When we first heard the words Down syndrome, the delays in early milestones were the farthest thing from my mind. I didn’t even know that early physical delays were a part of Down syndrome. Several doctors mentioned getting us signed up for early intervention services, a few made mysterious comments about how, “it might take a bit longer, but he will walk.” Wait, what? Of course he will walk. I’d never met any adults, or children for that matter, with Down syndrome who don’t walk. I wasn’t thinking about crawling or walking or rolling over or head control. I was thinking about the cognitive disabilities that usually accompany Trisomy 21, and I was thinking about their long term impact on me.
So, I’m surprised how randomly the pain of missing milestones hits me. Most days it doesn’t. Most days I don’t even think about it. But then I pick up a newsletter from my church about teaching my 8 month old about Jesus, and it mentions that “babies this age” are using their pincer grasp. Or I see pictures in my due-date-message-board of babies Max’s age who are sitting up or crawling or pulling to stand. And most days it rolls right off, I know in my head why Max is moving at a different pace. But every now and then I get sideswiped. The reference to “normal” comes out of nowhere, and it’s like a hit to the stomach.
Maybe it’s because, all of a sudden, I remember that we’re not just talking about whose baby sits first. We’re talking about a lifetime of moving on a different timeline. A timeline that I want to love and respect, but that I am still learning to understand.
To those of you with babies the same age (hi Lauren!) please don’t stop bragging about your baby’s new skills. They are wonderful, they deserve it! I don’t want to be cut off from your joy because it is sometimes uncomfortable. And I’m finding that the best medicine for my worries is exposure. The more happy babies I see sitting and rolling, and holding their heads up without a bob—the more comfortable I am with my own little guy doing things in his own time.