Ben

What can I say about Ben.  He has been my buddy for the past couple of years.  When the older boys were off doing something, it was always just Ben and I hanging out.  We have spent endless hours playing Connect 4 and SpongeBob memory.  He was so excited when he realized we were having another baby.  He would finally get a chance to be the big brother.  We rearranged the rooms so that Ben and PJ would share.  He promised me he wouldn’t wake him up!!

When PJ was born and in the hospital Ben seemed a little scared.  Who could blame him?  PJ had tubes and wires hooked up all over him.

But ever since PJ came home from the hospital, Ben has worked very hard at being a good big brother.  He sits next to him in the car and plays with him while I drive.  When PJ starts to cry, it’s Ben that finds the pacifier and holds it in his mouth.  When PJ began to favor his hand over the pacifier, Ben would hold his fist to his mouth for him. He even tells me when PJ falls asleep in the car so I can turn the music down.  He lies down next to him on the playmat when he thinks I’m not watching.  He changes this voice and talks baby talk with Patrick.  He is always asking to hold him and loves to help give his baby brother a bath.  He is an excellent big brother!!!

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Joey

In some ways I think that God gave me Joey to prepare for the challenges I might face with Patrick.  Joey is this wonderful and totally awesome kid who has a learning disability.  He needs a lot of extra help in school and at home.  He has trouble making friends because he has a hard time expressing himself.  He also has a tendency to get angry very easily because so many people don’t understand what he’s trying to tell them.  Joey has a three pronged speech delay but his biggest challenge is expressive language.  He also has dyslexia and is borderline ADHD.  We have struggled getting Joey the right diagnosis along with the right treatment.  But apart from his learning disability, he truly is such a cool kid to be around.  He is the one who comes to me smiling and always offering to help.  He says we’re on the same team because we both like diet coke.  He loves to help me with the dishes.  But most of all, he loves to help with PJ.  When Patrick first came home and I was doing wound care, Joey would stand there and hold the pacifier in his mouth to keep him from screaming.  Now when I change his colostomy bag, Joey will stand next to the changing table so that PJ doesn’t roll off while I get the bag ready.  The cool thing is that PJ seems just as infatuated with Joey.  Whenever Joey walks into a room, PJ stops and stares at him.  It’s like they have some special connection.  Joey was so young when Ben was born and the big brother roles were taken over by Alex and Tommy.  This is the first time that Joey really gets to help with the baby and he is loving it.

Out of all of my children, Joey has been my biggest challenge.  But I said that he was also the one who would take care of me when I got old.  I think he’ll take care of Patrick too.

Tommy

Tommy is my second oldest son.  He is sweet, kind and loving.  He always jumps up to help out; especially when asked to help with PJ.  He could be in the middle of his favorite video game and if I call him to come upstairs and help with PJ he drops the controller and runs to help happily.  He loves to lie down on the floor with PJ and help him with his physical therapy exercises.  Tommy doesn’t just hold PJ or try to get him to stop crying.  He actively plays and entertains him.  We went to Michigan this past weekend and our car drive home was horrible.  I needed Tommy to sit next to PJ because he actually gets in his face and sings, talks and plays with him to keep him happy.  He reminds me a lot of me when I was young.  He truly loves Patrick and just wants to interact with him at all times.
Apart from being a great brother to Patrick, Tommy is just a really great kid.  He is one of those kids who is naturally smart and doesn’t need to work very hard at school.  He is very friendly and although he has many friends, he still doesn’t have that one “best” friend that he wants.  He gets along with just about everybody (except his brother Joey.)  He still loves to hang out with his mom.  He hears me say I’m going to the store and he asks to come with me.  He loves football and his loves University of Michigan.  We have the Michigan vs Michigan State feud in our house.  Tommy was very happy when Aunt MaryEllen and Uncle Dick sent a U of M onesie for PJ. 

Alex

I have decided this blog isn’t going to be all about having a baby with Down Syndrome.  I love Patrick with my whole heart, but I am more than just his mother.  I am the mother to four more boys and this entry will be about my oldest, Alex.  Alex’s name is actually David Alexander but he goes by Alex.  He wishes I would have not named him this way and reminds me so every year when school starts and he shows up to see that his new teacher has labeled his desk and locker with the name David.  Oh well.  I thought David Alexander flowed better.  Alex is a sweet kid who is just starting off his teenage years.  He is now 13 and his first love is football.  I am guessing this will be his first love until his first love actually comes along.  One of my favorite things about him right now is that he still likes to talk to me.  He likes to tell me everything that is going on with him and his friends.  He will actually read me the texts that people send him.  He opens up to me in a way that I know won’t last very long.  Alex is kind and sweet and looks our for his brothers all the time. Ben is so attached to Alex and seems lost when Alex is off at a sleepover.  He is responsible and kind and is always sticking up for other people.  He is that hero from the movie that puts the class bully in his place.  God knew what he was doing when he placed Patrick in our family with Alex as his oldest brother.  Kids would be stupid to mess with him.  David and I really worried about how our other boys would take to the news that our new baby had Down Syndrome. When we sat and told them Alex just looked at us and said, “Mom, don’t you know that people with Down Syndrome are the most charming people.”  We were floored.  He had been doing a research project on Down Syndrome well before PJ was born.  It’s amazing how everything comes together.  He sat there on our bed and informed us about everything he had learned.  I’ve said it before but God truly does not make mistakes!!!!

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