I have a monster. No, not a monster in my closet but a monster none the less. My monster is green and big and hairy and ugly. My monster has a name, its name is jealousy. I'm not jealous of the things other people have, I am jealous of the things other people (mainly other people's children) can do. To admit this to you all makes me so ashamed and embarrassed, I want to stop typing, I want to turn of my laptop, pull up my cover and drift slowly to sleep. But, I CAN'T. This monster has been haunting me so badly for so long and it is very important for me to be honest and not keep this monster locked inside.
Most of you know Colton's story, he is my miracle boy. Being born at 23 weeks, 6 days is not an easy thing to do for anyone, especially a one pound fragile newborn. Because of his early birth he developed brain bleeds that eventually led to brain surgery and brain damage, this is the primary cause of his CP. Not only does his development suffer neurologically, he is also 95% blind, another disability stemming from his premature birth. Needless to say, Colton is significantly behind his peers developmentally. I knew this would be the case from the beginning, everyday people would remind me that he was born four months early and that he would be 4-6 months behind other babies born the same time as him. I was prepared for that. What I wasn't prepared for is the fact that now, at almost three years old he would not be even close to "caught up". If I had a dollar for all the times I've heard "remember, every preemie develops at his/her own pace" I would... well, I'm not sure what I would do but I would be a very rich person. I know this already but it doesn't take the sting away when you watch a baby two years younger than your child walking around without a care in the world while my little man is stuck crawling around on the floor. I've watched the children of my friends, family and even strangers develop at what seems like breakneck speeds, they are all passing us by. My green monster grows a little more each day, I feel like one day I might just explode.
I've talked a lot about "I" in this post. Yes, selfishly, I am jealous for myself. I want to be able to watch my son take his first steps someday, hear him ask me a question or just be able to communicate with his peers. I want all this for me, yes, but I want it for him 1000 times more. We head to the hospital at least once a month to visit various specialists and as soon as I take a seat in the waiting rooms Colton is wiggling trying to get down and play. Hospitals are germy, I can't imagine letting him crawl around on those floors but I see other kids smaller than him walking around freely and it makes my heart hurt. He would be so much happier walking, I know he would. I want this for him, my green monster grows even more when I think of all the things he would love to do but can't. I'm sure that two months from now, when he starts preschool, he would be so proud to walk across that threshold into the classroom that he will spend the next three years, I used to be sure that would happen, now not so much. He tries so hard but he has so many things working against him, it's so hard to watch and so horribly unfair.
I usually try to put a positive spin on all my posts but I just can't today. My heart hurts too bad. I'm sad and scared and angry and extremely jealous. I'm ashamed of my green monster but I just can't seem to shake him. At least now I am one step closer to setting him free.
We have used sign language with Colton for over a year now, it has really helped give him a way to communicate with us despite his speech delay. So, when Misty over at babysignlanguage.com asked to publish a guest post on my blog, I accepted immediately. Enjoy her list of 10 things you really should know about baby sign language.
1.Every baby can do this. Yes, every baby will learn at a different speed. Some babies will like to sign – others will not get terribly fired up about it. But all babies can do this.
2. All parents can do this. You do not need to be fluent in American Sign Language. You do not need to be a teacher. You do not need to be a patient saint. You can mess up daily and it will still be worth your while. You can do this, I promise.
3. Some elderly lady will come up to you in church and tell you that you are delaying your baby’s speech by signing with her. Just nod, smile and say okay, thank you. Then quickly walk away. You are NOT delaying anything. Multiple studies show that babies who learn to sign learn to speak SOONER than babies who don’t sign. When they do learn to talk, toddlers who have grown up signing have bigger vocabularies and utilize longer sentences. You are helping your baby learn to speak, not hindering her, no matter what well-meaning little old ladies say.
4. Babies and toddlers who know how to sign show less frustration behaviors such as screaming, crying, and biting. (What’s the sign for hooray?)
5. Studies show that children who grow up signing have a higher reading level.
6. Learning American Sign Language is learning a life skill. Your child will have a foundation to speak and understand a second language.
7. It is never too late to start. Many moms start signing when their babies are 18 months old, or even older. Some moms start signing because their child’s speech is deemed “delayed” by the medical establishment. If you have an interest, then don’t think your baby is “too old.”
8. Signing improves self-esteem. Learning to sign and being praised for signing will build your child’s confidence. By teaching her to sign, you are showing her that you care what she thinks, how she feels, and what she has to say. All of this will make her feel better about herself!
9. I hate to even include this in my list, but it could be valuable information, so … some daycares are now requiring that babies know how to sign. They might not advertise this, but when you are battling for a spot in a popular daycare, signing babies stand a better chance of landing the gig. Also – and here’s the part that makes me sound like an infomercial – Baby Sign Language looks good on a pre-school application. I know, it’s ridiculous, but true. Educators know that those children who sign do better in school and are easier to teach. Please don’t think that I’m telling you that if your 20-month-old isn’t signing that he is doomed to failure. That would be ridiculous and I am not suggesting that. But it is true that there are social advantages to signing.
10. Have fun. Please, please, please, don’t make this another stressful thing you tack on to stressful parenting. Signing with your baby is supposed to be fun, and it will not work for either of you if it feels like a chore. Don’t put any pressure on yourself or your baby and just view it as a way to play and bond with your baby. You already talk to her, you already read to her, you already feed her. Baby Sign Language is not about stopwatches, charts and drills. It’s about incorporating a simple, gentle method of communicating into your daily lives. You can choose how much, how fast, and how to do it. Just make sure you’re doing it with a smile, or it’s just not worth it.
With Colton starting preschool in November, I'm sure he will acquire tons of wonderful little friends. Until then however, he is perfectly content with these guys. Meet Scout and Tigger. They are the best friends that a boy could ever have. These dudes make bed time look cool.Of course Mama is a pretty good substitute best friend when Scout and Tigger aren't around, not trying to toot my own horn or anything *wink*. And yes those are bruises on our sweet little man's head, any tips from parents of other visually impaired children on how to keep my adventurous two year old from slamming HEAD FIRST into EVERYTHING are welcome and greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Today was a decent day, we all slept in then got up and headed out of the house to run some errands. Before we left, the hubs asked me to check the balance of our bank account. Well, apparently, I spent a little too much money the last time I went to the grocery store and we got in a little argument. Not a big argument, just a tiny one really but an argument none the less. Money is such a big issue these days and it seems like just about every couple we know has some kind of issue with money going on. Some are fighting to get debt free, some are barely making ends meet, some owe more than they are paid, but everywhere you look finances are causing trouble.
After we had duked it out, the hubs and I made up and went on about our day. No matter how angry we get at one another it never lasts for very long, I am extremely thankful for that. But, this little tiff got me thinking, most of the time our disagreements do that. Why do we let money control us so and effect our lives as much as it does. I know we need food and shelter, the basic essentials but all the other things really don't matter. The bible says it best; 1 Timothy 6:10 teaches us the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. The bible is interpreted in many different ways but when I read this verse I understand it to mean that "loving" money is trouble and can distract us from all the wonderful and beautiful things in life. Wonderful things like the love that I share with my husband and the amazing things we have been blessed with. So often I find myself "wanting" but the truth is I have everything I could ever need. I am making it my goal to remind myself everyday how lucky I am and how amazing my life really is. Praise God!
Colton has been working really hard with a speech therapist for most of his life. He picked up on sign language pretty early and now has about 10 words that he can sign on a daily basis. Although we are very pleased with his ability to learn signs so quickly it has been a blessing to listen to the new verbal words he has started saying the last couple weeks. He starts preschool in November and my hope was that he would be somewhat verbal and mobile, as you can see in this video, we are on the right track. Go Colton!
Those of us attending #HomeHer10 are super busy attending sessions and parties this weekend so we need to make sure we look good on the go. We've got lots to do, so what better swag than a cute hard-case wallet to do it with. A place to store all your credit cards (for those crazy shopping trips), IDs (to get into all the hottest parties), and business cards to keep up with all the amazing people you meet at #HomeHer10.
Seth & I met in Kindergarten, we went to school together for 13 years but didn't start dating until the summer before our senior year of high school. After college, we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy. Colton was born in 2007 at 23 weeks and fought for his life in the NICU for 6 long months. He is the strongest little boy I know, he's my hero. I married Seth in 2008 and we live happily with our first son in Kentucky. Colton is blind and has severe developmental delays and mild cerebral palsy due to his early birth but we all work hard everyday to make sure he has the beautiful life we all know he deserves. We thank God daily for all he has given us. We live by the verse "Everything is possible for him who believes." Mark 9:23