When a couple finds out they are going to have a baby, a certain set of expectations and dreams sets in. Most of the time, those dreams don't include a birth defect. I think most parents go through a mourning period when they find out that the child their having doesn't fit the one they had imagined they were having (but since when do any of us fulfill all of our parents' expectations?) Some parents never move on. When Duckling was in the NICU, his bed was next to a little boy who had been there for several months because his parents were stalling on taking him home. I'm sure that taking him home would have represented the final death of that dream baby and the reality that the baby they had was a special needs child.
We mourned too. The doctors told us that Duckling would maybe be able to walk with braces and probably need a wheelchair a lot too and that he would need lifelong catheterization for urinary dysfunction, multiple shunt revisions, and literally constant antibiotics, not to mention bowel problems and probably learning disabilities. Oh yeah, and that he would be infertile. I am happy to report that none of those things seem to be coming to pass and he has exceeded everyone's expectations. (We'll have to wait about ten years before we know about that whole ability-to-father-children thing...) Duckling is pretty much a normal little boy except that he is still having trouble walking and standing on his own and that he seems to be exceptionally gorgeous. (We get comments everywhere we go about his eyes. I don't know what I did to deserve such an incredible little boy. Not only is he beautiful, but he's smart and friendly and courageous as well.)
So now that he is big enough, we decided to get him a walker. Believe it or not, they actually make tiny size walkers for toddlers. There is a company in North Carolina that manufactures them. You have to order over the phone, but that means you get to talk to a sales rep with a fantastic Southern accent. We had to get the smallest size for him.
Malamute had already introduced him to the idea of a walker by showing him youtube videos of other toddlers using their walkers, so when it showed up, Duckling got right in it and started zooming around! (I've taught him how to say "Zoom zoom!" when he's cruising around. It's fun!)We bribed him to walk more by offering him Healthy Chocolate Mousse if he would walk over to us again and again.
Now every time we go out where he can walk around, we take the walker with us and let him work out his wiggles. (He sleeps so much better now that he can get lots of exercise walking around!) And of course, it makes him stand out. People always comment on how cute he is and how big he is walking around in his walker. Truth be told, I like it. I like people seeing that my son is capable and that just because he was born with some challenges doesn't mean he can't live life to its fullest. And when he has an audience, Duckling lays the charm on thick and performs well, which means he walks even more when he's got strangers oohing and aahing over him rather than just boring old Mommy and Daddy. So we have now officially entered a new stage as parents: we have a walking toddler!