I don't know if that news would ever be easy to hear, but I do think it could have been easier if our circumstances had been a little bit different. There are so many things that could have made a difference that day.
...that I had known someone else with Down's before Roo. My exposure to people with any kind of delay is so limited, and it is quite honestly something I have always feared. I have vague memories of a boy in elementary school--he didn't have Down's, but some kind of developmental delay that caused him to be in a special education classroom. I remember avoiding him, laughing at him (though never to his face), and the confused and slightly hurt look in his eyes when other kids didn't want to play with him--but he always remained so upbeat and positive. I wish I had gotten to know him.
...I had seen pictures of the beautiful babies, the adorable children, the handsome adults who have Down syndrome.
...someone had told me what people with Down syndrome can accomplish.
...I had realized what JOY can come from celebrating each little milestone.
...I had understood that my initial feelings were normal. It's OK to be sad--heartbroken--to grieve the loss of the child I thought I lost.
...I had known that the child I have is a million times better than the child I thought I lost.
...I had realized just how many children like Roo never get to experience life. In the US, around 90% (85% - 95%, depending on what study you read) of babies who are diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero are aborted.
...I had been aware of Reece's Rainbow, and known how much children around with world with Down's are longing for someone to love them.
...I had been prepared for the medical issues we might face, so they weren't all so scary.
...I had realized that it isn't any different to play with or babysit a child with Down's just because they have Down's. (Yes, some children have other medical conditions that complicate things, but I wouldn't have known that. I would have been terrified to offer to watch someone else's child with Down syndrome.)
...I had known another family who had been touched by Down's. I wish I could have really experienced life with them and seen how wonderful it could be, instead of passing a parent who had a child with special needs and sadly thinking, "That poor mom. I don't know how she does it."
...I had understood the feelings and sensitivities of parents who have a child with Down syndrome. I hope I've never inadvertently said something to offend one.
...that someone had told me that Down syndrome is not a death sentence.
...that I had realized just how amazing this journey would be.
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. And you know what? I wish I had been more aware before Roo was born. Now it's my duty--my privilege--to help others know what I never did. And you can help me.
Some of you know firsthand about raising a child with Down syndrome, some of you know what it is to have a sibling or friend with Down's, many of you who are reading this know what it's like to have a friend whose beautiful baby boy Roo has Down syndrome. ;-) But all of you know others who are just like I was 2 years ago--unaware. Unaware of the struggles, ignorant of the joys, oblivious to the beautiful faces.
This month, will you help me to make them aware? Will you encourage them to know Roo?
So let's make this fun. I will offer up 2 $25 gift certificates--one to Starbucks, and one to Amazon--one each to two lucky readers. Here are the ways to enter:
- Become a follower of this blog
- "Like" Diary of a Zookeeper on Facebook (the link is on the right-hand side of the page)
- Share this blog on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or other social media (one entry for each, one time per day)
- Share the Reece's Rainbow site, or a specific child who touches your heart, on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or other social media (one entry for each, one time per day)
The contest will end at midnight on Sunday, October 9. I will randomly pick 2 comments on Monday and contact/post the winners that day.
I wish I had been more aware. I am so grateful to you for making yourself more aware, and for spreading the word. I can't promise to post every day this month, because we all know that isn't likely to happen, but I do plan to make a concentrated effort to raise awareness through this blog throughout the month of October. Thanks for being part of that.