Today is World Down Syndrome Day. Something I never really thought about before until my sweet youngest niece, Lydia, graced this world with her presence. Of course, I knew about Down syndrome. I knew that people with Down syndrome seemed to have such a innocence and wonder about them and that the people that had the privilege of having these people in their lives were so incredibly blessed. However, I never knew how it felt personally until the birth of my niece.
Let me back up to almost a year ago. My sister, who was already a mother to three, got the surprise of her life when she found out she was pregnant again. At the gender ultrasound, she got the second shock of her life….she was having TWINS!! Babies are a family affair in our family so I went to almost every appointment I could (AKA ones she let me come to, lol). I was so excited for my baby sister that I jumped out of my seat….then ran to her side to hold her hand as the news sunk in (five kids is a lot to process, you guys). It was a crazy day, to say the least. As the ultrasound appointment seemed to go on forever, and the ultrasound tech got quiet, I began to wonder if something was wrong. Back in the examination room, the doctor walked in with the weirdest face. I’ll never forget it, he looked like someone kicked a puppy in front of him and he was there to tell us about it. He looked so sad. That’s when he told us, he said “with the measurements on the ultrasound, one of the babies looks like it could have Down syndrome.” Me and my sister looked at each other, then back at the doctor and pretty much said “So?” at the same time. The doctor started going over tests they could perform to know for sure and talked about “options from there.” My sister looked him dead in his face and said “No, it doesn’t matter what the tests say.” Talk about a proud big sister moment!
The twins were born five weeks early. One boy, and one girl….and they were both beautiful and perfect. I was there to witness the little joys coming into this world and my heart swelled as they breathed their first breaths.
They just recently celebrated their first birthday’s. Lydia’s twin brother, Liam, is a little ahead of her, but she is definitely catching up to him quickly. She has this way about her….she stares so intently into your eyes, like she’s looking into your soul. She holds onto your face while you talk to her. I never want her to stop holding my face while looking into my eyes. She gives the sloppiest kisses and smiles all the time. This world would be seriously lacking without her in it.
I’ve recently read articles about places that instantly abort babies with this syndrome, and it makes me sad. Not just for the children who were aborted, but for the people who could have experienced so much joy and love and snuffed it out before even giving it a chance. I’m not going to say that it’s easy….being a parent isn’t ever easy. Even when all events line up to the mythical perfect time to have a baby, it’s still hard. It’s hard because being a parent means we have to stop being selfish and care for someone other than ourselves…and that is hard…but SO INCREDIBLY WORTH IT!
I asked my sister what she would want people to know about having a child with Down syndrome, and this is what she said, “Having a child with Down syndrome is one of the biggest blessings in my life. I’m not only teaching her, but she is teaching me as well.”