Life changes with one kid. The landscape changes again with two and we discover that the parenting map for kid #1 doesn't quite apply to kid #2. We begin to experience first-hand the significant differences between having one child with Down syndrome and one without.
When Matthew was born 2-1/2 years ago, we left the hospital feeling like his destiny had been pre-written, (no) thanks to books that discussed all the possible medical issues associated with having Down syndrome. We were emotionally-stressed and faced the uncertain future with much trepidation. We had questions - How developmentally delayed will he be? How much help will he need? What medical issues will he have to deal with? Will he live independently? Will he drive a car? Where will he work? How will he support himself? - and more questions that one wouldn't ordinarily ask when bringing a newborn home. On the other hand, bringing Elizabeth home was strangely stress-free.
When Elizabeth was born, we immediately noticed the difference in muscle tone that she had compared to Matthew when he was a baby. She could effortlessly pull her arms close to her body or stretch them out in front of her. She kicked like a bucking bronco. Because of Matthew's low muscle tone (hypotonia), which is a common condition among babies with Down syndrome, his arms and legs just mostly flopped to the sides of his body.
Matthew started to lift his head up for seconds at a time when he was almost 3 months old. And he did this when lying face downward (prone position) on Bill's chest. On the other hand, Elizabeth started showing similar head control a week after she was born.
Matthew first smiled when he was 2 months old, a few days before Christmas. It was the best Christmas gift that year. Elizabeth is just over 2 weeks old and she's already smiling in her sleep. Sometimes she laughs in her sleep too.
While we know we shouldn't compare, we can't help but notice these differences and think, So is this what it's like to have a child without Down syndrome or any other diagnosis that would cause developmental delays? The milestones seem to just happen at the blink of an eye. Doctor visits aren't as stressful. We had grown accustomed to the slower pace - the scenic route in our life's journey - with Matthew that it has become the norm for us. With Elizabeth, it seems like someone hit the fast forward button. It will take some time to get used to this new pace.