Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Dentist

Today was the dreaded day- Anthony's first visit to the dentist aka "doomsday"!

Before writing about the visit, I need  to give you a little background information:

Anthony's teeth took a while to come through (typical characteristic of Down syndrome), and when they did come in they didn't follow the normal pattern (also typical of DS). So far, Anthony has a grand total of 8 teeth. That just means we are not in the clear yet and still have many cranky teething moments ahead of us. Oh Joy!

Another side-note, Anthony has always hated anything to do with his own mouth, but he is fascinated by other people's mouths and teeth (we've always joked he was our "little dentist"). Lately, trying to brush his teeth every morning and night is like a form of torture for everyone involved. We give it our best shot, but it ends up being a quick in-and-out job to avoid a huge tantrum.

When Anthony's first two bottom teeth popped up, we knew there would be an orthodontist visit in the future. The two teeth form a "V" together, instead of being straight.

But, honestly, I never really cared about his crooked teeth. If having crooked teeth was the worst of  our problems, we were pretty darn lucky.

Ever since getting his teeth in, Anthony has smiled in a way that would crack us up. We thought he was being a "tough guy", trying to show us his teeth by protruding them over his top lip.  It makes me feel horrible now that I didn't know he wasn't trying to be funny, he was sincerely trying to mimic our smile.

Joe was the first one to notice Anthony's underbite. Since Anthony doesn't like us looking in his mouth, we honestly never knew he had one until one day when Joe saw Anthony's two bottom teeth go over the two top teeth.

I, of course, went to google and read that having an underbite can effect speech and chewing. I knew that it meant I had to call and make an appointment with a dentist. I had hoped I could conveniently "keep forgetting" to set up an appointment since I knew it would be horrible for Anthony, but once the underbite came into play, I knew I had to suck it up and make the call.

 The dentist visit went just as I suspected, a little family trip to hell. It started out fine, well in the waiting room that is. He was being his usually nosey self getting into everything and watching all the people around him. When we got called back, Anthony happily marched down the hall pointing to all of the Disney characters on the wall and acknowledging all the pretty ladies that worked in the office. He had no idea what was to come.

It was called a "lap visit" because Anthony (being only 20 months) was too young to sit in the dentist chair. So, Joe was the designated "bad guy" and held Anthony while his little screaming head was in the lap of the dental assistant. She told me she was going to give his teeth a really good cleaning and put floride on them too. All I could do was laugh and mutter "good luck with that".

Anthony was so scared. He screamed so much that at one point he wasn't breathing, and it was the "silent cry"... that's the worst. So heartbreaking! I tried to hold up my phone with his favorite Sesame Street video to calm him down but he probably had no idea it was even there since his eyes were squeezed shut and he was yelling so loud.

I'll admit, it was a pretty effective way to clean his teeth. Aside from all the screaming, she was able to do everything she said.

It took a while to calm him down before he saw the dentist. She looked in his mouth, which again was a whole big fight. Then, we were able to discuss our concerns. She said an underbite can't be corrected in someone this young. Our only option is to monitor it, and hopefully start correcting it when he is 6 or 7 (that is the youngest, it could possibly have to wait until he is older). The thing that made me nervous was when she said it was a severe underbite. His two bottom teeth cover his two top teeth 100%. She also told us that it is possible his jaw could continue to grow and jut out, which would cause an even bigger problem. Since he has an underbite he is more likely to break his teeth if he falls, so we have to be cautious about that too.

It felt like a lot to take in.... but she wasn't done with the news yet. She also noted that the two teeth on either side of his bottom front teeth had not come in yet. That typically wouldn't be a concern, but since Anthony already started getting molars in, it was a red flag to her. Molars are supposed to come in last, and even though getting teeth in is more sporadic for individuals with Down syndrome, it could be a sign that Anthony might never grow those teeth.  She told us that she had seen cases before in children with DS where their teeth just never grew because the "buds" under the gums were never there. If this indeed happens to Anthony, he might have to have braces to shift his teeth and close in the holes, or get false teeth in their place. However, she didn't recommend fake teeth because individuals with DS are at a higher risk of getting gum disease.

Honestly, I liked the doctor and the people that worked in the office but I was left feeling really scared and overwhelmed. There was a lot of  worst case scenarios brought to our attention and it felt a little unnecessary.

I think the hardest part about all of this, as a mother, is thinking about my little boy going through elementary school with a severe underbite. It leaves me with a pit in my stomach thinking that he might get made fun of for that. I want more than anything in the world for my son to be accepted and loved by his peers.

But, I have to bring myself back to reality. I am so lucky. Anthony is a healthy little boy, and not everyone can say the same about their child. It seems so petty that I can complain about something cosmetic going on with my son, and I hope that it's the only thing I have to complain about ever.

I just love this little guy more than anything in the world and it's never easy knowing it might be a bumpy road ahead.. cosmetic or not.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

World Down Syndrome Day , better late than never!

World Down Syndrome Day (3/21) has come and gone, and surprise surprise I have not had time to sit down and write about all of its amazingness... until now!

Garnet Valley School District (the district where my husband and I both work, and where we met) decided to participate in the world-wide event: Rock Your Socks.  The Delaware Down Syndrome Association does a wonderful job getting mismatched socks out to hundreds of schools, businesses, and individuals to help spread awareness! Since the event has grown so much bigger, they needed help unpacking the socks, mismatching them, and putting them together again with information about WDSD to send out to various places that were going to sell them.

I went to volunteer to get socks ready, along with other wonderful individuals! I thought it was going to be a small group of people volunteering, boy was I wrong! It was quite the production! There were people everywhere working to get the crazy socks together. It was a total mad house, but in the best way possible.

Garnet Valley alone picked up 4,000 socks to sell in preparation for WDSD. Each pair of socks cost $1, and the money raised would go right back to the Delaware Down Syndrome Association for providing the socks.

Guess what? 4,000 socks for GV was not enough.... they sold out the day before WDSD! When I heard that news, I couldn't stop smiling. That meant at least 4,000 people were going to show their support for Down syndrome! It blew my mind.

There were other schools and businesses that wanted to join in on the fun too, and they also rocked their socks for WDSD! One of the school districts decided to participate in the event because someone shared Anthony's WDSD video and they thought it was a good idea!  Go Anthony for making a difference!!

IMX Medical Management Services (where both of Joe's sisters work) went above and beyond to celebrate this special day. They took a sample Beautiful Beginnings basket (click the Beautiful Beginnings tab above if you don't know what that is) to raise money, at their office, to make more baskets. They also participated in the Random Act of Kindness event that I wrote about in the previous post.

I was so moved that others wanted to spread awareness by doing the Random Acts of Kindness after I posted about it. My mom's friend Terry bought coffee for a stranger in line behind her and gave them a card about World Down Syndrome Day, and my mom and dad bought dinner for a father and his daughter at a restaurant. Those people said they were going to pay it forward and spread the message about World Down Syndrome Day too!

A lot of work went into getting ready for WDSD, and our little family was so excited for the day to finally arrive! That excitement turned into fear when the weather forecast called for snow.  I cursed the weatherman and prayed this would just be another time he was horribly wrong. There would be some pretty pissed off Mangos if there was no school for WDSD!

Thankfully, school was still on! Joe and I put on our matching shirts, our crazy socks, and were off to celebrate everything about Down syndrome for a whole day!

It was amazing to be a substitute in a classroom and have so much time to educate the students about Down syndrome. They loved the activities, stories, and videos so much they kept asking for more and more! After I walked the students to the bus, and went back to the empty classroom I cried. It was such an amazing day, and it might not have meant much to anyone else but to me it meant the world. The whole day I was sent pictures of people wearing crazy socks, I walked around the building and saw the whole school wearing socks, I sold tons of my Down Syndrome Lesson on Teachers Pay Teachers (the fact that this lesson has been my highest paying lesson on TPT to date makes me so excited... and honestly, it's not because of the money, it's because I know all of those lessons were purchased to use in a classroom somewhere. That to me is so humbling that students are learning about Down syndrome because of a lesson I wrote) and I took it all in, until there was so much pride and happiness it just came exploding out.

As a mom of a little boy with Down syndrome it is my mission to make sure he grows up being treated with respect, and is accepted for the amazing individual he is. Anthony is not even two yet, but I already see a change in the way people around us view Down syndrome. I see people willing to learn about something new and I see young students soaking up the message that we are all different but still alike in so many ways. In Anthony's two short years he has already made a huge impact in the community around him. I know that if this momentum keeps up, the world will embrace him with open arms and he will be able to do absolutely anything anyone else can!


Thank you to everyone that went out of their way to show support for Down syndrome and to help spread awareness! You all rock!!!

WDSD's actual date fell on a Saturday (it was just celebrated in schools on Friday), and we had a really fun Easter egg hunt planned, but it was cancelled due to snow. It was rescheduled for this past weekend, and even though there was no snow on the ground the weather screamed winter! It was brutal (34 degrees)! But, we managed to snap some cute pictures before Anthony had a complete melt down!

"Your mom made you come to this too Antonella?