To the parents who just received a diagnosis of Down syndrome:
I remember when we were pregnant with our first child and I absolutely couldn’t wait to find out the sex of our baby. I was certain I’d never been more more anxious before in my life. Once we finally reached that precious day and learned the sex of our first child, I did calm down… for about 30 seconds. I was impatient about putting a face to the name we chose for her. We spent too much money to see 3-D images of our girl that didn’t give me any better idea of what she’d actually look like. The second time around I was equally as excited and impatient to see our second daughter’s sweet face, but I managed to pass on the the expensive extra images and wait a little more patiently for her entrance to the world for our first official viewing.
The third time, however, we received additional information with our gender ultrasound — the diagnosis of an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. I pulled up Google faster than I could even say Down syndrome to find out what to expect. I read and read over the next few months. I loved her with my whole heart already.
After all my research, I thought I knew exactly what and who I was expecting. I’d spent months reading the same bits of information just reworded a million times; we were having a floppy-limbed, flat-nosed baby with almond eyes, a protruding tongue, curvy fingers with a straight line across her hand and a tiny little neck. She probably wouldn’t be able to speak to us very well if at all. She probably wouldn’t walk for a long time, and she would likely be pretty delayed in just about every area imaginable. Right? Wrong!
I could list all the many ways my daughter, KC, and many others we know with that extra awesome chromosome prove that so-called research wrong, but instead I’ll say this: when I think about what would’ve come up if I Googled “what to expect with my typical daughters,” the answer is I’d still have no idea how they’d turn out. I’d have no idea one would have beautiful, hazel, almond eyes, an incredible love of learning and an unimaginable memory. I’d have no way of knowing our other little girl would be able to make me laugh every time she opened her cute little mouth (especially when she’s supposed to be in trouble), or that her big brown eyes would sparkle back when the most girly, princess-y dress you’ve ever seen is held up in front her.
Similarly, I never would’ve found on Google that our KC’s presence would instantly inspire us or that she’d love baby dolls, tea parties and Batman with her whole heart. Or that her sweet little voice would be one of my favorite sounds, especially when she’s standing under my feet in the kitchen, singing “guacamole, guacamole.” I had no way of knowing until I met her that her extra chromosome would be the farthest thought in my mind when I look at her contagious smile.
The fact is that, you can’t Google who your kid is going be. Only experiencing them each and every day will show you. I’ve learned, extra chromosomes or not, they’ll be amazing people who rock your world from the first moment you hold them. They will own you the first time they look into your eyes and you see all the potential in that little face with the incredible, unique features you and your partner combined to create this amazing person.
If you’re one of the lucky few who gets a little extra to love, I believe you’ll be honored and humbled by all of the opportunities you now have to prove wrong the incorrect, repetitive, biased articles you come across when you research this new diagnosis on Google. I wish the first thing you read was this instead: “Congratulations on your uniquely perfect gift!”