I 'Unsubscribed' From 'Typical Development' for My Son With Down Syndrome


Many expectant mommies sign up for all things baby related. And I, like those mommies, followed suit. Free samples of formulas, diapers, foods. Baby registries, “What I need to know” newsletters and coupon emails. And of course, the trackers! Bump, Baby Essential, etc. I believe I had four going at one time during pregnancy. It’s so exciting to get letters, samples and email updates. To watch your baby grow from a blueberry to a summer squash. And to learn about the developmental milestones they are achieving.

My son was born in November 2016 with Down syndrome and we just celebrated his first year. We also just celebrated unsubscribing from those “developmental” updates.

For the past year, I allowed myself to compare, judge, and honestly feel defeat when I read those well intentioned emails and updates designed for typically developing children and compare them against my not so typically developing son. I would overly celebrate when he hit one of the expected milestones and feel crushed when he didn’t. Sadly, I was looking for “normal” instead of embracing his “normal” and accepting his timing and celebrating his milestones.

You see, at the end of most of those updates, the writers put a blurb about how every child is unique and develops differently. However, that’s still directed for the moms of typically developing children that may be ahead of the curve or miss a milestone by a couple of weeks. With Down syndrome, the timelines can be different by weeks, months, even years. My adorable, perfect 13-month-old can sit up, but doesn’t crawl. And according to the apps, he’s way behind schedule. He can smile but is still not laughing. Can use his pincer-grasp like a champ, but refuses to eat solid food.

Little boy with Down syndrome on his first birthday sitting outside on blanket eating a cake with orange frosting and smiley face (maybe a crab cake)

As I watched him smashing his cake with glee last month, I finally let go. A year later! So what if he didn’t put any cake in his mouth. So what if he wasn’t walking like my first son was by his first birthday. So what if he’s not saying “momma” yet. Those steel eyes and goofy smile say we are right on track for him. I unsubscribed to the “How it’s supposed to be.” We will write our own milestones as they come up — and celebrate each and every single one. No more comparing. No more judging. No more trying to fit in with “most mommies.” I am his mommy. And he is more than enough.

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