Today's guest is a friend I've made on the great social network of Facebook. Our only original bond was our babies with the surprise gift of Down Syndrome. We have since found that we have much in common and it has been a pleasure to get to know her.
Please enjoy Cara's perspective:
"It always amazes me how our lives can be forever changed in a instant. You are suddenly thrust into that "club" or that "group" that you never signed up for. And as much as you want to hide and run and escape and find another "club" to join, your life is undeniably altered. You know that there is no going back. That is kind of how I felt having Benji. Benji is number six for us, and our whole family could hardly wait for the birth of our third boy! We were thrilled to say the least. The anticipation for him was high and the count down for him was exhausting as he remained in my tummy many days past his due date. But his arrival was perfection and every prayer about his birth was answered. The lights were dim, and the normally noisy house was so quiet and peaceful. It was early, early morning. I remember hearing the faint sound of my two year old's worship music in her room. The pain was more than I thought I could handle as he made his quick debut into the world. I discovered that size does make a difference! There he was - our nine pound, six ounce beautiful baby boy in my arms all cuddly and sweet seeking his mommy's love in return with that addicting newborn smell. It was instant love. We bonded skin to skin, and I knew that I was blessed forever.
I did not know he had Down Syndrome. I knew that something was different than my other five babies, but I could not put my finger on it. But that did not matter; he was my son, a gift from God. I was soaking in every move he made and every breath he took. I was in that state of awe you are in as you welcome your new baby into your family. Down Syndrome was suspected the next day after a discussion with my midwife. It was a very sweet discussion. I learned that my midwife had been praying how to bring up her suspicions to me. God answered her, because I came right out asked her when she came back to check on us that day. I had wondered the next morning after he was born. It was then confirmed by the test around 10 days later.
I want to pause for a moment and say that I have read the birth stories of many mommy bloggers now that have had a range of emotions on learning the news that their babies have Down Syndrome. While I certainly had emotions and can somewhat relate, I never experienced the deep painful emotions or concerns that some women have expressed. I had peace with his diagnosis. I was so thankful for him and even thankful for his having Down Syndrome. Yes, I knew the health issues that we possibly faced, but I really had God's awesome peace about those, not fear. The Lord had prepared my heart in so many ways before he was born, and I am thankful for that. I felt so deeply blessed to be his mommy and did trust God's Word that he was fearfully and wonderfully made, and that He knit him together in my womb perfectly. I did immediately feel a protective feeling for him come over me that I had never quite felt before. And I want to make the point that I do not say any of this by any means to judge how another mama felt. And I certainly do not think that the raw emotions that they have been so open and honest about and kind enough to share are bad. I think the contrast of how I felt that leads up to the rest of this piece.
So, with all that said, I was ready to live my life as we normally did. Yes, I knew that I would be facing some uncharted territory for our family. I knew that therapy was most likely coming I knew that the extra doctors appointments were inevitable. But my focus was not on the Down Syndrome. So, I was more than taken back with many of the reactions from friends and family. That is when it really sunk in that I was now in a different category, so to speak. We were a family now a part of that "group" or that "club". I had people referring me to Down Syndrome support groups. I had people, with I am sure good intentions, thinking that I needed a harsh wake up call for what the future held for our family. I heard lectures on things that would be coming twenty years later. I heard all about the bad news about Down Syndrome. I even had people using the "r" word about him. Now, that did stir up raw emotions in me. So many people seemed to focus on his condition so much. Not everyone, but many. Some of these people had never even met him. I just wanted to enjoy him and be excited for this new life as we all were with all my previous babies. And I was with him daily seeing what he is - a happy, content smiley baby boy that loves to give and receive affection. I witnessed each member of our family with this precious baby. The love that he has brought is worth far above rubies. The gift he is to our family is something I cannot adequately describe with words. He lights up our days.
So, I was also faced with the stares and not knowing what to say to people or when to say it. And everyone you asked had a different opinion about that. And yet, he is just so normal to us. He is just a normal kid with an extra chromosome. It is not much different than having a baby without Down Syndrome, other than the health issues that arise on a more regular basis.
So, here we are, a part of this "group", this "club". And it took me a while to accept that label because I so just wanted to be normal, whatever normal is, right? But I did not want to stand out or have people feel sorry for us or being labelled a particular family. I did not want to enter this world where people were trying so hard to be so politically correct around us. But now I am there - a part of that "club" that I didn't sign up for. But you know what? Oh, how I love, love the other people and kids and families that are a part of this "club" that they also did not sign up for. I wouldn't change a thing. I am so thankful to be in this "club" and I would love to adopt more kids in this "club." And I have learned what people are missing out on are the very special blessings of God. We fret our entire pregnancies about this condition and get tested and sigh a big sigh of relief when they come back negative. We are crazy. Mommies with kids with Down Syndrome know a love that they never thought they could imagine. We know this "club" is a blessing, not a curse. We know how very special our children are and how they touch our lives so. Our world is tainted by a lie. Once we are faced with reality, we realize that we were fooled with a lie. The true freedom comes from realizing the truth and praising God for the blessings He gives us. These children are His creation.
And now I am light hearted about the reactions to Benji. The other day at church, a couple was commenting on him and saying how cute he was. The man said, "Wow, he really has that tongue thing going on, doesn't he?" I had to laugh. He really does have that tongue things going on and it is oh, so adorable!! And I have people coming up to me to see the baby and that stare seems to go on and on followed by that perplexed kind of look. And I am so grateful to call him my son and not be concerned about what they are thinking or what I should say or not say. I celebrate this guy! He is going to change lives, I know. We are so excited to watch him grow and become the kid, and then the man that God has designed for him to be. And I remember what it is like not being in that "club". And I would never go back. God truly knows best."