A year has come and gone since Avalynn Grace entered the world. It was actually a few weeks ago that the year mark passed because I have been procrastinating writing this blog post. Not because it’s difficult per say, mainly because I feel this post is expected to be wonderfully written and full of all of the grand things happening in our lives. And while, yes, we are happy with Ava and life in general, nothing magical has suddenly happened since she turned a year. As the months went by, they turned into a countdown to her becoming a one year old. Then the day came and went just like any other day. Nothing particularly special, except my special little girl.
I carefully planned her birthday party for months. I ordered a few things here and there, priced food items, and completed my DIY party crafts I found on Pinterest. I invited family and friends to celebrate the day with us. I got to the location early to decorate and set everything up. As luck would have it, I got my car stuck in the mud as soon as I arrived (later than I planned), I ran out of time and ended up not hanging up everything I bought, and I was in the bathroom changing when everyone arrived. Even though I hit a few snags, her party was great, tons of people came, and Avalynn seemed to have a blast. Then after everyone left, we cleaned up all the trash, put away the tables, and threw away the bulk of the decorations that I had so carefully chosen or made. Months of build up to this one day, this one event, that only lasted for a couple of hours.
Her party theme was “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, One Year Old Is What You Are.” This song, along with “Wheels On The Bus” are the two songs guaranteed to make her get quiet and/or smile every time. “Twinkle Twinkle” is the song I mainly sing to keep her happy when she’s on the verge of a meltdown. Since I’ve sung it soooo many times, I figured it would be the perfect theme for a party. I made finger foods for the party, including finger sandwiches cut into the shape of stars and star shaped tortilla chips that I painstakingly cut and baked the night before and morning of the party. (And let me tell you, I didn’t eat a one of them. Burnt. Out.) We also had strawberry wafers dipped in white chocolate and gold sprinkles (to look like the number 1), fruit salad, and cupcakes (which Avalynn definitely destroyed, but more so by playing with it instead of eating it). We had a smash cake photo shoot a few days before the party, so Ava had tried cake already. Honestly, the photo shoot, while somewhat eventful, was not what we expected. We went outside to take a few family pics, and Avalynn immediately decided she does not like the Mississippi heat. She fussed and cried the whole time we were out there (which was no longer than 10 minutes). By the time we went back inside for the cake pictures, she had grown tired and was not very interested in the cake. But we got some cute pics nonetheless (more to come later).
But alas, Avalynn is over a year old now. She now has two teeth! The first one broke through a week before her birthday, and the second the day after her birthday. She’s known for her openmouthed kisses, but now they’ve turned more into bites. I also swear she said “Mama” about a week ago, but no one was there to witness it, and I haven’t been able to get her to say it again. She eats the same food we eat, in only slightly smaller portions. Seriously, I don’t know how she was only 16 pounds at one year. This kid inhales food. The other day, John was feeding her mac-n-cheese while I cleaned up the kitchen. His hand was constantly moving from the bowl to her mouth. Nonstop. If he slowed down, Avalynn yelled at him. He said, “is she really going to eat all of this?!” Yes. Yes she is. She may have only gained 10 pounds in one year, but this child of ours loves food.
Avalynn has finally gotten started with all of her therapies: speech, physical, and occupational. They’re each 45 minute sessions, and she sees them twice a week, back to back to back. She gets sooo mad at the physical therapist because she gets Ava interested in a toy, and then she moves it away to make her work to get it. It’s literally like a button: take toy away, screaming ensues; give toy back, screaming immediately stops. We’re also having to work on closing the muscles around her hips, which are very open right now, making her super flexible. She’ll need these muscles to be stronger in order to be able to balance enough to walk. I think the therapies wear her out, but I am definitely seeing progress. Ava has never wanted or tried to get on her knees, but I’ve seen her get them underneath her multiple times since therapy started. She’s drinking better from her straw cup, and she seems to keeping more of her food in her mouth while eating. (Tongue thrust is a common issue in children with DS while swallowing. They tend to push their tongues out, causing food to be pushed out as well.) She’s been picking up on things pretty quickly (once we know the correct way to guide her), so she should be crawling and talking and emptying the litter box soon. (I joke, I joke. We’ll teach her to feed the cats before we teach her to use a pooper scooper.)
One year. 12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes. (Cue “Seasons of Love” from Rent) 3,000 miles worth of trips from South Carolina to Mississippi. 3 minor colds and 1 bout of roseola. 5 trips to the swimming pool. 14 visits to the chiropractor. 20 vaccinations. 9 visits to camp. 1 funeral and 1 wedding. 2 beach trips, 2 birthday parties, and 2 nights away from Mama and Daddy. A few bumps on the head. A few more meltdowns. Lots and lots of kisses. Endless amounts of love. It doesn’t matter what we use to measure it. It doesn’t matter that nothing spectacular happened. It only matters that we did our best, had fun, and loved our daughter. This past year had tons of good times and plenty of bad times. But in the end, all was well.