Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 (days) for 21 (chromosomes) - October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

It's taken me a while to finally publish this post. It's now October 31st, Halloween, and it's the last day of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. After going through Annabelle's birth and with some huge strides in Aiden's development over the last month, I spent a lot of time thinking about how much our life has changed since we received Aiden's prenatal diagnosis. When Aiden was first diagnosed, Adam and I were both devastated. We had so many worries, doubts, concerns,fears and negative feelings surround his diagnosis and future. Over the past year and a half, I have come to realize that those worries quickly dissipated. I feel so terrible that I had those thoughts, but through reading the blogs of other mother's who also have a child with DS, I know I was not alone.

"Irrational" Worries I had while I was still pregnant: 

Every mom wants to be told how cute their baby is. No one will ever tell me that. They will only see the diagnosis, not the baby. 

Ok seriously. Check this kiddo out. The problem was never that no one told me I had a cute baby. Every where I went, I had to plan on spending at least an extra 10-20 minutes because EVERYONE would (and still does) stop me to tell me how cute Aiden is. With his charismatic smile and bubbly personality, he draws everyone in. He loves everyone and everyone loves him.

He will never have any friends, and neither will we. People won't want their kids to be friends with the "disabled" kid and his family. 

Since moving back to Santa Barbara, Aiden has made sooo many friends, both adults and kids alike. Through activities, such as Baby Bootcamp Santa Barbara and the Down Syndrome Associate of Santa Barbara, Aiden has more friends than he can count... if he could count at the moment. I have no doubt that as he gets older, his amazing personality will continue to draw people into his presence and will have no shortage of friends! I am soo thankful for all the friends he has made so far. They teach him and me so much about how friends don't count chromosome, they count smiles!

Will we be able to experience ANY of the typical joys a parent may have: playing together, watching movies together, hiking together? Can we expect ANY of this from him?

Of course! Over the year I've come to realize that he really isn't all that different than his typical peers.

He loves hiking, just like his parents.

He loves to go to music class, just like any other little boy (or girl).

He LOVES to go swimming. Any water will do! Pool, kiddie pool, bath tub, water bottle.

And In Conclusion.... 

Over the last year I have learned a lot from Aiden:

  •  I have learned to never underestimate him. He has overcome many physical and developmental challenges.  He had a rocky start to his life with surgery, leukemia, jaundice, weight gain issues, but was a fighter through it all. 
  • I have learned that smiles, laughter, friends, and family are more important than tracking 'what percentile' your child is in, or personal accomplishments for that matter. As long as you are happy and have a positive outlook on life, you can overcome a lot of barriers. 
  •  Don't care what others think. I don't know if other people know by looking at him that he has down syndrome, and I don't care. If they can't see past the diagnosis and see what an amazing little boy he is, that is their loss.

Most of all, I have learned to love. I love my son more than anything in this world and having him has made me love my husband more. Together, we created this amazing little being who has changed our lives. No matter how difficult things are, Aiden always manages to make us smile and laugh. That's what is really important in life.

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