April 21, 2012

Waiting for her guests at her Elmo party

We had a birthday this past week. One nice thing about this blog is that I can go back to a year ago and see where we were then.  A lot has changed in a year, especially in terms of Rachel’s new ability to walk, and I realize how important that milestone was for us.  Last year, I fretted about telling people she was three when she was still crawling around.  This year I just don’t have that hang up at all. Her language has really exploded in the past 6 or 7 months.  She puts 2-3 words–and sometimes more– together and has quite an extensive vocabulary. It’s also pretty awesome that Rachel can now understand what her birthday means and knows she’s not three anymore! 

Moreover, she’s finally tolerating her glasses!  I think she’s finally realizing that she can see better with them. We had an excellent appointment with the orthoptist this past week.  Her eye muscles are getting stronger and her eyes are working well together.  Everyone who sees her comments on how grown up she looks. 

Last year I had no intention of sending her to Junior Kindergarten so soon– in our region children start the year they turn 4– but now I can actually picture her being there.  She has been registered, and we had a very positive case conference with the school a few weeks ago.  Everything is just moving along!

I find myself thinking less and less about her differences too, which makes for a much more peaceful existence.  I really don’t concern myself too much with people’s reactions anymore.  I have one of the most amazing kids on Earth, and if people don’t get it, well, their loss.  It’s almost like I have a special secret that 90% of the world doesn’t understand, but slowly we’re spreading it among friends, colleagues, school mates, and community acquaintances, and to me that’s the best form of advocacy there is.

And then on Monday, we had some furniture delivered and as Rachel watched intently and cheerfully chattered to the delivery men, the one gentleman asked how old she was. Proudly I said, “She turned 4 just yesterday!” 

“Oh!” he said, “I thought she was about 2 1/2.  God bless her”.   I kind of sighed inside, but whatever… maybe now he’ll know that kids with Down syndrome just seem a bit younger. Maybe he’ll have a better understanding next time.

We couldn't do this a year ago!

 We’re all learning every day, and children with Down syndrome are wonderful teachers.  She’s four.  And all of a sudden it seems kind of ridiculous to be taking stock of what gross motor and speech skills she has. 

Every day she builds awareness; she advocates for others with disabilities; she changes hearts and minds.  How many other four year olds can say that? Her role in life is different from most, but it’s exceedingly valuable.  While some transitions are scary, I realize that we will get through them all, step by step, with trepidation and success– kind of how Rachel learned to walk.

Four?  Bring it on!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Connie Smith April 22, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Hi Heather,
I love to read your updates on Rachel (and your Mom’s too!)
She is beautiful and I’d love to meet her one day. Had lunch with Lizzie and Paul the other day…so good to see them.
Best and much love to you and your family always,



Heather April 23, 2012 at 2:25 am

Thanks for your comment, Connie! I’d love you to meet her too! We’ll have to plan something.

All the best to you as well!

Cheers, Heather


Charlotte McDougall April 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Hi Heather – what a lovely synopsis and photos. Rachel is so beautiful and, according to your mom, adored by Adam (and, of course, daddy). I am so happy that your life is happy and look forward to seeing you soon. Will pass this on to Sarah.
Love Charlotte xoxoxoxo


Heather April 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Hi Charlotte! So nice to hear from you. Yes! Things are good… we have our moments, but so does everyone ;) Maybe next time you’re at my parents’ I can bring the kids by to say hello. Take care! :) Heather


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