Thursday, March 19, 2015

My name in lights!

http://registerguard.com/rg/opinion/32878612-78/a-baby-with-down-syndrome-will-enrich-your-life.html.csp

Okay, so my name's not in lights.  It's in tiny black & white letters, but still, this is pretty cool. 

That's right, I wrote an editorial piece for World Down Syndrome Day and they published it in our local paper, the Register-Guard

Here's the full article:

Dear New Mom or Dad,
If you're expecting a baby with Down syndrome, or you've recently birthed a child with Down syndrome, then this letter is for you.

First, congratulations! Your baby will bring you more joy and pride than you can imagine.

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day. I know you probably don't feel much like celebrating this year, but I promise that by next year, you'll be ready to celebrate the “little something extra” that makes your baby unique.

I know, because I've been in your shoes. My son will be 2 years old soon. This is my third World Down Syndrome Day since we got the news. The first year, I didn't feel at all like celebrating anything. I was too scared for my baby and the health issues he might face. But now, March 21 really is a day to be thankful for each and every chromosome. My son has changed my life in so many ways. Your baby will do the same for you.

A year from now, you'll compare your baby to typical babies and you'll think that her Down syndrome makes her cuter. In fact, all babies with Down syndrome will be cuter – those exotic eyes, the silky hair, the rounded cheeks. Our babies really do have the perfect baby faces!

A year from now, you'll breathe in the scent of your baby and you won't think about Down syndrome. Your baby is just that – your baby. Nothing else will matter. You'll be too busy looking forward to all of the amazing milestones your baby will be reaching: holding his head up, lifting his belly off the floor, sitting, first signs. Every one is worth shouting from the rooftops, and you will.

Whatever stereotypes you might possibly hold about Down syndrome will be shattered. Your baby teaches you that the sky is the limit for her. You'll be shocked and delighted at all that she can do and how fast she learns. Your friends and family will soon be telling you how smart your baby is and you'll nod with pride – because it's true.

Your tiny little baby – you gaze into his eyes and marvel at the beauty there. You whisper sweet nothings into his ears and he smiles back at you. You've done these things with your other children, and you'll find that it's no different with this one. Babies are babies and that's a blessing. It gives you a chance to evolve into the parent and advocate that you'll someday be for him.

Many people will tell you that children with Down syndrome are sweet and gentle and kind. This could be true, but I've also found that it inspires those feelings in us. The virtues of patience, loving-kindness, gentleness, and joy are blossoming in those around us thanks to our child. He seems to bring it out of people, even complete strangers are charmed by his wide-eyed stare or his toothy smile.

Our cultural attitudes are changing. No one has ever expressed dismay at our child's diagnosis. Instead, they tell us how he reminds them of their own loved ones or people they've known who made a difference in their lives. While everyone loves a baby, babies with Down syndrome attract a lot of friendly attention.

I can't tell you exactly what your life will be like a year from now because our journeys are all different. But I can tell you that it will be rich and full and rewarding. It's a journey absolutely worth traveling. While I wouldn't have chosen to give my child Down syndrome, I know that I've been blessed by it and made into a better person.

When you're ready, I hope that you'll connect with other parents. Locally, we have the Emerald Family Down Syndrome Network (efdsn.org). Those of us with babies & toddlers meet monthly. We love babies and can't wait to meet you.

If you prefer an online support group, my favorite groups are the Rockin' Moms and Rockin' Dads through the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network (dsdiagnosisnetwork.org). Since our kids totally rock their extra chromosome, it's fitting that we have a rockin' place to chat with other moms and dads. Each group is like a birth club, limited to babies born the same year as your baby. Drama-free support, these people will soon be your best friends.

So happy World Down Syndrome Day. Celebrate your little person and each of his or her 47 chromosomes. I look forward to meeting you. Welcome, and again, congratulations.

Sincerely,
Cade's mom



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