Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Want To Share This With You Again...

Originally posted in August of 2008. I'm sorry but I have to share this every year :)

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 cutest 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 upbringings 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 little ones others will see their beauty and worth. And if not- it won't change how I feel one bit!!!

6 comments:

angela michelle said...

I wonder which comment felt most appropriate and helpful to you at the time. And which do you think you would most appreciate today?

momtofourgirls.Kari said...

Angela,
Very interesting question. I am going to think about that for awhile; but my first reaction is I appreciated Kay most that day. I wanted more than anything for this extra chromosome to not affect the way others looked at our family. Today... Wow, not sure. I guess I have gotten used to always looking beyond and realizing everyone has a story that helps shape how they see things. What do you think Angela. Which would you have apprectiated then... and today?

angela michelle said...

I think in that situation what I would have tried to act totally nonchalant and like this is no problem but to starting asking about her plan/care/prognosis. When I'm struggling and trying to hold it together, sometimes I don't like it when people give too much sympathy because then I'll lose it.

Heather said...

Great insite. I have found the same variety of reactions when we tell people we are adopting a child with Ds. I try not to take their reactions personally because, like you say, it all depends on their own experiences in life and where they are at this point. I know a few years ago, my reaction to your scenerio would have been one like your friend who hugged you and wanted to help. I would have been really sad for your loss of dreams. Now at this point in my life, I would have been excited, and that is the reaction that I love to see other people have for us.

Hilary said...

Except how every mom is worried about how their child is being recieved and treated... do you really care? I'm always happy when I see happy families, I'm sure most people are the same way. :)

momtofourgirls.Kari said...

Hilary,
believe it or not there are many people out there that quickly look away when they see Sadie. Actually, I get all kind of responses. Scott and I have also wondered how many of those people have terminated a pregnancy because of down syndrome. Did you know that there is an 95% termination rate for prenantal dx of DS? So sad... wonder how many realize their mistake when they see how capable and wonderful our Sadie is? :) Thanks for stopping by....