On May 28, 2010 when Jack was born and we learned of his Down syndrome, a flood of emotions washed over me. As overjoyed I was to be a mom, I was equally overwhelmed, uncertain, and frightened about what our future held with Jack. I didn't have the "perfect" baby that society seeks in new generations. Robert and I were well-educated, successful young adults with the world at our fingertips.
What do you mean our baby wasn't "perfect"?!?!?!
As the days following Jack's birth came and went, it became easier to cast my fears aside. At the time, I also tried to learn how to cast aside my desire for perfection. Because of Jack's Down syndrome, I thought we wouldn't be the "ideal" family I had always dreamt of. But one night, as I gazed upon Jack's face, I saw my baby's first smile, and I melted. Right then and there I realized that what I was actually witnessing was PERFECTION in this very moment. Instead of wondering what others would think about me as the mom of an exceptional child or about Jack as a child with Ds, I realized the TRUTH that Jack actually mirrored everything I had always wanted people to recognize in me ... innate goodness, kindness, and joy. And, that feeling made my heart nearly erupt.
From that point on, I made the decision to embrace our new life and not fear it. Jack was my new purpose ... I was put here on this Earth to be his mom, his teacher, his advocate, and his greatest supporter. And, he was put here to be my son, my teacher, my greatest supporter, and my inspiration.
May 28, 2010 was the day WE were born.
I am sharing this with you again, because I was reminded of what it feels like to have a new baby with Down syndrome after watching a video that Robert pointed out to me last night. ESPN aired this as one of their E:60 specials on October 1st. It is the story about Heath White, a man who always chased perfection, and his own re-birth after he and his wife had their daughter Paisley, who has Down syndrome. As a competitve runner, Heath has run 321 miles with Paisley (symbolizing her 3 21st chromosomes) to support her and other individuals with Down syndrome. This dad went from fearing Ds as a threat to his "perfection" when Paisley was first born, to tatooing "DOWN SYNDROME" across his chest to ensure that others understood that it is always a part of him. While this family had a prenatal diagnosis of Ds, which is different from us finding out on Jack's birth day, the feelings this father describes after little Paisley was born and after he got to know the "real" her (not the diagnosis) are somewhat familiar to me. I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this video and to share it with others. (Warning: You'll need tissues!)
As promised, here is your
Down Syndrome Fact of the Day: Day 3
Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal abnormality in humans. It occurs in every 600-800 live births, and is not related to race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status.