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What My My Son With Down Syndrome Has Taught Me His First Year of Life

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Time has flown by, and we are already approaching my son, Arbor’s, 1st birthday. I still freshly remember the raw feelings I had in the first moment I held him: confusion, excitement, pure love and worry. I have learned so much about what it means to be a mother of an extra special blessing. However, Down syndrome isn’t about me. My son’s life already reaches more than mine ever will.

When he was first born, I wanted people in our lives to know I see him exactly the way I see my “typical” son. While I do see my sons the same and love them equally, I came to realize that sharing the highs and lows of our life with Arbor would help the world accept who he is. The sharing of his life has come with mostly good results, but I’ll never forget the time someone hiding behind their screen commented on one of my photos on social media, saying my son should have never been born. Despite painful things, I have seen other parents and people with Down syndrome endure, the joy shines brightly though it all.

Here is what a year with Arbor has taught me:

1. The joy is endless.

There is nothing quite like seeing my 11-month-old genuinely smile at me because he knows I am his Mama. When he first sat up on his own, I squealed like a little kid on a roller coaster. Seeing other people’s faces light up when they see him is an amazing feeling. You cannot interact with Arbor without smiling.

2. It is just an extra chromosome.

Really. It takes Arbor a little longer to reach certain milestones, but he will reach those milestones!

3. Life is just as “normal” as it was before he was born.

He has therapy a couple days a week and a few more doctor’s appointment than the average child, but we still go about our lives as usual.

4. The only valid opinion on Down syndrome comes from those with Down syndrome and those who love them. 

I believe many misconceptions could be traded for the truth if people would only listen to what people in the Down syndrome community have to say about it.

Happy first birthday, Arbor! The world is better with you living in it.

Originally published: July 18, 2018
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