Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baby Steps

A moment of sadness. It was a very quick fleeting moment but I had it nonetheless. I'm not sure what it was exactly but I felt it and then quickly it was gone.

I attended a preview music class at our local Gymboree. I did many of these types of classes with Diego and Mateo when they were young and it was a fun way to meet new parents and babies around the same age. This was my first time taking Joaquin to a formal class setting where I didn't know the teacher or at least one parent in the group. I am a member of a local parent's group in town where I attend lots of different play groups and events with parents and children that I know quite well but I wanted to try something new with Joaquin, to take a step out of my comfort zone.

This Gymboree music class was unchartered territory for me, a brand new experience for the two of us....our first step toward full inclusion. Why not take him to a "typical" music class for a baby his age? I signed up for a free preview class while Diego and Mateo were both in school. It was a great class and the teacher had an amazing voice. At the start of the class, we sat down to smiling faces all around, lots of cute babies and moms. The teacher started off with a welcome song. It was then that I felt a pang of emotion. I began to tear up and I'm not sure why. I would call it a moment of sadness but maybe it was just a moment of all sorts of emotions wrapped up into one....fear, anxiety, sadness, shyness, pride, hormones? It's moments like these where I am faced head on with the reality that I am on a different journey than most of the people around me. It can feel very lonely. On the one hand, I want to include Joaquin in as many of the same experiences that I participated in with Diego and Mateo and then at the same time, I see a benefit to attending classes or events surrounded by parents who understand our situation and are "walking the same walk" as I am with their own special children. I can see how both scenarios could be beneficial.

Throughout the class, Joaquin was mainly interested in looking at me, watching my face. So I just immersed myself in the moment and it was as if it was just the two of us in the class. Occasionally a mother would ask me "How old is he?" or "He's so cute" and I would return with my own curious questions about their little ones but otherwise it was a special time for Joaquin and me. Focusing in on Joaquin grounded me and I felt more stable in my emotions....I was able to hold it together but a very small part of me just wanted to get out of the room and back to our comfort zone. We stayed and we ended up having a wonderful time. We focused on the moment and living it. The here and the now.

When I try and get to the root of what my feelings were during the beginning of class, it's really hard. I think I've been living in sort of a protected bubble this past year. I've surrounded myself with my support system of friends and family and neighbors, even fellow bloggers, and it has all been a very safe place to be. As I start to venture out into the world and as I take the steps that need to be taken for Joaquin, I'm a bit afraid of what might be out there. I'm afraid of the ignorance and the cruelty.

But maybe the tears that started to well up in me as the Gymboree class sang out Joaquin's name and we sat there, the two of us happy and healthy and living our lives, were also tears of hope. Hope that perhaps everything will be o.k. We were taking our first baby steps together.


  1. I COMPLETELY understand the feeling you were describing. I get it too sometimes! I can be going along fine and the mention of 'milestones' or something like that will remind that we ARE walking a different path. And I wonder what I am 'missing out' on... I wonder what the future holds for my baby boy? But I quickly remind myself that I have NO IDEA and I cannot ever tell the future. We only have today, deal with today, celebrate today and what we do with today shapes our tomorrow.

  2. I recently found your blog, thought this was a good time to say "hi".

    I know all about "the bubble" I started taking Goldie to a playgroup with a mix of typical kids and kids in EI. I've learned to put my blinders on when I go in there. Some of the moms are very immature and compete with each other via their babies. It feels as if my life is on a completely different plane than theirs. I keep reminding myself that I am there for Goldie and try to focus only on her while we are there. It gets easier, or maybe my skin is getting thicker :)

  3. This was beautiful!! I completely recognize these feelings. Mikah's 2nd birthday is coming up and just Thursday I experienced all of these emotions thinking about what to do for his birthday. For Ellie we had a party with her friends but Mikah does not know...Thank you for posting your thoughts. It gives me the courage to do the same.

  4. great post!

    I have yet to step out of my bubble. I know how scary that must have been but what an inspiration you are to me and so many others!

    I suppose these types of feelings will always be there...we just have to learn how to deal with them and I think you did a fabulous job at gymboree!

    Joaquin is a lucky boy to have you as his mama!


  5. I think alot of us can relate to what you said. It takes a lot of courage to be different and to follow a different path. But, only those of us who do get to experience the mystery and joy that it brings. I'm grateful for that and for blogs like yours.

  6. What a beautiful post, Jennifer. I understand that welling up of emotion that is so hard to articulate, all too well.

  7. Hello,
    I think your baby is beautiful!! I have a nephew with Downs and when he was born his mother told us at first she had similar feelings, as did another friend of ours that has a son with Down's.

    Both boys are grown and doing well. Tyler my nephew lives in Minnesota and his parents love living there because of the good programs for young & older kids in their state.

    My friend's son, Mitch, works a parttime job and lives at home. He is very athletic and is a good skiier as they lived in Maine & Oregon (both places had good adaptive ski programs).

    And of course, you probably read Martha Beck's book. I think it's called Raising Adam. It is about her son Adam who has Down's. It is probably one of the best books I've ever read. If you haven't read it, you must. She recently posted an article on her blog about him:

    Nice to meet you!

  8. Thank you for dropping by and leaving me that nice comment!

    Your boys are adorable and it looks like Joaquin is doing great -sounds like you are doing good too! :)

    It's nice to "meet" you and I look forward to hearing more about your boys!

  9. Thanks for your comments on my blog!

    Lily and I pretty much just stay home. When we do go out, it's usually something to do with church where we have been welcomed with open arms. I guess one of these days I'm going to have to step out of my bubble of protection. Lily will be different in some ways...but I wouldn't change a thing about her. She is the love of my life!