Never did I think I would be so happy to have a child with Down Syndrome. Never did I think this diagnosis would prove to be a blessing in my own life. Never did I think that I could be put into situations where I saw such strength in such a young age. I have been thrown into this life and I love it, and looking back at myself ten years ago, if I had the insight I have now, I would have prayed to be given such a gift. To see a fighter from such a young age. To see a child who smiles through heart surgery. To meet doctors who care for patients over a pay check. To be welcomed into a world of disabilities where the words “give up” don’t exist. I have met moms who strive every day to fight half as hard as their kids do. I have met therapists who love their patients like their own children. I have seen children who received a desperate diagnosis on their first day of life and laugh at it’s limits. Never did I think I would be having dinner with my husband and saying, if we didn’t have Down Syndrome in our life, something would be missing. It’s funny, it really is, how blessed you can feel when the world forces you to work harder. Never could I even imagine how words on a medical chart, chromosomes flowing through a body, strength imbedded in phrases defining a disability, could give my life so much more, so very much more.
This moment of appreciation came to me as I left Ellie’s group physical therapy session on Friday. I have come to know the parents and children who regularly attend. We talk like old friends and cheer our children on. The children in these classes do not all have Down Syndrome, and I actually don’t know their diagnosis. We don’t talk about it. We relay tid bits of hardships, surgeries or NICU stays, but the majority of conversation in class centers around supporting our kids. We sing songs, we laugh, we joke about early signs of boyfriends and girlfriends. The type of things I’ve seen at Gymboree or more typical play groups. It’s only when I take a moment outside of myself to see that there are physical barriers that may be holding these kids back, that discussing future relationships may be false hope. So I fight the tendency to feel any sadness or focus on things that don’t seem fair because to feel sorry for these kids would be giving them a disservice. Well beyond any hardship, I see fighters, and giggles, and kids who get tired and need their moms, and kids who don’t want to pay attention because they want to play, and kids who work hard, kids who work hard every day with smiles on their beautiful faces.