One of the reasons I started a blog is that when I think of the woman I was almost 5 years ago in Cork Maternity Hospital, holding my new baby boy, there are so many things I wish somebody had told me.
Lost amid a feeling of fear and helplessness, I wish I had a story to follow that would resonate with me. In fact, the only story I was given in the hospital was this awful short story about a journey to Holland. The story describes a beautifully planned summer holiday to Italy, a holiday you were full of hopes, dreams and expectations to take but the plane diverts and you find yourself in Holland. You are clearly disappointed and distraught to have landed in a completely different and seemingly less beautiful place then you planned, but you start to realise that Holland has its own beauty and highlights.
Of course, I get the metaphor but it did not make me feel better. Surrounded by doctors, consultants, consistent bad news and quite frankly less then helpful advice, the thought of landing in bloody Holland filled me with immense disappointment, sadness and dread.
Of course as a new mom, I was full of preconceptions of what my baby was supposed to be like. We are all filled with ideas and preconceptions of what life is supposed to be, how we are all supposed to fit in, conform to some kind of ideal and never is this more prominent then when you bring a new baby into the world. You are filled with hopes and dreams of all the things this little person can achieve. You think of all the things you never achieved yourself and how this little person can start again.
I wish somebody had been there to tell me that this little boy was going to be the coolest dude I have ever met. I wish somebody had told me how funny he will be. How he will make me laugh until my sides hurt with his cheeky, playful mischief.
How he will amaze me with his incredible determination and strength of spirit. How he will persevere and work harder then anyone I know to achieve simple things and he will smile with pride when he pulls it off. How he will secretly practice things in his bedroom and will beam with excitement when he surprises me because he has learned how to turn on the CD Player!
I wish I had known that he will bring perspective to our lives. An understanding of what is important. He will teach me to be a more patient and understanding parent. He will teach all of us to slow down and recognise not only his, but also his big sister’s daily achievements. The road will be rocky and often emotional but he will take us through the tough times with his strength and our unconditional love and support for him.
How his sister will adore him and become a nurturing, caring, tolerant and beautiful little girl. She will lock him out of her room when her friends come around but she will dress him up & have tea parties when nobody is looking. He will steal her dolls & hide them under his bed just to entice her into his room to play.
How people will stop us at the school gate to chat to him. 10 year old girls will fall for his charm and Moms and Dads will tell us about their sister or uncle or neighbour who has Down Syndrome. They will be amazed at how clever and charming our little boy is.
How he will go to school. He will have friends and they will love him. They will invite him to their birthday parties. They will ask questions about him and we will be able to answer them. They will be his voice when he cannot speak.
I wish somebody had told me we won’t think about Down Syndrome all the time. We will drink wine, we will have dinner parties, we will travel, we will try and fail to get fit in the local gym, we will swim, we will build sandcastles, we will watch movies, we will shout and complain when our kids drive us nuts, we will continue to be.
Of course I didn’t have somebody to hand these nuggets down to me, I have learned as I go along because I have a 4 year old teacher and I am his student.