By KAT ABIANAC
I went to bed last night in July, and by the the time I woke up this morning in August, 7,500 people worldwide had shared a blog I wrote about my son Parker.
Something else happened this morning, as well. Thousands of people shared a Sydney Morning Herald article about baby Gammy, who was abandoned in Thailand with no biological family, after his parents requested the surrogate mother abort him (risking his twin’s life) at 4 months gestation.
I wonder what would have happened if those two parents had been exposed to a true picture of Down syndrome, or living with children with a range of disabilities. A majority of disabilities are not congenital- they are acquired. Having any child is a lifelong gamble.
Down syndrome is not a life sentence. But guilt and regret is.
And today my thoughts are with those two parents reading the paper, and the internet, and holding their ‘typical’ twin daughter, and wondering what could have been, if they knew then what they know now.
What do I know now?
When a special needs parent says to you, ‘this child is the best thing that ever happened to me’, don’t doubt them. Don’t try and break down reasons for it. Just know it is the truth, and even if they never verbalize their reasons to you, or themselves, it will remain a fact. This is living.
Creating an opportunity to be a more empathetic, understanding and driven version of myself would not have been possible in this way without my son.
There is no ‘normal’ or ‘typical’ any more.
And there is no part of my life I was more grateful to give up.
Here are the words I wrote in that viral blog, after one challenging day in the life of my son Parker.
I knew him as ‘Parker’ since he was 18 weeks old in utero and I found out I had a son. I didn’t know about his surprise.. he would keep that extra chromosome a sweetly wrapped up little secret until he was 1 hour old and I’d already fallen in love with his perfection. Even in utero I loved every kick I barely felt, and when they tapered off in the last trimester every little movement was treasured as they were few and far between.
I had so many hopes and dreams for the son I wanted for so many years. To have him over with his teenage friends so I could cook up a storm for them, cuddles and love so different from a daughter. Taking out the trash without asking. Remembering my birthday. Cuddling me even when he was a grownup, because that’s what a good son does.
When ‘my son Parker’ turned into ‘my son Parker with Down syndrome’ it was overwhelming. My mental fantasies of the perfect child changed to nightmares of a bedridden, ill child who had serious health issues and couldn’t speak or interact with me. I knew no better at the time.