Today was Asa’s first Christmas party at Scallywags, the parent and toddler group in our church. It was a bit of a mad rush, as always, to get out of the house early enough to make it worthwhile going! Wolfing down breakfast, we got ready. I packed Asa’s bowl, spoon and banana, huge change bag and Emelia’s bag, put Asa in to the car seat and huffed up the steps.
We got to Scallywags and Emelia was happy to eat her party food with the other children, while I remained in the ‘baby corner’ to give Asa his breakfast. On days like this where I need to be out of the house early (well, early for me!), I’m so thankful I can chuck a banana in to the change bag and feed Asa out and about! I’m very relieved he likes bananas!
It was while I was feeding Asa that I stopped to look at the other precious little lives in the baby corner – Asa’s school buddies probably. Two sets of twin boys and another little baby girl. This is the first time Asa has been awake and around other little babies, so I have never intentionally or otherwise compared him to another baby. I noticed these babies seemed much more physically developed than Asa, in terms of their gross motor skills. Yes, they are a few weeks older than Asa, and yes I know that all babies develop at different rates. Even amongst ‘typically developing’ babies there are massive variations. But in my heart I felt sad. I felt we were the ‘different’ ones in a room full of ‘normal’.
As tears started to sting my eyes, I had to look away. I kept trying to tell myself that it didn’t matter; that all babies are different and I tried to focus simply on feeding Asa his mashed banana. I felt my eyes wander every now and then and saw these little ones attempting to roll over, waving their chubby arms and legs, holding toys, babbling away in secret baby code. Then I looked at my beautiful baby boy who didn’t seem as strong… who isn’t anywhere near rolling over… who can’t yet hold a toy… who doesn’t have (yet) the usual baby babble… And my heart ached. Please don’t misunderstand; I am in no way jealous of these other mums. In fact, I probably couldn’t cope with twins, so hats off to them! I am blessed with two beautiful and healthy children. This is my frustration – I can’t really explain it in words. I just felt a bit heart-sad I suppose.
Banana totally demolished by little Asa (followed by banana scented sick – eww; I hate reflux), we headed off to see ‘Father Christmas’ in the main hall. I put on Asa’s softband hearing aid, feeling rather conspicuous. We sang a few songs and then all the children went to get a small parcel from Father Christmas. Wonderful! Emelia was rather excited, running around with her usual boundless energy; Asa snuggled up on my lap, watching the comings-and-goings. I was talking to one of the kitchen volunteers and noticed someone across the hall pointing over in our direction and talking to her friend. I looked behind me and as I was against a wall, obviously there was no-one else there behind me… I was already feeling vulnerable and disheartened, so maybe this was more in my head than in reality, but I strongly felt this person was pointing at us – I couldn’t see who else it might have been. It could have been something as innocent as ‘cute baby’… or ‘I wonder what that baby has on his forehead’. Or it could have been something else. But you know what I’d prefer? I’d love people to come up and ask me if they have a question about Asa or Down’s syndrome. I’d happily answer questions about the softband, or hearing loss (not that I’m an expert!) or how I am doing or how Asa’s doing. I’d love not to be pointed at or talked about… I guess I understand though, to some extent…
Today has been ‘one of those days’ I suppose, where my heart has been tugged as I realise again that yes, Asa is different. Right from when that extra copy of chromosome 21 was made, he was marked to be different. This is the way God has designed him, right from when sperm met egg. We are all different because of the impact of Asa in our life. We are blessed. We are busy. We are happy. We are stressed at times. But we are family. This is our life. It is a little bit different. But being different isn’t bad. It’s something to be celebrated – and I’ll get back to more positive blogging soon. This blog was never designed to be a ‘rose tinted’ version of DS, and for those of you who know me will know that I am usually a pretty honest person when it comes to sharing my life – the ups and the downs.