The Big Gift of Love

August 2, 2011

Note: An edited version of this piece recently appeared in the summer issue of DFW Thrive Magazine.

It has been six and a half months since Kate was born and I can’t believe it.

That’s what all moms say, isn’t it? The saying is as ubiquitous as “time flies” — or as older parents stopping you in line at the grocery store and saying, “Remember every moment, they grow so fast.”

That’s six and a half months since the day that forever changed our lives. The day we found out that our sweet Kate, born at only 4 lb., 12 oz., had one tiny extra chromosome in her tiny newborn body.

Six and a half months since I ate popsicles and sang songs through contractions – wondering who the little human that lived inside me would turn out to be.

Six and a half months since we finally decided on her name in the delivery room – a decision that seemed so hard to make (almost providentially) because the baby girl we imagined wasn’t the baby girl we received. She was even better.

Six and a half months since a little chromosome made a big impact when the doctor told us the news, saying, “There’s no good way to say this — your daughter has Down Syndrome.”

Six and a half months since I called my friends and family with the solemn news. Since I heard them congratulate and cry and comfort in a way that only they knew how. Since they looked at me with gentle eyes that said, “We’re all in this together.”

At the time, it was devastating. Incomprehensible. Surreal. But now — with her fat little cheeks and her gummy little grin, that extra chromosome seems to only make her extra cute.

Along with that extra special chromosome, we’ve met extra special friends. Learned extra special things. And have heard extra special stories about inspiring, successful adults who share her diagnosis.

One story in particular gave me something to look forward to. A mom, speaking of her teenage foster daughter who has Down Syndrome, told a story about how her daughter just loved hugs.

Every chance she got, the daughter pounced her Mom — and other family members — like a lion in the jungle, then clung on tight for a big hug.

She hid behind furniture and walls, cast her eyes on her object of affection, and then darted toward them like a speeding love bullet.

This passionate hug fest occurred without warning – and often at the most cumbersome times. The recipient was often holding things, completely unprepared for the enthusiastic embrace.

Finally, after having the breath knocked out of her one too many times, the Mom said, “Honey, I love your hugs – but you can’t jump on me, you’re too big!”

“I’m big?” asked the daughter with sincere puzzlement. It hadn’t ever occurred to her that she was big.

And with that simple validation – the hugs continued in a bit more gentle fashion.

The story warmed my heart as I looked at my little baby who would someday be big enough to squash me with hugs — and thought: how beautiful to not know the size of your body, but only the size of your love.

In a society where we are so quick to focus on “special needs” as lacking something – I think it’s quite the opposite. It’s the something extra special that will give Kate a unique outlook, a profound capacity for love – and the ability to affect every one around her in a “big” way.

Six months ago I received the biggest gift of love. In a tiny package. With one beautiful, extra chromosome. And I couldn’t be happier.

{ 13 comments }

Nicole August 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Kate is very lucky to have a mom like you. Beautifully written Lauren, I cannot wait until Kate is old enough to read this for herself..

Troy Sim August 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Thank you for sharing such a warm-loving story; love it! Many blessings from above, Troy

Elizabeth August 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm

My 19 year-old little sister has Down Syndrome, and she is without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to my family. Prepare yourself for a life full of inspiration and love – lots and lots of love!

Irene Mitchell August 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Lovely Lauren. Great writing! I appreciate your willingness to be so open with your life. THAT is inspirational!

Amy August 2, 2011 at 5:20 pm

This IS life with Down syndrome! They inspire us to love as they love. It really doesn’t get any better!!!

Cathy Webb August 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm

OMG! What a beautiful story! I’m tearing up now as I just finished reading. She is a Beautiful Angel. My daughter is now 11 and still amazes me everyday. I can’t say if you will have more tears of joy or more throw-your-head-back laughter. But I can say you are in for a wonderful ride.

Bless you and your beautiful family!

diane August 3, 2011 at 12:45 am

God bless you. What a beautiful family you are. I remember reading when she was born. That can’t be over six months ago! It seems like yesterday. My 11 year old grandson, although not Downs, has some serious developmental and emotional problems. He is such a loving boy, wonderful to be with. No one can seem to figure out what exactly is causing his issues, so he has been hospitalized several times, and on various medications. He too, likes hugs, and I always have to remember that I can no longer pick him up – of course not at 11. He is so special to me, and I pray for all our beautiful special gifts from God.

Shannon August 3, 2011 at 6:24 am

This is beautiful. I am new to your blog, and I want to say thank you – your words are a blessing to read.

Shelly @ Of Sound Mind and Spirit August 3, 2011 at 10:33 am

She is a real extra special blessing to everyone she touches in her life. You captured it beautifully in words. Enjoy every minute of it.

Carole Pechie August 3, 2011 at 11:13 am

Your story is heart warming. We have a 21 mo. old son with Ds and he is truly the shining star of the family! I can’t wait for his knock down hugs! Funny how people who are “disabled” have the unique ability to show us “normal” people how many disabilities we have, namely the ability to love unconditionally. As he grows, I hope he will show the world what a true blessing people with Ds are, not a burden at all.

Denden August 3, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Thank you. This is very inspiring. Made me almost cry. God bless you.

Dina Matchinsky August 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Aww congrats she is so beautiful. 14 months ago I too had a baby that had a little secret and something extra special to share with us. It was so scary at first, the unknown. We love him to pieces. Thanks for sharing your blog.

Lisa Kelly-Willis August 5, 2011 at 11:58 am

Hi Lauren,

I’ve been out of town and hadn’t read your blogs in a while. This one was so sweet! You are a great writer and great mom!

Love,
Lisa

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