Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baby Sit-Ups

Max started every-other-week physical therapy about a month ago.  He also sees a speech therapist once a month.  It sounds like he’ll have a full schedule of weekly physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy by the time he turns one.  Most of this comes to us through First Steps—a federally mandated, state run early intervention service.  First Steps therapists come to our home for sessions, and the service is free for us.  It’s really an incredible set up, I am thankful for the help we’re getting from folks who know the challenges ahead of Max, and I have found our sessions so far to be fun and fascinating.  Child development really is amazing.  But I’m still processing how to be the parent I want to be in the middle of this systematic approach to development.

Like today at the YMCA playground.  It’s a great little space for Toby to get out some of that nonstop-four-year-old-energy, and the floor is padded with mats, so it’s a good place for Max to hang out and get in some tummy time on his blanket.  Today we were the only ones there, so Max and I had the ground level to ourselves, and we started practicing his PT exercises.  Some baby sit ups, some rolling over, and a whole lot of kisses and tickles.

And then another mom and her son show up.

And I realize how silly I look.

“Aw,” says other-mom, “How cute.  How old is he?”  Three months old.  Three months old, and I am coaching my baby on how to turn over.  He’s not even old enough to be “behind,” and yet here I am helping his body do something it’s not quite ready to do, correcting the way he holds his head, and getting all excited when he flexes his itty-bitty neck muscles.  Heck, why don’t we start teaching him to play the violin while we’re at it?

This is when I’m not sure what to say.  I don’t want to introduce my kid with a diagnosis.  Today I went with “He’s in physical therapy, and this is something we’re working on.”  That seemed a way to explain what I was doing and put some sort of medical weight behind it

But really, thinking about it, I’m fairly certain the other-mom didn’t care.  My explanation was all about me.  “I’m not the kind of mom who keeps track of whose baby rolls over first,” I wanted to say, “I’m only doing this because the doctor said we must.”

And when I get beyond myself, there's a deeper worry--about what it will be like for Max, growing up, to be constantly prodded to be someone he isn’t quite yet.

I understand that these early intervention steps are useful and necessary.  I’m just still working out a way of thinking about them.


  1. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that you're blogging again! I didn't realize how much I missed your "voice" until I heard it again. And HOW AWESOME is it that you're blogging about kids now... I mean knitting is great and all, lol, but I kind of had to stretch out a little to be supportive and say something lovely about yarn. :D *laughing*

    I love the honest response to having a Down Syndrome baby. I sometimes look at Max's pictures and think, "You know, he doesn't really look like he's special needs in this picture." If I didn't already know he was Down Syndrome, I wouldn't have a clue... so I love the approach you took with that mom.

    Another thought I have ALL of the time. As we approach our #3 being born (on MONDAY!!!), I squirrel away the very real worry that there could be something wrong. Apparently I wasn't so discreet with this concern early on in the pregnancy and my husband finally said, "You know, he's going to be fine and you're worried over nothing." Well, it's NOT nothing to me, and until I see that kid out and perfect and he starts hitting his little milestones, I will continue to worry. At the same time, I know that if God gives me a special needs baby that He figures we're up for it. And that leads me to my OTHER thought. When I first saw that you were a special needs mom, my FIRST THOUGHT was that you are the perfect person for the job. You're wonderful, patient, loving... and so is Christer. You have this amazingly talented #1 child and he is going to benefit from having Max around, balancing out his genius (because I think he is a super smart kid, even in my limited Facebook exposure) with empathy.

    I have a lot to say, so many things. Most of them are that I just plain out love you. You are amazing, wonderful, and such a great mom. :)

    1. Love you, too, Austin! These little ones come with all sorts of surprises--but I know you can handle whatever any of your children throw at you. :) And best wishes for a healthy baby & quick recovery next week!

  2. I am so glad you shared your blog with me. I look forward to reading about your journey, because after perusing many of your posts, I can see you are such a talented writer and have a beautiful faith which is always wonderful to see. Please continue to share and blog. You have two amazing boys, and they are certainly blessed with one incredible mom.