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About "Departing Holland"

My son with a disability was five at the time I wrote this piece, so I had a few years under my belt. Let me share a bit more about my journey.

Before Holland...


Before the birth of my second son I was enjoying being the mother of my first son. He was handsome and adorable, of course. One of my co-worker suggested I contact the modeling agency she used with her son. After consideration, I decided I did not want to worry about him getting a bump or bruise right before a photo shoot and stop him from doing little boy stuff, so I let that go. People would remark how smart he was, asking things like "Does he have a photographic memory?" I would just say "he's very bright." When we went to meet our new pediatrician after a move and my son was two years old the pediatrician asked, "What do you read to him, the dictionary?" I said, "He likes books." I knew he was smart, but I didn't want a label. We were having a great time in Italy.

To Holland...



I thought life was going along great. I had been married for over ten years, had a beautiful son and another on the way. I had stopped working with our recent move to Virginia and was enjoying being a stay at home mom. Thirty weeks into my pregnancy we left for a trip to Philadelphia for a conference that my husband attended and a last chance to visit family in Delaware before the new baby arrived. The baby, however, came the following week via an emergency c-section. The next day while speaking with a doctor about how the baby was doing, he mentioned that some of the doctors thought our new son may have Down syndrome and some blood had been drawn for testing. A week later it was confirmed our son has Down syndrome. We left for Philadelphia, but we were detoured to Holland.

In Holland...

The month after my son with Down syndrome was born was very difficult. He was in the NICU and we juggled our other son and many details that we had not planned on when we left for a week, but wound up being gone for five weeks. As the diagnosis of Down syndrome took root, my husband and I processed it in such different ways. I was full of "what ifs" and my husband told me that we don't know the answers to those questions for our first son either. I knew he was right and finally started exploring this new place. I learned quite a lot from other people who were so generous with their experience, knowledge, and time, and eventually got more comfortable in Holland.

Departing Holland...

Being comfortable can be a good thing, but when it keeps us from doing other things, then maybe it's not so good.

Where has your journey taken you? I invite you to depart daily from what you think you know and be willing to take detours and explore.


The Author


Deborah Leigh Norman and her son at a chalk art contest with a windmill and tulips of Holland in the background.