I've been thinking a lot of an experience I had just after the birth of Sadie. Three of my friends came to visit me in the hospital. They all sat at the end of my bed admiring Sadie and looking forward to the births of two of their children in the following few weeks. I felt the time was right and I just blurted out, "She has Down Syndrome". What happened next has been one of the best lessons I have ever experienced.
My friend Kay, who had 3 children and was expecting her 4 in the next two weeks and who grew up with two deaf parents, exclaimed, "Oh, she's so cute... doesn't she have the cutiest toes? It looks like she is giving us a peace sign, " (because of the big gap). She just kept talking and talking about everything... I wondered if she had even heard the news I had just given her.
My friend Alison, who was expecting her first child the next month, sat there with a with a deer caught in headlights look. I don't think she said another word and I was sure she was lost in thoughts of, "if Kari didn't know she was going to have a kid with ds... what about ME?"
And then there was my sweet little friend Ayumi she sat there with tears in her eyes, got up and hugged me and started asking questions about what was next and about her health.
Everyone had a different reaction. I believe those reactions were all born from different experiences they had in life. Each had different upringings and and different personalities. All three were there in the room with me at the same time hearing the same things; but, each of them heard it differently. Kay lived around disabled people all her life. She knew that things would be just fine. She was there to celebrate a new life. Alison was newly married, expecting her first child. They were perfect and nothing seriously life altering had ever happened to her. Ayumi, she grew up in Japan. She grew up in a society where people with disabilities are hidden, killed or shipped away.
I learned that day that I could never control how others reacted. I needed to look beyond their reaction and wonder... why do they think that way? Now today, when we are out and about, I often see how people react to Sadie. Sometimes they turn their heads. Sometimes they look at me with pity. But most of the time, they smile. They see how happy we are. They see the joy and love Sadie brings to our family.
I can't control how others feel. The only thing I can control is my own thoughts and emotions. I can however, hope that maybe as we fully accept and rejoice in our litte ones others will see their beauty and worth. And if not- it won't change how I feel one bit!!!