Thursday, December 27, 2007

The T Word


Because of course, that is what Christmas is all about (at least it was this year). This was a big Christmas for our family. It was a huge day of firsts. Of course, it was Owen's first Christmas, my nephew Drew's first Christmas, my sister and I's first Christmas as parents and my parents first Christmas as grandparents. The most exciting thing to happen on this special day was Owen's induction into the Guinness book of world records for having the most toys ever owned by a 10 month old! Ok, so that didn't really happen, but I'm pretty sure that if that were an actual record to hold, Owen would have a lock on it. Lord almighty!
We could officially declare ourselves a new Toys R Us location. Dan won't admit it but I think it's slowly driving him mad. With every new toy that he received on Christmas, he would assess how many pieces and parts were involved and how much square footage it would take up.
Owen, on the other hand, loves every single toy he has. I'm not kidding. Owen was so much fun to watch. I was assuming that this whole present thing would go way over his head, but on the contrary, Owen was right there with us. He would open a present, look at the box, smile at the box, stand on the box, chew on the box. That I expected. But he was also very engaged with the presents he received.
It was a fantastic holiday season!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The M Word

As a parent of a child with dwarfism, I can only be talking about one word - midget. I knew that I would have to deal with it sooner or later and about a month ago, I had my first post-Owen encounter with the word.

I am the business manager of a restaurant and I was in the kitchen chatting with the line cooks. A plate of potato skins came out and they were much smaller than we normally serve. A bartender came back to grab her order and said, "Those look like midget potatoes!" My face flushed & my head got cloudy. "Please don't use that word," I said. She looked at me, shocked. "I am offended by that word. Please don't use it." I ran back to the office, shut the door and cried. The comment lurched me into an brief emotional tailspin. Although I knew I would hear it at some point, I was unprepared to deal with "the M word". As the daughter of a RN with a background in psychology, teaching and constantly gathering our family around the kitchen table for family emoting, my natural instinct was to delve in to why I was feeling so shaken about one simple word.
The bartender had no idea that my son was a little person so I'm sure she didn't use the word to purposely offend me or Owen. I can say with near certainty that the potatoes were not offended (although I'm sure they too would have preferred the term "little potatoes"). Theoretically, no harm no foul. So why then, did I have such a visceral reaction to this word?
Since that experience I have been trying to work out my thoughts on the term midget which has involved some research. From what I can gather, the term seems to be commently used out of ingnorance. There are those who use the term in a cruel manner but frankly I don't want to expend any energy on them at this time.

At one point in my life I thought that midget was an acceptable term for a little person. In fact, I thought it was a term distinguishing proportional dwarfism from disproportionate dwarfism (short arms & legs, large head and trunk). Turns out this is actually correct. Midget was a term coined in the mid 1800's to describe porportional dwarfism and therefore the most socially accepted little people. It is debated as to who coined the term but has ties to PT Barnum at the height of his career. At this time it was "dwarf" that had the negative inferences. In the 1950's The Little People of America had it's first meeting as the "Midgets of America". However, the majority of the people who showed up were dwarves and the group was remamed to reflect both its proportonate and disproportionate members.
Eventually the term fell out of favor although it is unclear as to why. Some theories credit a group of young dwarves in the 70's taking cues from the women's and civil right's movement in a push for acceptance. Another theory is that the word's circus origin lends itself to more deviant uses. Whatever the case may be, many people are ignorant to the fact that it is an offensive term.

In my opinion, I'm not so sure that it's the textbook definition or the history of the word that matters. When it comes to the word, or any word for that matter, it the context and feeling that will define it's meaning. When you say "I love you", it doesn't have meaning unless you truly love. We can give words power and we can take that power away. Dan and I will hopefully instill in Owen the common sense to distinguish the uninformed from hateful and deal with them accordingly.
That being said, I will most likely continue to flinch when I hear or see the word as I did today while listening to "Cheech and Chong's Santa Claus and his Old Lady" song or when I watched the "Family Guy" the other day. Maybe someday I will become immune, maybe I won't. For now, when I do encounter the word, I will patiently explain it's offensiveness(without running off and crying hopefully). And when you ask me what you should call my son, I will simply tell you, "Call him Owen."

*I read some really interesting articles while researching this post. I'm including the links below:
This one is a great historically based article on the PBS website by a man whom I've frequently come across on the web. Dan Kennedy's daughter Becky has achondroplaisa and he wrote book called "Little People: Learning to See the World Through My Daughter's Eyes".
PBS Article
Dan Kennedy's Website
The next one is an article by Leonard Sawisch, psychologist and former president of the Dwarf Athletic Association. There is some offensive material in the beginning question but scroll down to his article to bypass.
"What Offends Us"
Last is an exchange between actor Daniel Woodburn and Rodger Ebert. Warning - There is quite a bit offensive language. It very much highlights that some people just don't realize what they say.
Rodger Ebert

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Update on developement.

As of last week Owen was 26.5 inches, 17 lbs with a head circumference of 20 inches. On the normal charts he is below the 5th for height and weight and in the 95th for head size. On the achonchondroplasia charts Owen is in about the 50th to 75 percentiles for height, weight and head size.
Our physical therepists told us that Owen has hit all the goals he was supposed to reach by 1 year. He is 2 months ahead of schedule!! He is sitting up, standing supported, army crawling, and doing other amazing miscellaneaous baby tricks.
We are so proud of him and as usual he continues to surpass everyone's expectations!
As for other developements, Owen now has 6 teeth! He's actually been a pretty good teether with no major tantrums. He's really taking it like a man.
Owen loves food! He's off the strained food for the most part and eating stews and pastas, biter biscuits, nutrigrain bars, french fries & other assorted finger foods. He has yet to meet a food he doesn't like.
He's heavy into the imitating and can do things with his face that would give Jim Carrey a run for his money. He is so expressive. You can just see his mind working through his face (especially when he has gas).
He's been very verbal lately but still doesn't have any clear and true words.
As for appointments, he has a yearly check up at U of M but that's about it. Once he starts walking we will need to start seeing an orthepedist but other than that, the only thing we need to deal with at U of M are the bills.


...lucky recipients of my mother's Christmas card and annual "I-didn't-really-care-about-what-was-going-on-with-the-Merciez'-but-seeing-as-Jennifer-took-the-time-to-write-it-I-might-as-wel-read-it" family newsletter! (Just kidding ma!) I thank you all for caring enough (or being depressingly bored enough) to navigate yourselves to my own "I-didn't-really-care-what-was-going-on-with-the-Wright-family-but-seeing-as-I-got-Jennifer's-silly-Christmas-newsletter-and-I'm-on-the-computer-anyway-AND-Catherine-took-the-time-to-blog-it-,-I-might-as-well-read-it" extraviganza. Have I lost anyone yet? In all seriousness, Happy Holiday's to everyone! It's really good to hear from people I haven't seen in a while. If you get a minute, please leave a comment and say hi! The past couple of weeks have been chalked full of holiday festivites and developmental milestones (before you get to excited, no - Owen has still not said "mama" yet). On December 8th, Owen saw Santa! My restaurant O'Callaghan's Irish Pub in Brighton - where incidentally you can sample the best of traditional Irish food, visit for locations and menu - was hosting a Breakfast with Santa event so we took Owen for his very first visit. I'll go ahead and just show you his reaction. Isn't that hilarious! Here's a picture we took. Just like his father, we couldn't tear Owen away from the bar. Next up for Owen - his first Pistons game! I am officially insane for taking a baby to a game. Once again it's impossible to go to events like this without reflecting on before baby & after baby differences. Sporting events before baby: Start at the bar, head to the Palace with only licence and credit card, watch the game, grab drinks at halftime, watch the 2nd half, grab drinks afterwards, get husband to drive you home. Sporting events after baby: Arrive at the Palace 2 hours before hand, get stroller, diaper bag, purse and baby out of car and checked through security. Stop in bathroom for diaper change, head up to Ameriprise Finacial Club to see Dad, order a drink and make the bartender put it in a soda glass so no one calls social services, feed baby so he will hopefully sit through game. Head down to seats midway through 1st half having only taken 2 sips of drink. Spend halftime in bathroom for another diaper change. Drag the baby, diaperbag, purse and stroller back down to seats for the 2 minutes left in the game, head back to Ameriprise with a now cranky and tired baby, diaperbag, purse and stroller to wait while traffic clears. Go home and vow not to take Owen to another game until he can carry his own diaperbag, stroller and maybe even mom's purse. My saving grace was my friend Betsy who helped me cart around my entourage of baby gear and provided moral support. Owen happens to love Betsy too so she was able to keep him happy and content. It also helped that I worked there for 8 years and my husband still works there. We got some nice hookups that made the evening very pleasant. Oh yeah! Owen was on TV! And not the big screen but actual TV. He's pretty psyched about it. Look at these seats! Betsy and Owen Betsy is fun! As for milestones, I will post seperately so they don't get lost in this monstrosity of a blog posting

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Meet the Hedgers

Throught the wonderful world of the world wide web (say that 3 times fast), I had the opportunity to meet Lisa and her daughter Liz a 3 year old with achondroplasia. As you will see for yourself, Liz is absolutely adorable. They live in Northwest Indiana a couple of hours from Chigaco. Thank you Lisa for letting me add your page! The Hedger Adventures

Monday, December 3, 2007


To those who were confused by my Holland reference in the last post... "Welcome to Holland" is an essay written by Emily Perl Kingsley in reference to raising her child with Down Syndrome. I first read this in the LPA welcome packet as it has become someone of an inspirational reading for all parents of "differently-abled" children. "Welcome to Holland"

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Giving Thanks

For once in my life, it wasn't about the food!
This is in no way a slam on my mothers cooking of course, but more of an indicator of what an incredible year we have had.
I have so much to be thankful for this year. I am thankful that my son is alive. I am thankful for everything we have been through this year. I am thankful that because of my son, my view of the world has changed. I am thankful that I have found such a wonderful support system. I am thankful for my family's unconditional love for my child (and for me). I am thankful to have a husband who is completely crazy about our son. I am thankful that I have have ended up in Holland.

That being said, my heart breaks for those whose stories have not turned out as mine has. Most notably the Dungey's and Candi (a woman whose eagerly anticipated daughter did not make it). My thoughts are often with them.

As for Owen's thankgiving. He was thankful for the mashed potatoes!

This will be fun to clean.

Owen's first word - tryptophan.

In the grand tradition of men everywhere, the pants are off!

That weekend was the traditional tree cutting day! Owen was no help. He didn't help pick out, cut down or load up our tree. This kid better start pulling his weight.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Knoah!

We finally met! Owen, my mom and I were lucky enough to score and invite to the hottest ticket in town...Knoah's birthday party! What a great day it was for all of us.
I finally got to get my hands on Knoah and he was every bit as cute in person as he is in the pictures (if not more so)! It was so wonderful to meet Aiden and Sue as well. Aiden is Knoah's (and now Owen's) little person friend who just celebrated his 1st birthday a month and 1/2 ago.
As my mother and I drove home, we commented on how unusual-slash-lucky it was to have 3 boys within months of each others age, with achondroplasia, living within a couple of hours of each other. As my husband pointed out, now we just need to find three baby girls with achondroplasia in the area. Nice, Dan!
I am very grateful to have met Tonya and Sue. I felt like I had known them for years. It is comforting to know that this will be the beginning of a lifelong friendship for Owen and myself.

Ok - on to the big event!

Of course I brought my camera so I think the event will be best represented in a pictorial.

Hmm...whose this guy?

Yeah, this is pretty cool!

The latest craze in birthday hats.

Do I have something on my face?

Uhhh, yeah...I'm gonna need some of that cake ASAP.

Ok, if I can't have your cake, Aiden and I will play with your toys!

The first meeting of the cute council!

Cutie patootie!

New best friends. Happy 1st birhtday Knoah!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Grandma knows best!

I know! I know! I haven't posted in almost 2 weeks! I want to formally apologize to all those who read my blog religiously, so here it goes.... Mom, I'm sorry I haven't posted! Just kidding! But really, Tonya, Renay & Candi, I know one of you would call me out pretty soon if I didn't update (perhaps even publicly...hmmm, say maybe on their own blog...sound familiar Renay?! :) ). Ok - on to the updating! Owen's teeth are in with a vengance! His bottom 2 are almost completely in and his upper left lateral inscisor has broken through. His two front teeth will be in any day now. I know this because he is drooling like a St. Bernard! And for the very big news...Owen has also officially crawled! On Friday (Nov 9th), Owen got up on his knees and flopped from side to side in order to reach and object. That's crawling right?! Well, whatever it was, it resembled crawling and I'm the one who writes in the baby book so I get to decide. The judges official ruling? Crawling! Beyond the new developmental milestones, Owen is getting spoiled like crazy. Public offender #1 - Grandma! Grandma spoiling is not a new thing when it comes to Owen. What is new however, is his awareness of the fun toys he is acquiring. His obvious enjoyment of the gifts has opened up a whole new can of worms for my mother. This is no longer arbitrary gift giving. This is spending with a purpose! The mission: To make Owen as deliriously happy as possible! Below is video of my sons enjoyment of the most recent purchase. As you will see - mission accomplished! I love you Grandma!!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Owen: Our Happy Halloweener!

Haha! I said Hallow "weener"! Hahahahah! (I know, I'm so immature. Can you believe someone up there gave me a kid?!). Another eventful week for Owen! I'm going to start with the bad and end on the high notes. Owen was back in the ER last Thursday night. He woke up at about midnight and sounded horrible. He had developed this strange cough that sounded like a barking dog. My extra sensory mother powers kicked in and I somehow knew that it was croup. I had never heard a croup cough before but knew that if I had, this is what it would sound like. Or maybe it's because when he coughed, it sounded like he was barking "CROUP! CROUP! CROUP!". He was having some serious difficulty breathing so we took him right in. That was scary. What scared us even more is that when we arrived at Triage, they admitted him right away. Everything turned out OK. They gave him a nebulizer treatment and a steroid shot and sent him on his way. Only problem now is that Owen is having angry tantrums and has developed a nasty case of back acne. Ha ha. Just kidding. No, the little guy is fine but did in fact have "the croup". Apparently it's going around. I find it funny in that Owen has a condition that may cause him medical problems for years to come, but he has somehow wound up in the Emergency Room twice for issues completely unrelated to achondroplasia! Weird. On to the funner stuff! Owen is progressing by leaps and bounds. He is eating some finger foods now and is developing quite a pincher grasp. He loves Gerber Graduates Sweet Potato Puffs! He seems to understand the function of a spoon and when given liberties, for the most part uses it correctly on his own. He is sitting up on his own for the most part and is constantly rasing his stomach up and down, up and down. The physical therapists say it's the first step to crawling. We say it looks like he's humping the floor. Owen is adding vowels and consentants to his babbling repertoire. "Booboobooboo" is the latest and just in time for Halloween! Still no mama :( It's OK. Dan has been comforting me by saying that Owen just doesn't love me. He's very close to waving bye-bye. He is constantly flapping his arms and grabbing his socks. He is becoming a little boy right before our very eyes. This week was full of fun stuff for Owen. He got to visit Grandma and Grandpa Wright twice this week!! He sure did miss them! The most exciting thing of all was HALLOWEEN! Owen's silly spider costume was a smash hit! Even he didn't seem to mind it. He sayed in his costume without complaining for almost 2 1/5 hours. Isn't he the silliest spider around?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Poll: Mom or Dad?

Let's mix things up with the ol' blog here!
Dan and I have heard a lot of different things lately as to who Owen resembles. Some think he looks exactly like Dan. Some day that he is all me. A few have even asked about the milkman. Either way the kid is totally screwed (just kidding!...uh...I hope). So who does Owen look like? Go to the poll to the right to vote. DON'T cop out and say both without an explaination! Leave me a comment!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Where does the time go?

Ok - I'll just come right out and say it....My mother was right! She told me how fast the time would fly when it came to raising Owen. In the beginning weeks of Owen's life when I was struggling with breast feeding and not getting any sleep, I tended to disagree with her. Time couldn't have been moving slower. Now, I look at the recent picture of Owen and am flabbergasted! When the hell did this kid grow up? Scary.

The past two weeks haven't been so great for the poor guy. He's been fighting a virus and has been pretty miserable. This virus acutally landed us in the ER on Monday. Owen was lethargic, had no appetite, a fever, diahrrea and vomiting. I was afraid of dehydration so my mom and I took him in (Dan was at work). He was dehydrated and diagnosed with the flu. We were able to avoid an IV though because as it turned out, Owen LOVED the Pedialyte they gave him. He kicked back an entire bottle in the ER. What a wacko! It wasn't even the flavored kind! Owen's almost back to normal now, thank God! I couldn't take any more of that kids crap. When I say that, I mean it completely literally. The diarrea was well...I won't go into detail!

Today is Owen's 8 month birthday and he weighs in at almost 17 lbs and measures 25 1/2 inches. His head size is 18 1/4 inches. I'm not really sure what percentiles that puts him in, but I have pretty much stopped worrying about where Owen falls on the normal charts.

Owens physical therapy is going really well and the strides he has been making are astounding! Even Dan and I have managed to keep the screwy schedule straight (knock on wood). Owen is now sitting up for 2 to 3 minute intervals all by himself.

Owen is also bearing weight on his legs. He is able to stand supported by the couch for about a minute a time before his legs get wobbly! He really loves standing for some reason. He's not so much into the sitting thing, but standing seems to be the cat's pajama's.

Another exciting development is the emergence of...drumroll please...TEETH! Finally! I think the teeth are my 2nd favorite milestone next to smiling. As you can see in the pictures, they are just so frickin' cute! i actually think he's been trying to show them off too. He tends to stick out his bottom lip a lot more now.

Speaking of teeth, let's talk for a bit about the food. Owen loves him some food. For the most part, there is nothing he won't eat. He even likes the really odd tasting foods like pickles, lemons & prunes. We've recently started him on toasted bagels. Let me clarify...Dan has started him on the bagels. As of yet, I have been unable to remain calm when Owen is around finger foods. I am terrified he will choke. It's pathetic. Even with those dissolvable little crackers, I'm ready to give him the Heimlich maneuver everytime he lets out a little cough. What a lunatic!

That being said, we have however, found Owen's one true weekness. Orea cookies. I think the pictures explain themselves.

Adorable? Yes Smart parenting choice for nutritional value? Not so much. Notice the "Oreo Goatee".

That's not the only excitement Owen has been having. Last weekend we went to the cider mill with Grandma and Grandpa Merciez. Despite the 85 degree wheather and Owen's crankiness due to illness, it was a great time!