It was over 14 years ago that my son, Alex, was born. After a terrifying series of events, he came from the womb blue and floppy. Resuscitation efforts ensued, and once he began breathing, the neonatologist told me she would need to bring him down to the neonatal unit. Before she left, she brought my newborn son to me, and showed me his precious, tiny features. His eyes were almond shaped, his ears tiny and curled. As she introduced me to my son, she suggested that he should be tested for Down syndrome. We didn’t need blood tests, we knew, our baby had Down syndrome.
I slept a hazy, medicated sleep that night. The next morning, the sun was bright and cheery, and my husband returned to the hospital after a stop at a bookstore along the way. He was loaded down with reading material to guide us into a new phase in life, and a huge smile on his face.
The man who during the previous evening had held his head in his hands with a blank look on his face, had determined that we would embrace our child, his Down syndrome, and everything that would mean to us. He led the way into our new normal with an attitude of acceptance.
That was over 14 years ago. We have a middle schooler now, who is popular and pretty darn cool. There were times along the way that we needed to grieve. We struggled with breastfeeding, and of all things, his inability to understand the fun of the Tooth Fairy when he lost his first tooth. There have been big emotional struggles for me, and I’m sure there are more to come. We’re starting to navigate the transition to adulthood, and there’s tension about just how much independence is appropriate. But he went to a middle school event last Friday, and for the first time his teacher wasn’t there to chaperon. He hung out with his buddies, and though I was a nervous wreck, he had a blast!
We don’t know what the future holds, but our experience as Alex’s parents has taught us to expect great things, and to greet each day with optimism.
Submitted by Alethea Mshar