Dear New Mom,
First, I want to say Congratulations on your adorable new baby! You are in for a beautiful journey with your new little one.
I know a Down Syndrome diagnosis seems daunting, and your mind is probably racing a million miles a minute. Maybe you feel disconnected from your child right now or maybe you feel like if you snuggle them tight enough, you can squeeze the Down Syndrome right out of them. You could be feeling like I did, that your baby is perfect, so how can this really be true. Like this is all just some bad dream, something that only happens to people in movies. This not your reality. You are probably wondering, like I did, what your baby’s life will be like? Know that your baby is perfect just the way they are. They will cry and keep you up at night, they will give you cuddles, they will learn to smile and let out the sweetest giggles ever. Your baby will roll over, and sit, and stand, and walk and do everything else that any typical baby can do.
This is probably not the life you pictured when you first found out you were pregnant, but don’t underestimate your child, they will go on to change not only your perspective, but change the perspectives of so many around you. They will bring about so much love and joy in your life, more than you could ever imagine.
Please know, this is not your fault. As wives, we feel like it is our responsibility to give our husbands a perfect baby, and as moms we want to create a perfect child. We are so hard on ourselves, and to top it all off, the pregnancy hormones do not help. Your child does not have Down Syndrome because of something you did wrong. It is not because you forgot to take your prenatal vitamin a few times, or because you didn’t eat as healthy during your pregnancy as you could have. Down Syndrome happens at conception and there is nothing either you or your partner could have done to cause or prevent it. Your baby has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, but this just means they are extra special. They have a little extra joy to show you, and a little extra love to give you.
You are probably skipping ahead to when your child grows up and imagining a world, hard for them to navigate, wondering if they will be able to make friends, play sports, drive a car, get a job or even go to college. I promise you, they will surprise you with how much they can accomplish.
You will worry about your child and stay up nights thinking about their future. But that’s because you are a mom. Every mom worries about their child. Our children’s futures are unknown, but it is a beautiful thing watching them grow up and discover their world, whether they are neuro typical or have Down Syndrome. We are their parents, and we only want the very best for our children, we want to see them succeed and be happy. So, let me tell you, your child will grow up to be happy and they will succeed at it.
Your child’s future may look a little different than what you originally imagined, but does anything go as planned? Most of the time children grow up and they don’t take the paths their parents envisioned for them. They take their own path. They do what they were meant for. They do what makes them happy, and your child with Down Syndrome will grow up to do the same.
Right now, things may seem bleak, you may feel like the wind has been knocked out of you, you may feel sad, mad, or even guilty. Let me tell you, one day you will see your baby for who they are, and not for their extra chromosome.
It is okay to feel sad, it is okay to cry, and it is okay to grieve the life you had once imagined for your baby. Take the time you need to mourn the loss of the life you pictured for your child. It may take only a short time, or you may need to grieve for longer, everyone’s process is different.
Once you are finished, remember, your child is happy, and your child loves you, and all your child really needs is happy parents who love them. So, do just that, love your child to pieces. Kiss their forehead, stroke their soft chubby cheeks, and breathe in that sweet baby smell. Tell them you love them, be their biggest cheerleader and get in all the cuddles you can. Your life has just changed forever. It has changed for the better.
Our son is the biggest blessing we have ever been given. It didn’t take long for me to see how much he has changed our lives for the better. He has enriched the lives of our families and our friends, and so many others.
Once you have a moment, look to your local Down Syndrome community for support, read blogs written by moms whose love overflows for their chromosomally enhanced child, follow fellow moms of children with Down Syndrome and see all the cute faces, and the loving captions and supportive comments on Instagram & Facebook. Do not look up things on Google. Google is not your friend while you are navigating this new path. The truths of raising a child with Down Syndrome only come from the real-life experiences of parents and other family members who have been on this journey that you are now on.
I would like to finish by saying, Welcome to the club! You have just become part of one of the most supportive groups you will ever be a part of. I have never felt more love and more support from perfect strangers who feel like forever friends. We all know what it is like to receive that diagnosis for your child, we all have felt the same type of emotions you are going through right now, and we all share a common bond, we all have a child whom we love more than anything, and that child just happens to have Down Syndrome. We are the lucky few, we are blessed.
Lisa Williams (mom to Cooper, an adorable Homie with an Extra Chromie)
Recently, my new friend Dawn and fellow blogger and Down Syndrome Advocate, compiled letters from fellow moms on the same path. She created a free ebook for all the new moms out their in an effort to provide love and encouragement and try to help new moms have a slightly easier transition into this beautiful journey we are all on. Check out the Ebook: Dear Mama. This link will bring you to Dawns wonderful blog and provide you even more insight on Down Syndrome, at the bottom of her post will be the Ebook, click on it for your free download.