Friday, July 31, 2009

VBS, Swim Lessons, and Preschool

We are at the end of the second of three very busy weeks. Two weeks ago, Owen attended a week of Vacation Bible School (VBS) at our church from 6:30 to 8:30 in the evening. Since Ellen and I both work full time, we had to rush home to prepare and eat dinner quickly so that Ellen and Owen could get to the church on time. After the first couple of hectic days, our sitter was kind enough to offer to bathe and feed Owen before we picked him up so that we would not have to scramble every evening. Her kids also attended VBS so she just included Owen as part of her preparation routine.

Owen singing during the last night of VBS

Owen had a great time at VBS. Each night he would give me his three year old account of the evenings activities and proudly display his crafts. One night, the Pastor gave Owen a river rock for singing so well and Owen was so proud of his reward that he had to take it to bed with him. Needless to say, the performance by the kids at the end of the week was excellent and we all enjoyed an ice-cream social to celebrate the end of the busy week.

The end of VBS happened to coincide with the All Ohio Bike Festival motorcycle light parade. Since the parade route went right past the church, we set up chairs and waited for the parade to start. Owen passed the time running and rolling down the grass hill with his cousins. Clara was happy to be out of the house and up past her bed time. The procession of motorcycles was shorter than years past, but everyone still enjoyed the show. During the 5 minute car ride from the church to our house, both tired kids passed out in their car seats. Fortunately, I was able to wake Owen up long enough to use the potty and to get a quick washcloth wipe down.

Watching the motorcycle light parade after the last night of VBS

This week, Owen started the first of two weeks of swim lessons from 6 to 6:30 in the evening. So we began two more weeks of rushing home so that we could get to the pool on time. Although Owen was tentative about putting his head completely under water at first, he really enjoys playing as a group with similarly aged peers and has gotten increasingly comfortable with the water each day. It is nice to see him adapt quickly when placed in a group of kids that he has never met.

In addition to swim lessons, Owen started his first year of preschool this week. We have enrolled Owen as a peer model in the preschool run by the County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Each class consists of a mix of kids with developmental delays and "typically developing" peers. Students with delays benefit from interaction with peers that demonstrate age-appropriate social and language skills while the peers benefit by learning that their classmates with delays are more like themselves than different. Owen enjoyed his first day of school and is happy that he finally gets to ride the school bus.

Owen and Nathan (the baby sitter's son) showing off their backpacks before the first day of preschool.

Getting on the bus for the first time!!

The week after next should bring some relief; however we might feel a little lost when we do not have to scramble to get out the door.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Fun at the Playground

During the Fourth of July weekend at Grammy and Grandpa's house, we took advantage of the nice park that is just around the corner to burn some of the always abundant kid energy. Last year, Owen was intimidated by the size of the slides and other fun items on the play set and would not do anything without Mommy or Daddy close by. This year, he was all over the play set and even attempted some of the more difficult ladders. It was hard to tell what Clara enjoyed more, playing or watching her brother play.

Having fun in the tunnel tubes

Here I come Dad!!

The twisty-bumpy slide is my favorite!

Climbing the rock wall

Can you tell that Clara loves to swing?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Good Heart

At 22 weeks gestation, a Level II ultrasound indicated that fluid had accumulated around Clara's heart. The sonographer excused herself to find the perinatologist, who quickly confirmed the sonographer's concern. Shortly thereafter we were seated in the office of the perinatologist digesting the many possible causes of the pericardial effusion - chromosomal abnormalities, heart defects, a virus, cancer, unknown. The perinatologist then called Children's Hospital and expressed the urgent need for a fetal echocardiogram - we were told that they could see us as soon as we could get to the hospital.

We started that day with plans for an uneventful appointment followed by a lunch date at our favorite Greek restaurant. The level II ultrasound was scheduled as a precaution based on some medications that Ellen was taking. The same procedure had been performed during Ellen's pregnancy with Owen; therefore our level of concern going into the appointment was very low. Little did we know that we would find ourselves on the way to Children's Hospital full of concern for our unborn daughter.

We visited Children's Hospital several more times during the remainder of the pregnancy, becoming increasingly optimistic with each visit as the effusion reduced to two small pockets of fluid. Clara's growth and development continued to progress on track and no indicators of other potential problems were noted. Therefore, we began to believe that the cause of the effusion would fall into the unknown category.

Shortly after Clara was born we received the diagnosis of Down syndrome and our answer to what likely caused the effusion in utero. At one week old, we visited Children's hospital yet again for another echocardiogram, which indicated that the effusion had completely resolved and that no significant heart defects were present. The cardiologist noted that the PFO had not completely closed; therefore he recommended a follow-up appointment at three months old. Based on the results of an EKG and a physical examination at the three month appointment, the cardiologist indicated his belief that the PFO had closed; however, he recommended follow-up at one year as a precaution.

I am happy to report that Clara's one year appointment on June 26, 2009 resulted in a clean bill of heart health from the cardiologist. He indicated that everything looked and sounded normal and that Clara never had to come back to see him. While Dr. Wheller provided excellent care and advice during our unexpected journey, we feel blessed that Clara has been released from his care at such a young age without a single surgical procedure (knock on wood).