I was asked the other day if it was really all that differnt having a child with Down Syndrome than one without. I thought about it and really on a day to day basis, you don't think about it. He's just my baby and a sweetie at that. Physical therapy or PT has just become part of the schedule like playdates are for Isaac and Keila. Then there are the other times where it becomes hard and very apparent. There are 3 other babies I see regularly who were all born within 10 days of Elias. And while a parent shouldn't compare their child with others, we do it anyhow and I become more aware of the challenges that face Elias.
He lacks alot of core strenght to be able to sit up and his hands aren't as coordinate. For the most part these things don't bother me too much, I know he'll get there at his own pace, but there is one thing that has given me so much heartache. For the longest time Elias didn't smile. I'd ask different therapists if smiling was delayed and they all said it wasn't, but I'd watch the days tick away and read the develpmental books and I became afraid of the worst.
There isn't much a mother needs to keep her going and there's something about the reward of a smile and a giggle that warms you to the core. I guess I was feeling really drained and began fearing the worst, that perhaps my baby wouldn't ever smile at me. Maybe he had autism in conjunction with Down Syndrome? (Kent has a nephew with it, perhaps it was genetic) would I ever be able to connect with him? He is nearly 4 months old, and I don't even know what he likes - raspberries, his favorite toy or even me?
Finally we got a PT who suggested that his facial muscles lacked tone as well and that we ought to massage and 'wake-up' the muscles there. It was then we began to see a faint glimmer of a something, as if he was just on the cusp of a tiny smile but my delight would startle him and it would all fade away.
Something happened tonight, I don't know what, but Kent was talking to him and laughing and a wide mouth grin popped out in response. We must have looked like such fools, but we did everything from peek-a-boo, to giggling hysterically to see it again and again. It was truly in response to our faces and reaction, he was there smiling because we were smiling. I cried tears of joy - which of course caused him to stop smiling immediately and furrow his brow in concern. Such a sweetie! I don't know if he will ever know how much his smile means to me. Now if only I could catch it on film!