…Yes, they really can come in the same sentence. Actually, the original title of this post was going to be "10 Reasons I'm Thankful for Down Syndrome", but I'm not quite there. But since it is a time for giving thanks, and since I had posted a while ago my rant against Down syndrome (among other things), I thought I would also share with you the blessings I have found in the midst of our journey.
- I am thankful that Roo is otherwise healthy. I know that Down syndrome makes him susceptible to other health problems, and I am not so naïve as to assume we'll never have to deal with health issues, but right now he is healthy. His heart problems are minor (relatively speaking) and don't require immediate attention, his eyesight is normal, he passed his hearing screening. We can spend our time with him enjoying, not worrying.
- I am thankful for every smile and laugh. As annoyed as I get when people say, "Those kids are always so happy," I am thankful that Down syndrome is not generally associated with severe behavioral issues. Roo is so happy and easy going, and such a joy to be around.
- I am thankful that my big kids will grow up with an extra dose of compassion. The love they already have for Roo is so tender and touching, and they are still completely unaware of his delays. They are going to be his biggest cheerleaders as he grows, and they are going to learn a lot about people with special needs and just caring for others in general.
- I am thankful that this is strengthening our family. The stresses of extra doctor's appointments, worries, bills, etc, could be taking their toll on us, but instead we are clinging together so tightly that we are growing closer.
- I am thankful for the support of our family and friends. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am overwhelmed with love. So many people have supported us with prayer, notes and e-mails, babysitting, meals, fun distractions, and many other ways that I'm sure I am forgetting now. It has astounded me how willing people have been to step up and help in whatever way they can.
- I am thankful for the opportunities available to people with Down syndrome today. I recently had the opportunity to hear from a woman who has a 40-year-old daughter with Down syndrome. They adopted her daughter out of an institution at the age of 16 months, which is where parents at that time were encouraged to send babies with Down's (after which they told their friends and family that the baby had been stillborn). A new blogging friend recently shared some stories she had read or heard about an old institution out west. I am so thankful that this is not the life that my sweet Roo faces. He has opportunities and support and encouragement.
- I am thankful for quality time with my baby. Life with three little ones is so nutty, sometimes I wonder if I would ever spend play time with Roo if it weren't for the need to do therapy with him. I know he needs a little extra attention, so I make myself stop doing the dishes or laundry or any of the hundred other things moms do throughout the day… and I focus on him. Call it "therapy", call it "work", call it "play", all I know is that it is one-on-one time with my baby boy.
- I am thankful for the new friends I have made. Having a baby with Down syndrome is sort of like becoming a parent for the first time all over again, and I know when Lamb was born I needed camaraderie. The same is true now, and I have met some wonderful people in "real life" and through the blogging world. It is great to be able to share trials and triumphs and have this common ground to get to know people I otherwise wouldn't have met.
- I am thankful for the chances I have already had to encourage others with our story. Whether it is on this blog, in front of a group, or in casual conversation, God is already using Roo's story to allow me to help others. Sometimes it's people whose lives are also affected by Down syndrome, other times it's something completely unrelated, but God is teaching us through this and helping us to help others.
- I am thankful that I am not in control. When I try to look at the big picture, to see where we're going to be in a year, 5 years, 20 years… it's overwhelming. But I don't need to worry about that. God is in control, and He knows the plans He has for Roo, for Lamb & Monkey, for Mr. Fantastic, and even for me. We just have to take it one day at a time, which is much more manageable.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds" –James 1:2
How could we NOT be thankful for this? ;-)