Finding out your baby has Down syndrome can come as a huge shock. During pregnancy we often spend time daydreaming about our baby...who will she most resemble, what will he become, maybe a doctor, maybe the next Prime Minister? When receiving an adverse diagnosis our hopes and dreams can come crashing down. It may take time to come to grips with things. During this time it is so important to surround yourself with support . There are an unlimited amount of resources out there to help you. Before coming to a preconceived idea of what parenting a child with Down syndrome looks like - educate yourself. Having a baby with Down syndrome looks much different today than it did in the past. Thankfully, our society has come a long way in understanding the full potential of the life of a person with Down syndrome. A baby with Down syndrome often does come with many medical issues, but in our day in age with the medical expertise we have, the life expectancy of people with Down syndrome has doubled since the early 1980's. Many people with Down syndrome have jobs, contribute to society, even get married. To the right of this site are several links I have come across, please check out the information on Down syndrome, support groups and personal stories from parents of children with Down syndrome. Below you will find one mother's wonderful perspective on finding out your baby has Down syndrome, it is from the Canadian Down Syndrome website.
Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley Excerpts of Stories by or About Persons with Down Syndrome Copyright Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you exclaim. "What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland, and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you never would have met. It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around...and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. For the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.