Posted by Dr Fro 3:23 PM
I have a baby girl. I don't like to use her name on the blog, so I often refer to her as Little Baby here. She is nine months old. She loves a stuffed animal named Ghost, she is memorized by Baby Einstein and she loves her Daddy. She is a sweet baby. She sleeps from the moment we put her down until about 12 hours later. This draws the ire of other parents when they think of how that compares to their baby's sleeping habits. That doesn't last long when they compare all things about each of our babies. We tend to get a free pass on the whole comparison thing. Our friends then share in our joy with Baby's sleeping habits and often tell us how blessed we are. And we are.
Sleeping 12 hours a night is not the thing that most makes Little Baby unique. Baby has Down syndrome.
We opted out of testing for Down's Syndrome during pregnancy, so we did not find out about it until her birthday. She was born around 11pm on a Sunday night, and I was equal parts elation and fear. This is normal for a first-time father (and perhaps for a first-time mother). I looked into her eyes and thought that she was capable of taking on the world. I was scared at this thought because I realized that I had a key responsibility in this ambition.
The OB also looked into her eyes. When she did, she saw something that I didn't. She saw obvious physical signs of Down's Syndrome. She covertly checked out a few other things such as the spacing between her toes and the skin behind her neck and corroborated her hunch.
She sat down on Mrs. Dr. Fro's bed and told us her diagnosis.
I was no longer equal parts elation and fear.
We spent three nights in the hospital, in effect only 12 hours longer than a typical couple. I think I remember our stay in the hospital quite a bit better than what a typical couple might. Like all couples, it was a dizzying experience involving intense moments awake and frequent moments asleep.
When Jane was asleep, I would cry. I didn't know why. I still don't. I just did. I would get it all out of my system, and then she would wake up. I would spend her waking time telling her that everything would be ok. I knew that we would have some challenges, but that we could handle it. I told her that I knew we could handle it. I didn't know that we could handle it. She would cry. I would tell her not to cry and eventually cheer her up. Then she would fall asleep, not assured, but asleep. Then I would cry.
It was tough then.
I didn't know then that our lives would be so blessed now.
The past nine months have been the best nine months of my life. Little Baby has done all of the things that babies do: smile, rollover, sit up, crawl, etc. These developmental milestones are important and emotional to all parents. These developmental milestones are important and emotional to us.
Milestones are wonderful. They are wonderful and joyous, but they are typically as predictable as a birthday. You know that they will do it, so the joy is when they do it. With us, we don't know that she will do it, so while we share the joy in experiencing when she does it, we especially have joy in the fact that she did it. There are adults with Down Syndrome that still struggle with basic motor skills, so each milestone is truly a matter of if and not of when.
For the past nine months, there has been a change in tone in the Dr. Fro bed in the conversations that take place before we sleep. We are always excited about what she is doing. Before she was born, we hoped she would go to Rice and perhaps play piano. Now, we hope that she develops effective speech skills.
We are like all parents, completely giddy with everything about our baby. I suppose we have some unique worries, but what we share with other parents is the fact that we have worries.
Occasionally, Jane falls asleep first. I spend her waking time telling her that everything will be ok. I know that we will continue to have some challenges, but we can handle it. I tell her that I know we can handle it. I know that we can handle it. She does not cry. She smiles and tells me that she loves me. Then she falls asleep, assured, and asleep. Then I cry.