Hello again, everyone. Somehow I missed a month - sorry about that. Since my last post, Ozzie has started interacting with us. He smiles a tremendously large smile, he grabs at his toys, he pulls his sister's hair. He wants to laugh, but he doesn't quite know how. All he can muster is a half-chuckle. He is absolutely adorable, says everyone, and I know they aren't lying.
Ozzie's big sister is in smitten with him. She takes every chance she gets to snuggle with him and tell him she loves him. She "teaches" him things all day. I have honestly never seen a little girl love a baby as much as she loves Ozzie. We're talking Hallmark Channel levels of sappiness.
Ozzie loves to be held more than any baby I have ever seen. He never wants to be put down, which makes it difficult to accomplish anything in our home. But he's so huggable we don't care. He has begun therapy for a very minor issue - his neck and torso strength. His muscles are just a little bit weaker than normal babies', so we have to support his head a bit more than we should. He can hold his head up on his own, just not for extended periods. So a therapist has visited a few times to teach us a few simple exercises that will help him get more control. And he is already showing excellent results.
The whole Down Syndrome thing is becoming more of a non-issue every day. I don't constantly dwell on it anymore. The fear and darkness I experienced immediately after his birth has given way, replaced by the joy of having a baby boy in my life. There are many days when the words "Down Syndrome" are not spoken. That has to be a sign that we are entering calmer waters.
I think, in some ways, my mind has begun to slow down a bit. I'm not trying to map out Ozzie's entire future, because it's impossible and stressful and probably unhealthy. Whether this mental shift is a defense mechanism or the result of exhaustion is unclear to me, but it is relaxing.
I am left with only one true worry, but it's a big one. We still don't know what Ozzie's mental capacities will be. Everything we see every day seems to indicate that Ozzie will function at the high end of the spectrum. That's good, right? Of course it is. But in some ways, I think high intelligence could become a curse. A thought exercise:
I imagine a see-saw. On one side we place intelligence. On the other side, we place emotional health. As one goes up, the other goes down.
Imagine an intelligent DS child in a class of normal kids. Imagine that child feeling attracted to girls in the class - and knowing they aren't really available (I can think of many similar quandries, but that's the one that really cuts to the quick). Imagine the emotional struggles this could cause. Imagine the conversations a father must have with this child throughout the formative years. Imagine you are that father. I am.
Now imagine a DS child on the lower end of the intelligence spectrum. Although his world is radically different, I bet those particular emotional minefields aren't really as tough to navigate. Perhaps they can be avoided altogether. It's possible that this child is even happier than the intelligent DS kid. Is this a blessing, or a curse?
Maybe I'm selfish and horrible for even thinking such a thing, but that's what goes through my head a lot. Two possible roads lay ahead. I don't get to pick which one I go down. Both look bumpy and curvy and long. But I'm going to do my best to forget my troubles, put the top down, crank up the tunes and enjoy the scenery.
Daniel Niblock is a graphic artist and animator who lives in Durham, North Carolina. On July 14, 2008, he became the proud father of his second child: Ozzie, a 4 lb., 11 oz. baby boy. Ozzie has Down syndrome. This blog chronicles the bewildering experience of stepping into a topsy-turvy new world. It began as a place where family and friends could come to read words that were too difficult to speak aloud. It has transformed into a place where people can read about discovery, strength and love. Hopefully these collected reflections can help others find the way out of the darkness and into the light.