The Hailey Herald

The Hailey Herald

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Making Health a Priority

As a mom, it is pretty normal to put yourself on the back burner and put the kids first.  It's what we do, right?  It's what we are expected to do, right?  Well, unfortunately, I was doing that even before I had children.  I didn't put my health first.  I have had a weight issue as long as I can remember.  I remember it as early as 6 or 7.  I was an emotional eater and portions were always too large.  I did ok through junior high and high school.  I wasn't fat, I wasn't thin.  I didn't exercise enough.  Enter college and the eating was worse and the exercising was worse.  I'm positive I added the freshman 15 or maybe even 20.  After college, I entered the workforce.  I worked then went home.  I have always eaten a lot of fruits and veggies, but I've also always eaten sweets, drank pop, and ate too many carbs.  Then came four pregnancies. I never gained much with the kids and I always took it all off.  I would gain 5 here and lose 5 there, but nothing more and nothing permanent.  I would focus on eating and working out for a week or two here and there.  It was always short term and a quick fix.  As a result of the weight and eating, after I had my babies, I didn't go off of my blood pressure medicine.  It was a permanent fixture in my daily routine.  I truly thought I was the size I was and nothing was going to change it. 

Back in February, my sister-in-law asked if I wanted to do a 21 day clean eating program with her and another sister-in-law.  Sure...why not?  What's the worst that would happen?  I knew that my eating needed to change, but never took the initiative to do it and it's always better to suffer together, right?

With the eating program, there were 30 minutes workouts.  The first few days seemed like torture.  I had given up soda back in October so drinking strictly water was easy.  Reducing my carbs were a bit more challenging.  I did find out that I wasn't eating enough protein nor were my veggie and fruit servings big enough.  21 days actually passed quickly.  There were days that I wanted to sway off of the program, but I stuck to it.  At the end, I had lost 15 pounds.  I felt better about myself and was stronger. 

I don't follow the program as closely now, but I have lost a total of 40 lbs since February and have dropped 3 sizes.  I would like to lose 5 more, but we shall see.  I am the size I was in high school and a few pounds lighter than then.  I have done a major overhaul on my eating.  I crave healthier, cleaner foods.  I search for recipes for my family that are better for them and me.  I love finding new recipes for vegetables and whole grains.  I know some of my friends laugh at some of the foods I've tried, but honestly, food tastes better now.  I eat oatmeal every morning....before this, I loathed oatmeal!!!  My new favorites right now are Greek salads and sweet potato nachos.  Spaghetti squash isn't too bad either. 

I had a yearly physical last week with my doctor.  My bloodwork was fantastic!  My triglycerides went from 157 to 45.  My blood pressure dropped from 150/80 to 106/80.  For the first time since high school, my BMI and weight are in the healthy, normal range and not considered overweight or obese.  My doctor was quite surprised because my numbers have been similar for years.  She asked what I had been doing.  I told her lots of exercise and an overhaul in the kitchen.  She commented that most people know 80% of their weight issues start in the kitchen, but that most people don't want to hear it.  I was one of those people.  I've done the working out portion for years now, but every time my food would stay the same or only change for a week or two.  I always failed.  Now and then, I have foods that are horrible for me, but each day is a new day.  I don't feel guilty about it.  I just control it.  I've given up emotional eating and eating out of boredom.  I'm more conscience of it now. 

It's not been an easy road and I'm sure it will be a constant battle most of my life (it has been most of my life anyway).  I did this for my family...for my kids...for me.  For the first time in my life, I am comfortable in my own skin.  I feel good about who I am.  I'm not embarrassed to be in public with my kids.  I didn't want my children to think that their mom was fat.  I'm hoping my children will gain a better relationship with food and have the knowledge to make healthier choices and know that exercise is an important part of life. 

I'm actually okay with pictures for the first time.  I think it is because it is the only place I can actually see the difference.  I still don't "see" it in the mirror even though, I have entire new wardrobe with clothes that are sizes I never dreamed of wearing ever.  You may not be able to tell much from the pictures.  I had a habit of cropping out the bad parts and would only do from the waist or chest up.  

Brayden's birthday last August

Jason's birthday in October

Top pic is Ian's birthday last year and the bottom is Ian's birthday this year.
This year...girls weekend in May

Ian's birthday this year

Father's Day this year

Friday, June 27, 2014

Miss Independent

Sometimes I'm keenly aware of every milestone Hailey has mastered.  Sitting, kneeling, crawling, walking, signing, her first word, etc.  Some milestones hit me like a ton of bricks when I least expect it.  I took the kids swimming last week at a waterpark.  We have been there maybe a half dozen times over the last year and half.  Hailey loves the water and has no fear.  We coerced her onto some toddler slides last year.  She was uncertain at first, but loved them.  The issue was that it was always a two person job.  One person to take her up the stairs and sit her on the slide and then another to catch her at the bottom.  The water in the pool was up to her chest and she was always so unsteady walking in the water.  The boys are always less than thrilled to use some of their precious waterpark time by carting their little sister up to the top of the slide repeatedly...Hailey isn't happy with just two slides.  She wants to do it forever!  I asked her oldest brother for help, I wanted to see if Hailey could master it herself.  She was hesitant at first because she is used to one of the boys always following her and the boys have a hard time not helping her.  I had to keep telling Brayden to let her be, but it was bothering him.  I asked if he wanted to keep doing this for an hour and he quickly backed off!!!  After about 3 times, that was it.

For an hour, I watched Hailey climb 3 steps out of the pool, walk 30 feet to another set of 6 steps, walk another 15 steps, and climb into the slide.  Every time she sat on the slide, her face beamed with pride and she waved as she yelled "Hi mom".  I'm positive the smile on my face was equally as big.  No one could look at me and see how proud I was of her.  Her smile didn't fade as she slide down and walked through the water to do it again.  Hailey repeated the process for a full hour.  She walked with confidence like she owned the place.  My husband came by and looked at me a little puzzled.  He didn't know I was letting her do it by herself.  He asked if she needed help and she shot him a dirty look and answered with a firm "No, I do it".  That is exactly what she did. 

I never questioned milestones with the boys.  They just happened and generally with no assistance from me.  I wasn't so sure with Hailey.  I assumed she would do most, but you never knew when.  Last summer as she rode the exact slide, I was positive she would need assistance for the next couple of years.  I'm just as guilty as the boys when it comes to helping her a little too much.  I was so incredibly proud of Hailey that day...her independence, her listening and her confidence.  I was reminded that day to not underestimate my child.  Given the chance, the girl can do almost anything.

These pics have nothing to do with my story, but they do make my heart happy.  She's getting so big and turning into a little girl before our eyes (maybe one with a lot of attitude...but that's ok).

Friday, June 20, 2014

School's Out

It's been so long since I've written I figure I have no more readers!  Life has been busy and now I'm beginning to see why there are so many bloggers of little ones with Ds but they keep dropping off as the children get older.  Life seems to get in the way.  I thought I would spend my free time while Hailey was in school blogging, but it was right around that time that I decided to take charge of my own life and health, but that's a different topic for a different post. 

Hailey continued to do well through the remainder of the school year.  We had zero behavior (hope I didn't jinx myself for next year!) issues with her.  She never tried to run away (like she does at home) and she was very cooperative with activities at school.  She loves the playground and always came home chatting away about "Danny" and "Josh" from her class.  She does well with centers, dancing, singing, listening to stories, and role play.  I received good reports from all three of her therapists.  She has shown progress in all areas of her IEP.  I think she's mastered a few of the speech ones, but since she speaks so softly at school (and only when she wants to), it's hard for her speech therapist to actually hear it.  Hailey walks into school with such attitude and confidence. 

Almost as if she has been doing it her entire life.  Some days she runs to me after school and other days she would rather stay!  I'm excited for next year.  She will have the same team (teacher and therapists).  She will be going in the morning instead of afternoon and her class is a little smaller than last year. 

I almost think Hailey will prefer school starting.  She doesn't see the boys much more during the summer than when they are in school.  They are always at camp, holed up in their room or outside with friends.  School was better than I expected for Hailey.  She gained independence and her speech increased.  She was happy there and the staff seemed to be as happy that she was there!

If 3 months went that well, I can't wait to see what 9 months will bring in the fall!!!

She refused to pose for her last day of school picture without papaw.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Am I Embarassed by Hailey?

A couple of weeks ago right before I headed in the car to pick up Hailey from preschool, I caught this blog post from Ellen Stumbo.  It struck me hard.  It hurt hard...all the way to my soul.  I cried....all the way to her preschool.  I couldn't stop.  I guess it has been a long time since I even thought about what others think of Hailey while we are out.  Yes, we still get pity looks every now and then, but for the most part, she gets smiles and positive interactions.  I can't believe people believe that I would be embarrassed by my daughter.

Of all the words that come to mind, embarrassment is not one of them.  Love, admiration, pride, joy...those are the words that come to mind when I think of Hailey.  I love her just as much as we do the boys.  I admire her determination, her unconditional love, her joy.

The pride I feel for her is overwhelming sometimes.  She fought so hard to breathe and eat with her heart defect.  She rocked her open heart surgery.

With low muscle tone, every gross motor milestone she achieves takes much more work and effort than it does for a typical child, but yet...she NEVER gives up.  Low muscle tone also plays a role in speaking.  Slowly but surely she is forming clearer words every day.  The girl never quits.

Oh, the joy.  Her smile lights a room and her laughter is contagious.  She brings so much joy to everyone around her.   

So, no...embarrassment has no place in our life..not in our world.  So, when you see me out and about...don't wonder.  I am not embarrassed by my child.  You might want to smile and walk away quickly because I am probably going to talk your ear off about how fantastic she is.

How could anyone possibly be embarrassed by this beautiful little girl?

Monday, April 21, 2014


Easter was low-key this year.  We stayed in town this year.  Ian had baseball on Saturday and Jason had to work Easter morning.  The boys casted their vote for Easter dinner and we hung out at home all day.  The weather was gorgeous.  They hunted eggs and saw the Easter bunny.  It was a nice day. 

Hailey and I went to the spring social with our local Ds group.  You have to love an event where you are greeted with "There are plenty of high school girls to help.  Have a seat, they will take care of Hailey."  Love my daughter, but they didn't have to tell me twice.  Hailey had a ball running around playing and I got to visit with other families."  Last year, Hailey was still a little wobbly on her feet and did so-so with her egg hunts.  This year, wow!  What a change a year made!!  I loved watching her chase after those eggs with such enthusiasm. 

Now, the egg dyeing was a nightmare.  She loved it, but wow...we need to work on "gentle"!!!!  We had lots of color everywhere.

The boys humored me with a "quick" egg dyeing session.  They even paused to for a pic.  They were in a hurry to head outside to play with their friends.  

Everything stopped once Hailey found her Olaf book!

My babies.  My Easter miracle was that Hailey didn't have to be removed from church yesterday...thank goodness!

Ian is a tail first bunny eater.

Hailey was quick to shove it in her mouth.  Maybe she was afraid I would take her "chocolate" away :-)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Down syndrome...the Afterthought

Each year of Hailey's life has been so incredibly difference.  Year 1, started with an explosion of emotion...fear, denial, sadness and guilt.  All of those eventually passed and evolved into relief (after a successful, uneventful open heart surgery) and acceptance.  Her first birthday party brought a lot of tears.  We had made it.  We made it through the abundance of information about different facets of Ds, the therapy and the multitude of doctor and therapy appointments that we had never encountered through with the boys, and finding where we fit in the Down syndrome community.  It was as if we were wearing a medal of honor.  We did it. 

Hailey's second year calmed down some.  We still had appointments, but they had slowed down because fortunately she had been healthy.  She was walking with assistance and gaining independence.  We still had therapy frequently.  That birthday was a celebration.  The fear was gone.  We found our niche in the Ds community and the dust had settled so to speak. 

Year 3 was even better.  Hailey was walking and exploring her world.  Knock on wood, she was healthier than the year before with the help of allergy medicine.  Hailey's speech started to improve and she was interacting more with her brothers.  She was finding her niche in our family.  Her 3rd birthday just was.  We celebrated Hailey and where our family is. 

That first year had me so scared and overwhelmed that I didn't think there would ever be a day that I didn't see Down syndrome in her face.  I was afraid that every minute of every day would scream "I have a daughter with Down syndrome".  I thought it would consume every thought and every activity that we did.  I feared it would overtake our family.  I was so scared that every part of Hailey's personality would revolve around Down syndrome.

The past two years have been much more relaxed (or I have chilled out and started to enjoy life more).  I love seeing the personality that is emerging from that petite body.  I have had several people comment how much personality is busting from this little girl.  She is compassionate.  She sobs when someone else is hurt or upset...almost more than she cries when she is hurt.  She is nurturing.  She still takes such good care of her babies.  Feeding them, rocking them, singing to them and reading books to them. 

She loves her family. 

Just recently, I caught Hailey "introducing" all of her family members to her Doc doll and her bunny chair.  One by one, she went through each picture announcing who it was and nodding at her "audience" and saying "right?"  She is funny and inquisitive. 

Showing her "audience" her family

She is funny, rotten, sassy and mischievous!

She is so much fun and so frustrating at the same time.  But I can guarantee, when I look at this beautiful phase...Down syndrome is not what we see.  We see our beautiful 3 year old...this face just screams Hailey!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Early on we accepted that Hailey would meet some milestones later than the boys did or other children her age.  It eventually become no big deal.  Recently Hailey has met another milestone.  We transitioned Hailey from her crib to a toddler bed and now into a full-sized bed.  Yes, this was about a year later than we transitioned the boys.  Did we do this because of Down syndrome...nope!  It had absolutely nothing to do with it.  Both boys were fabulous sleepers in their cribs (eventually).  We transitioned them into toddler beds and all hell broke loose.  With both boys, we ended up with them in our bed for at least a year off and on.  Sometimes they would start in our bed and with our middle child, he would wander into our room in the middle of the night and neither of us had the energy or the wits at 3 a.m. to move him into his bed so a bad habit was created.  Hailey stayed in her crib longer because we learned our lesson!  She is a good sleeper (knock on wood) and I wanted to get as much use out of that crib as we possibly could!

About two weeks before Christmas, I took off the side of her crib to make it into a toddler bed.  It never seemed to phase Hailey.  She continued to sleep fine.  Unfortunately she came down with croup the end of February.  This changed all sleeping for several nights.  Hailey and I kicked the boys out of Ian's room.  I slept with her for those few nights.  That is when we decided she needed a bigger bed in case one of us needed to lay with her.  She is now in a full-size bed.  Some evenings we do have issues getting her to sleep, but some of that is the over-exhaustion, some stubbornness and some the bed.  Once she is asleep we don;t hear anything from her.  Knock on wood....she is still in her bed and not in ours!!!  I have my fingers crossed that this transition/milestone is over :-)

She really liked the addition of her Doc McStuffins comforter!!