When our son was born, we knew he was going to make the world a happier and better place. In fact, the first thing I ever said to him was "You are going to make a lot of people very happy just by being born."
In his first year of life he hasn't proven us wrong.
He's smiley, loving, and lights up any room he's in.
He gives coy smiles to people, and steals their hearts with his little wave "Hello."
After he was born I found it difficult to connect to other moms who had been in my shoes before. It seemed that every book, blog post, or article I read talked about parents grieving for their newborn children. When Robert was born, I didn't feel grief. Not then, and not in the moments, days, and weeks following his birth. I've come to understand that my husband and I reacted to his birth differently than most others, which made me feel a little strange at the time - like I wasn't quite normal.
You must be wondering why a parent would grieve the birth of their child. What could make them look at their newborn and feel sadness, grief, or anger?
You see, our son was born with an extra chromosome. He has trisomy-21, better known as Down Syndrome. To be honest, I'm not sure what it means to have an extra chromosome. I'm not sure what struggles he might have, or how he will develop. But really, how is that different from any other child? What parent holds their newborn and knows what struggles await her or how she will develop?
But I can understand why a parent would grieve. Their child will have limitations, will have related health conditions, and will have struggles specific to the diagnosis. This diagnosis means that your child's DNA has set them, and you, up for a journey you didn't plan to go on. It isn't easy to watch other children his age say "mama" while your child is working to sit up on his own. It's not easy seeing pity in the eyes of some people when they discover your child has Down Syndrome.
This last one is particularly difficult. Especially since part of this journey we are now on includes something magical. Those stages that other parents say "enjoy it while it lasts because it won't last forever," those stages last a little longer for us. Not forever, but a little longer. And that's so magical. The journey, with all its twist, turns and obstacles, slows down at a time when it seems others journeys are just speeding up. And so we embrace each stage, and enjoy it while it lasts because before we know it, the view has changed and our boy is finding new ways to make the world a happier and better place.