Awareness.

So I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out how to kick off Down Syndrome Awareness month. I intended to participate in 31for21, which is where you blog every day of October to promote Down Syndrome awareness, but I’m on night shifts and I totally let sleep take prescience last night instead of devoting my time to blogging. So here we are, kicking it off on October 2nd. Oops.

I sat here thinking and browsing other people’s blogs, trying to think of how to start. And then it hit me.

Yes, we need to promote awareness. But WHY? I mean, everyone I know has been really open and welcoming. Since I’ve gone back to work, everyone has been amazing and interested in how Thatcher is doing, and has told me how adorable he is (I agree!). It seems like, in my life, awareness and acceptance are already running rampant.

Except, it’s not like that everywhere. I still read articles on Huffpost or Upworthy about Down Syndrome, and underneath the heartwarming post, there are comments about how kids with Down Syndrome… kids like mine… should have been aborted. About how they are a burden on society. About how they shouldn’t be allowed to live normal lives, be included in “typical” classrooms, or have jobs. And I look at the abortion rate of babies with a prenatal diagnosis (something I plan to cover in a separate blog): 80%. EIGHTY PERCENT. Eight out of ten families who find out that their baby has Down Syndrome, abort them. Just because of one extra chromosome. So, clearly, awareness must be raised. Acceptance isn’t here yet. We are far from it.

But with this blog, I wanted to get into how far we have come, and how proud we should be of our forefathers, who raised amazing kids with DS despite adversity, and helped us to be where we are now. Without them, Thatcher wouldn’t have received the care he has. He wouldn’t have been set up with physiotherapy at two months old. We wouldn’t have our local Down Syndrome Association. Without them, nothing would have changed.

You might wonder what I’m talking about. Maybe some of you are old enough to remember those times. Maybe, like me, the only injustice you recall for kids with DS was that they were in the “special needs” class in school, where they were totally segregated and made to feel like outcasts by us, the “normal” kids. And yeah, that’s pretty bad. But it’s not nearly what I’m talking about. I’m talking 60, 70, 80 years ago. When people with Down Syndrome weren’t even treated as people.

I had a conversation a few weeks ago with a lady at work. The topic of DS has come up a lot at work, because people have a lot of questions about it (which is great, and I appreciate it! The more you know, the better!), and because we have a few patients right now with Down Syndrome. The conversation I had with this woman both sickened me and made me thrilled that we have come so far. She told me that her father, who must be in his 70’s or 80’s, had a soft spot for people with Down Syndrome. The reason being, every day when he walked to school he would see a little girl with DS sitting in her bedroom window. The girl’s siblings went to his school, but the girl never left the house. She had a room upstairs that she wasn’t allowed to leave; the parents would come in and feed her and change her, but that was it. And back in the day? That was NORMAL. Some people with kiddos with DS would ship them off at birth, pretend they never even knew they existed, pretend they died. It was shameful to have a kid with Down Syndrome. It wasn’t acceptable in society. One in 600 live births is a child with Down Syndrome. But somehow it was something to be ashamed of.

I feel for those parents. I wonder, if they are still alive, what they think of how things have changed. Are they glad to see that people like their daughter have normal lives, go to inclusive schools, graduate, go to college, get married? Do they feel sorrow for the life their kids could have had, if things were different? I imagine they must, although I know how hard it must have been for people to go against the grain and fight for education, fight for healthcare, fight for rights. It’s a fight that may not be as obvious today, but it’s still being fought. It’s being fought because of the abortion rate. It’s being fought because of the trolls on the internet who think that my child doesn’t deserve to be here, to have an education, to have a job, to have a normal life. And it’s a fight that I will continue to fight, not just this month, but every day, because I never want to be the parent that looks back in sixty years and thinks, “I should have done more.” My child will never be locked in a proverbial room. He will be running around that neighbourhood with his brothers and sisters, walking home with that neighbour boy, who will still, when he grows up, have a soft spot for people with Down Syndrome. But the soft spot will be because he knows and loves Thatcher, not because he never had the chance.

Thankfulness.

So today is World Down Syndrome Day, and I thought I’d do a little post on what Down Syndrome means to me. I know that the meaning has changed for me even in the past few months, and I think as Thatcher grows, the meaning will continue to evolve for me, but this is the meaning in the here and now. 

First, I’ll start off with a brief introduction of what Down Syndrome is, in case you don’t know. I’m going to put it totally in layman’s terms here. Basically, when a baby is conceived, the egg and sperm meet, and each has twenty-three chromosomes. They come together to make a zygote that has 46 chromosomes. Occasionally, the chromosomes don’t divide properly and you end up with an egg or a sperm that has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. When conception happens with one of these, the resulting zygote now has three copies of the 21st chromosome, for a total of 47 chromosomes instead of the typical 46. This little zygote has what you call trisomy 21 (three copies of 21), or Down Syndrome. There are other ways that Down Syndrome can happen, including a chunk of extra 21st chromosome stuck to mom’s or dad’s genetic makeup, but in Thatcher’s case, he has trisomy 21. A total fluke chromosome that changed our lives.

So, what does this mean? It means that the resulting baby with trisomy 21 has a higher chance of health issues like heart defects, sleep apnea, low muscle tone, umbilical hernia, leukaemia, thyroid issues, and intellectual disability. It means that because of their low muscle tone, they will probably take longer to reach milestones like sitting, crawling, and walking. It means that they might grow slower, gain weight at a less rapid pace, and be smaller as adults. It means that they generally will have a lower IQ than typical people. So basically, it means they have a lot of strikes against them.

I have met a lot of parents of children with Down Syndrome that will tell you how happy they are that their child was born with DS. They say they can’t imagine having a child without it. They are glad their child has an extra chromosome. I can’t say that I will go that far. I love Thatcher exactly how he is, but if I could take away that extra chromosome and still have exactly the same funny, handsome, smart boy that I know and love, I absolutely would. I would love to take away the heart defect he was born with, the sleep apnea that I am pretty sure he has, or the probability that he will need extra help in school. I’d love to not have to worry about seeing our occupational therapist every few weeks (although we love her!), or having bloodwork done to check Thatcher’s white cells and thyroid function. I’d love to never have him do a sleep study, to not have to have his eyes checked so often, to never go back to the cardiologist. So, if I could keep him just as he is, but not worry about all those things, then I absolutely would.

But, in a way, I am thankful for Thatcher’s extra chromosome. It might mean more therapies and doctor’s appointments and challenges, but it brings with it some wonderful things.

First and foremost, Thatcher is Thatcher. And Thatcher has 47 chromosomes, three of them being the 21st. He is exactly who he is, and who he is supposed to be. Again, I don’t buy into all that God stuff, but I think we are here for a reason and I think that Thatcher is Thatcher for a reason. Yes, I would love to take away all the things that come with his extra chromosomes, all the worries and fears and scary things that come with it. But I would never change him. He is who he is. He is not just Down Syndrome, but he IS a child who has Down Syndrome. And I wouldn’t change him for the world. He is the brightest, funniest boy who makes my world turn. He is my reason for getting up in the morning (or at the butt crack of dawn!), he is in every smile. He is my whole world, exactly how he is. He is what I am most thankful for.

Next, I am glad for the Down Syndrome community. I have met so many wonderful people, through our local Down Syndrome association and through online support groups. We also had the wonderful experience of meeting Tara and Pip from Happy Soul Project. I think she said it best in one of her older blog posts, being a parent of a child with Down Syndrome is sort of like being in a special sorority. It’s a family of people who support each other and accept each other. It’s really quite phenomenal how open and welcoming I have found people to be, how they share in your ups and downs; despite never having met you, they help you celebrate your child’s accomplishments and support you on your darkest days. I couldn’t be more thankful for these wonderful parents (and sometimes grandparents/siblings/etc) who have been such a phenomenal support.

I’m also thankful for the strength that Thatcher has brought out in me. In college, I used to make my mum call the phone company or the car dealership or whatever it was, to make a complaint for me. Thatcher has brought out my inner mama bear. By advocating for him, I am learning to advocate for myself. He has also taught me to be strong in other ways. I used to be a quitter. Seriously. I didn’t follow through on a lot. But this whole parenting thing is teaching me to stick with things. It’s teaching me that sometimes, the best things take work (like sleep training! Good lord!). I think this is definitely applicable in other aspects of my life, and I’m hoping it’s going to help me with Weight Watchers : p

Another thing to be thankful for is how Thatcher has changed my perspective on people with disabilities. One of the mottos of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society is “See The Ability.” I think that before Thatcher was born, I didn’t realize the amazing things that people with disabilities, and especially people with Down Syndrome, could do. When he was born, I only saw the negatives, the tests and doctors and special help he would need. But people with Down Syndrome do amazing things! They go to university, they have jobs, they get married. They do all the things we would hope for our children. I actually read today about a young man with Down Syndrome who is a student at the University of Alberta and a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, my husband’s fraternity. I thought, “Uh oh! We are going to have a frat boy on our hands in 18 years!” We are going to have a frat boy. A university graduate. A young man who has hopes and dreams, and reaches them. And if you still don’t see it, keep following us. I have no doubt that Thatcher is going to blow any preconceived notions of what a “disability” is out of the water. 

So, today, on World Down Syndrome Day, I am thankful. I am thankful for all the lessons that Thatcher has taught me, and all the lessons I have yet to learn. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect reason to celebrate today ❤ 

Image

Happy Soul.

So this week we had a bit of excitement. There is a blog that we follow, and I believe I have mentioned it before, called Happy Soul Project. It’s a blog by a mum not unlike myself. She actually has two beautiful children, and one of them, Pip, happens to have Down Syndrome. I will warn you that if you click on the link to her website, you may fall in love with the entire family. You will definitely peruse all her photos of her “hooligans” and admire how darn beautiful they are!

So anyway. We have been reading HSP for a while. Since Thatcher was about two months old. Truth be told, before then I wasn’t ready. My aunt had sent me the link, and told me to check it out, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to admit that I might be like this other mum. I didn’t want to admit that Thatcher had Down Syndrome and that this was something we would be dealing with for the rest of our life. I knew he did, and I was working on it, but I was taking it day by day, and I really wasn’t ready to get a glimpse into the life that we would have in the future. It was just too much.

So around October I started peeking in on the blog. Pip’s mama, Tara, takes AMAZING photos of her kidlets and is exceedingly positive and down to earth. So I started reading up about when Pip was born, and following them on Facebook. I made Devin (hubby) follow them too, and we loved seeing the new pictures that Tara would post pretty much daily. We would talk about how sweet her kids were and some of the topics she would post.

And then a few months ago, one of them really hit home. Tara had gone to pick up her son, Noal, from daycare, and brought Pip along. A little girl came up to Tara and Pip, who was wearing her eye patch, and said, “That baby is broken.” My heart broke reading that. It absolutely grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I thought about our future, not for the first time, but for the first REAL time, the first time that I would seriously realize what we were going to go through. And I knew that something similar will, one day, happen to Thatcher. It might not be a little kid, it might not be the same words, but it will happen. It could be an old lady looking at him in a grocery store with a funny look on her face, or a kid in his class pushing him and calling him names, or an extended family member making assumptions about what he can or can’t do. But somewhere, someday, he is going to be judged for how he appears, for his extra chromosome, and there is nothing I can do about it. It broke my heart. I started reading more of Tara’s blogs, because I felt like she has been through things that I have in store for me in the future, and could offer guidance into what I was going to encounter.

And then, in January, this post appeared. Basically, Tara was with Pip in a grocery store, and a woman approached her and was admiring Pip’s obvious cuteness. Then she leaned in and asked, “but what’s wrong with her?” Now, Tara has a lot more poise than I ever could, because all she said was “absolutely nothing,” and she walked away. I can’t say how I’d react in that circumstance, but I’d either cry or scream or, more than likely, both. But again, it made me realize that Thatch is going to be judged on his appearance his whole life… it really made me want to start taking steps to educate people more about Down Syndrome, so that even if people see Thatcher and his DS, they will know more about it and won’t be so afraid of it. I want people to know that Thatcher is going to grow up to be a strong, smart, independant man who can do whatever he wants to. I don’t want people to think something is “wrong” with him, but instead see who he is, not what he is or what diagnosis he may have.

Anyway, to make a long story short(er), the story about the grocery store went absolutely viral. Tara took photos of Pip beside a sign that says “What makes you different is what makes you beautiful” and of course, it was a huge hit. Newspapers and TV stations started picking up the story, and it even made it to the Huffington Post. So I wasn’t surprised when she posted that Global News (a station in Toronto) was doing a story on their family and Happy Soul Project. They were looking for another family with a child who had Down Syndrome to be part of the story.

I got a few emails from family and friends telling me that we should apply, but Devin was working that day, and with my maternity leave pay not being phenomenal, we really couldn’t afford to drive down to Toronto for the day, so I told them I couldn’t. However, it kept niggling at me that I wanted to send a message to Tara wishing her luck and letting her know how much Happy Soul Project has meant to our family over the past few months. So I threw an email her way and forgot about it for a few days.

Last Wednesday, a friend and I took our kids swimming, and when I got home and checked my phone I had a few emails waiting. I checked my inbox, and there was an email from Tara letting me know she needed to talk to me ASAP. Turns out she had sent all her emails to Global, and they had chosen us as the family they wanted to include in her story! Of course I immediately told Devin that we had to move our schedules around, and gave her a huge “Yes!”

So Tuesday we headed down to Toronto to meet Tara, Noal, and Pip. I’m pretty sure my family was bursting with excitement, everybody wanted me to give Pip a hug for them. Honestly she is a huge celebrity in my family! I was so flipping nervous about everything, but Tara was honestly remarkably down to earth. It was super weird being asked by a reporter what I thought about Tara, while Tara is in the room and I just met her ten minutes ago. Also, if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m not very concise and I have a hard time getting my point across. Also, I cry easily, and the reporter knew exactly how to touch on that so I cried for 95% of the time I talked to her. Whoops. So if there is ten seconds of me in the entire story, I will be surprised. It’s really shocking that I went to school for radio and television presentation back in the day, because I’m honestly TERRIBLE on camera.

But anyway. It was really flipping cool to get to meet someone that we are so inspired by. And to have Thatcher and Pippy get to meet each other and have hugs! So cool! I am so psyched to see the story on the news and get to tell Thatcher when he is older that he got to be a part of something so amazing. I absolutely hope that Tara and Pip’s story continues to spread like wildfire. She is doing so much to help raise awareness about Down Syndrome and all the wonderful things about our kids, rather than having people see them as disabled or sick or just a kid with Down Syndrome. Our kids are phenomenal little people who are going to change the world and do amazing things. I can’t wait to see all the things that Thatcher accomplishes in his lifetime.

Oh, and if y’all wanna see my little bird’s TV debut, it’s on Global News on Monday evening. I will be taping it to start the collection of memorabilia of all the fantastic things he does in his life ❤

 

Little bird exhausted after his interview

Little bird exhausted after his interview

Milestones

So I haven’t been updating this blog nearly as much as I should, I have been neglecting the internet in a bad way, but I’m thinking that’s a good thing because I’m trying to have as much mama/Thatcher time as I can. I think I spend way too much time tethered to my phone, and now that I’ve (mostly) quit junk food and cut down about 99% of my TV time, I need a break from the interwebs too. It kind of feels like I’m neglecting a friend, but better that than actually be neglecting my child.

I guess what I felt like writing about today is what I am working my way through right now. Thatcher will be six months old next week. It’s huge. I’m in total disbelief that it went by so quickly! It’s terrifying! 

But what is really getting me is that Thatcher’s development is really stalling. It seems like since he was born, I have been comparing him to “typical” milestone charts. I know it’s wrong, and that I shouldn’t be comparing him to anyone at all, but I can’t help it. I’m pretty sure all parents do it. How can you not? When I go on Facebook, all I see are parents showboating how “special” their babies are. I legitimately saw a claim last week that someone’s one-month-old could roll from her front to her back, a feat that Thatcher has yet to figure out. And I’m guilty of it too. It’s not that I’m trying to brag, it’s that I’m so thrilled that he is excelling that I want to shout it from the rooftops. I’m so proud. 

But lately, I have nothing much to shout, and everyone else is so much louder, and it’s drowning out the celebrations I should be having. I knew from the beginning that Thatcher would be a bit behind in his milestones, but I didn’t really accept it. I told myself it was true, but I watched him surpass expectations and excel, and I told myself it would be like this forever. And I’m realizing that it won’t. Eventually, other kids his age will be crawling, and he might be starting to truly sit unassisted. They might walk, while he starts to crawl. Maybe they will be talking in short sentences while we are still grasping some simple words. And I think it’s going to be hard. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

And I am insanely proud of everything he does, don’t get me wrong. We are working at unassisted sitting, and he is finally rolling from back to front bilaterally. After two or three months of rolling only one way, I was over the moon when he finally “got” it last week after hours of coaxing and practice. But it’s still hard. It’s still a loss, and maybe it always will be. And it is just leaving me so torn. I feel like a mama’s job is to be fierce and proud and fighting for her babies. She is supposed to think everything they do is perfect (okay, maybe not drawing on the walls or having a tantrum at Loblaw’s, but you get the drill). And I feel so guilty about how I’m feeling. I don’t know why I’m telling y’all this except to get it out there and hope that someone, somewhere has felt the same and it’s not just me. I can’t really even put it into words, exactly what I’m feeling, because it comes out wrong. It’s not disappointment with Thatcher, but rather with that one damn extra chromosome that is affecting our lives. My hope, I guess, at putting this all into words is that some kindred spirit somewhere will find this and read it and understand. And I won’t be alone in my feelings. I love Thatcher so much and I want him to have everything in the world. I want him to be exactly who he wants to be, and it’s heartbreaking to think that some things could be out of the realm of possibilities in the future. 

I saw a video posted on Facebook yesterday, about a mama whose daughter was born with DS and she ended up opening a cupcake shop bearing her daughter’s name (http://www.cristinastortinashop.com), and in the video interview she said that the doctors told her they were “sorry” that her daughter would never be a doctor or a lawyer. Her reply was that she didn’t expect any of her kids to be doctors or lawyers, what was so different about her youngest? I get what she was saying and I can respect that, but what if one day Thatcher tells me he wants to be a doctor or a lawyer? What then? I want him to be whatever he wants to be. I hate the idea of telling my beautiful, perfect son that he can’t be who he wants to be. 

I guess that’s what’s getting me down. The reality that is hitting me, all over again, is that his life isn’t going to be sunshine and rainbows. There are going to be challenges, and we are going to have to work hard. The great thing, the lucky thing, really, is that he will do all those things other babies do. He will crawl, he will walk, he will run. He will do it on his own time, and I will be fiercely proud of him every day of his life. Some children never get to do these things, so for this I am grateful. 

But it still doesn’t make it easy. There are going to be days like today, where I mourn the loss of the ideals I had, so that I can bury them and further appreciate our life as it is going to be. And it is going to be phenomenal, because I have the two best boys in the world to share it with. 

Holland

I received an email yesterday from the new parent contact at my local Down Syndrome Association branch. We joined a few months ago so that we could meet other families of kids with DS. In her email, she asked if there were any members that had a story they would like to share for their new parent information package, which is given to new parents when they have a baby with DS at the hospital. I sent her a link to my first blog post, but her request really got me thinking. I don’t know if I can write something concise enough for her particular request, but I wanted to write out what I’d want to know as a new parent, in case anyone stumbles across this blog and could use my words and experience.

To start, I’d like to let you all in on a nice little poem that is currently included in the LDSA new parent package. It’s called “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley. Basically she wrote it in the 80s on her experience with having a child with special needs.

 

 

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

 

 

When I first read this little poem, I couldn’t get through it. I sat there on the words you’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. There I was. Smack dab in Holland. And I couldn’t leave. It wasn’t anywhere I had pictured myself. I didn’t want to be there. I couldn’t read the rest. I put that poem back in the folder and forgot about it.

I tried to read it again when we were discharged from the NICU and I had gone through all the papers we had received and was reading over some of the information. Again, I didn’t want to be in Holland. I put the poem back again. 

Finally, a few weeks later, I got the courage to open up that folder that said LDSA on it. I took out the poem and started to read. I got to the part about the windmills, and the tulips… and a crazy thing happened. I was there. I wasn’t in some disease-ridden no-man’s land. I was in Holland. It wasn’t where I wanted to be originally. But I looked at Thatcher. And he wasn’t what I had anticipated. And he was beautiful.

So, new parents. Maybe it takes you a while to read the whole poem. But you’ll get there. And when you get there, you will probably cry when you read it. That’s okay. I still do. Except that at first, I cried because I didn’t want to be here. And now, I cry because it’s so amazing.

The point of the poem, and the point of what I’m saying, is that it’s okay to be disappointed. It’s okay to cry. This isn’t what you expected. You expected the prom queen, the valedictorian, the PhD. You expected the kid that would reach every milestone early and be walking by six months. You expected a healthy baby. And, more than likely, you didn’t get any of those things. Instead, you got a trip to the NICU. You might have gotten a surgery or two. You might have a congenital heart defect on your plate, or hearing problems, or a g-tube. And it’s really easy to look at your newborn baby and see them as a disconnected medical diagnosis in that incubator. You might hold their hand and feel love, but feel disconnected. And that’s okay. You will get through this. You will get to know them. You will see them look at you with love in their eyes, and you will be seeing those tulips in Holland. When they have their first smile, you’ll see the windmills gently turning in the breeze. They will fall asleep on your chest with their little arms wrapped around you, and you will know that Holland is exactly where you want to be, no matter how you got here.

But the trip there is hard. And there are bumps along the way. And that’s okay. Just keep looking ahead for the tulips. Don’t close your eyes and pretend they aren’t there. Do what you have to do. Cry. Call your best friend. Cry some more. Research Down Syndrome. Hold your baby, even if there are tubes and wires hooked up to them. Grief is a process; there are hills and valleys to it. One day you will think you are okay, and the next you will hear about somebody else’s child who is crawling and your son or daughter is barely rolling over. It’s fine to grieve about it, as long as you keep looking ahead. Your child will get there, it’s just more of a scenic journey. They might have to work a little harder, but it will be so much sweeter in the end. 

So…. Welkom in Nederland, mijn vriend.

Birth

So I know that before I was pregnant I didn’t care in the least for birth stories. Then, around 8 months, I started reading them like crazy. Like them or hate them, I figured I would post one at least for my memory of the happiest, scariest time of my life, and the moment before things came crashing down around us (and subsequently we are building them back up.)

I should actually start pre-natally, because that’s where Thatcher’s story starts. I had a pretty normal pregnancy, really sick most of the time, which is great when you are a nurse and deal with smells all day, but otherwise normal. I saw my family doctor for the first few months, then saw an OB at 26 weeks. I’ve had my family doctor probably three or four years now, and while she’s not the sharpest crayon in the box, she’s really nice so I’ve stuck with her. This would turn out to be a flaw.

I chose to do the IPS screening offered to every mother in Ontario, not really because I wanted to but because my doctor gave me bloodwork forms and I said “okay, why not?” You also get an extra ultrasound out of it at 12 weeks, and I was all for seeing my baby an extra time. I found that if I didn’t see him for a while, I got nervous that I had miscarried or something had happened, so it reassured me to see him again. At around 19 weeks, I saw my doctor for a routine monthly appointment.  “Just so you know, you were positive for a marker on your IPS screening,” she casually mentioned. I had kind of looked into this by this point in time, so to me it seemed like kind of a big deal. “Oh no,” she told me, “it’s nothing to worry about. This just means your chances of your baby having Down syndrome or another genetic condition are about one in 100. That’s very small. It happens sometimes that people get false positives or false negatives. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Now I’ve heard that when people are diagnosed with cancer, they basically stop listening once the doctor says the word ‘cancer.’ I can understand this. Once she started talking, I panicked. Oddly I remember trying hard not to cry. I don’t know why, because this news was okay to cry about. But I tried not to cry in front of her, thinking that if she wasn’t worried then I would look like a baby crying about it. I knew in my head I should ask about amniocentesis, but at that moment I couldn’t think of what to say or do or ask. My doctor never offered. She said it would be fine, that my baby would more than likely be perfect, and sent me on my merry way.

In case you don’t know (and most won’t, I didn’t), my positive screen meant I went from a 1 in 1480 chance of having a baby with a chromosomal disorder to 1 in 100. That’s a pretty big jump. But I brushed it under the rug. I told my husband, and told him my doctor said we’d be fine, and we both “forgot” about it. I had a feeling in my gut, but I ignored it and ignored it. I rationalized that doing an amniocentesis has a 1 in 100 miscarriage rate, so why would I up my chances that something could go wrong?

If I could go back in time, I’d be seeking a new doctor right away. I’d be asking the right questions. Would I have aborted my baby? I highly doubt it. But would I have been prepared? Absolutely. I would have read everything I could on Down syndrome. I would have been ready for this journey. But instead I was blindsided five minutes after his birth. My exciting, wonderful day was taken away from me. I spent more time crying in grief on his birth day than crying in joy. And that’s something no parent deserves.

Oh, but I meant to talk about his birth day. Thatcher was born on a Tuesday, but I actually was in early labor WAY before. People always tell me how long they were in labor for, but I honestly have no idea. On the Saturday, I had a coffee date with a friend. She drove all the way from Tillsonburg to see me, and we headed to Williams Coffee Pub. About ten minutes in to our coffee date, I already felt like death warmed over. I lasted almost an hour before I had to make her drive me home; I thought I was going to throw up in the middle of Williams. I laid on the couch miserable, threw up, then spent the rest of the evening trying different positions to get my intense back pain to go away. Was this it? I had no idea. They say when you’re in labor, you just know. I didn’t.

I went to bed Saturday night and got the last sleep I’d get for… days? Weeks? I woke up Sunday morning and felt like my pelvis had been smashed with a sledgehammer. It honestly felt like somebody beat me up in my sleep (I guarantee my husband did not!). My back was also killing me. My mum, who I had spoken to the day before, wanted to come down and take me and my husband out for dinner. So I got up, got dressed, I don’t even think I put makeup on, and we headed to Boston Pizza. I felt like garbage so I ordered just a soup, took one bite, and asked for more crackers. I ended up eating exactly one bite of soup and eight crackers. I remember waddling off to the bathroom with pain in my pelvis and my back and thinking “I’m going to be one of those women on a TLC program that has her baby in the toilet” because I was so sure he was coming imminently. But thankfully, he waited. I went home and took a short nap, only to be woken up by intensifying back pain. I called my aunt, who is a doula, and she came over and went over exercises with me for pain management. She told me later that she was pretty sure things were happening, but at the time she said nothing, and all I could think of was “Dear God how long will I be in this pain for?!” I was worried that it could be days!

By 0100 Monday morning (/Sunday night) the pain was finally coming in waves rather than sporadically, and I started tracking it using an app, the contractions were 50 seconds long and three minutes apart, so Dev convinced me to head to the hospital. Being in the car, sitting down, was so painful I could hardly breathe. We got to OB Triage and they checked me… Still 2cm! No progress whatsoever, that’s what I had been Friday when I saw my OB. You have no idea how disappointed I was. I felt like I was going to collapse from the pain,  and they were sending me home?! They offered me some morphine before I left but I didn’t want to look like a drug seeker so I refused. What an idiot I was!

So we went home, where I tried to rest and failed miserably. I tried to take a bath to help with the pain, but sitting was too painful and I ended up hunched over the side of the tub with every contraction, nearly in tears. Finally, about seven or eight hours after we got home, Dev tried to convince me to go back to the hospital. I’d stopped tracking my contractions, reasoning that it didn’t matter how close they were, but the pain was getting even more unbearable. In tears, I told Devin that we shouldn’t go to the hospital because they would just send me home again. He told me at least we could go get something for pain. Not wanting to look like a drug seeker (it must be the nurse in me), I kept refusing. Finally I gave in, as I couldn’t take it anymore.

We got to OB Triage (again) after a long drive with me in the back seat, hunched over Devin’s seat trying not to rest my bottom on my seat. I thought to myself that I had better not have to make the trip again because I didn’t think I could handle it. I was checking in at the desk when (another) contraction came on, and I was leaning over the chair in the reception area struggling to breathe, when someone started rubbing my back. “Don’t touch me!” I screamed, thinking it was Devin. Surprise! It was the nurse that would be looking after me. Oops!

Our nurse, whose name I’ve now forgotten because I took my sweet time writing this, was amazing. She was totally no-nonsense and at first I hated her, thinking she was being mean. She immediately told me I was breathing wrong, and, rather harshly, coached me on proper breathing. I can’t begin to express how much she helped me with something so simple. She checked me and found me to be 3 centimetres! Hooray! We were finally progressing, even if ever so slightly. I don’t remember what time it was, but probably around 1400 by this time. The nurse asked me if I wanted something for pain, and this time I quickly agreed to it. She gave me some morphine and gravol, turned off the lights, and let me sleep for a few hours. I think the morphine lasted about an hour and a half before the pain started getting hard to bear again, but the hour and a half of sleep with only mild contractions? Heaven.

Finally at 1830 I was in quite a bit of pain again, and I asked our nurse if she could check me again before she left. HALLELUJAH! I was four centimetres! The magic number! I was told I was going to be admitted.

Right on cue at 1900, our L&D nurse showed up at the door, and SURPRISE! I knew her. The nurse, Jess, recognized me immediately as we had worked together at a nursing home and at my current job, where she worked really briefly. She wasn’t sure before if she knew me because my last name had changed. She asked if I was okay with her being my nurse, and I was hesitant because, well, how awkward, right? But I figured all my pride was about to go out the window anyway so I may as well get used to it.

I was glad from the get go that I had agreed to let Jess be my nurse. She only graduated a few years ago, but she was knowledgeable and friendly, and when I stated that I wanted to wait a while to get my epidural, she immediately protested and convinced me that getting it ASAP was the way to go. I protested a bit, but considering I couldn’t even walk to the washroom (5 feet from my bed) without at least a few contractions stopping me in my path, I quickly gave in.

I think the anesthetist showed up around 2200, and had a student with him. He asked if it was alright if she put in my epidural, and at that point I would have let my Frenchie mix put it in so long as it helped. Honestly, the worst part of the epidural was the positioning you have to have for them to put it in. They sat me on the very edge of the bed, which, with back labor, is an absolute treat. Then you have to get so far to the edge you feel like you’ll fall off, so Devin had to hold onto me so I didn’t fall on the floor. They raise the bed up a gazillion feet so they don’t have to bend, so you’re dangling precariously off the side of this bed in the air. And then you have to bend your back around your bump, and suck in your belly button. I can imagine if it didn’t feel like your coccyx was broken, and you weren’t having insane contractions, it wouldn’t be a big deal. It also wouldn’t be such a big deal if the student didn’t try for FORTY FIVE MINUTES to put it in. Forty. Five. Minutes. Honestly. WTF. Apparently she was having issues because of my tattoos on my back (which there is a huge gap between).  Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to hold still for forty five minutes, but it’s effing hard. Especially when you are in pain and it feels like, for lack of a better description, your ass is on fire. I ended up sweating so profusely that Jess had to grab a towel and towel me off. My entire gown was soaked. My hair was soaked. The makeup I had applied prior to coming in (because, you know, I had to look cute for pictures!) was gone. I was a mess. Finally, after forty five (FORTY FIVE!) minutes of her trying, the doc came back, saw that she still wasn’t done, and told me he would try. He promised that if he couldn’t get it in five minutes he’d give me a break. He actually had to re-freeze my back because the lidocaine had worn off. That’s how long this chick took. He took one little poke annnnnnnd…. BAZINGA. Got it in there. That guy is my hero.

When people tell you to just take the drugs, TAKE THE DRUGS. Honestly my life got so much easier after I got that epidural. I spent time chatting with Dev, chatting with Jess, shooting the shit.. no problems. My one side was totally frozen, the left side was not so much, but if we rolled me onto my left side it froze up too. Life was good.

And then. I was laying, I think, on my right hand side, when my left starting giving me too much pain again. So Jess and another nurse helped me to roll onto my left, to help the freezing kick back in. Suddenly, the baby’s heart rate dropped in half, to about 65. The nurses got me back onto my right, but his heart rate remained low. We moved me back and forth, and a zillion nurses came in and started putting their hands up in my personal area, massaging the baby’s head to try to stimulate him. They gave me a venti mask and told me to do some deep breathing. You have no idea how terrifying it was. I looked at Devin and he looked at me and at that moment I thought we were losing our baby. I didn’t know how to react but to keep breathing deeply and try to clear my mind of all the horrible thoughts I was having. Finally, after three or four minutes, our baby’s heart rate went back up to around 120, where it should be.

I don’t remember whether it was before or after the decels happened, but at some point they decided that the normal monitors that monitor baby’s heart rate weren’t doing a great job, and decided to give him what they refer to as “a clip,” it’s basically a monitor they actually clip on under baby’s scalp that tracks the heart rate better. So we got one of those. Then the clip started malfunctioning and reading all wrong and dropping the signal… so we got a new clip. My poor guy had all kinds of scrapes on his head : / But at least we knew what was going on. Unfortunately, with the clip on we could hear the heart rate even more clearly as the machine beeped with every heartbeat. So I spent most of the night listening to the beeping, and watching the monitor in a panic. Thatcher had about three more episodes of decels, first because I was moving, but then sometimes just because the doctor was checking me, and each time it was just as terrifying. I ended up spending the majority of my labor lying flat on my back trying not to move my leg, even though the contractions kept coming in my one hip/leg.  But I would do anything I had to to keep his heart rate where it needed to be.

Everything progressed pretty slowly with my labor, but by about 0630 Tuesday morning I got the wonderful news that I was finally ten centimetres! It took twelve hours to go from four to ten, but I did it! Without drugs or anything to help me along! I was told that because it was around shift change, we wouldn’t be pushing for a bit.

So of course the wonderful thing about the mornings in L&D is that apparently there is a lot going on, my OB was actually on that morning but he was in surgeries all morning so I got the other doctor. Except that she had a c-section to go to, so I still couldn’t push yet. Luckily, another phenomenal nurse came to replace Jess (again, it’s been a month and I forget, so let’s call her Amanda? It had an A in it I think. Amanda sounds good.). Amanda sat around and chatted with me and shot the shit while we waited, and waited, and waited some more to push. I had been under the impression that once you were 10cm, they took away your drugs so you could feel your contractions. Luckily, this wasn’t the case. In fact, Amanda encouraged me to push my PRN button as much as necessary. When I told her it wasn’t necessary, she told me to push it anyway. I think I pushed it maybe three times all night, then ten times in the hours before he was born, and I’m glad I did!

It was probably around 1030 when I was told that we were finally ready to push.

_______________This is where I left of 9/29/13. Continuing now. Whoops ______________

Okay. So. Back to the story. I feel like I’m a writer on How I Met Your Mother, getting totally off track and then jumping back in. Where was I? I guess pushing. The most dreaded part of most people’s labours, no?

So around 1030 I got word that we were going to start pushing. Like any expectant mama, I had NO IDEA what to do. There are certain things about babies and childbirth that you just can’t prepare for. Pushing, and breastfeeding. I mean, you can read and prepare, but both feel really weird and you just look at the nurses like.. “Help me” and hope that they can tell you what to do. So that’s basically what I did. I looked at Amanda (or whatever her name actually was) and asked her wtf I was supposed to do. It’s actually pretty easy. Take a huge deep breath, then hold your breath and push three times. All whilst holding your legs in a very unattractive position. I told the nurses not to let me know if I pooped. They said “Why would we?!” I’m 99.5% sure I pooped. Whoops. Who knows? I’m glad I don’t.

So anyway. At this point I was so frozen that I couldn’t feel anything, and apparently you’re supposed to push only when you’re having contractions. Well. I had no idea if I was having contractions. I hadn’t felt one in twelve hours. So Amanda had to sit there with her hand on my belly, feeling for them. Just chillin’ near my feet, staring at my girly parts with her hand on my tummy. Could have been super awkward, but by then all my dignity was gone and I really didn’t give a hoot; the queen mum could have been there and I wouldn’t have cared. So we started with her feeling for my contractions and me pushing three times; I started realizing that after pushing three times we still had some time before the contractions were over so I asked if I could push more times. Amanda looked at me like I had three heads and said that of course I could, if I could handle it. So I started pushing four times, then five. Unfortunately, my contractions had slowed down to about every six minutes, so there was a lot of lull in between pushing. Pushing was maybe thirty seconds, then a six minute lull, then thirty seconds of activity, and so on. So of course they decided that it would be best to give me pitocin.

Now here is where it gets really fuzzy for me, because it’s been nineteen weeks and I can’t remember the order of things. So if I’m inaccurate, and you are a L&D nurse reading this, please forgive me. Things are all jumbled up and I probably have the order of events backwards and sideways.

So at some point in time they decide that pitocin would be a good idea. I wasn’t really all for it, because I wanted to do things naturally (save for my epidural), but we were nearing the end and I thought if it could get my baby boy outta there safely and quicker so we didn’t have to worry about decels and whatnot, well then by all means, go ahead. So they started the pitocin in my IV. About thirty seconds after it hit by bloodstream, the monitors went crazy. Thatcher’s heart rate was decelerating again, into the 60s. Of course the pitocin was immediately stopped, but a zillion people ran back into the room, rubbing at his head and trying to get his heart rate back up. I’m pretty sure they may have bolused me with some fluids at that point. Honestly things are a blur. All I know is, my little bird did NOT want pitocin; he wanted to do things naturally, apparently.

At some point in time, one of the residents checked to see how far Thatcher’s head was. When they checked, they were kind of weird about it, because they couldn’t tell which way he was facing. So the doctor put her hand up there. She couldn’t tell which way he was facing. She asked the nurse to check. She couldn’t tell either. They usually can tell by feeling the baby’s fontanels, which are the soft spots on their heads that help baby’s head kinda mould and shift during labor. Looking back, now I know that babies with Down Syndrome have different fontanelles than typical babies, so it makes sense that they were confused. But none of us knew this, so they were having one heck of a time trying to figure out where he was facing.

In the end, the doctor ended up sticking her ENTIRE HAND around his head and turning him about 270 degrees. Thank god I was frozen, or I would have felt totally violated. All I thought in the moment was “I wish she could just pull him out!”… enter image of Homer getting his hand stuck in the soda machine because he’s holding onto the soda. What a lovely image. I’m sure I just got WAY too personal for some of you. My blog, my gross stories. Sorry!

So anyway, I feel like my story is probably backwards and that the turning of the baby came before the pitocin, because that would make sense, but at some point, they started getting worried because of the decels and the fact that he was still not far enough out and I had been pushing for a while. I mean, really, in an hour I could only push 10 cycles because things were so slow going, so you can’t blame him for still being in there. They started talking about how I would need an emergency c-section if he didn’t come soon. Well. I am stubborn, and there was NO WAY I was going to have a c-section. I just knew I wasn’t. Nothing wrong with it, but I hadn’t gone through all of this dilating and pushing to have him just cut out of there. So I started pushing five times per cycle. I started keeping pressure so that he would stay further out even when no contractions. And pretty soon after (maybe two push cycles), he was out!

Thatcher was born at 12:20pm. Everything happened SO fast after he was born. Thatcher had the cord around his neck and legs, which is a bit of an emergency. They had asked Devin earlier if he wanted to cut the cord, and he wasn’t sure. He thought maybe he would, but he was scared. We were hoping to do delayed cord clamping, but they obviously only do it if the baby is not in distress. Of course, Thatcher WAS in distress, and it had to be cut ASAP. They asked Dev if he wanted to cut it NOW, or not at all. He was a champ and cut it, and they quickly got him unwrapped from the cord so he could breathe.

Our hospital is really big into skin-to-skin, which is great. HOWEVER. Thatcher had passed his meconium (that first sticky, tarry yucky poop) whilst he was being born, and was COVERED in it. They put him on a blanket on my tummy, and it was all I could do not to vomit. I looked at him, and I wanted to see how beautiful he was, but all I could  see was how nauseous I was in the first place, and somebody put him on me covered in poop. I’m sure he was gorgeous anyway, but I could hardly look. Luckily, I can’t stop looking at him now so he really is beautiful! We were lucky that he didn’t have any ongoing health issues because of the meconium, some babies can aspirate it or swallow it and run into tons of health issues, but the team was great and got him all suctioned out and it didn’t effect him at all.

So anyhow. They let him sit on my chest for all of about five seconds, which honestly was okay with me, then took him over to the workspace to resuscitate him. Looking back over his paperwork, I learned that his APGAR was three, which is critically low. APGAR basically is a scale that assesses the health of a baby when they are born, and then again five minutes after. Luckily for us the team working on him was great, and at the five minute mark he was up to nine out of ten, which is amazing.

As for me, somebody yelled out “She’s hemorrhaging” and the doctor got right to work, I think they gave me some more pitocin to get things to stop, and worked away down there… there is a reason that babies are born from an area that you can’t see past your swollen tummy… some things I wouldn’t want to see and that was one of them. Whatever they did worked just fine and I am 100% okay. That’s all I need to know about that. Devin did mention to me that there was “a lot of blood on the floor” but since he’s not in the medical profession I have no idea what he means by a lot of blood, and I probably don’t want to know. Some things are better left unknown.

Back to Thatch. They finally finished suctioning him and working on him and got him all wiped off and wrapped up and gave him to me. He was this puffy, squishy bundle in blue, and he was so TINY! It was unbelievable. We just looked at him in total shock. He was amazing. I don’t think I cried, but Devin did. It was just amazing. We got to spend a few minutes just hanging out with him while the nurses got the room cleaned up from his birth.

And then. And then. It happened. In the midst of all our excitement, in the midst of our absolute relief at having this beautiful baby in our arms, after all the stress of labor and after all the worrying that we had gone through. Then it happened.

The doctor came over to us, and said the words I never wanted to hear. “Did you test positive for any genetic markers?” Of course I had. I told her yes, and she told me that they thought that he had Down Syndrome. I looked at him and I knew. I don’t know if I cried right away. I can’t remember. It was like being back in my doctor’s office, 22 weeks earlier.  I don’t know what I said or what I did. I know that Devin told me that they were just seeing things. We rationalized that yes, his eyes were almond shaped, but so were mine. They had to be my eyes. After four days of labor, after numerous scares, thinking we might lose him at the end of the game, they had to be my eyes. He couldn’t have Down Syndrome. What IS Down Syndrome? We didn’t really even know. We just knew that Becky on Glee had it. That we had seen people who had it. We didn’t know any of them.

In all the 22 weeks since I got my test results back yet, I had a feeling. A horrible feeling in my gut that something was wrong. I told myself that I was being crazy. That this was how every mum felt. I was being paranoid. I told myself that there was no way anything was wrong with my perfect, smart, wonderful baby. He was going to grow up and be a professor. An astronaut. A hockey player. A scholar. He was going to be perfect. Not one time did I EVER look up with DS actually was. Not once. I don’t know if it was too hard and I couldn’t, or if I was trying to think positive. I have no idea what I was thinking. But I didn’t know what we were in for.

Now I’m going to say something horrible. It’s horrible and it makes me a horrible person but it happened. I wouldn’t say it, but when Thatcher was born someone sent me a blog about a woman whose baby was born with Down Syndrome (found here: http://www.kellehampton.com/2010/01/nella-cordelia-birth-story.html), and hers was so open and honest, and it really helped me grieve, and if I can help anyone by being honest myself then I will do it. Plus, I’m over 5000 words here so if you’re still with me by now, then you’ll still be with me after I say it.

Here it goes. As soon as they told me, I knew. I knew he had it. And as soon as I knew, the first thing I wanted to know was how I could get out. Get out of the hospital, get out of this life. Get out. Could I put him up for adoption? Could I just let someone else take care of him? I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be the mama of a baby with a disability. There was no way. This wasn’t in my life plan. I debated, in my head, asking the nurses how adoption worked. How would I explain it? I wondered these things. I am ashamed of myself for wondering them. But I did it. It happened.

And then. And then I looked at him. And then I held him. And then I swaddled him up and cuddled him. And then I looked into his beautiful eyes and I knew that I was his mama, and he was mine. He was mine from the time he was a tiny sesame seed in my tummy. He always had been and he always will be. Every second since he had existed, he had had Down Syndrome. It happens at conception, things get a little mixed up, and babies get an extra dose of awesome. Every second I had felt him kick, and rubbed my tummy to have him rub me back. Every time I had talked to him, or sang to him in the car. He had always been my beautiful baby boy. And he had always had Down Syndrome. Nothing had changed. The only thing that had to change was my attitude.

Thatcher put us through hell during his labor, and for the first few weeks of his life. We were in the NICU from August 28 (the day after his birth) until September 12, but that’s a different story. We had ups and downs like a roller coaster, which ironically made me start this blog, which I never seemed to find time to update while we were going through them.

While in the hospital, I struggled with the idea that he had an extra chromosome that could change our lives, and I know that in the future I will probably struggle again. Maybe someone will say something mean. Maybe he will have troubles in school. Maybe, maybe. We came home, and I finally got to hang out with my baby boy, just he and I. No nurses barging in, no doctors. And I started having serious talks with him. I told him stories and snuggled with him. I sang him songs without worrying that someone would have to deal with my terrible voice from the hallway. And in that time, while Devin was at work and I was home with Thatcher, I fell even more in love with him. And now I know, everyone has their maybe. Maybe the zombpocalypse will happen tomorrow and we will all die. Maybe a plane will fall out of the sky, Donnie Darko style, and kill me. There are a thousand maybes that can happen to all of us at any time. But knowing and loving my little bird, there is no maybe about that. I do know him, and I do love him, and the maybes can happen, but they will never change that.

Labels

Okay so.

My last blog was started September 19, 2013, and last updated September 29. Then I forgot about it for over three months. Whoops.

I’m going to continue that one because it’s something that I would like to reread in the future, and I still want to post it, but I wanted to apologize to everyone who said they were going to follow my blog, only to have me stop blogging after one post!

I will finish my original post tonight, with a break between when I started and now.

We got a new computer for Christmas, so I’m hoping that makes it easier to spend some time on here, and Thatcher actually has a good bedtime routine happening, so I should start having some time to blog in the future.

I can’t promise what I will blog about. There are a lot of blogs out there about Down Syndrome, and I guess that’s kind of what mine will be about. Except that really, that’s not all that my little family is about. I have found that in my four months of being a mama, the thing that annoys me the most is when people send me articles, posts, blogs about kids with DS. Now, close friends of mine might send me things sometimes, and that is okay. They screen them and figure out what I might like. And I have a few blogs I like to follow, about families with kids with DS. That is also okay. But what really grinds my gears? When people I went to high school or college with send me links about kids with DS, and they haven’t even talked to me in five years! What is that?!

I have a hard time getting into words what I think is wrong with this, but I will try.

Basically, there is a Facebook group I follow called Lose the Label (https://www.facebook.com/Losethelabel). Their campaign is basically about how people with Down Syndrome are just that – people. They happen to have Down Syndrome, but that is not their defining characteristic. They are just regular people first and foremost. I feel like, when randoms who I haven’t talked to in a zillion years message me links and photos and videos, that they have forgotten this, or that they are not aware. They don’t know that we are just a normal family. Thatcher is a normal baby. Does he have Down Syndrome? Yes. Is he different than any other baby? No. We do normal mama/baby things all day. We get up, we snuggle, get dressed, do tummy time, eat. He has his bath every night and I sing a ridiculous song I made up that makes him laugh, and he goes to bed. Everything in between is normal too. Yes, we have an OT come to our house every few weeks. And we have seen a few specialists. But honestly? That’s once in a while stuff. In our every day life, we are boring, run of the mill people. Just a mama and her beautiful baby bird, who amazes me every day with the things that he has accomplished and the strength and personality that he has. No matter what his chromosomes say, that is what we would be. We are not different, and I don’t expect to be treated that way. I don’t appreciate being labelled “That girl whose baby has Down syndrome.” I am the girl with the beautiful baby with slate/blue eyes, and wonderful, gummy smile, and the chubbiest cheeks in the world. That’s all.

So, now that I’ve been lost on a tangent, yes, I might post some things about DS. I might post some things about my crazy dogs being lunatics. I’ll post places we go, things we see. But mostly, I’ll just post about my beautiful, bouncing baby bird.