Friday, June 20, 2008

Hit by a Wave

Tonight I was hit by a wave of emotion.

I attended my first seminar sponsored by the Down Syndrome Information Alliance here in Sacramento. It was a presentation on Oral Motor Issues in Down Syndrome Children and it was presented by Lori Overland who is a speech pathologist in Connecticut.

I made a last minute decision to drive to North Sacramento to attend the conference even though Hector wasn't going to be able to make it. I didn't want to miss it so I packed all three boys in the van and we were on our way. I checked the boys into the childcare room that was provided free of charge, grabbed a few pieces of pizza that was also complimentary and sat down to wait for the lecture. A few people stopped to introduce themselves as I made my way to my seat.

And then it hit me. Tears began to well up in the corners of my eyes. I was overcome by a feeling of deep sadness. Waves of emotion were washing over me and I tried my hardest to keep it under control. A part of me felt safe surrounded by the mostly female audience and I thought I might be able to let it out knowing I would be supported. But then it passed, almost as quickly as it came and I felt my strength return. I could hear my dad's famous words in my head "shake it off"....words used to make the hurt go away, to will it away. I'm not sure if I was sad for myself or sad for Joaquin. Probably both. I think I was also hit by the reality of this new life of mine, one that includes seminars on how to help keep "one step ahead" of problems that may arise.

I think it was also a wave of reality. A part of me is still in denial that Joaquin may have hardships and challenges to overcome.

Thankfully the waves subsided and I was able to focus on the topic. The seminar was very good. Somewhere towards the middle of the talk, Joaquin was brought in to the room by one of the childcare providers. He was hungry and wanted to nurse, this was in turn met with many "oohs" and "aahs" as he was the only baby present. I had a few pertinent questions and the presenter made a point to come over to me after the talk to give recommendations on some exercises to do with Joaquin at this very young age to help with his oral motor control. Many of the mothers in attendance remarked that it was wonderful to see that I was breastfeeding Joaquin. A few mentioned that they were unable to do this with their own children and always regretted missing that experience. Many babies with DS have poor muscle tone which includes the muscles in their mouths. Overall there was a great feeling of warmth, understanding and support in the room.

Then it was time to gather up the rest of my gang. Diego and Mateo had a blast in the playroom, made a few new friends, and were happy to see me. They showered me with hugs and kisses and I took the time to soak it all up and didn't rush them as I often do. I felt strong again. We made our way back to the car, all of us buckled up and safe, and drove home.

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