Today's idea for "31 in 21" comes from Jennifer at Pinwheels. Jennifer posts about the Unexpected joys of Down syndrome.
Its hard for me to narrow down the joys that having a child with Down syndrome has brought to me. To be honest, my entire world is more joyful because of Paige. And I think that extra 21st has made it more poignant, deeper, and sometimes more intense.
I have met incredible people as I have walked this path with my amazing little girl. I have learned life lessons that no one could have taught me in any other way. I have seen her sister blossom into a stunning young woman, full of great compassion.
All of these things have been unexpected - and joyful.
But, if I could pass one unexpected joy onto a new family just beginning this journey, I think I would pass on this...
When you receive a diagnosis of Trisomy 21, whether prenatally or shortly after birth, you learn that your child will take longer to achieve certain milestones. Many people say it is a mourning process that takes place as you realize your child may be late to walk or talk, or read or write, or gain independence.
You are immediately launched into a world of predictions when the reality is, there are no predictors for this new baby, any more than there are for any other babies.
So, you begin. You read and research and talk to other people. You learn the new language. You sign up for therapies and intervention.
And you start to realize that it will be o.k. Its o.k. to take it a bit slower and to meander through the milestones instead of racing through them.
That has been one of the best unexpected joys for me. Dakotah raced through milestones so fast that I missed many of them. She potty trained herself at 18 months. We have a video of her first birthday where she was speaking a full sentence "Oh, wow - I like it!"
And she hasn't slowed down since. She was reading before she went to school. And before I could blink, she is 6" taller than me, has a much better figure than I do, and is getting straight A's in subjects that I have not even thought about in nearly 30 years.
It has been so joyous to see Paige move through those milestones a bit slower. She smiled very early, earlier than Dakotah did. But, she took her time learning to walk. She lives in the moment every day. She is never in a hurry, and never hesitates to stop and look when something catches her eye.
I can clearly and vividly remember great milestones of hers - the first time she fed herself, those first steps, even with the aide of a walker, the first time she played itsy bitsy spider, the very moment she realized that her hands could tell me what she wanted, the first time she toddled down the hall to my bed, and crawled in beside me all by herself...
So many firsts, so bright and clear in my mind...and so many more to come.
Unexpectedly Joyful - this stroll we are taking through life.