Down syndrome came into my life one evening in early January, 2006.
Before that day, I was obliviously clueless, unaware of just how much I did not know, blissfully unconcerned and uninterested. Remembering that about myself reminds me that others who are not intimately connected to someone with Ds are generally not intentionally offensive, rarely anything other than unaware.
Down syndrome came into my life in the form of a eight-pound twelve-ounce boy, born at home, and very slow to breathe his first breath.
Before that day, I gave no thought to health concerns of those with Ds, no moments of consideration of what it is like to be a parent or sibling of a child with Ds. Remembering that allows me to heap compassion upon myself for all that I did not know, and heap compassion on others for all they do not know.
Down syndrome came into my life, turning the occasion of the birth of our fifth child, into a week-long hospital stay and a great crisis of acceptance. I had always thought of myself as someone who would not be a good mother to a child with special needs. And then that was me.
What is Down syndrome to me?
A quick smile.
Lover of music and film.
Delays in expressive language.
A unique individual, full of potential and possibilities.
A year of doctor visits to monitor a blood condition.
A longer season of those cute language mistakes children make.
Great appreciation for electronics, especially iPads, and laptops.
Eyes that needed a surgeon's scalpel to look straight ahead together.
The attention span and interest to take pictures of anything and everything.
Noticing and remembering and celebrating which groceries are the favorites of each family member.
A preference for teeth clicking and vocalization through humming while concentrating.
A capable boy with plenty of hugs and kisses to share.
Weeks and months and years of speech therapy.
A true cuddle bunny.
A precious gift.