Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I really, really feel like I am failing Finn. It's funny, because I vascillate between thinking that his weekly PT is completely overrated (as in, how much good can it actually be doing?? Isn't he going to figure all these things out in his own time anyway??), and feeling like each PT session we miss (and there have been several over the last couple of months, due to illness, like today, for instance) is going to set him back a terrible amount.

But it's not just PT - it's me. I feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything with him that I should be doing to help him progress. I feel so overwhelmed with everything lately, and this failure on my part - well, it's doing quite a number on me.

You know, I started out deciding I was going to delay solids for him because he just didn't seem ready - he wasn't showing any signs of readiness. But now he's almost 9 months old and he's still not eating solids, and I wonder if I missed the boat on this one. I mean, he's growing just fine on breastmilk alone (he weights 16 pounds, which is a pound more than Annabelle weighed at a year old), but have I set him up for more challenges by delaying solids? Is it just going to be that much more difficult to get him to accept solids because I waited? It seems so. That pinto bean incident was a fluke. He really doesn't like solids and spits everything out. Then I read other people's blogs about their babies - typical and with Ds - who are his age or younger, who are eating a huge variety of real, actual food.

Then there's signing. Finn doesn't know a single sign. Should he at this age? I don't even know. My other kids are learning plenty of signs from the Signing Time dvd's, but I haven't even attempted to teach Finn any signs. So another failure.

Then there is all the work I should be doing with him every single day to help him develop his gross and fine motor skills. And I'm failing there too.

And I know that when he gets to be 1, 2, 3, 5+ years old, and has delays - even if they are typical delays for a child with Ds - I am going to feel like shit because I am failing him.


Wendy P said...

Oh honey, you're not failing him! I'm too worn out today to come up with words of wisdom, so I'll just tell you a bit of our experience.

For us, beginning solids was the perfect time to really start with signing. So, it looks like you're at the perfect time right now - no missed boats, at all.

I think Jackson (my "typical" kid) did his first sign at around 8 months. Kira did her first sign at around 10 months. Again, sounds like you're just hitting the right time (based on my random, unscientific, and completely subjective timeline). All boats still in the harbor.

Kira has always had all of her therapies once a month. And I swear to you that the majority of MY doing her therapy work with her has occured in the week prior to a therapy appointment and frequently just in the couple of days before.

Have your kids use the signs they're learning around Finn during the day - he'll get it.

And cut yourself some slack! Dang girl your life is full to bursting on perfect days - right now, you need to give yourself a break. Breathe.

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

Oh Lisa, it's such a tough, overwhelming road, especially with all the therapy. I have learned with Kennedy, that if we were worn out, it is definitely ok to take a week off from therapy. And we've done it. A few times. Finnian is not going to suffer from a few missed sessions...

I used to buy Kennedy ONLY developmental toys. Her play was also therapy to improve some motor skill... gross, fine or speech. I finally realized above everything else, she is a little girl FIRST and she grew a love for dolls called Groovy Girls. They don't talk or light up or claim to teach any important skill, but you know? She's learned more from those silly dolls than any developmental toy she owns. She learned all her action verbs (run jump sit fly sleep etc) by interactive play, she's learned the difference between boys and girls and she's learned to take their clothes off (GRR). I didn't TRY to make them into a learning experience for her, they just turned into one.

I say, when the weather warms up (unless it already IS warm there) take a day, skip therapy and go to the park! You both will benefit from the fresh air and time spent together. Keep on keeping on. You're doing a fabulous job!

Karly said...

I want to say that Kailey didn't sign until around 10 months or so as well...and then it was "milk." If you made the "milk" sign every time you went to nurse Finn, I am sure he would pick it up quickly. Heck, we taught Kailey more with the help of a little ice cream...everyday situations work great and having your kids signing around Finn is great.

We did solids around 5.5 months and some of it was because we were worried about sensory issues...a lot of it was because we were never able to nurse, so it wasn't a big deal if she missed out on some formula, in our mind. But trust me, my kid isn't some stellar eater. She has just never been motivated by food and maybe Finn just isn't either. I wouldn't stress about it too much. BFing is providing him with a great advantage in nutrition, muscle tone in his mouth and improved immunity.

We all question ourselves. You know I wrote about it recently. Some days are harder than others. We just do the best we can. {hugs}

Karly said...

I missed some quotes...we taught Kailey the "more" sign with the help of some ice cream. ;)

Jen said...

Yeah, like Wendy said. Cut yourself some slack.

I never do exercises with Evan. Never have. He has therapists for that, and we just provide him with a supportive environment and treat him like his brothers. Who has time for that? Not me, and certainly not you!

He's still young Lisa. Don't beat yourself up about the signs. Just do a few on a regular basis, and he'll pick them up. Cal doesn't know any yet either, and he's 13 months. With NO Ds. And put those siblings to work...encourage THEM to teach him signs. Kids love that kind of stuff.

As far as solids, if he's still refusing them, that is a perfect way to get a ST involved now. (I can't remember if you have one or not yet).

Finn will get there. Just love him the best way you know how. It's obvious to all of us that you do. You're doing an awesome job.

Tara Marie said...

Lisa, you are not failing Finn at all....you love him with all your heart and soul, and never feel like you are failing him.

I don't know if this will help, but please don't fret over missing a PT because something in life made it impossible to do PT at that time. I opted out of EI, so my daughter never had any sessions. As for the signing.....it will come, and if Finn is like my daughter, the signs will just be a temporary bridge till the words start coming. I do know so many children who picked up most of their signs from 'Signing Times'.....so I'd play the videos from time to time for him to watch.

Hugs to you my dear....you are doing wondreful by Finnian.

Liz said...


Read your post as if you were reading it on any other blog. Your concerns are founded in his dS but are typical worries of ANY mom.

Teagan never took to signing. No interest. Zach has caught onto it and we don't even do it consistently. Every child is different.

Teagan started solids at 6 months and needed everything pureed and pretty darn smooth and didn't like to be messy and... but Zach loved to experience his food and mash it up and smoosh it. Heck, even his birthday cake was more about poking his finger into the polka dots than trying to eat any of it.

Normal concerns. You aren't failing. You are succeeding because you are having the same worries and fears and concerns that ANY mom would have over ANY baby.

Kristin said...

Only 2 words of advice...

Pace yourself

I am a mom of a special needs child too and I've had to learn to pace myself and not be so hard on myself.

Hugs to you!

Laurie said...

oh lisa. i SO know this feeling. in fact, just this morning i was talking to my mom on the phone and used that exact word. i told her that i felt like i was a complete and utter "failure" lately. it's a very difficult feeling, for sure.
please know that you are doing SO well! and try not to be so hard on yourself.
hugs hugs hugs to you, my friend.
love you!

Ali Rae said...

Hi, I am sadly not a mother but I work with children with different abilities in a residential placement and wanted to say that I've seen kids get massive therapy... and I've seen kids get massive love from their families. While therapy is important, I would always recommend the latter.

PS. I love your honesty. You also have such a capturing writing style, thank you for sharing it.

Lovin Mama said...

((hugs)) Goldie has reached many of the milestones Finn is working towards and I remember feeling like the pressure was on me to help her reach them. But, now that I can look back, I see that Goldie is responsible for her own success. I also know she has learned more from her sisters than any therapist!

As for signing,its tough for me to see kids that have a ton of signs. I started signing when she was 7 months. I was very consistent with it, we all were. We also watch the ST videos. Her first sign did not come until she was 19 months. That was a loooong 12 months. Now she has 2 signs that she uses consistently. I went into this thinking *my* kid would be the signing genius. I've once again been humbled by DS. So, try not to "what if" yourself over the solids and signing, you're doing the best you can. more ((hugs))

Tausha said...

I have a co-worker who's son is 14 with DS and she said that she thinks her son would of progressed the same with or without his PT. I remember crying to my Mom about this and she said Tausha...Sam is going to develope how Sam is going to develope, I don't think doing PT with him every day, every second of the day is going to make him progress faster or better. He is who he is and he will do it in his own time. There are many days I just play with him like I would any other baby and in doing that I pretty much am doing PT with him. If he is sick or has had a shot, I just let him vegge. I figure if I stress myself out then it will stress him out and won't help either of us. These kids don't need to be (and I hate to say this as I don't care for the President right now) but don't need to be the President of the USA, they just need to be happy and do the best they can and we already have half of that beat as they are happy. So take a deep breath and know you are doing the best you can and Finn will come along the way he should in his own time.

JaybirdNWA said...

Lisa, I'm sorry that you feel like a failure as I'll bet you are benefitting him more than you realize. I hear you about the food and therapy and signing, etc. It can all be so overwhelming. And I'm sure reading various blogs doesn't help as we are all prone to compare which I hate when I catch myself doing that. The truth is that each child is so vastly different and will reach milestones at different times. For us, signing is not as important for us as is other things are. Learning to eat solids was very important to us as we kept introducting them even when John didn't show much interest. It's almost like we had to help him develop a taste for it. Teaching him this was somewhat inconvenient for us, but we were very persistent and committed to getting him to the point where he would take solids. I would encourage you to talk with your Pediatrician about these concerns. And if you do not have one, it is important to find one that you trust not only with good medical care but also as a team member for you to give advice. It is sometimes difficult to know how to raise a child with special needs and it helps to have several team members who are all on the same page. There is a lot of information on the internet - some good, some not so good. No one is going to understand your son and how to propel him to the next level like you and your team of healthcare providers.

Following Him said...


Also some kids just take their time. Consider that Finn is just taking his. He is healthy and happy. That is what matters!!!!


heather said...

I think any mom can relate to your feelings. I remember feeling that exact same way about therapy. I even enrolled Morgan in private physical therapy because I felt the EI wasn't enough. I agree with Tausha's friend--looking back I wouldn't do any therapy. She walked when she was ready and her gross motor skills are great and I don't think it is because of any therapy I did. I just think as mom's we want to feel like we are always doing the most we can to help our child reach their fullest potential and at this age it seems like therapy is the answer. I think reading, singing, and loving is the best kind of therapy! I am not sure how old Morgan was when she did her first sign. I am thinking it was around 1 year old. And we didn't start signing until she was around 10 monhts. I had someone give me great advice about signing and that was to do it hand over hand, for example when it is time for Finn's bath take his hands and do the sign 'bath' on his tummy with his hands for him. Or when he wants more of something take his hands and help him do the sign for 'more'. Morgan picked up on sign language quickly and loved it! We don't do any sign anymore but she still remembers them which amazes me. It's fun to see how their signs evolve from baby talk signs to the real signs (Morgan's first sign for 'more' was one finger pointing into her other palm because that was how she interpreted the sign. So cute!) I think guilt is extremely common as a parent of a child with special needs. We feel like their success is ours but also that means their failures are ours, too. I have really struggled with that and potty training. I waited until last month to start potty training Morgan and felt like I had failed her in waiting way TOO long. She is doing great now but it didn't come without a lot of guilt and sadness on my part. You are such a great mom and Finn is so lucky to have you! (Sorry once again...a novel from me)

starrlife said...

Ditto to all of the wise things others have said- I don't have much more really. I'm kind of leaning to maybe you are overfocusing on the DS part of Finn and should just enjoy your baby.

Jodi said...

Jason still doesn't sign back, but I started with just one sign over and over for "milk" because that's one I can remember to do consistently. ...and I agree with everyone else who said go easy on yourself. We'll miss you at book club!

Chrystal said...

Keep doing what you're doing. I think you're fantastic and I feel like I should be doing so much more because of you!

The Beers Family said...

Oh Lisa - I know how you feel - but you are not failing him. I wonder the same thing about the OT and PT and "speech" therapy that Alex has had over the past 9 months - eventually he will get there on his own - are they really making a difference? I figure he will do things when he is ready and thats that but I cant bring myself to have them stop coming either. We started signing with Alex at 8 months or so and he started responding at about 12 months old (he was 6 weeks premature) so I think its all about constantly repeating it - he does "more" and "all done" and he does "help" once in a while. Keep repeating - he will get it eventually - I was ready to give up when Alex FINALLY signed back.

Larry said...

Not that it will make you feel any better but I feel this way daily with my two kids and sometimes awake at night in panic attacks over everything I have failed to do for them/with them etc. Was I around enough those first formative years since I went back to work? Why can't I recall certain things about the first months? Was that nanny good to them?? I think it is being a mother period but of course you feel more pressure to do things with/for Finn because of your worries about what the future holds...let the panic subside and know that the most important thing for him is your constant love and wonderful family life you provide for him...and I agree with the other posts - put those other 5 kids to work for you to teach FInn his signs, get him to try solids etc. :) Lisa

momlakes said...

Oh, Lisa, I just blogged about this very thing! I feel like I'm failing my little guy, too and he's only 8 weeks! I just discovered your blog and I can so relate. We just had our sixth and he has Ds, too. I've just decided to enjoy our guy (easier said than done :).

Michelle said...

Kayla is almost 6 yrs old and there are times I still feel like I'm failing her; I think as parents we always feel that we could/should always be doing more and it never stops. I felt guilty a lot of times when Kayla was an infant...not doing enough oral motor, speech etc...and now in school I feel like I don't do enough with her when she's at home because she's at school all day and I don't want to "push" her when she gets home after a full day of school. I feel like I've failed her because she's having trouble tracing and writing letters. You're not alone in your feelings...but we have to realize there is only so much we can do as parents, and we have to also allow time to just "be"...don't be so hard on yourself.

doulamom said...

dude. "Missed the boat"?!? No you haven't missed the boat.. He won't only nurse forever... ;) He'll eat solids later.. My Ped of all people... told me that BM is just fine til probably 18 months.