Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy Realization

I sat at the dining table the other day, munching down on an egg-yolk-soaked bagel, when I stopped with the bread an inch from my mouth. I wasn't sad. The realization made me stand up in excitement. I wasn’t sad! I was having an ordinary morning! And I hadn’t though about Down Syndrome for hours.

It’s the strangest thing. No, I certainly haven’t forgotten about Hunter having DS. I research many times a day, looking for therapy ideas, nutritional intervention, any way to make his life easier and better. (I’ve found some extremely hopeful ideas too!) But my outlook on it has changed completely in the last four weeks.

I think I’ve really accepted it, for one thing. Hunter does have Down Syndrome. I believe, for a while in the back of my mind I still thought the test was wrong. Now though, I can recognize it in him: in the almond-shaped eyes, the insignificant brows the mild low tone in his upper body. (He has no other physical features.) The amazing thing is that instead of being dismayed, I’m ok with it. I actually think the facial features make him cuter! He is exceptionally cute, anyway: people who have no idea of his Ds comment that he’s the cutest baby they’ve seen. Even artists comment on the perfection of his features.

I still remember the day I really saw the DS in him. I also remember my emotion. Not fear or repulsion or sadness. Instead, it was a sort of relief. Oh. He does have some features of Down syndrome. So what? I still love him. He’s still super cute.

(As a side note, I’m delighted to discover that the DS stereotype look is just that: a stereotype. People with Ds are all shapes and sizes and heights and weights and levels of beauty or handsomeness, just like typical people.)

This is not to say that I love Down syndrome. In fact, I hate it. I know it’s going to make life harder for my son. I don’t for a moment think that chromosome and all its troubles defines who my son is. He is Hunter, who happens to have Down syndrome, just like he might have had spina bifida or cerebral palsy. I’m excited at the research being made to alleviate many symptoms of Ds. I’m thrilled that there are many ways to help already and that there will be breakthroughs in Hunter’s lifetime.

I don’t love Ds. But I do love my son, and I’m ok with it. I still have moments of panic, but they’re related more toward my fear of not doing enough to help him. Those gut-wrenching, heart-stopping moments of devastating sadness, why my son? why this heartbreak to us? are almost completely gone.

I can’t believe we’ve come so far. I credit it first and foremost to God, secondly to my husband, and thirdly to family and friends, new and old, who offer unconditional support, humor, advice, and cheering. And beyond them, I credit it to this wiggly, demanding, incredibly cute bundle of personality named Hunter.


  1. You will be a good mother to Hunter, Nina; you already are. Your optimistic attitude will make a huge difference to your boy. I'll continue to pray for your family. (And he is awfully cute!)

  2. Oh frabjous day! Calloo! Callay!

    You do have a really cute baby. :P

  3. I passed you a note on bbc but wanted to thank you here as well for your kind words in my defense. it means so much to me, more than you could know.

  4. Lovely. This reminds me of a newborn moment, watching Cora's face scrunch up and seeing the Ds features. I told my sister that I didn't like it when I could see the features and she responded that she loved it. That it made Cora beautiful and it was part of who she was. That really turned around my thinking and ever since then, I enjoy seeing it in her. Because she's 100% beautiful. And Hunter is GORGEOUS!