If you are wondering whether or not to give your child with Down Syndrome a sibling, DO IT!

I will never forget this moment.

I was left alone with both kids for the first time ever, and Marley needed a diaper change and a feeding right away.

Nicholas, at that same moment, put his arms up for me to pick me up.  To me, when a baby does that, it is the highest honor in the land.   I can never turn it down!

But I had to!  I was in danger of an incoming diaper mudslide and had to get down to business!

Nicholas’s eyes welled up with tears and it broke my heart a little bit.

Let me rewind to a little over a year ago.

I was nine days past my due date, so I had to be induced.  I actually had to turn myself in for this one.

As I was walking into the hospital I had the same four thoughts as I always have when I am next in line for a roller coaster.

  1. I’m excited
  2. I’m scared
  3. What if I die?
  4. Why the hell did I even get in this line in the first place?  Can’t I stand in the fried dough line instead?

Just an hour before that, my husband and I thought it would be fun to get up super early and go to a diner for sort of a “last meal” before showtime.  Nicholas was with his grandparents, so we had some freedom.

Since we were really excited, we were super early.  Since we were super early, we finished breakfast with an hour to spare.  We were there with the elderlies of Wade’s breakfast crowd, and they all seemed to know where we were heading afterward.

“Let’s go visit Nicholas on the way!” my husband said as we were getting ready to leave.

For some reason, this sparked panic inside me. It had hit me right then.

What is going to happen to Nicholas?

My whole life for the past year and a half had been all about protecting and caring for Nicholas.  I spent my free time consumed by setting up his intervention services and researching Down syndrome topics!  I was living and breathing advocacy.  Now I was going to be completely consumed with my newborn baby.  What was I thinking?

Suddenly, the braids I asked my friend to put into my hair for the big day suddenly felt really tight.  It all came rushing back.  Childbirth hurts.  How could I forget that part?  Not to mention it’s terrifying.  Oh and the months after? I spent those hidden away in my house riddled with postpartum depression.  The isolation was crippling.  I can’t believe I signed back up for this.

Also, I loved Nicholas more than any other creature on this planet.  My love for him was immeasurable.  So, how could I possibly have any love left for this new baby?  There is no way that I could love any other person this much.  It can’t be possible.

“I can’t”, was all that I could say out loud, even though all of those thoughts were clouding my mind.

I didn’t want seeing Nicholas to make me further lose my nerve.  The memories from last time were starting to sting, and I thought that if I saw Nicholas I would just lose it.  I would snatch him up and run away before anyone makes me go to the hospital.

But, I knew that the baby would come out one way or the other, so I may as well let the professionals help me out.  It was one of those “okay, I’ll go, but I won’t have any fun” situations.

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This picture from the hospital describes my overall attitude that morning.

As we drove up to the hospital I remembered that I wasn’t going to be allowed to leave again until the baby was out, which scared me all over again.  My stress caused me to start comparing every little detail.

I was in labor for 14 hours with Nicholas, and I pushed for 3 of them.  That’s a long time to give 100% of your effort.  I was dreading doing that all over again.

At around 9pm that night, I started pushing and I remember looking at the clock and thinking “oh crap another three hours of this is going to suck.”  20 minutes later, I was holding my daughter!

20 minutes!  Beast mode activated.  Go me.

From then on, every single possible scenario between the two experiences was completely different.  The labor, the delivery, everything.

Marley also did something that Nicholas never did much as a baby.

She cried.  A lot.

I realized that having a child with Down syndrome was a blessing in another way.  He was a super quiet and pleasant newborn.

When Marley burst into this world, she came in loud to keep us on our toes.  She needed us to know that she is here and that her needs can’t be overshadowed by Nicholas’s needs.

Message received, Marley, loud and clear.

As soon as I held her in my arms it was like a wave of love washed over me.  It turns out my heart could love two humans that much.  Not to mention my husband was completely smitten and she has owned him ever since.

Fast forward fourteen months.

All of that worrying that I did about not being able to meet Nicholas’s needs with another baby around is now completely buried by the developmental benefits of having a sibling in the house.

That’s right, developmental BENEFITS!

Let me lay them out for you.

  1. Social Interactions

Before Marley even came home, I taught Nicholas was “gentle” means, so that he didn’t give us any close calls when she arrived home.  Now, I am able to use both siblings to teach in the moment how to be considerate to other people.  I can teach them sharing, and turn-taking.  Or, how to not hit your brother on the head with a toy hammer.  Marley is working on that one currently.

2. Speech

Now that Marley has started making a multitude of new sounds, Nicholas is way more interested in trying them out for himself.  He watches her closely and tries to make the exact sound she is making.  They love to communicate with each other on a daily basis.  There are so many social cues he is picking up on, and that all the sounds can have a meaning.  It is awesome to watch.

3. Physical Development

Marley is such a little risk-taker.  Once she figured out how to walk, she decided she needs to explore and climb everything.  Having Marley around has allowed my super-cautious Nicholas to not only take more risks but gain stamina when it comes to using his gross-motor skills.  It takes a lot of energy to chase Marley around!  I should know!

4. Having an in-house playmate at all times, and a future advocate!

Marley is not a tough little lady by accident.  She was made that way because she needs to help Nicholas when it comes to breaking barriers. I know that will come in handy in the future.

On a day-to-day basis, Nicholas has someone to explore with.  Although it can be a pain, I love it when I catch them getting into mischief, because I know that a lot of communication between them had to have happened for them to get to that point.  One time, I heard the bathroom door shut, and when I opened it, Nicholas was in there brushing Marley’s hair.  He just loves her so much!

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Aside from that, they are finally at a point where they love to play with each other.  There is nothing better than being in the next room and hear them cracking up at each other.  It is music to my ears.

From a mom’s standpoint, it doesn’t hurt that they keep each other occupied either!

So, for those of you who don’t know us personally, meet Marley Lynn.

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She is a ham.  She is a sweet, loving, sassy little comedian.  She loves food, no matter who’s plate it’s on.  She won’t tolerate my bows but will pose for a picture in one as long as you are being extra funny behind the camera.

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Most importantly, she won’t turn down an opportunity to unleash her inner mermaid.

 

 

So, if you are on the fence about having another baby because you are worried that it will take away from the extra help you want to give your child, I totally understand that.  Our whole goal as parents is to try and level the playing field as much as we can in preparation for developmental gaps.

However, in our experience, Marley has given Nicholas way more than I would have been able to give him in that time frame.  Nicholas having a peer in the house has changed him completely for the better, and I know that it will make him better equipped to start Pre-K in the fall. It will also make him better equipped for whatever life throws at him!

Marley, you are the little girl I always dreamed of having.  When you arrived, you completed our family in the most beautiful way.  Your hilarious personality brightens my days.  Thank you for being uniquely you.

#siblingsdontcountchromosomes

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I was shocked as a new mom to find out that my son has Down Syndrome. I had no idea that my life would be changed for the better! Now, I am using my passion for writing to spread awareness and acceptance for people with Down syndrome.

2 thoughts on “If you are wondering whether or not to give your child with Down Syndrome a sibling, DO IT!

  1. I just loved reading all about Nicholas and Marley. Sometimes God sends another angel to teach the first angel how to spread their wings and fly. God bless you Mary❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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