Thanks to Kimberly over at Chromosomally Enhanced for giving me the idea to post about the first time I ever met someone w/ Ds... (below about 5 paragraphs)
When John Michael was born, and for several weeks thereafter, I was very sad and frightened of this new world we had just entered. The medical books that were meant to be "helpful" were causing more anxiety than comfort. At night, I imagined that any day the doctor would call me to say John Michael had this or that medical condition requiring XYZ treatment or surgery. I struggled with this diagnosis and the misperceptions I'd had as a child hearing the word Down syndrome, or (gasp) Mongoloid. Was my child a Mongoloid?
I soon set aside the heavy 4" binder from our local Down Syndrome Information Alliance and began embracing uplifting anthologies, like Gifts, edited by Kathryn Lynard Soper, and Whispers of Hope, a book of local Sacramento families who loved their children deeply and their family photos that showed very cute children with Ds. I also thoroughly drank in every word of Road Map to Holland by Jennifer Graf Groneberg, and sobbed deeply through her descriptions of the NICU. I finally felt a connection to other moms who had gone through the same or similar feelings I was having.
I found Jennifer Graf Groneberg's Pinwheels blog and began clicking on other blogs. I couldn't stop reading and staring at those beautiful faces. I was amazed at how many other families were blogging about their experiences and the majority of what I read was the joy that these families were experiencing. I began following some of the blogs and soon after, found my own blogging voice. At first, I was a bit intimidated. I had no idea how to start a blog, or what to say, and worse yet, I couldn't ever keep a written journal for more than a week or two, so who would I write for and how long would it last?
Fast forward 19 months. I love blogging... I'm amazed at how many people tell me they read this or that post (BUT DON'T COMMENT!), or others that ask if they can share my blog with a new mom they know. I never expected my words to comfort or console or encourage anyone, but I'm humbled to know that somehow I'm making a small difference in the world by educating and advocating for these little gifts from God.
This brings me to why I started this post. Do you remember the first person you ever encountered or touched with Down syndrome, besides your own child? John Michael was a baby and I'd already come to view him as a true gift from God. Doug and I were at a dinner for Immaculate Heart Radio and a mom introduced herself to me, having recognized John Michael as having Ds. That was the first shocker for me. A few minutes later, she came back with her son who was about 10 years old. I wish I could remember his name. He had a modern, touseled blond hairstyle, was very trim, hip-looking and polite. He held out his hand without any prompting on my part and we shook hands. His words... "Pleased to meet you." His eyes sparkled, his face lit up, and his crooked-toothed smile spread from ear to ear. I was mesmerized by this boy.
That was my first experience meeting someone with Ds and it was fantastic. He gave me hope. Later on, the mom came back to us (I think she really wanted to hold JM), and told us a funny story about her son. She said he likes to splash in the toilet and one time, pretended he was the family dog and drank from the toilet. Internally, I was horrified. I was still on cloud nine and she quickly burst my bubble as I could only imagine my own son doing that at some point in time.
Once again, fast forward to just last week. John Michael is learning to open the lid to the toilet and Greta has taught him how to pretend to drink from the dog's water bowl. I just hope and pray he doesn't put those two together and follow in that boy's footsteps. And if I end up blogging about it one day, I hope a new mom or dad out there don't read it and think, "Oh, horror of horrors... my son will never do that." I always say... never say never. It might come back to bite you.
So, what was your first experience?
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