A friend of mine asked me to write my thoughts on raising a child with Down syndrome. I thought I would share them here.
I remember it as if it were yesterday. The day my world was turned upside down. The doctor delivered the news to my husband and I that our first baby would be born with Down syndrome. At first I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock. I was scared.
And then the tears came. And came. And came. I mourned as if I had lost a child, because that's what it felt like at the time.
I spent endless nights worrying about whether or not my child would be beautiful, and whether or not she would learn to walk or ride a bike. I worried about how I would care for her and teach her, and who would take care of her when I died. I worried that she might not like to rock climb like her dad and I, or dance like her grandmother, or graduate from school. I worried, and I cried, and I worried some more.
And then she was born.
And she was beautiful.
And my heart filled with more love than I could ever imagine.
And as the days and months went on I realized that our little baby was just what we needed. She introduced us to a whole new world, and dozens of new friendships and opportunities. Before we knew it, it seemed that almost everyone we knew had a connection to someone with Down syndrome.
We met other children and young adults with Down syndrome. And they were beautiful, and talented, and smart, and loved and cherished by their families.
And we learned to celebrate every victory. Like the first time Antalya rolled over, or clapped her hands, or held a cup, or walked on her own.
And now, five years later, we still celebrate every victory. Like, yesterday when she spelled her name correctly for the very first time and I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day.
And I have learned that all my worries, were just worries. My daughter is beautiful. She is smart. She is talented. She runs, jumps, and plays with the other children her age. She loves to dance and sing. She knows her letters and numbers, she’s learning to read and write. She can make her little sister laugh harder than anyone else. She is loved and adored by cousins, grandparents, teachers, and friends. And she puts a smile on my face every day.
Sure there are challenging moments. Lots of them. But what parent doesn't have challenging moments with their children? So we take them as they come, just like we do with our 'typical' daughter, doing our best to teach her, and help her become all she needs to be to survive in this world. But with all the teaching we do, it is our daughter that does the most teaching.
Every day she teaches us through her actions the power of persistence and determination, the importance of a positive attitude, and that love should always be unconditional.
Our lives have been forever changed for the better because of our sweet Antalya!