Sunday, April 22, 2012

Travel and All

Siddharth and I love to travel. We both typically travel pretty light. That means meant that between the two of us we were good with just 1 cabin bag for a 3-4 day trip. It used to take us less than 30 minutes to pack for a weeklong trip (and not that much longer for a several-days trip).

Things have changed now. Beginning of this month we packed for a 3ish weeklong trip to Mexico and California. And boy oh boy, how times have changed. It took us over 4 hours to pack for this trip. Not because we were packing for all of those 4 hours. But because for the most part, both of us were sitting in front of the huge pile of things that needed to be packed, and in between staring at each other with a huge question mark on our faces.

At the end we packed 2 big suitcases, 1 cabin bag, 1 camera bag, 1 laptop bag, 1 diaper bag, 1 stroller, 1 car seat, 1 car seat base and a separate bag for breast milk!! Phewww!

It took us several minutes to decide how to get from the place where the airport shuttle dropped us to the Alaska check-in counter. I felt so dumb!

Oh well, we somehow managed to get from Seattle to Mexico, and then from Mexico to Sacramento. Little things that need planning once you have a baby. I have a new found respect for all the people who travel with infants and make it seem so effortless. So much so that I never stopped to think how they were possibly managing this juggling act. And I know that this is just the beginning...

Most importantly however, Samaira did phenomenally well with all the travel. Being a Seattle kid, the sunny weather in Mexico and California took her by surprise. But I think she has adjusted to it a little bit and is not squeamish at the very sight of sun anymore. She was an angel on the flight, at least for now. God only knows how long this phase will last. But I intend to take full pride in it for as long as it does.

In Cabo, Samaira ate by the infinity pool and totally rocked her swimming costume.

I am sure we have a lot to learn when it comes to travelling and packing with Samaira…but in the mean time I am enjoying the sitcom that it results in :).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Here and There

There are things in life we do not control.

We do not control where we will be when a tsunami hits somewhere, and washes away everything that comes in contact with it.
We do not control where we will be when an earthquake hits somewhere – shaking, rocking and destroying everything within its reach.
We do not control who will be driving ahead of or behind us on a freeway, and in what state.
We do not control the color of our eyes, the shape of our nose, the color of our skin, the length of our eyelashes, the texture of our hair, our height.
We do not control when and if Alzheimer’s will hit our body.  
We definitely do not control the number of chromosomes in each and every cell of our body.

Fortunately for us, there are things in life that we do control.

We control the kind of people we become.
We control the kind of friends we can be. We control the kind of friends we make.
We control the positivity we can bring along.
We control our temperament.
We control our ability to deal with various situations in life.
We control our intent.
We control our attitude.

Samaira had down syndrome from the second she was conceived. We did not know about it until a day and half after she born. The seconds, minutes, hours, days and weeks that followed were a complete whirlwind journey for Siddharth and me. While our world was moving upside down, sideways and back, and in any which direction it could, the world outside was perfectly normal. I hadn’t looked outside the hospital window until a few days after Samaira’s diagnosis. And that’s when I realized – everything outside was unchanged. The cars were moving on the street just as always, people were walking up and down the streets just as always, an old guy was playing a piano in the hospital lobby just as always, the Christmas decorations were lit up everywhere just as always, it was a cloud covered day in Seattle just as always – nothing had changed. And here we were, with our lives, in which nothing seemed like it could ever go back to “same as always”, ever again.

Sometimes I wonder if I would have been the same (“can’t find the word”) kind of mom if it weren’t for Samaira’s diagnosis. Maybe. Maybe not. I wonder if I would have been just as expressive in my emotions. Maybe. Maybe not. I wonder if I would have started to blog about it all. Maybe. Maybe not. Writing about it all is cathartic for me in some ways. There is something to be said about articulating what is going inside your head, so it doesn’t stay inside there in a disruptive manner. I did not decide to write about it to prove a point. There was nothing to prove. I did not do it to increase people’s awareness about down symdrome. I am not at the point where I can be a positive influencer in the society regarding down syndrome. I am still in the process of fully understanding it and making my peace with the diagnosis. I did it because it helps me offload some of my emotions, at least temporarily.

I can’t say it enough, but the only one that keeps me focused through it all is Samaira. She is pretty mighty that way!

Down syndrome is characterized by certain conditions, features and abilities. Every time I see a (new or old) feature in Samaira that reminds me of down syndrome, it takes me a few steps back. That’s not true with Siddharth. He is further ahead in his journey than I am. That said we both have our joys and concerns. One of the things that I was (and am) most worried about was Samaira’s speech. Somehow that communication piece seemed really important to me. I have seen a lot of videos to prove the speech abilities of an individual with down syndrome. And that helps.

But I have realized that irrespective of that, there is so much - just so much - that Samaira communicates with me even without saying a single syllable. Here face – eyes, eyebrows, the shape of her mouth – says so many things to me. I have seen a lot of love in her eyes. I have seen frustration and anger too. She says a lot with her un-deterred gaze, and with the flutter of her eyelashes, and with her impossible frustration, and with her pursed lips extended in a downward fashion, and with that smile on her face, and with her raised eyebrows, and with her rolling eyes in the middle of her closing her eyelids, and...

She says so much without saying anything. She says,

Mom, I love you.
Mom, why can’t you understand what I want?
Mom, enough talking, I need to sleep.
Mom, play with me.
Mom, come talk to me.
Mom, I am not talking to you.
Mom, I am starving and need some food. Right now!
Mom, you are a nut job and nothing you say makes sense J.
Mom, I am so tired.
Mom, can’t you see I am sobbing.
Mom, I am up to something but that’s for me to know and you to find out.
Mom, I need to be alone and not be held right now.
Mom, I want to be held.
Mom, I need you.

How could I ever question her ability to communicate with me?

I can’t help but say, I am really proud of Samaira. I hope she grows up to be a very, very strong individual and a nice person.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

You are magic, Samaira.

Sometimes you look at me with piercing eyes. As if you completely ignore my eyes and look right into my soul. It is kind of amazing and intimidating, all at the same time. It is as if you are looking at me in wonderment, but with no expectations. There is an indefinable purity to it. There is inescapable innocence, and how I wish it could forever be preserved in you. That I know fades away somewhat with time. It does not disappear always, because people always fall on an innocence-spectrum. 

I hope that your oftentimes-mischievous face retains its spark. I hope you can always be true to who you are, and be really proud of it.

For the first time in my life, I think I understand what the word unconditional means. And for that, I thank you!

Just felt like picture extravaganza!