Monday, 17 September 2012

Different Paths

Can't believe he was this tiny once.... Perfect :)
I would like to say a huge 'Congratulations' to a couple of people I have met online, who have just given birth to babies with Down Syndrome. Welcome to the family!  I know you are still feeling like you are on an emotional rollercoaster. You are grieving the child you thought you were carrying, and are adjusting to this new little one, who is not quite what you expected. That is perfectly normal!! Take all the time you need to grieve and cry; to get angry and do whatever you need to do. Be assured that the love for your little one will grow over time, until it is all consuming and overwhelming! You will love that baby more than you ever thought possible; and that little one will adore you. It may be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is there. When you are ready, please reach out to those of us who have been through what you are going through now. We have all handled things differently, and no two of our stories are exactly the same, but we are here to support you and help you through. That precious little baby will change your life in such a beautiful way!
Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes

I've had a couple of conversations, recently, with some people who are expecting babies. We have talked about the screening test for Down Syndrome, currently being used, which gives you a 'risk factor' as to whether or not the baby you are carrying is more, or less, likely to have Down Syndrome. Both of these people had chosen to have the blood screen. What is really beautiful about the conversations, is that these parents had already decided, prior to the blood test, that they would be accepting of their baby having Down Syndrome, if that was the case. One is an older Mum (early forties), and one is a young couple, expecting their first baby. They have both expressed that, since knowing Felix, they don't have a fear of Down Syndrome any more. They can see that he is a beautiful little boy, who brings so much joy and so much love. I feel thankful that Felix's life is being used to show others that, just because life sometimes takes an unexpected turn and a baby is born with Down Syndrome, it doesn't mean your life is over. It just means that you will take a slightly different path than the one you were walking before. There can be some obstacles along that path, but the views are breathtaking!!

Ready for bed
It's funny how life takes twists and turns. Some are very subtle and you barely notice them, and others are life altering changes which smack you in the face and turn everything upside down. I've written before about the fear I had, during my first 7 pregnancies, of having a child with Down Syndrome. I don't know why Down Syndrome was the specific thing I chose to fixate on; I mean, there are so many other things which can happen to a baby during it's development. Many things, some would say, are much 'worse' than Down Syndrome. Maybe because I had noticed people with Down Syndrome, because of their physical attributes? I'm not really sure why. It grieves me now to say that people with Down Syndrome used to frighten me!

Fast forward another ten years and there I was, in the Ultrasound room, being told it looked like my baby had Down Syndrome. Strangely, that was OK. Yes it did turn our lives upside down, but I have never been more thankful for one of life's twists! Our lives feel so full now. Yes, there are Doctor's appointments and blood tests. I've never been on first-name basis with Physiotherapists or Speech Pathologists before, and certainly never had a Paediatrician's number in my mobile phone, but I wouldn't change our lives for anything in the world. Felix is just what we needed; a tiny little person who keeps us grounded and teaches us lessons in patience and wonder every day. Nathan and I were talking the other day, and both of us agree that we can barely remember life before Felix. It's only been just over 2 years since his diagnosis (at 19 weeks pregnant), but it's been the most meaningful couple of years of our lives.

Playgroup Fun!
Yesterday I was at the supermarket, unloading my huge trolley full of food onto the checkout. I heard a young man say something to me, and turned to see a guy in his mid-twenties giving me a huge smile. He struck up a conversation with me, letting me know that he was being careful to keep an eye on where my shopping ended, and where his Dad's shopping started. Years ago, I would have tried really hard not to make eye contact with this man, or maybe would have smiled politely and moved as quickly as I could to get out of the supermarket, just because of his intellectual disability. Why? I don't really know. Maybe it is a fear of the unknown. I could never be sure. Yesterday, however, I was sad when I had to leave. We had been having a great conversation about everything from Hot Wheels cars, to whether or not the PS3 or XBox was a better console (He assured me the PS3 is the best!). He was a lovely young man, and I bet his family are very proud of him.

Thanks Felix for choosing to come into our family; you have opened my eyes to all of the beautiful people I had never allowed myself  to know before you came along!!  You have made me a better person and I will be forever grateful!

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