5 Things I've learned Since Having A Child With Down Syndrome



1. My life does not go as I plan. I used to think that the plan I had for my life was really good, and because it was good, it wouldn't change. Little did I know that there was a different plan, one that would turn the first plan on its head. I've learned that the unknown can be really scary, and who wants to plan for the unknown if it's scary? Turns out the unknown was actually a gift. A gift I really love.

2. I can have more children. After I had Elias, I was devastated by the thought of not being able to have more children. I assumed that I wouldn't be able to care for my son if I had more. I remember a sweet lady telling me that the best thing I could do for Elias was to have more children. She was right, he thrives with his siblings. He needs them, but they also need him.

3. My marriage doesn't have to fail. Some people wonder what it is like to have a child with Down syndrome and have a healthy marriage. "Won't your child take away the extra time you need to put into your spouse? Marriage is hard enough, how will we survive with a special needs child?" Although there have been more stresses on our marriage since having Elias, he has not been a burden, but has drawn us closer together. In times of weakness we have learned to lean on each other and lift each other up. Our marriage has been tested and become stronger, and we have never laughed harder.

4. I have learned to love others in a deeper way. I now notice people I would have looked away from. I have learned to love and value others with special needs instead of feel intimidated or nervous around them. 

5. I've learned (and am still learning) to find contentment when life seems hard. This one I will learn until the day I die. When I notice that I can't do the things that other families can do, I often have to work through self-pity and jealousy. When we've been trying to reach a goal for Elias and it seems like it will take years for him to reach it, I can get frustrated. It is easy to be content when life is going my way. But to be content when my heart feels broken, when comparison robs me of joy, and when self pity sucks the life out of me, that is when I have to fight for contentment. I have learned to trust God in a way I never knew. It is a common scene to find me crying out to God asking him to help me be content, because I can't find it on my own.

I have experienced so much joy in the last six years, but it hasn't come without a struggle.  These are just a few things that I have learned. If you are on the beginning of your journey of having a child with Down syndrome, you probably have a lot of questions. Feel free to email me and I will try to share my answer with you (and others)!

With Love,


Wild Days

How is it that life can feel so sweet one moment, then the next I find myself frustrated and will snap at the next person who whines, cries, or asks me a question? Some days I feel like I have multiple personalities. 

I'm looking back at pictures from the last few weeks and thanking God for all he has given me. Sometimes I take a picture and think, "Oh what a cute face!" or, "Wow, I could just eat your chunky baby thighs", or "How did I marry such a good-looking man?"...but it isn't until later (usually when my kids are sleeping and I have time to think) that I notice that these faces are so much more. These pictures that bring back memories and document special moments are actually reminders of what I've been given. Many of the pictures I take are in the middle of a busy day, or when I am struggling to be content. I don't take the picture to make my life look different or better than it actually is, but I take it because it's a practical way to notice what's in front of me. A lot of gifts. A lot of grace. A lot I don't deserve.

So whether today is easier or more difficult than usual, I still have so much to be thankful for. So many beautiful moments are hidden in these wild days.

Hidden Contentment

Ideas spilled out of my head onto paper. The nature walks, the science experiments, cooking lessons, reading and writing practice. I planned the weeks out carefully hoping I could make our summer full.

After a week of plans that I thought were simple, I realized that it wasn't going to work. I simplified even more. That didn't work either. 

I began to struggle. I knew that many of the things we could not do were because Elias was not interested. Or it was a safety issue. When a nature walk turns into me running after Elias to save his life (twice) from a busy street, with a three month old baby strapped to my chest, I crossed nature walks of my list.

This summer was hard, but really good. I could see the discontentment in my life as I cried over the things I wanted to accomplish with my kids. I battled jeolousy over other families that can do things that I cannot. I would catch myself mumbling under my breath all my irritations with the woman who would walk by my house with all of her well behaved children that never ran from her. It seemed like she was walking by my house anytime I walked out into the front yard, like she wanted to rub it in my face...I can go on walks and my children stay on the sidewalk!

This summer I changed. As I sat in the backyard watching my tan children play in the blow up pool (where Elias can't run from me.), I thanked God for reminding me that this season is good. The days that seem unbearable, where all I feel like I'm doing is keeping my children alive, those days are good. 

I thought about how I looked content to people on the outside looking in. The lady who goes on walks with all her children probably thinks I'm a very content mother as I smile, wave, and give her a happy hello. But she has no idea that my heart does not match my warm smile. Really I want to squirt her with my hose and throw water balloons at her.

I don't remember what day it was, but I'm sure I was sipping on iced coffee, (my survival drink of choice) when I realized I needed to change. I remember feeling broken, but also free. God was faithful to remind me that my life is rich. I may feel like I am struggling most days, or at least part of the day, but it's a good life that I've been given. It may look different from others, but that doesn't mean it's less of a life. It doesn't mean that these days are less valuable. 

This summer looked very different then what I had planned. Most of the days ended with me in tears as I battled the struggle in my heart. But it is helpful to know, no matter what the struggle, I can ask God to help me be content. There may be days I look like a mess on the outside, but there can be contentment hidden deep inside my soul.

© 2014 Natalie Falls