This past weekend it was time again for one of my favorite bittersweet mommies activities. Time to put up the clothes the girls have outgrown and pull out the next size up. Zuzu was a quick little wildflower. She shot up so fast that she’s been in a few of her 5Ts since sometime shortly after her 3rd birthday. The first time I took her newborn clothes from the wooden, floral-patterned drawer and nestled them into a clear tub it gave me a pang in my heart. She would never be this size again.No matter how many pictures and videos I took, this time was fleeting and I knew I needed to try to soak it in no matter how tired I was. Zuzu being the little fashionista, took to these quarterly bundling of her clothes in great stride though, and it was usually a cheerful Sunday afternoon that we would spend sorting the clothes and marching her well-loved but outgrown rainbow of a wardrobe up to the attic.
Then I along came a positive pregnancy test announcing the Quail’s decent into our hearts. Over the next 9 months I rummaged through my favorites, while Zuzu did her best to wiggle back into them. It became fairly common to find the 2-year-old squeezed back into the newborn and 3-6 months baby clothes. Drawers were set aside for the Quail and we happily filled them with her newborn bundling. We were a lucky little family. While we had our dears a little later in life than most, we reaped the benefit of our friends favorites memories as their tidings came wrapped in brown paper to fill our dressers. We were so grateful.
When I was 8 months pregnant with the Quail, the more frank OB of the practice we used stopped beating around the bush and announced that I needed a level 2 ultrasound because he was concerned that the soft markers we had seen in both of my pregnancies might mean Down syndrome this time. Judging by the serious look on his face, I quickly agreed and scheduled the appointment. I didn’t take Lovey with me. We had been through this all before and it had turned out just fine. As I sat down with Dr. Grieg after the lengthy ultrasound, he asked after my husband, surprised I hadn’t brought him along. I listened to his discussion of the technical details they were able to discern this time; the shortened femurs and tibia, the hydronephrosis and the key that hadn’t been noted earlier- the absent nasal bone. He then ran through the list of other markers they had been looking for, but due to her size were unable to see in-utero. He cautioned that there would be a need for a thorough examination once she was born and formal chromosomal testing as he couldn’t really tell from what he had been able to see. He said that odds were in our favor because she was a girl, and Ds was less common in girls, her heart and brain looked anatomically correct and that she could just be a genetic match for our Zuzu- and worst case scenario- she may just be short like her sister. At that, my tears dried up and I chuckled out loud. No one had ever called Zuzu short. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I called Lovey and my mom on the way home and I could hear the tears in my voice as I passed on the warning. Later as I opened an email from dear Renee that was sent in response to my news, I teared up again as I read her sweet vote of confidence that Lovey and I would be just the parents this child needed, no matter how she came packaged.
A few weeks later she came bursting into our world, 8 lbs, 12 ozs, just a few shy of the 9 lbs 1 oz predicted two days earlier on ultrasound. She was a soft sack of sugar, but certainly not a small one. The pediatricians looked her over and pronounced their confusion. A karyotype would be ordered but they weren’t really sure what it would say. They gave us literature on Down syndrome that told us again and again how small this person of ours was predicted to be. At her first pediatrician’s check-up they shared the Down syndrome growth charts with us so we would no what to expect in terms of size. They told us she wouldn’t grow very much. While she was on the standard charts now, we should expect her to fall of them shortly.
And she grew. We visited the cardiologist. He told us she had a ventricular septal defect, but he couldn’t predict if she would need open-heart surgery to repair it, or if it might close on its own. He said we would know the need for surgery; because she wouldn’t grow.
As the first year passed and her weight slowly climbed, she stretched into her sister’s old clothes and we marked the passing of the newborn and infant size clothes. We packed them up and toted them to our attic just like before.
Shortly after her first birthday, our occupational therapist mentioned that another therapist on the team that had been at the last staffing had recommended she get a swallow study and Upper GI done. They wanted to know why it hadn’t been done already since she threw up daily. We answered simply, our doctor wasn’t concerned because she was growing. The Upper GI showed that she had an obstruction in her duodenum. She had an opening only the size of the tip of a pen through which to push her food through. Somehow though, she managed it, and she grew.
Once that was repaired, we entered into a larger spacing out of her cardiology checks. They said it was fine to go longer between because she was growing so well. She was on the low end of the standard charts, but still on there. A year ago; the cardiologist took a lesson from our frank OB and told us that the most likely path for us was that we would come back in a year for a check, and assuming everything was the same, we would schedule open-heart surgery for 2012.
We went home with heavy hearts, picturing our little bird being handed over to the surgeon in such a short time. The next year when we went back, we were shocked to realize we had misunderstood him. He meant literally- if she was the same- same height, same weight- we would schedule surgery. But she wasn’t- once again she had grown.
Inspite all of the predictions for what she was capable of- our Quail grew.
So this past weekend, I grinned a wide grin as I trudged up to our hot attic to spy the box of 3T shirts and shorts and size 6 shoes that it was time to bring down for our 2 year old. Sure her femurs are still a little small, and the size 6 shoes were stored in the 18-24 month box of Zuzu’s clothes. But they were there, waiting for her, and it makes my heart sing when Zuzu sees her old clothes and announces, “Momma, I remember those, those were mine when I was just a little bit smaller? The Quail- she’s just like me but a little bit smaller, right Momma?”
Right Zuzu. Right, indeed.