October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month
Technically, they both are. But today, I am writing specifically about the youngest one, Yani.
As October and all of the observances that were shoved into these 31 days draw to an end, I want to talk about the fact (increasingly becoming wide spread) that October is also Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Not to be confused with World Down Syndrome Day (3-21).
Our Yani boo has Down Syndrome. It was an undiagnosed surprise so that is all I can say about that. She was born healthy and then we brought her home. At her one week checkup, her pediatrician said she wanted to have her chromosomes analyzed and I was like, thank goodness. She seemed surprised. I told her I suspected but no one in the hospital said anything but I stayed for three days and I could not figure out why I had needed to–no c-section, all-natural delivery. I did not press the issue because I was resting! No housework, etc. She informed me that the notes from my ob/gyn indicated I stayed due to my severe anemia! The baby had been free to go but my ob/gyn thought I would not stay if she had left, so he did not say anything, just came by to pretend to look in one the baby while checking on me! Smart doctor!
Admittedly, I think I had already worked it all out in my head so the diagnosis was merely a confirmation. After all, this was the second child I had birthed that had down syndrome. My son, who died suddenly at age two years, had broken down all ego or judgements or any need to grieve. I understand all of that intimately. I am frequently questioned about it and will cheerfully answer any questions if you reach out.
People with Down Syndrome have some general characteristics and those are only generalizations. The same amount of variety and individuality abound in them. After all, they are just people. They are stereotyped for being sweet, friendly, gentle, and cognitively delayed to varying degrees. My little girl is all of that. She is also a genius at getting out of trouble unscathed, inciting her sister to fits, has the heaviest hands on a little person if she is hitting you, and is functions in both English and Spanish (although her expressive skills in English are much stronger). She is sturdy and strong and very flexible. She loves dancing but is lazy when it comes to walking.
It was a new experience for my husband, who was not my son’s father. He had not known any one with this chromosomal arrangement and was terrified he mess her up. Fast-forward eight years. She let’s us know daily the things we did right and wrong with her. DAILY.
She is full of spunk and fire (right – although I am not sure how much we had to do with it!) She is loved and she knows it (right). As a result, she is confident and lives free from fear that punishment for writing on the walls or pouring out the soap into toilet (wrong!). Don’t get me wrong; we have tried to correct these displays or missteps, but no method we know of is effective. For real, folks, REACH OUT! She is social and accepted by peers and adults whom she views as extended family (right) and may leave with any one of them (WRONG!) if they meant her harm. She is playful and humorous (right) curses a lot (wrong-but she is contextually accurate and creative). Most importantly, she confirms how much of an blessing she is through teaching us about ourselves. We get daily lessons on forgiveness, why boundaries are important, having fun, the joys of family, what real hugs are like, the uselessness of pride, and unconditional love.
We adore our Yani boo. She is learning and teaching us every day. And of all the fears and doubts, the only one we have is whether or not we deserve her.