he’s been sick for four weeks now (and has already had one course of antibiotics), I’m really hoping this second course gets him better.

Sigh…the only good thing I can say is that I’m thankful our medical group has Sunday clinic appointments, so we were able to get the boys started on antibiotics today. In theory, they should both be feeling much better by Friday. But we’ll see. Theo is actually feeling fine except a nasty cough and a sore ear, and he’s cleared to go back to school tomorrow. Sam alternates between being perky and cheery and being sick and sad. And me? I’m just cranky.

So let’s move off this cranky topic. Instead, let’s talk about how I feel about being forty. Answer? Absolutely fine. I actually didn’t dread the big 4-0. The only thing I was sad about was leaving my thirties behind, because I loved my thirties. You know how they say high school is the best years of your life? No way. I wasn’t a big fan of my teens. I had a few great friends and enjoyed my job, but that was the only good part. My twenties weren’t fabulous, either. I lost my dad, gained a ton (okay, not literally a ton, but a lot!) of weight, and was generally unhappy with my life. A few good things happened: I got my B.A., made a few new friends, did some fun domestic travel, and got a job I liked, but then I lost that job (due to a corporate buyout and layoff) and ended the decade working in the solid-waste industry, which is every bit as wretched as it sounds. So yeah…another not-so-great decade.

But my thirties! My thirties were the turning point! I decided that solid waste sucked, and that I was making enough freelancing to drop the job and go back to school. And so, Snyder Editorial Services was born, and I went back to school for my master’s degree—which ranks as one of the best decisions of my life. I kicked off my thirties on an airplane over the Atlantic, flying to London for my first overseas travel experience. And I was in love…with international travel! In the next few years, as I worked on my master’s degree and continued to freelance, I did more international travel. I spent five weeks in France, which, prior to meeting Chris and having my kids, ranks as probably the best weeks of my life. I loved it! I loved the geography, I loved the culture, I loved the food, I loved the language, I loved the people—loved it, loved it, loved it! Such a fantastic experience—I would advise anyone who has a chance to do some study abroad to do it!

Not so long after that, I went to a New Year’s Eve party thrown by one of my friends from my M.A. program, and I met a shy guy I had seen once before. We hit it off, and the rest is history—the shy guy isn’t so shy anymore, and he’s still hanging around. 🙂

Then I graduated from my master’s program and did some more travel! My aunt and I took a trip to Eastern Europe (though really, it was more central Europe), and it was fabulous. Again, loved the culture, loved the landscape, loved the people, loved the food—fantastic!

Then I started a PhD program, which I had applied to before I met Chris. Only somewhere along the way, I had fallen in love with Chris and I knew I wanted to make my life with him. And truth be told, I’m 100% certain he would’ve waited for me to finish my PhD program. But I would’ve been in my late thirties by then, and we knew we wanted to start a family, so…I did one semester of the program and then decided it wasn’t for me. Aside from the time issues, I knew that the market for PhDs in academia is pretty rotten. Many can’t find jobs, and those that do end up teaching in less-than-desirable locations for terrible pay. Nah, I’d just keep going with Snyder Editorial Services.

Chris ended up proposing, and shortly before our wedding I took another international trip with my aunt—this time to Croatia and Slovenia. Heaven! Bliss!! More good food, more fascinating culture, more great people—more time of my life! I loved it.

Then Chris and I got hitched and I got knocked up. I say that jokingly, but it’s the truth: Theo, our “two-year plan,” ended up being more like the “three-week plan.” Oops. 🙂 I wouldn’t change it, though. If I did, I wouldn’t have the same kid, and that would be truly sad! So I’m glad he came when he did, even though it means Chris and I had a scant 10 months as newlyweds before we were joined by a very, very cranky, but very cute little baby. And in that 10 months, we did manage to take a ridiculously bad (but amusing in hindsight) honeymoon to London and Paris, plus a trip to Vancouver Island for my best friend’s wedding.

So there I am, 34 years old, and suddenly I’ve done a lot in my thirties! The first half of the decade was pretty amazing, wouldn’t you say? Turns out, the last half of the decade, though decidedly less eventful, was no less amazing. I made new friends and rekindled friendships with people I had known in the past. I learned how to be a mom—my most important “job.” I grew my business. I took up photography as a hobby. I took steps to improve my emotional well-being. I helped Chris step out of his comfort zone to apply for—and land!—a far better job that he is doing stellar at. I moved to a new place. I did some domestic travel. I grew another baby and was blessed with the most amazing gift I’ve ever been given—the kid who changed the way I look at life. I grew my business and expanded it. I healed my body after three years of dealing with a messed-up digestive system. And maybe most importantly of all, somewhere over that decade, I learned to say no and stand up for myself and my boys. (Which makes me a little prickly at times, I suppose, but it also makes me a healthier person!)

So really, my thirties were amazing. Can my forties top them? I don’t know, but I hope they at least live up to my thirties. I’ve got plans, big plans—to continue spending time with my boys (all three of ’em), to do more travel (when the budget allows), to take time for the things that interest me, and on and on. I’m not mourning my lost youth—just hoping that this next decade is as good as the previous one.

So there you go: My thoughts on the milestone birthday. And now, let’s just hope I actually get to celebrate it on Friday!

In other news, I had two realizations this week that sometimes my chromosomally enhanced son is actually more typical than my so-called “typical” son. The first is food. Sam is a terrible eater—no two ways about it. However, in terms of the mechanics of eating, he’s actually a step ahead of Theo (who is, by the way, a terrific eater—for all his mechanical difficulty!). When Theo was learning to eat solid foods—and for a couple of years after—he would frequently stuff too much food in his mouth. We thought it was behavioral—we would remind him, “Small bites, Theo!” and he would promptly shove a whole handful of something in his mouth…and then gag. Or we would say, “Don’t put too much in your mouth!” and he would do it anyway. Now, if you know Theo, you know he likes to push the boundaries and see how much he can get away with—so naturally, we assumed this was just yet another instance of him trying to see what he could pull. And then, after he received a diagnosis of “mild sensory-processing disorder,” it was brought to our attention that stuffing too much food in his mouth was likely a result of him not being able to feel how much was in his mouth as well as most children might. In other words, he couldn’t tell he had stuffed way too much in. Ah. Okay. I felt like a bit of a cad for assuming he was just being a belligerent poop about it! Anyway, after several years of coaching about how much is appropriate to put in his mouth, Theo has learned how to take reasonable bites most of the time.

Enter Sam. Sam with all the feeding difficulties. Sam, whose genetic makeup predisposes him to oral-motor sensory difficulties. Sam, it seems, can figure out—on his own!—to take small bites of things. Give him a potato chip (one of very few foods he’ll eat these days), and he’ll carefully take three or four bites to eat it. He still has trouble with swallowing—he’ll choke on things fairly frequently. But it’s not a result of having over-stuffed his mouth; rather, it appears to be just difficulty with the mechanics of swallowing, which is not at all uncommon with Down syndrome.

And stairs! We lived in a house with stairs when Theo was a baby. I don’t believe he ever figured out how to crawl down the stairs backwards when he was learning. Instead, we had to teach him how to walk down them, even when he was barely walking. He just couldn’t figure out the mechanics of backing down them, as many babies do. But Sam, who hasn’t learned to walk yet and has to work hard to figure out all mechanical skills, has taught himself how to back down the stairs, as shown in this video. Once again, more typical than his typical brother. Go figure.

You know, as a first-time mom, I didn’t find any of this unusual with Theo. Stuffs his mouth? Must be just trying to prove to us that he can. Can’t figure out how to back down the stairs? Oh well, who cares? We’ll just work around it. I didn’t think twice about it. But now that I have a chromosomally atypical child who sometimes naturally does things the way any typical child would, I’m struck by the fact that if Theo had been my second child, I likely would’ve had a red flag go up about some of these things. Ball skills, too. At the developmental age of roughly a one-year-old, Sam has better ball skills than Theo did at age four. Theo’s OT has actually done a lot of work with him on ball skills, and he’s much improved now—but at age four, he couldn’t even come close to catching a ball rolled to him or to accurately tossing a ball back to you. Sam can do both of those things. And I don’t think Sam’s a superhero (well, he is, but just because he’s Sam—I don’t think his ball skills are anything extraordinary); I just think that in hindsight, I probably should’ve noticed earlier that Theo was behind in developing some of these skills. Ah well, hindsight is 20/20, right? I did the best I could. And you know what? He turned out pretty damn awesome, despite stuffing his mouth full of food, struggling with ball skills, and descending the stairs in a somewhat odd manner. 🙂

This is not, of course, to make Theo sounds like he’s deficient in all areas! He has many, many amazing skills, and so many strengths. But in certain areas, his developmentally delayed brother has actually developed on a more “normal” trajectory. Go figure.

Speaking of Theo’s ball skills, Theo had his first chiropractor appointment this week. (This really does relate to ball skills—stick with me!) Sam and I have been going to the chiropractor since he was born. And Chris and I went before Sam was born. Chris hadn’t gone since we moved here because he hadn’t had time, but when he took two weeks off over the holidays, we decided he ought to go. So now all three of us were seeing the amazing Dr. Holmes—and Theo began to feel left out. He had always been resistant to going to the chiropractor, but he decided he wanted to go. So, I made an appointment and took him this week. And he did fantastic—he’s actually been singing Dr. Holmes’ praises since (perhaps partly because he earned himself a hot chocolate afterward for doing so well at his appointment—ha!). But in examining Theo, Dr. Holmes asked me what hand he used to write with. “Right,” I said. “But I think he’s a bit ambidextrous—he does better with his left hand than I can, for sure.” Dr. Holmes said, “Huh. Based on his hip alignment, I think he must be doing something left-handed.” I said he probably was, but it wasn’t writing. Just a couple of days later, Theo and Chris were tossing a ball outside, and Chris came back in and said, “I think Theo might throw left-handed.” He went on to say that Theo’s throwing was much more accurate with his left hand, as was his catching. He said Theo seemed to naturally gravitate toward using his left hand for both, and he just went with it. Aha! That probably explains why Dr. Holmes thought he was left-handed—he’s probably been doing his ball skills at school with his left hand. I thought that was rather interesting, though—that the doctor could tell he was doing something left-handed, and indeed he was right!

By the way, I say this for my Aunt Sally, who will likely be interested: Dr. Holmes said Theo’s back and hips are in really good alignment for a five-year-old who’s never been adjusted before. Awesome!

So that pretty much sums up our week. The weekend was uneventful, given that we were all sick. I also have very few pictures this week, since we were under the weather. Apologies—more next week, I promise! For the moment, here’s a bonus cute video of Sam working on walking.

Happy January, all!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *