Why I write about Down syndrome

January 30, 2014

I was sitting still in the driver’s seat yesterday when I felt the heel of her foot.

It dug into my belly button, creating a visible bump in the much-larger baby bump of my midsection.

I pushed back lightly and she wiggled, making a wave across my stomach as she changed positions.

And even though I’m 30 weeks into my fourth pregnancy, I was struck with the same awe that I’ve had since I was pregnant with my first-born: there’s a human in there.

So often on this blog, I write about my 2nd born, Kate, who happens to have Down syndrome. I write about her limitless potential, how she’s just like any other “normal” kid, how she is such a joy — a gift.

I write about her often to share our story and what we’ve learned, to offer hope to new parents confronted with a similar situation — and mostly, because I like to write about her. Her life has opened my heart to great truths that I didn’t think of much before she was born.

But yesterday, with my fourth little swimmer inside my belly kicking away, I thought to myself: Kate is a great gift to this world not because she is a human with Down syndrome — but because she is human.

And so are we all.

Each with our own strengths, gifts, talents and “disabilities,” we all start the same way — tiny little human beings with unpredictable potential. It blows my mind that at the very instant of fertilization, our genes and gender are set. Our potential begins — the train starts moving full speed ahead.

I make a big deal out of Down syndrome on this blog for the simple reason that Down syndrome, in itself, isn’t a big deal to us.

It’s a part of Kate that — along with a million other things — makes her the extraordinary human she is.  I write often about her extra chromosome because for those who don’t know much about it (like me when Kate was born), it too often becomes the only defining factor of those who have it. A factor that not just defines lives, but often ends lives in utero.

Kate’s life — one that is an intricate, awe-inspiring combination of strengths and challenges — has taught me not just about the great potential of those with textbook “disabilities,” but of all of us. How many times have we been surprised by the great talent, gifts or kindness of someone we underestimated? How often have we talked to that person who seemed shy or weird or — whatever — and walked away thinking, “Wow, they’re pretty cool.” How often have we not reached out because we were afraid?

We all have the potential for greatness in this life — no matter how big or small we are, how quiet or loud we are, how striking or plain we look, how long or short our lives, how obvious our abilities, how secret our strengths.

I write often about Kate having Down syndrome because she has taught me that her life is about so much more than that.

And that all of us are born with a little something extra that gives us limitless potential.

“I can’t believe that God put us on this earth to be ordinary.” — Lou Holtz

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Delores Townsend January 30, 2014 at 2:45 pm

You are in the early stages of having a child with Down Syndrome–and you are so blessed that so much more is known about it now. My daughter was born in 1959, and the doctor advised us to put her in an institution. Saying “no” to that idea is the smartest thing I ever did. She has been a joy and blessing to us. There may be a few bumps in the road (as there usually is, even with a “normal” child, but I would not trade my experiences with her for anything! So bless you on you journey and enjoy her!

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Amy Dietrich Hernandez January 30, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I love Delores’ comment and want to thank her for being a pioneer for our children!

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Diane Longibardo January 30, 2014 at 4:28 pm

I too have a wonderful daughter that when born we found out that she had Down Syndrome she is 33 and is the joy of my life! She keeps me grounded and I see how truly kind and unprejudiced she is. She calls me out on my rude observations at times and I see that she has more genuine love and insight than I. I cannot imagine my life without her.

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Maria January 31, 2014 at 7:06 am

Everything you wrote on this article is so true and I couldn’t agree more. Every human being has his own gift and “disabilities” or limitations but just the same we all are children of God. Keep up the good spirits, Kate!

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