Monday, April 4, 2011

Raising a Baby with Down Syndrome: Developement and Pride

If you would like to see all the posts in the "Raising a Baby with Down Syndrome: What it's Like" series, click on the Down Syndrome Resources page beneath the site banner for the full list.

I'm on raising my third baby right now, and I can tell you there is a difference in how a parent feels about developmental milestones between a baby who does not have Down Syndrome and a baby who does.

Laying on his side helped him bring his hands to mid-line, an important first skill.

The love and admiration is the same for all my children, but the way I see their accomplishments is different.  For Miles and Calvin, growth and development seem to flow from their little bodies and minds.  As they move from one stage to the next I look on with amazement.  It is so miraculous to me the way our brains unlock the world for us, and we leap forward in our person-hood.  Love, shelter, nutrition, consistency, protection.  We need all these things to grow, to change, to mature, to, you know, learn how to roll over.  Miles is so intent on handling toys, manipulating them in his hands, bringing them to his mouth.  I did not teach him these things.  All I did was give him the toy.

Charlie's development, especially as a baby, was not automatic.  It was lengthy and slow, and required assistance.  He did not learn to hold toys so effortlessly.  We had to prop his arms up with towels so they would not flop back to the floor.  We had to choose toys that were light and easy to grasp.  When he was learning to crawl I had to physically teach his body the movement of hand, knee, hand, knee.  So, you want to know how I felt when he finally did grasp a toy, bring it to mid-line, then transfer it to the other hand?  I was over the moon with pride.

No mother was ever prouder.

Play is therapy.  Charlie works on pushing up with his arms.

Development was slow.  At times we would begin to wonder if he would ever learn a certain skill.  And then he would.  In fact, it was an ongoing pattern:  work and work and work and work, then begin to wonder if it was possible, only for him to catch-on in the face of our doubt.  And then, pride.  Pride and excitement.

He can do it!  We didn't know if he would, and then he did!

Charlie learned to sit around 8 months, crawl at 14 months, and walk at 28 months.

And the pride was not just our own.  It was also a community pride as our extended family, our church, our friends clapped and cheered and marveled at the shear possibility wrapped up in this little boy Charlie.  This is one of my favorite parts about raising a child with Down Syndrome.  Possibility continually reveals itself, and to be honest, while we did not relinquish the idea of what was possible for Charlie after we found out he had Down Syndrome, we did kind of hold it in abeyance as we proceeded forward, wanting so badly to know what life was going to be like but feeling so unsure.

It's like finding something that was lost.  It's like a receiving a gift that we longed for.

Charlie played on yoga mats because the non-skid surface helped him move around easier.

In fact, all the possibility and purpose wrapped up in our little boy Charlie is the main reason for which I started this blog.  Other parents need to see it.  To believe in it like we are able to now, having walked the path of a Down Syndrome babyhood.

Well, just look at the pictures.  Read our story.  It is not always easy, but it is so exciting.  Possibility is written all over this little boy and his story.


skiingthroughlife said...

love this post!!! I LOVE the naked hiney photo too, im a big fan of all this cuteness!! Hugs

Jenny said...

I just stumbled across your blog tonight and have been reading through it. I LOVE it! You have such handsome little boys! I take great comfort in reading blogs from Mothers who are a few years ahead of me in this journey. I look forward to follow your blog :)

Tammy said...

I stumbled upon this post this morning and I'm already hooked on your blog. It's beautifully written and I love that your DS baby is "Charlie." My granddaughter, 5 months old, is "Charli." Your blog is one I look forward to returning to again and again.

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