parents

"I grieved at first for the son I dreamed about while I was pregnant."

Dear Elly,

I consider us friends. I’ve known you for quite a while, long before your beautiful newborn Rex was born last week.

The day he was born, however, we suddenly had a LOT more in common. Because Rex was born with Down syndrome, just like my toddler Parker.

Kat’s son Parker.

So, here’s some things I want you to know, because they are important for everyone to understand about Rex.

1. Congratulations. Your baby is perfect. All newborns are.

2. He has the awesomest name ever.

3. You’re still going to get puked on. Contrary to popular and incorrect belief, he doesn’t come with a ‘placid’ switch. He’s perfectly boringly typical.

4. Most babies with Down syndrome will happily breastfeed. Some may need extra help but they will overwhelmingly get there.

5. People will accuse you over the years of being all ‘rainbows and unicorns’ about your child with a disability. They will accuse you of seeing the world through rose tinted glasses. And that’s OK, because not everyone has acquired their own special community like we have.

You can’t have a son like Rex or Parker, and not be taken to transcendent levels of joy on a pretty regular basis. For our families, divorce rates are lower. Siblings are better adjusted and participate at a higher rate in giving back to their community.

People with Down syndrome themselves report at a rate of 99% that they are happy with their lives. How many typical adults can claim the same? Facts speak loudly, where emotions fail to transfer through words.

Our happy little family.

6. I grieved at first for the son I dreamed about when I was pregnant, the one that gave me hugs for no reason and took the bins out without asking and had his friends over after school for hangs. Turns out he was in my tummy all along. It’s just not going to be the same as I pictured it in my head.

On the flip side of the coin, I am the classic makeup loving girly girl and my 9 year old daughter is a cheeky tomboy who refuses to wear dresses. I guess I am used to being knocked off my ‘perfect parent pedestal dreams’ by now and just letting my kids be the little humans they were born to be.

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Let him be himself and he will carve his own path in life, while dragging you along for the ride.

7. Be prepared for the medical system. You will spend hours and days and years researching medical issues related to Down syndrome. And it’s OK to do, but most will be irrelevant to your child.

8. Don’t worry about sleeping when the baby sleeps.. most babies with Down syndrome sleep like husbands. Enjoy!

You can sleep. I promise.

9. No one looks at their child and thinks, ‘I wish you were never born’. They look at their child and think, ‘I can’t imagine my life without you.’ I bet you’ve already watched him sleeping for at least 137 hours while thinking the same. It’s OK, we all do it.

10. And, for my last nugget of recently acquired wisdom..

When you look down on your beautiful newborn son, and think about that decision you made when you were just 12 weeks pregnant to bring him into this world, know that you gave yourself permission in that moment to love unconditionally. He will change your life, and I am so honored I know you and all the other parents I have met while navigating through our new futures.

I look at my own son, and am so proud of the little man he has become. I just can’t stop a few rainbows and unicorns from creeping in.

Now, please excuse me, I was going to write some more sentimental mush, but I have to go and stop my toddler with Down syndrome from leaping off the back of the couch for the 15th time today.

Oh boy…

(Seriously. Placid is a myth.)

Sincerely,

Your new parenting partner in crime, Kat.

Kat Abianac is a writer, a single mama, and her youngest child has Down syndrome. She believes wine and a sense of humour is crucial to parenting success. Follow her on Facebook or read her blog, Parker Myles.

Want to see more of our precious family? Have a look.

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