Tuesday, August 25, 2015

10 Things I Never Expected to Do As a Parent

When I was pregnant with my first child back in 2006, there were things I expected to happen. I expected diapers, crying, toys everywhere, the occasional sniffles, first day of school, family pictures, etc. I got that and so much more. The labels of Down syndrome, AV canal heart defect, Wolff-Parkinson White syndrome, asthma, sleep apnea, GERD, and lung cyst all brought unexpected things to my parenting experience.

As I measured the bald spot on the back of my daughter's head last night to see if it was getting larger, I thought, "This is something I never expected to do as a parent!" And yes if you are curious, it was a half centimeter larger than a few weeks ago.

Here are 10 things that I never expected to do as a parent:
-Choose my daughter's hairstyle based upon a bi-pap mask. If her hair gets too long, the mask doesn't seal as well. Plus, the headgear makes wrinkles and uneven waves in her hair. That's why short hair is the best style for her.

-Leave a pharmacy with a bag full of medicines for my child every month.

-Arrange my daughter's furniture in her room based upon her medical equipment and outlet locations. Her bed has to be near an outlet for the bi-pap and nebulizer. Her chair must be close enough to another outlet for her airway clearance machine.

-Wonder if my child was going to die. Yep, I never expected that one. But more than once, a bad news talk from a doctor left me wondering what was going to happen and praying Jaycee would live.

-Buy diapers for 9 years and counting for the same child. Thankfully, she just needs them at night.

-Carry a bag with a change of clothes for my 9 year old when we go out. Now, her accidents are rare, but they can be expected if she's in unique or stressing situation.

-Perform so much therapy on my own child. As a speech-language pathologist, I never imagined using my training in language, apraxia of speech, and feeding treatments on my own child.

-Interpret my child's attempt at communicating with others for years. Around me, Jaycee uses many signs, gestures, and some word approximations. I never imagined being an interpreter for my 9 year old child, but I'm happy to do it.

-Dread a phone call from my child's teacher so much. Due to Jaycee's breathing issues, I hate to see the school show up on my caller ID. Let's face it, school professionals usually don't call with good news, but I'm worried a call from them means Jaycee's breathing is in trouble.

-Be so proud of someone who doesn't achieve the typical things. There's no "My kid made the honor roll" celebration or a high five because she made a sporting achievement. No, but I'm proud. Proud of her efforts. Proud of any attempts. Proud of her Special Olympics competitions. Proud of her trying to write her name. Proud of her for saying her 15 words. Proud that she can put soap in the dishwasher. Small victories make me proud.

Maybe parenting Jaycee hasn't been everything I expected. But, that doesn't mean that it hasn't been worthwhile and fulfilling. The truth is...I like being Jaycee's parent.

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