Mother Goose is a program by the Ontario Early Years Centres for babies up to a year and their parents. The program facilitates bonding and communication with your child through song and activity. Quinn is a graduate of this program, as is the rest of my Stroller Posse (who as, you may or may not know, met in prenatal classes). I know that our weekly trips to Mother Goose certainly made a difference in my life. The networking with other Mommies was invaluable ("yours is doing that too?"), as was getting out of the house at least once a week for lunch with friends. The program itself helped me become more comfortable with Quinn as I learned how to soothe, stimulate and educate him using song. It sounds silly at first (it did to me too when I was initially encouraged to go), but it helped our connection along. His language skills are phenomenal (and always have been) and I attribute a lot of this to the program. Having my own lullaby set list saved us on more than one occasion. Whether his profound love of music and art came from Mother Goose or us or both is debatable, however he still has the CD and we still sing the songs to this day.
A sleepy little monster after a Mother Goose nap...
I haven't been able to do much of anything up until now with Zoe and Wyatt. The weather has been crappy, I'm still trying to catch up on the housework and it's only been recently that I've been getting more than 3 hours total sleep a day. Which brings me to my next topic...
The Mother Guilt. For my childless friends and family, I will explain... Mother Guilt is a real thing, as real as stubbed toes at 3am and diapers that leak. These things occur without fail and every Mother goes through it. It is not a stage, it is not a process, it is an almost daily occurrence and it never goes away. Mother Guilt is also largely unfounded and flies in the face of logic but nevertheless it perseveres. Your child hit their head on the door frame? You didn't childproof enough. Guilt. Child develops diabetes? It's your crappy genes. Guilt. Child not doing well with his or her peers? You didn't socialize them enough. Guilt.
Guilt, guilt, guilt. No therapy, class or time will diminish this; it is an integral part of the job description.
Talk to any parent with twins or read any twin book and you will be warned that you will have a lot of [additional] guilt and not feel fully bonded to your babies. As an added bonus, they caution, you may feel closer to one or the other for a variety of reasons and that this too is a normal thing. I can attest to this. Unlike with my first born baby, with whom I had time to cuddle and coo, these twins are work. Most days it feels like they are a series of jobs I have to complete. With twins it's all about task completion, schedules... and the myriad of other little things that you have to do in order to "get things done" or, more importantly "remain sane" (the last being debatable). I love my babies to pieces, but I envy the other Mommies with singletons who have more time to spend gazing into little eyes and stroking little hands and getting out to explore the world at large. Guilt. Wyatt needs extra time to help develop as much as possible and Zoe is a colicky mess most of the time... and I don't feel like I am spending any quality time with either of them. Lotsa guilt.
With Wyatt's DS, you would think that I would be all about the networking right now, but I'm not. I have tried... I really have. I have read the blogs, searched the associated websites... and I can't do it. I can't. They either depress the hell out of me and I close the browser window crying or they try and convince me how much of a blessing/treat/gift from God this is. There are also the "collectors" who, after having a child with DS, are moved to adopt several more from other places in the world. There are some with twins with DS, both identical and fraternal, but none with just one affected twin. I was reading the transcript of a radio interview this morning and the mother being interviewed was asked if she could take the additional gene away from her child would she do so. She responded with an emphatic "No!" and had a multitude of reasons why. Meanwhile, I'm thinking "In a f☠☠king heartbeat!". I guess the PC thing to say here is that I see Wyatt beyond his condition, but the truth is that I would never wish this on him. It's not horrible, it's not a death sentence, there are Rembrants and tulips here in Holland, but I would still change it, selfish as that may be. (Guilt).
Want to know The Big Guilt? The big Kahuna, the Grand Daddy, the done like dinner item? I realized by reading other blogs and online resources that I'm probably just as prejudiced as everyone else. I can't look at many pictures of other people's DS kids as they look "Too DS-y". I don't find them handsome or pretty most of the time. Despite every resource reassurring parents that DS kids look like other members of the family and not like each other, I think they do. I think a lot of them look the same. I do think Wyatt looks like my family however. I marvel at his normal hands and feet and point out that his physical characteristics are "minimal". It's kinda like saying he "has the good hair". When he's asleep and his tongue sticks out I gently tap it with an index finger to get him to close his mouth. I make sure I take the "best" pics possible of him (ie: less obvious).
Major Guilt. Check please.
Perhaps my perception will change over time as Wyatt grows into the man that he will be. Maybe I need this little learning curve to get over a few things, who knows? Maybe sancti-Mommy does need her little pity party in order to become a true advocate for her son. One can only hope so. I have spent the two months that he has been home trying to surpass this, trying to overcome the gulf that exists between myself and both my babies, especially Wyatt.
It hasn't been easy.
Up until yesterday all I saw were hurdles and tasks to be finished and overcome. Up until yesterday, I felt estranged and angry... and house happy. I was also desperately looking for a solution to Zoe's crying.
Leaving the house with twins remains a big deal, especially if you are like me and have to rely on transit during the day. I started preparing for our foray out Monday night. I was packed and clothes were laid out for all of us (including Quinn) to make my morning as easy as possible. On our arrival it was like stepping back in time; once I was in the group, singing the familiar songs I started to feel better. Oddly enough, it felt like home. Zoe stayed true to herself and cried throughout most of the hour, but Wyatt was a different story. I was sitting cross legged with Zoe balanced against one knee while I replaced her "tookie" (soother) again and again while Wyatt sat on my other knee. He was awake, but dozy, looking around lazily as he is want to do. We started with some bouncy action type songs and rhymes and I looked into his eyes at one point to find them wide open and staring. At me. Watching me sing. Then the most unbelievable thing happened.
He smiled and a connection was made.
You could tell that he was enjoying himself and that even for a brief moment, before Zoe lost her tookie and started screaming again, that we were in tune. We "got" each other. We had started to bond, finally. It was a very short period of time, but it was there. It happened.
This afternoon, after their lunch, I tried some of the songs and rhymes out on him again and the same thing happened. For a second, there it was. Zoe was still pretty nonplussed but Wyatt was on board. His eyes clicked over and he was paying attention. There was wonder in those beautiful blue eyes, and joy.
As with many of my journeys, I went seeking one thing and found another. Mother Goose may not be the answer for everything, but it will sure help. Maybe this level of networking will get me started and help me overcome a few things. Maybe I will find some resources that meet my needs, maybe I won't... or maybe I will be able to tailor what is available to fit and make my own.
I will keep looking, I'll keep shopping for people like me. In the meantime, I will continue to be honest with myself and move forward.