Tag Archives: Homestart

The hardest juggling act of all

And for my next trick…

Yep: like all parents, I spend a lot of time juggling. Heck, I spend a lot of time blogging about juggling. And guilt. Let’s not forget the guilt. And of course, these things are intimately related. A huge chunk of the knotty mass of guilt I feel on a pretty much daily basis originates in my feeling that I am a poor juggler. That I don’t get the balance right in my respective responsibilities as Mum, carer, advocate for Boo, partner, employee, and colleague. That I let people down on a regular basis, including myself, but especially my kids.

If you read this blog regularly, you would be forgive for thinking that the hardest circle to square is the working mum/parent-carer one. I wrestle with it daily and the moment it is pretty all consuming. But it’s not the hardest juggle of all. Not by a long way.

The hardest is being Mum to two children, one of whom has extreme and complex additional needs and one who does not.

Sissyboo is just about the best sister anyone could have. Boo is incredibly (there just isn’t a word hyperbolic enough to describe this) lucky to have her in his life. I watch their relationship develop with intense pride and amazement. Her life was as much turned upside down by Boo’s early arrival and all that came with it as anyone else’s and all of this happened in the year she started school.

Cerebral palsy doesn’t faze her. In fact, she is very knowledgeable about it. She has started to question the world around her, the policies and prejudices that affect her little brother’s life. She instinctively, now, notes the accessibility (of often otherwise) of places we visit and clocks lifts and accessible toilets sometimes before I do on trips out. She has the best stare for non-blue badge holders who park in disabled parking spaces because they are in a hurry that I have ever seen. She helps with Boo’s therapies. She makes him sticker charts and buys him presents with her pocket money entirely off her own bat if he hits a new inchstone. She reads to him and plays with him. She forgives him if his wayward arms whack her round the face accidentally or if he pulls her hair.

And mostly, she just loves him. Unconditionally. As I do her.

She may not realise it at the moment, but she has given up a lot for him. Time with me, days out, days without worry. And I worry so much about her missing out.

You see, Boo’s needs will always be the most immediate. He can’t do a thing (except watch TV) without adult support. And she is nearly seven. So when it comes to the two hours before bed what do I do? Shoehorn in as much therapy as possible for Boo? Goodness knows he needs it. And then what to do when Sissyboo asks me to do Hama beads with her? What about when she needs help with her homework and he is screaming because he is uncomfortable and needs stretching or otherwise stimulating because he can’t just get up and walk to the toys he wants to play with.

Sissyboo does after school clubs most days. This is partly because I work, but it is also so I can fit a bit more therapy time into Boo’s day as he doesn’t get enough 1:1 support at nursery. And I don’t feel good about paying someone else to look after my daughter so I can do therapy with my son. Not at all.

Nor do I feel totally OK with all days out having to be geared up around her brother’s needs. Of course, I want him to be as happy as possible and like to be prepared wherever we go, but I hate, for her sake, that so many days out turn out to be about what we can and can’t do with Boo. The only way to avoid this is to split our family of 4 into 2 families of 2, not always practical, and not at all what any of us wants.

We used to have a volunteer from the wonderful Homestart come and help us out for 2 hours a week. Boo was well looked after and I had 2 hours a week with my lovely girl. We used to do crafts or make cakes or watch a movie. That ended 10 months ago now and we both still miss it enormously. I try to take her swimming on my own once a week (like I take her brother on his own once a week too, although she has to come watch). I let her stay up a bit late on Fridays and Saturdays and help me make dinner and do crafts. I plan odd days out with just her. These are so much fun.

But I’m still not used to this. I wish I could get the balance right. I wish I could be sure I was doing enough to support her through school and just being nearly 7. But I can’t. When push comes to shove, Boo often has to come first. He can’t help it. It’s just the way it is. I just hope she grows up not minding. I hope she grows up knowing how amazing she is and how very, very proud I am of her.

If you have any tips on how to juggle the needs of siblings with different needs, I would love to hear from you. This one really has me stumped.

 

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A New Start without Homestart

Let me tell you a secret. I am not looking forward to this week. Not one little bit.

There are the four medical appointments for Boo, but that’s not it. To be honest, that’s fairly normal for us. No: it’s that this is the week my work pattern changes in quite a big way.

I have been back at work since May. It’s been hard, but also good to have something else to focus on and, honestly, I have no choice but to work if we want to keep our house in our town and keep Sissyboo at the school she’s at. But I have been unfeasibly lucky so far. I went back on a phased return initially and then was on a sabbatical of sorts that meant I focused about 80 per cent of my effort on things that could be done at home, electronically or on Skype. I’ve worked long hours, but flexibly. It’s worked. Mostly (although working through the night to make up for time lost to appointments can be grueling and is temporarily stymied because of the Boos’ sleep problems). But I am still standing anyhow, which is surely one marker of success. Some days I feel it’s the only one we have.

And I have a flexible working contract (thank you, lovely employer) so that I can still work a couple of days a week at home on days when Boo often has appointments. But on Tuesdays and Wednesdays I will now have a 130 mile round trip commute by car. I will work late in an office. I won’t be able to pick Sissyboo up from school. I will spend even less time with her and with Boo. Goodness knows when all her homework will get done or how we will get him all the standing frame time he needs.

And just as this change kicks in, we have to get used to another major adjustment: the absence of Homestart in our lives.

If you have read this blog before, you’ll know I’m a huge Homestart fan. Homestart entered our lives when things were terrible and no one else seemed able to help. I was severely sleep-deprived after 3 months of no more than 3 broken hours of shuteye a night and I was severely depressed. The world felt like it was made of cotton wool. I trudged through it with leaden feet and bleary and tearful eyes every day, but was disengaged from reality. I couldn’t keep on top of the house. I needed quality time with Sissyboo.

Homestart gave me something priceless. Three hours a week of respite, of a friendly and sympathetic ear can work wonders. It did for us. Sissyboo’s mood lifted. Things were still frantic, but the oasis of calm 180 precious minutes a week provided was something I always looked to to get me through the tough times.

We are in a better place now than in the darkest days of infantile spasms and steroids, and others need the service much more than us. So our volunteer visited us for the last time before Christmas. We are grateful for all Homestart has done for us and I will do all I can to help raise awareness of the amazing things they do for vulnerable families with young children on this blog and anywhere else I can.

But I am also very, very sad and somewhat at a loss without them. We are not coping fantastically at the moment. Sissyboo misses her afternoon with Mummy each week. She is very moody (she is just not her really, which is sad to see) and is not sleeping well. Boo’s sleep is, as always, much worse still. The atmosphere at home, especially in the turbulent evenings or desperately-seeking caffeine mornings can be tense. It can all feel a bit relentless.

But work, as one organisation who helps families like ours (but wasn’t in a positioning to help us) said to me, is my respite, surely? It has to be, was my response. And that organisation had a point. I am lucky to work. To be able to work, I mean. I don’t take that for granted and know of many who would welcome my problems in this respect.

But let’s be honest, here. Work is not respite. It’s a sometimes diverting, enjoyable but stressful and multiply demanding distraction. And while I wouldn’t change things (I think…), work takes with one hand (quality time with Sissyboo and what little energy I have left after all the therapies, anxiety and worry) what it gives with the other (a roof over our head). My colleagues are lovely, in the main, but they haven’t got a clue what my life is like.

Work is a lie. It’s a place where I cover up the reality of my life rather than a place where I truly escape it. That’s an important difference, I think. It’s exhausting leading this double life.

But I have to try to ensure that the new changes ahead on the work front don’t eclipse the knowledge I gained from our experience with Homestart. Little things, like the value of drinking a hot cup of coffee without distractions; the importance of taking a breath to catch up with myself; and above all, the importance of making time for our daughter. We don’t need formal respite to tell us these and similar things.

Now all I need to work on is how to make them happen, but for your sake, Sissyboo, I’ll try. I promise.

Good News Friday #31 and #32

Yes, Good News Friday was overlooked last week. Blame Katie Price. I was so deeply upset by her ill-judged interview with Radio 5 in which she condemned many parents of disabled children as too ‘lazy’ to access the resources they needed, that when Hayley at Downs Side Up set up a linky, well, I had to address that rather than focus on good news.

But there has been some. Lots. So much, in fact, that this going to be an edited highlights and I will flesh out some of the other stuff (like what Boo’s been up to in conductive education) for other posts next week.

Sissyboo

My fabulous no-so-little girl turned 6 this week. It’s been a week of celebrations, with presents and a family tea with just us four Boos on Wednesday, veggie hotdogs and cheesecake (not all at once, you understand) and a party with a few school friends tomorrow and grandparents and the little Boo’s favourite female other than Mummy, my sister. She really is in a good place at the moment in terms of Boo and the way she wanted to share him in all her birthday fun (getting him to help unwrap presents and blow out the candles – two things that are very difficult for him), well, let’s just say it made my day.

Boo

Well, I leave you hanging on what’s going on with Boo at conductive education. One for Small Steps Amazing Achievements next week, I think. But things are slowly coming together with equipment. His standing frame unexpectedly arrived about an hour ago. And after nearly breaking my back to get it into the kitchen, it’s all ready to set up. Even more exciting, his chair arrives next Tuesday and after many months, our wheelchair services referral came through for him to be assessed for an adapted buggy. All of these things will greatly improve his life and ability to be included in games, meals and things most of take for granted. It has been a real battle, but it’s coming together. 

The blog

OK, so first a post of mine in support of Home-Start’s fabulous Snowflake Appeal got put on the Good Housekeeping website, and tweeted about by Kirstie Allsop. Then I won a blogging competition! I am still gobsmacked about it. I am very proud to be a member of the Mum Network Trusted Bloggers Club and a few weeks ago I entered an autumn carnival on the theme of ‘The Juggle of Modern Motherhood’, where I wrote about a day in my life. It was an entirely real day. The carnival had some amazing entries and the fact I won (and won a ticket to Britmums Live) is just astonishing to me. Now I just have to work out how being a secret/anonymous blogger works with attending a blogging conference. Answers on a postcard please.

World Prematurity Day

The big news this week is that it’s World Prematurity Day on Sunday. This time last year, I was too much in the thick of prematurity to think about contributing to the day, but this year, I have written a post on Bliss’s wonderful theme of The Impossible Hug and a post where I try and explain what prematurity means to me. called Why Prematurity is Like The Matrix. I’m also very much looking forward to attending a reception highlighting research into prematurity hosted by Tommy’s and Bounty at the House of Commons on Monday. I’ll let you know how it goes. Now, do I have a frock that still fits…

OK, over to you. I’d love to hear your good news this week. 

And please, this weekend, do spare a thought or any pennies you have for any of the leading charities working to prevent pre-term birth or fund special care for some of the 15 million children born too soon across the world every year.

 

 

A Thank You Letter for Volunteers’ Week

This week (1-7 June 2013) is Volunteers’ Week. I couldn’t let this pass without expressing my gratitude for the millions of people who freely give their time, energy and compassion to help others and, in the process, not only contribute billions to the economy but also make millions of individuals’ and families’ lives a whole lot better.

But first, I need to backtrack a little. Last week I participated in a Twitter chat about making time for ourselves as parents. I had blogged about respite last week and, judging by the many comments, tweets and emails I’ve received, this is a pretty hot topic. And whether it’s something we’ve found in our lives, don’t feel we need, or are desperately seeking, it seems to be a subject we all have an opinion on.

I thought I had things to bring to the virtual table when the chat went live. But I am very aware of two things that make such online encounters difficult for me. First I am a new girl on the blogging scene and I am still learning the ropes. But bloggers seriously are the nicest people, so for the most part they help me overcome my insecurities. Until, that is difficulty number two rears its ugly head. My biggest difficulty is fear of difference. I blog in part to connect with others, to find common ground, to feel less isolated. And I do feel much less alone now than I did 8 weeks ago when I started this blog. But then there are those moments when someone says something, meant kindly or innocently, that in my mind, although I’m sure not in theirs, puts up fences between us, between the greener pastures of parenting in general and the wilder terrain of prematurity and special needs childrearing.

This happened during the Twitter chat last weekend when the conversation turned from how we find time for ourselves to making time for our kids. At this point I mentioned my lovely Homestart volunteer who comes over for two or three hours a week, originally to help me get through the especially difficult time when Mr Boo developed infantile spasms, but now to look after Boo to give me a little time each week with Sissyboo to help her with the difficult adjustments she has had to make since her brother was born. Someone responded by saying they wouldn’t be comfortable with such an arrangement. This is completely understandable and, truth be told, I probably would felt the same if someone had told me a few years ago that we would be relying on the generosity of a volunteer in the future.

I left the conversation feeling quite sad: sad that I had been struggling; sad that I wasn’t as self-sufficient as I wanted to be; sad that I needed help; sad, most of all, that my daughter needs help. Sad, if I’m honest, that I didn’t have the luxury of feeling discomfort at the prospect of accepting help.

But after mulling it over for not all that long and chatting about it a bit more with some kind tweeps I got over these feelings and got over myself. I am astonishingly grateful for the help we have and don’t feel ashamed about it at all. And in honour of Volunteers’ Week I thought I’d share just a few of the reasons why I feel this way. I can’t share the name my Homestart volunteer, a wonderfully generous, smart recently retired woman with a long career behind her and more energy than I imagine I will ever have. She doesn’t know that I blog and I blog anonymously anyway. So let’s call her M. This is what I’d like to say to her.

Dear M

I never thought I’d be writing a letter like this. I used to volunteer myself as a teenager for various animal charities. And I always thought that as an adult I would volunteer again. I  am planning to, for Bliss, in the near future. But if I’m honest with you, I never thought I would need a volunteer’s support myself. I’ve always prided myself on my independence and can-do personality. I am lucky enough to have reasonable health and a good job. I come from a loving family (although a widely spread one) and I have some fabulous friends (similarly widely spread). I never expected that I, that my family, would be utterly sideswiped by prematurity and disability, that my beautiful boy would suffer so much in such a short period of time. That the worry and anxiety over his health would see me develop a severe anxiety and depression that would paralyse me and impinge on my abilities to be the mother, partner, colleague and friend I wanted to be. I didn’t realise how fragile my long-won security in life was. How it could break down so fast. How quickly I would morph from the person who always  helped others to the one who needed the help of strangers.

As I fought back tears after weeks of no sleep and watching my son like a hawk in case he fitted again during an appointment with a Health Visitor I was told that I should consider accepting help from an organisation called Homestart which helped families with young children who were struggling in various ways. I was reluctant to consider this. I was worried others might be more deserving of help than us. That we would be taking something we had no right to. I didn’t want to admit I was struggling. But I couldn’t fake it any longer. I was in bits and I was too tired to protest to the suggestion.

A regional co-ordinator came round shortly afterwards and explained what Homestart could do for us: provide a few hours a week where I could nap if I wanted (I never did) or get on top of Mr Boo’s medical admin (a part-time job in itself) or just talk through the challenges we were facing as a family. I still felt awkward, but started to feel excited too. She went away to match us with a volunteer. You.

In the days that passed before you came round for the first time, I thought several times about saying ‘We’re OK now. Thanks, but we don’t need your help.’ But I didn’t. I knew I was lying and my kids needed this as much as I did. That’s how I rationalised it. They would benefit from this too. This wasn’t about me being a bad parent, it was about me being a responsible one.

My nerves about meeting you quickly disappeared. As we chatted that first time we met about our families and our shared professional commitment to education I forgot you were a volunteer and started to think of you as the friend you have become.

Your visits have helped in so many ways. You’ve picked me up on down days, allowed me to take a bit of control over a life complicated by the demands of looking after a little boy who needs 24/7 care. A boy who cannot be left to play independently, who often sleeps dreadfully and who is frequently ill. Most of all, you’ve given me time to spend with my daughter, time when she’s not constantly told ‘after we’ve done Boo’s physio’, ‘after we’ve  gone to the chemist’, ‘after Boo’s had his bottle’. 

You listen to my concerns. You don’t pretend they will go away or diminish their significance. You offer help and advice on local services a d shared ideas for dealing with some of the practical problems we have (like trying to bath a nearly 10kg baby who can’t sit). You don’t judge. You don’t intrude. You just let me be me and offer oodles of encouragement.

I can’t imagine you not coming round any more but can see that day will come. And we will be forever grateful for the help you have given  us: a bit of breathing space, a bit of time to attend to the difficult things that have come to us as a family with Boo’s birth. A bit of time just to be.

We needed and still need help. I am comfortable with saying that now. And I won’t feel ashamed about it any more.  Moreover, I pledge that one day, when things are better, because I know they will be, I promise to help others as we have been helped. Because I am grateful for all that you and others like you make. And because I know what it’s worth, not just to the economy but to families like ours.

Thank you. The words are inadequate, but thank you.

The Boos

Links to other Volunteers’ Week Blogs

If you’ve enjoyed this post and want to find out more about volunteering and the CSV’s Volunteer Champions campaign please see this lovely post by the fabulous Dorky Mum.

If you want to here about Volunteers’ Week from the volunteers’ perspective, please hop over to visit Ruby+Lottie where Kimberley has posted a wonderful piece about what the volunteer gets out of volunteering.

 

Help is not a Four-letter Word

Of the three paediatricians Mr Boo sees I have a clear favourite. One is very professional and smart but a bit inscrutable; one thinks bedside manner is something you buy from an IKEA catalogue (enough said, really); but the third (a community paediatrician who Mr Boo will see for many years to come) is fabulous.

No one likes to be told there child is not where they should be developmentally even if this is glaringly obvious. But she manages to impart this news in a positive and reassuring way. For her, Mr Boo is clearly not just a case or a list of clinical puzzles and diagnoses; he is also, and above all else, a child with his own unique personality. And instead of dwelling on what he can’t do she emphasises not only what he can, but how remarkable it is, given his medical history, that he has accomplished any of these things. She sees his achievements and the positive possibilities that lie ahead. And when she said ‘We’re just going to throw everything we can at him to make sure he gets all the help he needs to maximise his potential’ I could have kissed her.
It goes without saying that I would do anything to help Mr Boo and his sister, whose needs as the sibling of a child with disabilities are slowly emerging. There’s no depth to my inner resources to advocate for my kids, I’ve found. So why is it I treat help like such a dirty word when the recipient is me?

I’ve always been this way. On the list of Boo priorities I have almost always ranked mine somewhere between the negligible and the non-existent. I prioritise everyone else’s needs and wants, not just those of my family and friends, but those of work colleagues, neighbours and even relative strangers. I don’t even use L’Oreal. You see in my mind I really am not worth it.

I say this not out of self-pity or to make you feel sorry for me. I say it in the same spirit of mild self-loathing that makes asking, let alone accepting, help difficult for me. I like to think I am compassionate to others. I was always the designated driver to nightclubs as a teenager, the one who wouldn’t drink, even though I am fond of a tipple, because I knew one of my pals would end up in the toilet needing someone to pull her hair back to avoid the inevitable vomit and to see her safely home. But if someone tried to do the same for me, I would be horrified. This is the woman who made her c-section scar bleed because of doing too much housework the day she came out of hospital after having Sissyboo knowing that her in-laws were coming the next day to help her look after her newborn. I never slept when the baby slept (fool!) and continued to do work on maternity leave when people asked me to do so even though I was unpaid and so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Although I would help anyone out in any way I could, I find the idea of someone helping me pretty scary, a sign that I am failing, yet another indication that I am not worth helping. I would never think this of someone else who needed or sought assistance. Just me.

Ok, you got it: I’m nuts. But I am high functioning in my nuttiness, at least. Correction: I was high functioning.

Having Mr Boo early put us all under a great strain. But it wasn’t until Christmas that I really realised just how fragile my grip on things was. When Mr Boo developed infantile spasms, a new devastating condition on top of the cerebral palsy we’d been told to expect, I was floored. Add on (because of the aggressive treatment) no sleep besides odd naps of a few minutes over a period of several months (on top of months of sleep deprivation prior to that), heavy weight loss because of his increased appetite and repeat hospitalisations, I really couldn’t cope.

I was living in a hall of mirrors: everything looked distorted to me. I couldn’t see straight and the ground felt spongy under my feet. My face hurt when I smiled. I was worried to laugh in case something bad would happen. Yes, everyone was fed and watered, but I was a wreck. I needed help. But I didn’t want it. I should have been able to manage better, I thought.

And then one morning things changed. I was walking around like a tetchy zombie, Sissyboo was crying and I couldn’t get her to put her school shoes on. I started shouting and Mr Boo started screaming because of the noise. I felt like the worst Mum in the world. I was failing my kids now just as I had failed them  by bringing Mr Boo into the world early with all the life-long complications he and we faced as a consequence of that day.

And then I realised I wasn’t a bad Mum. I was a struggling parent. And struggling wasn’t all that surprising giving what had happened to us in the past few months.

But here was the big revelation. I could be a better Mum. How could I help my kids if I wouldn’t help myself? I needed to be strong, but I needed support. It wasn’t wrong to accept assistance; it was the responsible thing to do.

So I found help. Well it wasn’t that easy, of course. It was absurdly difficult emotionally for me to see a GP, to be told I had severe reactive depression and anxiety and possible PTSD, that antidepressants and CBT were a good idea. The GP also thought there might be organisations that might help and asked when I was next seeing our health visitor. I told her we didn’t have one. I wasn’t sure I wanted one. I thought there must be so many more families deserving of help than we were. We were OK. But we weren’t.

When the health visitor came out to us as an urgent case 6 weeks later she provided all sorts of information about support services and groups. I resisted, knowing how The Grumposaur (still in denial there was anything wrong with Boo) would feel about it. But I kept glancing at the leaflets anyway and each time they seemed less threatening and more promising.

In the meantime the health visitor referred us to the fabulous Homestart who sent an amazing volunteer to us for a few hours a week to give me some respite and time to get on top of the many practicalities of daily living that were being routinely neglected. Now she comes to give me a little and much-needed one-to-one time with Sissyboo each week. I cannot tell you what it means to us. Support. Sanity. Solidarity.

And then I started to help myself. I started chatting to the amazingly generous and knowledgeable people on the Bliss message board and in the special needs section of the Netmums Coffeehouse. I asked for advice and shared experiences when I felt I had something useful to contribute.

And then I entered the worlds of blogging and Twitter, through which I have connected with people who put a smile on my face every single day and who offer a complete stranger, even one hiding behind a ridiculous pseudonym, friendship, encouragement and kindness.

I am not cured and I will never be a saint. I love my kids so much and am endlessly annoyed by my failings to live up to the ideals I hold out for myself. But I am more like the person I want to be now than I have ever been and that is because of the help I have received, because I have admitted that I needed it.

I sometimes don’t get to each lunch. I often miss out on a shower and have managed only one haircut in the last 13 months, but at least I know now that I need to look after myself a bit better. Because if I don’t look after myself, I really can’t look after the Boos as well as I want to. They’re worth it. And I think I might be, too.

Good News Friday #3

How on earth did it get to be Friday again? This week has been a blur of form filling, work (even though I’m not yet technically back), writing blog posts I hadn’t meant to write, not writing ones I’d planned, oh and appointments. How could I forget the appointments?

So, time to pause. To reflect. To remember the good stuff and try to hold onto it when things get tough. (We’re seeing a neurologist next week for the first time. It’s going to be tough.) But we have lots to celebrate too.

So here goes and please, if you have good news to share about your little ones do write in the comments box. It really lifts my spirits!

Mr Boo’s physio appointment this week was a jolly affair. Apart from being completely uncooperative when expected to demonstrate his tentative commando crawl attempts (he really has perfected the I’m-not-a-performing-seal look), he did well. He is getting slowly closer to independent sitting and did some great weight bearing. For the first time we tried to get him to pull up to stand with some trunk support. I nearly cried. He was so happy at seeing the world from on high and laughed loud and long from his belly. And I loved seeing him upright. It gives me hope that one day he might be able to view the world like this for good. Maybe with an aid. Maybe not. Whatever: it was a wonderful sight.

My Homestart volunteer came round on Tuesday as she does every week for a couple of hours. This time she was bearing gifts. Mr Boo really needs his sleep but fights it like a tiger who’s just realised his keeper needs to sedate him to clean his teeth. It’s not pretty. I have the scratches to prove it. So does M, our volunteer. So she bought Mr Boo a lovely, soothing lullaby playing cuddly sea horse that had belonged to her grandson. She also bought me the number of a lovely lady who’s going to give our DLA application the once over before sending it off. I want to write a dedicated post about Homestart one day because they are amazing. Amazing! Today I just want to say, thanks M. We are so grateful for your can-do, understanding and non-judgemental friendship. It took me a long time to admit we needed help. I am so grateful it came in the form of you.

I was invited to take Mr Boo into Sissyboo’s school this week. Reception are learning about babies and have a baby clinic in their role play area. I talked a bit and answered questions. I think I got away with the, how do you know if your baby is a boy or girl when they’re born question. Just. But mostly I sat back and watched in awe as Sissyboo talked with a confidence it’s hard for her to muster, as well as a heartfelt joy and palpable sense of pride in her miraculous little brother who came early. He is so lucky to have her for his big sister.

Finally, portage starts today. I am so excited about this new (for us) therapy. Hopefully portage will be in our good news next week too.

OK. So how about you?