But now, looking back on that moment four years later, I want to replace that anxiety, sorrow, and anger with different emotions. Hopeful ones. There were things that I just didn’t know at the time. Up to that point, I had a stereotypical picture of Down syndrome in my mind: a life with zero potential, a life spent trapped in a corner with no time to think, feel, or truly live. This unfounded view of Down syndrome created an imagined reality of despair and sadness. A reality that, it turns out, doesn’t exist.
If I could go back and relive that moment, I would seize the chance to tell myself these seven things that I have learned since that day.
1. Your baby is a baby first. You are not giving birth to a “Down syndrome” baby. You are giving birth to your baby, a unique individual who will bear resemblance to you and your family in addition to some similar features to others with Down syndrome. It’s amazing how much my two children resemble each other even though one has Down syndrome and the other doesn’t. You don’t have to love Down syndrome to love your baby. Focus on the life — not the label.
2. Your baby will still achieve typical milestones. If you have siblings or friends who had babies right around the same time you had yours, you may find yourself falling into the comparison trap. Do not compare your baby to typically developing babies. Instead, start listing the things that your baby has accomplished. Don’t diminish your child’s beautiful and victorious field of daisies by comparing it to the nearest mountain. The milestones might take a little bit longer, but when they finally happen? The celebration is so much more joyful.