Saturday, February 14, 2009

On being an older Mom..

I have to admit that after I found out Lauren would have Down syndrome, I felt like such a cliche'. There I was, the woman of 'advanced maternal age' pressing the envelope of natural events by becoming pregnant. If I had just stopped with Gabe, everything would have been okay.

Oh, and it is even worse because I was not trying to get pregnant. It was this kind of 'see, you should not have
gone there and now look at the mess you have made.

--You will pay for this the rest of your life.

--You will be that same 87 year old Mother you saw at the hospital taking her 44 year old son to see his doctor. The one you smiled at but inwardly sighed with great relief because,
really, that is depressing & just unnatural for a Mother to still be responsible for her son's checkups when she is 87 years old!!

It took a while for me to stop seeing that in a negative light, yet I can smile about it now, knowing/hoping that I will be around long enough to accompany Lauren to the doctor when she is 44 years old.

Because so many children with Ds are born to mothers under 30, I do not actually get the chance to talk about this with that many other moms. The younger moms, though, have the perspective of "I am so
young, how could this have happened?" For them there is no cliche', just wonderment.

The statistics say this about the occurrence of Down syndrome:
  • About 1-in-800 risk overall for all births
  • Less than 1-in-1,000 for women under 30
  • About 1-in-25 risk for a 45-year-old mother
I was 42 when I conceived Lauren and 43 when she was born. I used to wish that she had been my firstborn child because I figured I would have more energy, openness and naivete' about the horrors of raising a child with special needs. But, being of "advance maternal age" does have so many advantages!

Here are just a few:

I've lived long enough to see that children with Ds are really, really wonderful and can do many wonderful things

I've lived long enough to have put another daughter with special needs all the way through high-school. IEP's, OT, PT, etc. etc. are not new terms to me.

I've lived long enough to know that children pretty much choose their parents and not the other way around. Lauren was born to Chaz and me because she needed to be in our family.

I've lived long enough to know when I need to worry and when I don't. I know that Lauren will walk one day and when she does, she does. (I don't need to be chasing her around the church, mall, playgroung, school. That day will come and perhaps by then I will be ready for it).

I've lived long enough to know that it is sometimes hard to raise a child that is different but it is always, always, always a gift.

I've lived long enough to know that I still have much to learn and that Lauren will be there to tell me what she needs.

And now, some pictures, because what good is a blog post without them?:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

a little outing

Today I was able to take Lauren with me to attend a 'meeting' with other parents raising children with Down syndrome. The group is fairly large and offers things such as Music Together classes (which are wonderful), signing classes (which I've yet to go to), play dates, Mom's Night out, Buddy Walk planning and even a dance class for when Lauren is a bit older. I can already envision her in a clingy pink bodysuit, tousled hair and those glittery butterfly wings you can strap on to your back - all the while flitting and jumping about.

Many of the kids there were over 5, some were close in age to Lauren (18 months) and there were several under 1 including 2 that were just a couple of months old. As I listened to what the newest Mom's expressed, it reminded me of how far away that 'dreaded news of Down syndrome' has become.

I picked up some sadness in the words of some of the moms, some doubt and some fear. I know what that is like all too well and I can relate to it wholeheartedly. But, happily, I don't feel like that anymore. Lauren is Lauren - she's determined, spunky, fun-loving, happy, sweet, smart and lovely.

Every now and again I think about "what if Lauren didn't have Down syndrome?"...but I quickly realize ...doh! then, she wouldn't be Lauren. It's not perfect or a breeze or anything like that, but it is really good.

A friend of mine from the group, Jordan, (Mom to the amazing Callan)and I were talking about the new babies being born to people we know and expressing our mock (or was it?) sympathy for families bringing babies into the world who do not have Down syndrome... Our "we're so sorry your child does not have Ds" was only halfway facetious.

I guess you just have to know it to, well, know it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

She fights naptime....



wakes up happy!

Gabe, Curtis and Dav

Future Drummer?

Future Drummer?