Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

You will love your retarded baby (and we don’t say retarded anymore)

As a child, I thought that people’s lives happened on purpose. That you found love when you’d planned to, and that babies came when you decided that you were ready for them.

At some point along the way, I realized that life happens accidentally while you’re still figuring out what it is that you don’t want, because that’s the step that comes before knowing what you do.

My life happening, while it was nothing close to what I had planned for it to be, is but one of the unexpected epiphanies I’ve had as a grownup. Another is that old people aren’t really old. That old is relative.

That life is relative.

That I’d love my baby, no matter what. Even if he’s “retarded.”

Let me go back a bit.

Years ago, I had a conversation with my friend Sara. I told her that if I found out during pregnancy that my baby was retarded, that I’d not have it.  I told her that I didn’t think I would love a retarded child as much as a “normal” one.

Shame on me.

Fast forward.
I did not have a successful pregnancy until the age of 40 and decided (for other reasons that I won’t get into here) that I should have an amniocentesis. When the doctor called me to let me know of the results, he said that my baby was fine, healthy, and that all of the tests came back within the normal range. Hardly able to believe my ears, still convinced that something was horribly wrong, the question that spewed out of my mouth was “So he’s not retarded? He’s really okay?”

I’m not sure that my pregnancy was real to me then. That he was, either.

I don’t think that I grasped how much I loved my unborn baby, and wanted him, until a later exam revealed that I had an incompetent cervix, and that simply walking Chief around the block could cause my son to die inside of me.

It was then, before Tucker was even born, that I realized how perfectly perfect he already was, and would be, if he’d simply Be. Be born. Be okay.



Please God, let him live.

I begged God to forgive me for having a risky amniocentesis test. I begged Him to let my son be born, and to be okay. To live.

Tucker was born, and he was born perfectly healthy and normal. His Apgar scores were 9 and 10. He was not too small, and there were no concerns.

It wasn’t until much later that we realized that he was delayed. That he was what I may have once referred to as “retarded.”

I was wrong about the word retarded, too. While it may have originated in meaning delayed, or apply to somebody who learns more slowly, it morphed into a joke, and an ugly name. There are other words like this, such as “gay” but I’m not going to go into all of them, because surely, even the most tenderhearted of us all are still allowed to say the word “stupid” and not actually mean anything by it other than that we were, during a particular incidence, acting without much common sense.

My son Tucker is developmentally delayed.

And I love him. Fiercely and bigger than any love I’ve ever known.

Which is, I expect, the very most unexpected part of being a grown up. Of being a parent.


I have perception now, as a grownup and as a mom, that I previously would never have even had the ability to wish for, it was so foreign to me.

boy is more than a test numberToday, in an addendum IEP meeting to assess Tucker’s needs for occupational therapy (OT) for fine motor skills, I learned that the tests that they gave him concluded that he falls in the 1% when it comes to cutting, drawing, and writing. While I know that it’s just a number, and that testing kids like mine is ridiculous at best, seeing that number on paper hurt.

But not for the reasons I may have thought, years ago.

Seeing that number hurt me for HIM. I don’t want him to ever see a number on a piece of paper and assume anything about himself. I don’t want him to see a number on a piece of paper and give up.

I want him to grow up knowing that he is himself. That being himself is perfect, and enough, and that while there are lessons to be learned, and empathy and wonder to be found, that whatever’s going on with his mouth, his hands, and his head, that he’s beyond perfect and lovable. Right now. Forever.

whats that number

I want him to know that his imports are the most important of all. That he’s the future. That I am the lucky one. That I thank him for being exactly who he is today, and exactly who he will become, no matter who that guy is.

And that whether he can draw a fucking house, or cut along the lines, that he has the power to change the world.

That he changed mine, before he was even here.

Happy Tucker2

This was a Finish the Sentence Friday Post.  The sentence is “The most unexpected part of being a grownup is…” brought to you by today’s co-host, the lovely Sarah Beach from Left Brain Buddha. Show her some love.

Your hosts:
Janine: Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
Kate: Can I get another bottle of whine?
Stephanie: Mommy, for Real
me: finding ninee

  • Janine Huldie - Kristi, Tucker will totally know that he is loved and the perfect Tucker, because not a day will go by that you will not let him not know that. Seriously, my friend you are wonderful mother and know this from the bottom of my heart. Love you and sending hugs tonight!! 🙂February 27, 2014 – 10:07 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Janine. and I know exactly what you meant about the perfect (imperfect because we all are) Tucker. Love you huge, too. And I appreciate the hugs, much, and a lot.March 1, 2014 – 12:12 amReplyCancel

  • Considerer - Also, FIRST, but I don’t even care, because your WORDS.

    Ahhhhh such mojo you gots *twinkles* 😀 <3February 27, 2014 – 10:08 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I love that you use the word “twinkles.”

      the end.March 1, 2014 – 12:29 amReplyCancel

      • Considerer - Cos your writing makes me feel *twinkly* 😀

        And I was FIRST, okay, but because I posted up there in the FB comments bit BEFORE JANINE WAS HERE (yes, SantyKid, that’s a direct challenge) and then came down here to post. So it counts. *folds arms*March 1, 2014 – 1:20 amReplyCancel

  • Dana - Tucker should never know that number, and I’m sure you’ll make sure he doesn’t. Because a number doesn’t define who he is. I was talking to a friend today about her daughter, who just had extensive testing to determine whether she had ADHD. One test was an IQ test, and my friend will never tell her daughter that number. She doesn’t want her to feel like she can’t live up to it, or to feel like she is limited by it. Whether it’s low or high, it’s not who she is. Because as you said, every kid has the power to change the world.February 27, 2014 – 10:16 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Dana, you’re right – he will never know that number. Unless, of course, he ends up rocking drawing a house and cutting with scissors, in which case, we can joke about it later. Or not. I think it’s really smart that your friend isn’t telling her daughter her IQ test number – because no matter what it is, it’s just not worth knowing.March 1, 2014 – 10:57 amReplyCancel

  • Kelly L McKenzie - Once again the stark reminder to me: You are blessed to have Tucker and that little chappy is so very lucky to have you.February 27, 2014 – 10:31 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - Numbers mean nothing. Remember, old people are not really old? Kristi, you’re outdoing yourself with every next post I read. I highlighted the opening sentence thinking this was such a brilliant observation that I’d want to come back to in my comment, but oh wow, there was just so much in this post and it gripped me so tightly that I finished reading it gasping for air. Numbers are never a competent way to summarize a person. None of us should be measured against our surroundings but only against ourselves.I know it’s so hard to see that number, but Tucker made progress with his name, he says stuff like what he said this week about his legs being shaky (I can’t remember the exact words he used, just admiring him for using such a perfect term).

    This post should be in the dictionary under “motherly love”.February 27, 2014 – 10:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw! Thank you, Katia!! Yeah, he said his feet were slow after he was so sick earlier in the week. It was beyond adorable.
      I love that you said none of us should be measured against our surroundings but only against ourselves. I wish I’d written that sentence in this post. You’re brilliant and wonderful. 😀March 1, 2014 – 10:59 amReplyCancel

  • Kerith Stull - Wow. Again.. your post blew me away. Such honesty. I don’t think I can even think about how I used that “R-Word” before, let alone write about it…and publicly. Kudos. And for the record, I truly hate numbers. Can someone really tell me my daughter has an IQ of 42 when she can read and write and do at least simple math? Does a number reflect her energy and unwavering positive spirit. Does a percentage on a doctor’s chart show me how truly beautiful she is? (inside and out) F-that. (And I NEVER use that F word lightly, if ever.) Thank you for opening up and pouring out your heart to us. You simply rock, my friend.February 27, 2014 – 10:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Wow, Kerith, I take this as a huge compliment from you – thank you. You’re so right that a number has nothing to do with Brielle’s unique perfection, how much she does do, and who she is. Here’s to our kids being exactly who they are and who they will become regardless and in spite of any dumb meaningless numbers!March 1, 2014 – 11:02 amReplyCancel

  • Natalie D - Oh man. Crying over this. The love is so apparent, so fierce, and so beautiful. I loved reading this.February 27, 2014 – 10:47 pmReplyCancel

  • donofalltrades - Tucker strikes me as the type of kid I would enjoy having a cold beer with someday. I look forward to that. His mom is pretty kickass too.February 27, 2014 – 10:53 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yes, yes, he will be fun to have a beer with one day and I agree that his mom is kickass. 😀March 1, 2014 – 11:08 amReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Well, this hurt to read. But in a good way of understanding that someone else understands.February 27, 2014 – 11:15 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks for getting it, Sarah. I’m sorry that it hurt to read…it hurt a bit to write, too, but I’m glad that I did.March 1, 2014 – 11:09 amReplyCancel

  • Mike - If Tucker ever does see a 1% on a piece of paper or a computer screen. Let it be known that he is in the elite 1% category of the best of the best. That none of us possess what that young man does for us to learn from. To have an uninhibited smile of complete joy that lifts all of us up. To talk with a few hitches for now with complete abandon until he goes flying past us all to someday speak of his journey. When he’s holding hands with that pretty girl on that date as his mom watches through the window. After you and Don are done with your beer we’ll go scarf on Mac N Cheese, Tucker. Love ya little buddy 🙂February 27, 2014 – 11:18 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw, thanks, Mike. Thanks for getting it and for appreciating Tucker’s amazing smile. It’s truly something wonderful. He says YES to mac n cheese and doesn’t want to wait to grow up to eat it – hope that’s okay!
      😀March 1, 2014 – 11:29 amReplyCancel

    • Mike - Very important! Ask Tucker if we’re going Kraft out of the box or or one of my otherworldly homemade recipes. Either way is fine with me…pick homemade, pick homemade, pick homemade…and can’t wait! 🙂March 1, 2014 – 12:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Gayla - Thanks for writing this Kristi…exactly how I feel too. :-). Thanks for writing it down….February 27, 2014 – 11:19 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank YOU Gayla. For getting it, for reading it, and for being awesome in general.March 1, 2014 – 11:30 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - Ahh…sister wife. Your words!!
    Read each one twice.
    I even have a wet tissue in my hand, tucked under my palm as I type.February 27, 2014 – 11:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sorry about the wet tissue but good job on not just using your sleeve like I might have maybe.March 1, 2014 – 4:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - Oh wow. Really, hugely WOW.

    NO triggers, my dear friend, and almost no words. This is wonderful. Deeply, properly, joyfully so. February 28, 2014 – 3:07 amReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - You are a brave soul, Kristi and all I wish for you that your tucker gives you the joy as a mother desires!
    Amen!February 28, 2014 – 4:30 amReplyCancel

  • Kate Hall - Your last two sentences are exquisite. Love them! He is getting so big. The picture of him with the word bubble is so adorable. And isn’t it amazing and embarrassing the things we said/thought when we were younger or even older, but before we Knew. I had so many ignorant thoughts and stereotypes about others that I won’t even share because they’re so wrong. I still find myself weeding them out sometimes. February 28, 2014 – 5:50 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Great post Kristi, filled with so much love. It’s a blessing to love a child so much in the womb. I’ve known women who didn’t love until later. Or loved in the womb and not later. I loved Christopher from the second line. I was still naive at that point that my life would go according to plans just five years behind schedule. But it’s all good 😉February 28, 2014 – 6:46 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It really is a blessing to love a child so much while he’s still in the womb. For whatever reason, thinking I may lose him made the pregnancy (and the baby) real to me somehow. Thanks so much and yeah, I hear ya on being a bit later than expected!March 1, 2014 – 4:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Tarana - Reading this, I realise that we must be really careful about what we think and say, because you never know how life is going to turn out for you, and what challenges it has in store. I’m sure your son is perfect the way he is, and that’s all he needs to know.February 28, 2014 – 8:29 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks much. You’re so right that we need to be careful about what we think and say. Life has a way of proving us wrong when we are (like I was).March 1, 2014 – 4:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - So beautiful, Kristi! As a former teacher of special needs preschoolers, I have a love/hate relationship with those numbers. I realize that, on some level, they are necessary, but they should NEVER solely define a child (or any person). Isn’t there some quote that “life is what happens while you are making other plans?” I’ve heard something like that before. I think it’s true. I always wanted to be a mom, but I never pictured myself with three daughters. Life is not what I “planned” for it to be – it’s better! 🙂February 28, 2014 – 9:13 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Lisa, I so get what you mean about having a love/hate relationship with the numbers. On one hand, we need them (Tucker did qualify for OT after all of this) but on the other hand I don’t want to see that he’s at 1% for his age. Ugh. And yes to life being better than we’d planned! Cheers to that.March 1, 2014 – 4:49 pmReplyCancel

  • Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama - I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll start with how fucking awesome this is. So awesome it warrants the f-bomb on every level.

    YES, motherhood gives us perspective that we would never have otherwise. And, YES, our children change our lives the moment we pee on the stick and are hit with the realization that we’re responsible for nurturing another life. And then again when they come into this world and don’t immediately cry out and we willingly barter our own lives in exchange for that first piercing scream. Again when we hold them for the first time and see them in all their wrinkly perfection and know that no matter who they are or what they become, we will love them.

    Fuck the numbers, Kristi. Your son is so much more than a number. And he will know this because you will show him with your actions, your words, and your love.February 28, 2014 – 9:32 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yay for f-bombs and for saying Fuck the numbers, Nicole. Yes yes yes to seeing their wrinkly perfection and knowing we’ll love them no matter what. Always and forever and above all else.
      Thanks, sweets.March 1, 2014 – 4:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerri - Oh my friend. I was there. I sat in Boo’s neurologist office and asked if she was retarded. Before I knew that it wasn’t a punch line. Before I knew that I would one day have to take a stand against the word that could hurt. But a word that is still true. They are retarded–they are not stagnant. They are growing and learning but at a much slower pace. A pace that is for that horrible word, retarded. BUT NOT STOPPED. They are not just holding in place.

    They are loving and growing and changing the world. And one day when they are at prom we will say fuck the “r’ word.February 28, 2014 – 10:15 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kerri thanks for making me feel less dumb for asking if my kid was going to be retarded. You’re right – they’re NOT just holding in place and are loving and growing and changing the world. Here’s to saying fuck the “r” word at prom. With wine, of course.March 1, 2014 – 5:00 pmReplyCancel

  • Beth Teliho - GAH. you people are killin’ me with these beautiful, touching posts! Don’t misunderstand, I loved it. Every word. So incredibly true that they change us before they’re even here. That you love them so HARD before you see their face.

    I’ve had very naïve thoughts when I was younger, too. Awful ones. And motherhood kicked them in the ass. Thank god.February 28, 2014 – 10:38 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Beth,
      Cheers to motherhood kicking our dumbass thoughts to the curb and yeah, we really do love them so hard before even seeing their little baby faces.March 1, 2014 – 5:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Tiff - This is an honest and beautiful post, and I thank you for writing it.February 28, 2014 – 10:41 amReplyCancel

  • Michelle Liew - And Tucker is, above all things, perfect. Simply because he is he, Kristi.February 28, 2014 – 11:35 amReplyCancel

  • Sandy Ramsey - I know I’ve said it before but I will say it again, and probably again another day. Tucker is blessed to have you as his mama. Your are blessed to have him as your son. My heart is so full right now that I can’t even think of something intelligent to say so I will just tell you that I love this post and I think you are top of the flippin’ heap, my friend. Tbe very top. XXFebruary 28, 2014 – 1:51 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh Sandy what an amazing compliment that I cherish because it comes from you!! Thank you. And I agree that I am very blessed to have this amazing little boy as my son. So blessed. xx back at ya.March 1, 2014 – 5:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe - This post reminded me of something – a funny confession of sorts. I have a cousin who is developmentally delayed, and one day when I was a kid, I was playing downstairs while my Mom was upstairs with a neighbor. I was just starting up the stairway when I heard “My Chrissy is different, she’s ‘special’.” To this day, I have no idea what the beginning of that conversation was, but the bottom dropped out of my world! As I knew my cousin to be “special,” I thought OMG! If really crazy people don’t know they’re crazy, maybe “special” people know they’re “special.” A very traumatic moment for me. I forget how I confirmed that I was “normal.” I probably asked my sister. This confusion was only compounded the day my Dad was mad at me for “acting like a second grader” … when I was in the second grade. Had to ask Mom about that one lol. He was mad at me for groaning about doing yard work at the time. 🙂February 28, 2014 – 2:07 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Chris, that’s so funny that you thought maybe you were “special” too in the way that crazy people don’t know they’re crazy! HA. Also that’s funny that your dad was annoyed with you for acting like a second grader when you were in the second grade! I still groan about doing yard work, by the way.March 1, 2014 – 5:18 pmReplyCancel

      • Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe - Lucky for me, I live in an apartment, so I don’t have a yard to have to work in. It’s also coming in VERY handy right now to have someone else do the snow removal! 😉March 1, 2014 – 5:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Perfection.February 28, 2014 – 2:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica - So beautiful, and full of so much love. I remember realizing how much I loved my son after the first ultrasound I had that actually looked like a baby. I just remember thinking, he’s perfect, and I am going to love him no matter what. But I’ve also realized that we have to work hard for them, and fight for them, in different ways. It doesn’t matter what number Tucker is now, numbers don’t show our potential (I tell that to my scale). I’m hoping he’s totally rocking the crayons and scissors after his OT. Good luck to you guys. PS: When did Tucker grow up so much? WOW, he’s so big, and handsome! And I love the Colorado shirt. 😉February 28, 2014 – 2:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Jessica,
      I know – he’s getting SO tall. Everybody always think he’s like two years older than he is because he’s so tall. And you’re right – we do need to work hard for them too and fight for them in different ways. I like the Colorado shirt, too!! 😀March 1, 2014 – 5:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - Another beautiful piece — love your last lines, especially about the f-ing house. My big dude has the worst handwriting ever and I’m sure he received similar numbers at some point. I recall one of his teachers saying that it didn’t matter much b/c by the time he reached high school, he’d be typing everything anyway. Guess what? She was right — it’s all keyboarding now. And my big dude still can’t draw a f-ing house. 🙂February 28, 2014 – 2:52 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Emily,
      You know, you’re right – it will be all keyboarding. I’m relieved to hear that big dude still has horrible handwriting knowing how well he’s doing socially and with everything else. I’d MUCH rather Tucker know how to talk to girls than draw a F-ing house!!!March 1, 2014 – 5:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Echo - Kristi, this piece is amazing. I don’t think I could have written this any better myself.

    You and I have such similar stories and I could feel your words in my heart as I read them!

    Thank you!February 28, 2014 – 3:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so much Echo. I really appreciate that you get it and that you shared your thoughts here!March 1, 2014 – 5:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Karen - sobbing, blows nose and wipes tears. Wow…once again I am beside myself. you have beautifully captured how we grow as women. We think we know it all and then God gives us a miracle and we begin fighting for and protecting that miracle with ever fiber of who we are. sniffles again…February 28, 2014 – 3:30 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - So true, Karen! Our little guys are such miracles. Sorry for the sniffles and sobbing. I was crying too, when I wrote it.March 1, 2014 – 8:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - This was a beautiful post! So much about becoming an adult is so different, and even though I KNOW that, I also know that in two years it’ll be different all over again when compared with my expectations now. And most of that is because I have a child. And that works with ANY child, I think 🙂February 28, 2014 – 3:37 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think you’re right that life looking differently from what we expected changes often, and with every child, Sarah.March 1, 2014 – 8:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Ryan Olexson - This was so beautiful! And so is tucker 🙂 I give you tons of mommy props for writing so honestly about your thoughts before you had him, I truly admire that because it takes guts. Life always seems to give us things to change the way we think and look at others. Perspective is powerful.—–> that is as deep as I will go today. lol Great post, really loved it 🙂 February 28, 2014 – 3:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Maggie Amada - Hey Kristi. I’ve been hiding under reams of paper for a few months, writing my book. I see Tucker has grown quite a bit in that time and that you have the same heart-warming perspective. You’re right that one of the most wonderful things about growing up is perspective, learning what is important and letting go of perfection. We have numbers and statistics thinking that there is a goal out there that fits and that we can measure ourselves and our children again.

    The truth is that there is no goal, no perfect post and no common ideal. We have to make it up and although it hurts at times, it is perhaps one of the greatest things in life to be able to redefine the ideal. I’ll see you around. ~Maggie February 28, 2014 – 4:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Susan Zutautas - I’m at a loss for words other than I think you’re one person I’ve met online that I’m so happy to have met. Your post today has touched my heart in somehow. February 28, 2014 – 5:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Yvonne - Kristi, sometimes I think we must have lived the same life. There’s so much you write about your past that is so similar to mine. I was sure that as an older mother, I would have every test in the book and wouldn’t have a baby with major disabilities. And then I got pregnant and like you, I knew I loved that baby from the start. I lost it, but when I became pregnant again and the doctor advised an amino I said no. Because I knew I’d love my baby whatever.

    And I so, so agree with you that Tucker does not need to know he is a number. Apart from anything, it’s so easy to start living up to (or down to) what people expect. You let him be who he is, and that’s who he needs to be.February 28, 2014 – 6:06 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - We do sound like we’ve lived such similar lives, Yvonne. Thanks for the encouragement that Tucker does not need to know he’s a number, has a number, or that numbers determine what happens with his education and therapy. He’s going to be who he is, whether it breaks my heart to see a crappy number or not. Thank you so so much!!!March 1, 2014 – 8:53 pmReplyCancel

  • [email protected] Menopausal Mother - I know I’ve said this a gazillion times before but I’ll say to again: Kristi, you are an INCREDIBLE mother. Tucker is a beautiful boy, and God put him in your arms because HE KNEW you were the perfect mother for him. I hope one day you can turn all of these incredible blog posts into a book for Tucker—your writing is full of love for your son and I think he would be thrilled to read these one day! <3February 28, 2014 – 6:14 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Marcia, that is such a huge compliment coming from you, thank you. Tucker is, indeed, a beautiful boy and while I doubt my mothering skills at times, I know he’s the perfect perfect boy for me. Thank you, for this, and maybe, one day, I will put them all in a book. At least he’ll have this blog?March 1, 2014 – 11:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha - Oh my gosh I love that last line that he can change the world because he has already. I love reading these posts about Tucker – you are a lucky mama and he is a lucky boy!February 28, 2014 – 7:05 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so much, Sarah!!! And I do believe he can change the world. It’s true, that he already has.March 1, 2014 – 11:24 pmReplyCancel

  • catherine gacad - tucker is lucky to have such an amazing mama!February 28, 2014 – 7:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Steck - Tucker is adorable! I especially love his Denver, Colorado shirt. You have a way, Kristi, of making things honest and real. You always share exactly what is in your heart and that is truly amazing and such a blessing. Just, Wow!!February 28, 2014 – 8:16 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Jennifer. I think he’s pretty adorable, too, and also love his Denver shirt 😀
      I try to share what’s in my heart. It’s not always all the way there but it tries to be and I really appreciate you seeing the effort, and well, I guess getting it.March 1, 2014 – 11:40 pmReplyCancel

  • K - Reading this and crying. In a good way. xoxoxoxoFebruary 28, 2014 – 9:16 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - XOXOOX still want your last one as an Our Land and you know how much I adore you. Yay to crying in a good way….March 1, 2014 – 11:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Ilene - Kristi, you blow me over and leave me breathless every time. And this time is no different. What you’ve taught me, taught all of us, through what you tell us about Tucker…I need to go hug my kids right now – and not worry so much about the drawing or cutting in straight lines.February 28, 2014 – 9:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Dude, what you have taught me is equally powerful – huge congrats on your new adventure and thank you thank you for getting and celebrating Tucker.March 2, 2014 – 12:07 amReplyCancel

  • Christopher Blair Maywhort - Hi Kristi. Yes, I’ve read a few of your blogs. Felt compelled to compliment you on this one. Here is some strong writing on a topic that I know must have been scary to put into words. Good job you! However…I have to laugh a little because of the ‘topic’ this was written under, ‘The most unexpected part of being a grown up is…’ Did you really think you wouldn’t be more perceptive today than when you (we) were young(er)? Silly grown up. Side note. I was watching a bit of ‘As Good As It Gets’ on TV today. Your blog reminded me of Helen Hunt’s character in the film. You know that scene where she writes Jack Nicholson’s character a 10 page thank you note after he helps her with her son? (That’s supposed to be a compliment, by the way. One of the best written parts for a female lead ever). Not sure why I went off on that tangent except I know how hard it is to write. Especially screenplays, having written 2 myself. Anyway, hang in there and for the record, your son doesn’t look retarded at all. P.S. Haters gonna hate that last comment but Kristi and I go back a little and I think she ‘gets’ it. At least she did 20 years ago. Until her perceptions changed. Take care yo.March 1, 2014 – 4:13 amReplyCancel

  • elizabeth - As a preschool teacher, I spend my days watching kids develop skills like drawing a house or cutting on a line. There are checklists and rubrics that help us talk to parents about their child’s development. While I see the importance of having some sort of standard, I don’t want parents to obsess over a number on a piece of paper. I believe in educating the whole child and I am always watching for students who are compassionate, patient, and friendly because they skills are more important for success in life than being able to draw a house by a certain age. I guide my teaching principles based on the Einstein quote, “Everyone’s a genius. But if you judge a fish based on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.” Children are the same way. A great artist may not excel in math. A fantastic athlete may not have the most patience in the classroom. And that’s okay. Because every single child has something wonderful to offer this world they just need an adult to believe in them and help them develop their talent.March 1, 2014 – 8:23 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - How much do I love you right now? A fucking lot. You rock, my friend,for getting this so much. Hellz to the yeah about standards meaning nothing and numbers on paper not really saying anything about the kid that they’re referring to. I love the quote “Everyone’s a genius. But if you judge a fish based on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.” Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for you. You are beyond amazing and I have never forgotten the post you wrote for us, and have never stopped being grateful for it, or for this.March 2, 2014 – 12:16 amReplyCancel

  • Shay - I love it, Kristi. People realize so many things when their lives don’t go as “planned,” and it can be so hard to relate that to others who simply don’t get it. “But RETARDED is the WORD,” they’ll insist. But you put it perfectly here when you said, “While it may have originated in meaning delayed, or apply to somebody who learns more slowly, it morphed into a joke, and an ugly name.” I think people who use words like this realize this, but they don’t want to make the effort to put that realization into practice. Hopefully if their lives turn out differently than they had originally planned, they’ll remember what posts like this have tried to teach them…and hopefully others will be as understanding and sweet about their mistakes as you are here.March 1, 2014 – 9:18 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Shay. I adore you. Retarded WAS, indeed, the word. Still is in some cases. My own MIL has told me that the retards are God’s chosen (and that the homos are going to hell so there’s that). Hopefully, all of our lives different than we’d imagined, and more enlightened and amazing than we’d ever have even dreamed of.March 2, 2014 – 12:28 amReplyCancel

  • Jen @ Real Life Parenting - Kristi, this is so beautiful. We all have thoughts about what our children will be. I know I did. And I struggled a bit at first when that was not my reality. As I came to terms with my thee difference, I realized that I hadn’t come to terms with the reality of him, but of ME. it was my own growth that needed to occur. I loved this so much. So, so much.March 1, 2014 – 9:41 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Jen, you’re so right that the difference lies within US and not them. That while they are “different,” it is us who becomes so, and should. Thank you my awesome pal.March 2, 2014 – 12:30 amReplyCancel

  • Cathy - We grownups are so silly, aren’t we? I remember when I was pregnant, praying to God that I wouldn’t have an ugly baby. The rest I assumed would be OK…ten fingers, ten toes, you know? I’d seen mothers doting over their “ugly” babies (pointed head, swollen eyes, flat nose)and always thought they knew their babies were ugly and just faked it, hoping the ugly would go away. When Stephanie was born, I remember thinking “She’s beautiful! She’s perfect!” That’s when I realized every mother sees her baby as perfectly beautiful, no matter what she looks like to the world.

    Thanks for sharing part of your soul with us. <3March 1, 2014 – 11:27 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OMG I can’t believe you brought up ugly babies and love you so much for doing so. I, too, remember wondering whether people realized their babies were ugly!!! Guess we both were given lessons in that ugly no longer exists as of course we have the most beautiful amazingly gorgeous babies on the planet, right??? I mean Tucker and Stephanie are really really good looking!!! That cannot just be me or us, or maybe and who cares!!! 😀March 2, 2014 – 12:34 amReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Smith Sprenger - So sorry I am a day late reading here. It’s a good thing I wore my waterproof mascara today. I don’t have any words to add that are more beautiful than yours. March 1, 2014 – 8:37 pmReplyCancel

  • lizzy - muddle-headed mamma - It’s not often that I get to the end of a blogpost and feel completely lost for words and have no idea what to write in the comment box, but this is exactly how I feel now. This post was absolutely beautiful. You are such a gifted, honest writer and God could not have sent Tucker to a better woman to be his mum. xxMarch 2, 2014 – 9:41 amReplyCancel

  • allison - sniff sniff – this made me teary. With both of our pregnancies my ob offered genetic testing, etc., and we refused them all. After much discussion we realized that even if we found out something wasn’t “right” we wouldn’t do anything different, so it didn’t matter. No matter what tests showed us we knew that our baby was OUR BABY and he was loved so much. xoMarch 2, 2014 – 10:36 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allison – agree that our babies are ours and loved hugely. Thanks so much.March 2, 2014 – 5:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Courtney Conover - “I don’t want him to ever see a number on a piece of paper and assume anything about himself. I don’t want him to see a number on a piece of paper and give up…That I am the lucky one.”

    THIS. Powerful.

    Kristi…I love you. I just love you.March 2, 2014 – 1:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Jess - Kristi, he is such a darling little boy. What a blessing! I remember many years ago thinking that I never could handle a baby with Downs. Then, after years of trying to have a baby and then losing multiple pregnancies, I changed my tune. Once I got pregnant, I decided to forgo those tests. No matter what, we were keeping the baby and we would love her no matter what. Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.March 2, 2014 – 2:53 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Jess,
      Thank you so much and I know what you mean. I can’t believe that years ago I thought I’d not be able to or want to deal with anything being “wrong” with my baby. Now I know that no matter who are kids are, they’re perfectly them, and loved completely by us.March 2, 2014 – 5:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life - This is so beautiful Kristi, and actually brought me to tears. It’s hard to fathom how much you will love them, until you feel them kick for the first time, or hold them in your arms. I get overwhelmed sometimes just thinking about it. I cry so hard when I see something happen to a child in the news, and once my kids said “why are you crying, you don’t even know that person?” Its hard to explain to them that you’re crying for the anguish another mother or father is feeling, because you can’t imagine anything worse. We just love so much, no matter what. Nothing could change that.March 2, 2014 – 3:01 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Michelle,
      I can’t handle hearing about anything happening to kids at all either. I can’t deal with it on the news, on facebook, or anywhere. I feel the same anguish over it and yeah, I suppose it’s impossible to know how much we’ll love our kids before actually becoming parents. Thanks much.March 2, 2014 – 5:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Angela McKeown @Momopolize - Oh my gosh Kristi! This post is amazing! Is THIS what you are reading at LTYM?? I’m guessing it’s not, but I can visualize you on stage saying every word of this with so much emotion. You rock, my dear!!March 2, 2014 – 11:00 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Angela, no, this is not what I’m reading as I just wrote it Thursday but I almost wish it was what I was reading!!! Maybe next year?? You rock, right back, friend.March 2, 2014 – 11:21 pmReplyCancel

  • Louise - I love how you wrote this – the progression from before having a child – and the expectations of “perfect” life – to having Tucker and life adapting and loving him fiercely and – so naturally – wanting everything for him. While obviously no life is every “perfect” I know that yours comes with more challenge than you could have anticipated. And – looking back – it’s so easy to make absolute decisions when you aren’t actually faced with them. So don’t judge your former self too harshly.

    We have friends who over the past few months have had their son (a bit over a year now) run through a myriad of tests to determine if there is a developmental delay. They haven’t figured out what it is yet and I can’t imagine the stress. Sometimes when I read your blog – and this post is a great example – I think it will help me when I next see them so I’ll be able to listen well and possibly offer something (like your blog) to the conversation.March 3, 2014 – 12:13 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw, thanks so much, Louise. I love love love that you share it with your friends. Please let them know that if they want to talk, I’d be happy to speak on the phone as well. Sometimes, it helps just to talk to somebody who’s been through it. I’ve spoken to a few moms and even met a couple in person which is awesome.
      Thanks for reminding me to not pass too much judgement on my former self. It’s hard sometimes, though, ya know?March 3, 2014 – 7:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Julie Chenell DeNeen - The version of life we have in our heads vs. the one we actually have? I remember thinking…Wait a second– I didn’t think I would be that Mom with the baby in the hospital hooked up to a million tubes. I didn’t think I’d be the Mom that suffered Post Partum depression. You have found a road less traveled– one that makes you full of empathy because you have learned what it is to see the gem inside someone who doesn’t fit the mold and model of what “Should” be. He’s absolutely adorable!March 3, 2014 – 12:43 amReplyCancel

  • Amber Day Hicks - This post is wonderful! Your baby boy is phenomenal! Screw it!!! I don’t crecwhat they say, you are right, a momma and the fierce love is SO much more powerful than any measley diagnosis! Love this! XO! ~A~March 3, 2014 – 1:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks so much, Amber and I will agree with you that Tucker is phenomenal (awesome word by the way). Thanks for getting it!! xoxo right back at ya!March 3, 2014 – 7:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Lena Burkut - I love this story – it is just so amazing how our views change. Normal to me 10 years ago is so not whatit is nowMarch 3, 2014 – 6:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Kathy Radigan - Wow! What a wonderful post. I related to this on so many levels. I too thought a child that had a learning difference would be the worst thing that happened to me, but primarily because I had a learning difference and it was awful to feel defined by a number. I think one of the biggest surprises of parenting is that my kids have taught me so much about accepting myself, as much as accepting them. And to also ignore tests that ry to define the non definable!!! Thank you for sharing your story with so much grace and candor. Love you!! xoMarch 3, 2014 – 8:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Emmy - LOVE this post. Love your honesty and love your perspective. It is so amazing how much life can teach us and help us grow as a person and that is an amazing beautiful thing.March 4, 2014 – 11:43 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so much, and yes, life does teach us so much. And too much of it is beautiful to ignore.March 4, 2014 – 11:11 pmReplyCancel

  • A Morning Grouch - I’m sitting in a coffee shop trying not to look like a psycho emotional disaster so I’m holding back tears as I read this. I feel a huge connection with this – the fear of the unknown, of a “not perfect” child – and then once you are PREGNANT – not even officially a mother yet – the whole world changes. The WHOLE WORLD CHANGES. As a special ed teacher who is forced to talk in numbers and benchmarks sometimes this also strikes a nerve – know that so many of us feel the same way you do about your lovely child.March 4, 2014 – 2:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sorry about the coffee shop thing, but thank you so much for feeling such a connection to this. The whole world does really change when we get pregnant, see them on an ultrasound, and then, hold them, name them, stay up with them, worry for them, and finally, somewhere in there, realize who they actually are, aside from our dream of them. Thank you.March 4, 2014 – 11:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Jen Lauren Schneider Kehl - This post is so important, any parent of a developmentally delayed child should read it. Actually everyone should read it. People are not numbers. And as I always say in my blog, they are also NOT their diagnosis. Each one of our kids is so perfectly unique. It’s like I tell Isaiah. His tic doesn’t make him weird, it makes him special. He is more special than anyone else because he has a cool tic that no one else has. So Tucker is cool too. So he is the coolest doesn’t cut the way silly teachers want him to kid in the world.March 6, 2014 – 11:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Linda Atwell - I’ve thought and said some of the same things as you in my youth. And Lindsey had the same (or very close to the same) Apgar scores. We thought things were perfect. Until much later too. We are on a challenging unknown path–whether we like it or not. You’ve embraced it better than me. I think I ignored the doctors warnings for several years. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the diagnosis. Anyway, as always, another beautiful post. And I appreciate the honest way you write. It is so refreshing. p.s. you are right. This would have been perfect for Spread The Word To End The R Word day. But it was also perfect for the day you posted it.March 13, 2014 – 1:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Tina McGrevy - Great post!

    Oh, I hate to think of the things I used to say. It would be interesting to interview the pre-mom me…I’ve changed so much I actually forget my previous opinions on certain matters. (Maybe that’s a good thing!)October 24, 2014 – 7:22 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ha, Tina! Me, too! And I’m pretty sure that me forgetting most of what I used to think is a good thing, too!October 25, 2014 – 12:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Meredith - Such a beautiful post! We all have things that we say like this before we are mothers. I once said I was going to have 8 kids. That makes me laugh hysterically now. No way am I prepared to birth that many children, or would my sanity allow it. But, it sounds like you and Tucker were just meant to find each other for all the right reasons.January 15, 2015 – 10:23 amReplyCancel

  • Sarah @ Thank You Honey - As I read this a Bruno Mars’ song came ring in my ears… You are AMAZING just the way you Are… I don’t think I could have said it any better.January 15, 2015 – 2:05 pmReplyCancel

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