Rowenna had her first ophthalmology appointment today.
There is a strange feeling that goes along with parenting a child with Down syndrome. It’s sort of this “waiting for the other shoe to drop” thing. There are a lot of health concerns that can come with this extra little chromosome. There’s really no way to know which of these things, if any, will affect your child.
Right now, Rowenna is healthy. Robustly healthy. She’s packing on the pounds, growing inch by inch, and acquiring new skills. She’s doing so well in one skill area that her speech therapist and I consulted this week about whether or not to continue speech services. (If we do decide to stop speech therapy for now we can begin them again later if needed.)
But to be honest, whenever we walk into a doctor’s office, I pause a little and my heart skips a beat. Will this be the visit we’re told there’s something new to worry about? Will we find out Rowenna isn’t doing as well as we thought? In so many ways I feel like my mommy intuition is constantly being questioned and that can be a rough thing to deal with. I think a lot of it has to do with how we got her diagnosis in the first place – after admiring and loving on my baby without realizing anything was going on. I have a lot of lingering guilt that my intuition didn’t tell me something was happening before that pediatrician walked in and shook me to my core.
Anyways, one of the benefits of having a child with Down syndrome today (versus 20 or 30 years ago) is that the various health concerns are well-understood and a series of screenings are recommended to catch conditions early so they can be treated. One of these is a vision screen. (Rowenna has aced her other screenings – chiefly, no hearing or thyroid concerns.)
We were pretty confident that Rowenna can see very well. You can stand silently across the room from her and she’ll lock eyes with you and respond to your smile. She is also fond of examining things up close. I had very few worries going into this appointment.
Turns out Rowenna’s vision is great! Again, I need to sing the praises of a doctor. How lucky we have been! Her ophthalmologist is amazing. He is so gentle and kind and has an excellent grasp on the vision concerns associated with Down syndrome. He praised Rowenna’s big blue eyes and cheerful demeanor as he ran through a series of tests. She complied without a fuss and showered him with her best smiles and sweetest babbling. He even patiently answered my many, many questions about how he knows for sure that she can see. (I have absolutely horrible eyesight and am totally paranoid of passing this down.)
And so with gigantic, dilated pupils I brought Rowenna home, happy to hear that there is one less thing to worry about right now. She enjoyed her first taste of chicken (Earth’s Best Sweet Potato and Chicken Dinner) and came down with a rather delightful case of The Sillies. This is what we call her new-found love of blowing raspberries and a desire to crawl out of her high chair during meal times.
It’s sort of hard to feed a baby when she has decided to no longer sit upright.
And with that, I’d like to offer up a little prayer for the current political climate in my state. We’ve come to a stalemate, a place that lacks facts and reason. I pray for a peaceful and just conclusion to these events in my state, and for those just now brewing on the federal level:
Oh Thou compassionate Lord, Thou Who art generous and able…Give light to our eyes, hearing to our ears, and understanding and love to our hearts.