I must admit, I was a bit nervous seeing my nephew and niece that are both Fiona's age. Actually, out of the three that were all born within 7 months of each other, Fiona is the oldest. I knew, just like with the children of my four friends who had babies the same year as I had Fi, that their development was going to be far more advanced and there was bound to be a sting of the what shoulda/coulda been.
I don't want anyone to ever judge Fiona for what she is not doing yet, but I find myself at times doing it... that same sadness or pity I hate, I am guilty of behind the closed doors of my mind. Its incredibly hard not to compare when around typically developing kids. Even more so now as Fiona gets older and the gap gets larger between the typical ages of certain developmental milestones. Seeing not even yet one year olds surpass Fiona, who is nearing two, is sometimes hard. But whether it be mental preparedness or just strength with time, the sting is getting duller and duller.
Sure, I noticed the difference in Fiona, Calvin and Oliviah. Mobility, communication and understanding all greatly advanced in comparison to where Fi is. And I had my moments, lost in thought about how that extra chromosome can sometimes suck. But it wasn't painful, just reality. Mostly, I was impressed with my princess. How hard she tried to keep up with everyone, how social and loving she was with her cousins. She learned a few new words on our trip... still no mama, but lets see, mine-mine (always said in twos) entered her vocabulary, as well as juice, bounce and Harley, as in my step moms dog, not the motorcycle. Her sea legs got stronger, she stands a lot now and even took 6 whole moving forward steps across my dad's kitchen to me.
I came across a quote posted by one of the Down syndrome organizations I admire that Einstein once said.
"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
This goes for all my kids, I am fighting to put any one of them in a box. Recognizing their strengths and best assets and not pushing my standards on them. Easy to say, much harder to apply. We all have sub conscience expectations for our kids, dreams (usually things we wanted for ourselves and never got or accomplished), and an ultimate idea of how they can be their best. I am dealing with a whole other issue with my boys who have developed defiance and strong wills, to master the balance of discipline, while with Fiona it is a matter of embracing her pace.
Around 9 months, I think, we started working on putting objects in a container, and then taking them out. A concept or game a typical 9 month old would understand and enjoy. She learned how, but did not find interest in it. Now, at 23 months, its her favorite thing to do. That about sums up how Down syndrome affects development. Not that its never going to happen, just its going to happen at a later time. Therapy or no therapy, Fiona does things on her own time. And I know this because I slack big time at doing the things her therapist tell me to do, and she always masters them months before her EI (early intervention or therapy) goals. Minus gross motor- its not her lack of will to walk, but her poor strength that is hindering her. 2 is the average age for walking with kids with Down syndrome. My competitive soul wanted her to master it at 18 months. And the closer we get to 2, the more I have to fight myself to not worry about that number. She is going to walk... she is taking steps. She will do it when she is strong enough and when she is ready. Really, in the large scheme of things, I am going to blink and she is going to be walking and I will never again think about it happening and what age it happened. It simply does not matter, yet I can get easily hung up on it.
These thoughts are really far and few between. Down syndrome, mosaicsim, development, ability.... I really only think about them when with the therapist or with other kids Fi's age or younger. That's why I want to slap myself in the face when I start to pity her because I know how great it is 99% of the time. Most of the day I am in awe of her, not worried about what she is not yet doing. Each random step she takes is greeted with a roar of applause, not frustration that its not more. And watching my boys with her is the greatest gift I could ask for. They don't know development, or milestones, or age... they truly don't see what Fiona can't do, only what she can. And they are more excited then me when she does something new. A child's innocent eye can be the wisest perspective.
I am excited for this upcoming year. 2-3 for a child with Down syndrome is like the 1-2 year for a typical child. A lot of new stuff, a lot of break throughs, and a lot more exciting. Also, a lot more crazy since I will be chasing three kids around, all probably running in different directions. I never would say I am more proud of Fiona for accomplishing things then her brothers, but I am impressed with how much harder she works at it all. Nothing comes easy for her, but the girl doesn't complain. Okay, well maybe she does yell at her PT, but the smiles come back quickly. Oh, and no eye surgery ( probing her tear ducts and putting tubes in the expand them... everything on Fi is tiny) for now. Holding off till she is older, and thankful I don't have to put my baby under for the fourth time in two years.
(sorry for my annoying voice saying her name a million times)