Paige has been featured on the site before, her beautiful girl named Eden showed the world just how well a child with Down Syndrome can learn sign language. However, this time I asked Paige what many mamas have talked to me about…their fear of wanting another child after having a baby with Down Syndrome, How to handle the fear that they may have another child with special needs. So, Paige shares about getting pregnant again after already having a baby with Down Syndrome.
I was asked to share on this topic because my first child was born with Down Syndrome but we wanted more children and did not want to stop at just one.
I know that there are other moms who feel this same way too, and the first thing I would say is, do you want more children? Ask yourself why you want to have more children, maybe even make a pros and cons list.
I didn’t do that, but it might help some of you who might be struggling with fear.
I always knew in my heart I wanted 4 children. There were times during my 2nd pregnancy when I feared the thought of having 2 children with special needs, but I decided to not let that consume me, I decided to focus on the fact that I’d love my kids no matter what and that they would have specific, God designed purposes for their lives. There were naysayers who asked how I would be able to keep up with Eden and her appointments if I had more children. The thing those people don’t realize is that her therapy is not an all day event, in fact, most of it is just built into the way we play with her. Also, it really isn’t anyone’s business how many children we have.
I wasn’t going to let fear of the unknown rule my decision to have more kids either. I decided to be open with myself and with others. I also held on to the fact that odds are more in your favor that you’ll have a healthy child (Down Syndrome doesn’t make you unhealthy).
When I did have fears, I realize that it came from the ignorance of others and having to endure another heart surgery. If I happened to have two children with Down Syndrome, I may have to deal with a child who needed heart surgery like my first daughter did. I was never afraid of Down Syndrome itself. Most of us don’t actually pass Down Syndrome to our children in a hereditary manner, so I’d throw that fear out the window.
Most cases of Down Syndrome are not hereditary anyway, so the chance of a second child with DS is pretty slim, in most cases, no more of a chance than for the general population. I’m not saying not to look into it if you concerned but our fears are usually smaller, statistically speaking, than they feel to us.
I was fearful at first that I would not be able to meet all of Eden’s needs as she would have to share my attention with another, but it turns out that having a sibling is the best thing ever for Eden. She now realizes that the world does not revolve around her and her alone. She takes joy in caring for her brother with me and is learning all about being a good big sister.
So as far as Eden adjusting to having a little brother, she had some ups and downs with it, but honestly, I think most young children would have some days where it just wasn’t ok with them. So at first Eden was okay with the fact Levi came home, but a few weeks into him being with us she realized that she just wasn’t getting the same things all of the time anymore, she would sign that she was sad and she started to pinch quite a lot and we were getting frustrated with that.
At that time I reached out to a good mentor in my life who helped me understand Eden’s little mind and heart. She basically told me to think of when I first brought Levi home and what my emotions were on not having all of my time with my girl and then she said now imagine Eden feeling like you did but she can’t talk yet… her only source to express herself is to pinch you and grab your attention. That really showed me that Eden was not 100% trying to misbehave. We started to say things like, ” Eden, that hurts me when you do that, I do not like it when you do that to me, you know that I love you, let’s hug ok?” She would melt into the hug and I knew she just needed her mom, dad, grammie ect.
I felt bad at times for her having to grieve the loss of losing some mommy time, but the truth is in life she going to have to know how to grieve, so I hope I’m showing her a healthy way to grieve. I always want my kids to express their grief, not shut it up inside.
Eden has adjusted very well to being a big sister. She often kisses, pats, rocks his chair or tries to bounce his seat or tries to assist in burping Levi, it’s super cute! She is a lil’ momma in the making! She still occasionally tries to pinch but she’s almost 2 so I consider it a normal part of life and learning and testing her boundaries.
As for having a typical child after having a child who has Down Syndrome, the joys of having a typically developing child are incredible! I would say it’s just as incredible as having a child that had to work 3 times as hard to accomplish her goals. It’s always fun to watch your kids achieve things and notice their similarities and their differences as well. ( just as if I had 2 typical kids, I’d probably feel this way). I will say it’s been nice not to have to worry about an open heart surgery, getting in enough calories, seeing a specialist and the crazy amount of phone calls when your child requires a major surgery. Having a “typical” child showed me how most people kind of get to soak up the brand new baby in their homes without fear, and that I’ve enjoyed this time.
My suggestions to help your older child or children adjust to a new baby coming into the home (you can use this for any child i think) would be to make sure you prioritize some one on one time daily. It doesn’t have to be a crazy amount of time. For example, when my husband would come home at night we would set the timer for 30 minutes and one of us would go play with her in her room without the baby, then set the timer for 20 minutes and one of us would do bath time. Afterwards, we would read together as a family before bed time, that really helped smooth things over.
It’s also tough when you are nursing a newborn… dad just can’t do much to help there. Once you get enough supply try and get a few backup bottles in the freezer so you can get more freedom to choose your time with your other kid/kids. Also, identify your child’s feelings if they are acting out… for example ” Eden, are you feeling upset that mommy can’t spend a lot of time with you right now? I’m sorry, you feel this way and that’s a normal feeling. Come here, let mommy hug you. I love you so much, you’ll always be my girl ok!” Let your child decide when that hug is over, it will usually give them exactly what they needed and
they can move right along and continue to play or whatever. We all need reassuring at times!
Parenting is so different, yet still so much the same now that I have had , another baby. Basically, my life is just a lot busier. It’s a juggling act filled with finding new ways to balance life. I drop the ball often and we just move on. I don’t have time to worry about doing everything just right, I do my best and that’s all I can do. I don’t have down time very often, but when I do I try to soak it up so that I can be a better mom.
All parents need to prioritize some YOU time. That’s not an easy thing, but it’s healthy for everyone that you maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. That could be as simple as going and getting a coffee and sitting alone for an hour with a book or whatever, you need to do it! I can always tell when a “burn out” is coming on so I tell my husband that I need to go have some time with myself soon. My husband is super amazing and tries to get a day on the calendar so I can regroup for an hour and it’s truly amazing what a little time can do!
The biggest reason I can be confident about what will or won’t happen with my kids is because of my faith in Jesus Christ. I know he loves me and my kids and that everything will work out to His glory and honor, with or without Down Syndrome we all have a purpose. Even if your belief isn’t in Jesus, I’m sure you believe every person has the ability to add something amazing to this world and our society!
Remember, your kids have the potential to be world changers 🙂