Down Syndrome Misunderstood
When we first learned we were going to have a child with Down syndrome, we were scared. We didn't personally know anyone with Down syndrome, so all we knew about it was the little our geneticist told us, and what we had picked up over the years. We knew about the cognitive and physical delays, and we knew about the miriad of health problems people with Down syndrome are prone to. We researched more and more until we knew everything about Down syndrome; at least we thought we did. When Hannah Joy was born, we quickly realized everything we thought we knew about Down syndrome was a misconception.
What Down Syndrome Means to Us
We looked at our brand new baby and saw just a baby. A baby with perfect, almond shaped eyes and chubby hands and fingers. When we looked at Hannah we didn't see her two heart defects, we didn't see the possible delays or other health problems; we just saw Hannah, and that is still all we see almost a year later. Before she was born, we thought our lives would revolve around Down syndrome; we thought it would define our family, but it doesn't. The therapies and doctor appointments we go to are just for Hannah, not Down syndrome. Down syndrome is not defined by the negatives, and Hannah is not defined by Down syndrome. She is her own person. She is not Down syndrome, she is just Hannah. She is full of joy and love for everyone she meets. She has been through several hospitalizations and open heart surgery, all with a smile on her face. She has incredible strength and resilience, and is so much more than a diagnosis. She has taught us so much over the past year. She has taught us to be kinder, to enjoy life more, to be joyful even in uncomfortable circumstances, and to not be defined by what society thinks. She teaches us new things each and every day, and I hope and pray she continues to teach us for the rest of our lives.