Monday, February 18, 2013

Jumping Down syndrome Hurdles

When I was twenty weeks pregnant with my youngest daughter Abrielle, I found out she would be born with Down syndrome. I knew very little about the diagnosis at the time; not realizing that there were differences in every child who had it, just as there are differences with every child that is typical. I was naive as many are about what this meant exactly, but because I felt like God was blessing me in a way that would eventually define itself, I cried only briefly and trusted wholeheartedly from that point on.

I learned as much as I could about Down syndrome and everything I was reading led me to believe that they all had health issues; that they all were born with unhealthy hearts requiring surgery, that they would have digestive issues, bad eyesight, only two lines on their palms, weird toes, crooked teeth, bad hearing and weak muscle tone. As I learned more I knew that time, which I did not really have  would be needed for a child with all of these issues, but I trusted that I would not be given more than I could handle. After all, I had a difficult road thus far and had survived. I always had what I needed even if my wants were forfeited for another day.

When Abrielle was born, she had very few of the "typical" DS markers. She had VERY strong muscle tone, normal toes, typical lines on her hands, 20/20 vision, and acute hearing. She was born with a very small hole in her heart (ASD) that was the caused by her being one month early... not from having Down syndrome; it healed itself within 3 months and now she has a perfectly normal heart that never required surgery. Her only health issues are her sensitivity to dairy and seasonal allergies, both of which she gets from me. (lucky her!)

I have worked with Abrielle so much, I never treated her any different than my other three children, and I really feel that because of that she feels no different. Sure, she learns slower, and she is not talking yet at age 3, but she is tries harder and harder every day with each little push she gets. It is important to embrace Down syndrome as something that will create hurdles, but hurdles are made to jump and these children/adults can jump just as high and often even higher if you encourage them to do so. I have 4 children, and Abrielle aka "Brie"  celebrates her triumphs with huge smiles and an excited applause... and takes every defeat with stride. She is as proud of herself as we are of her, and that  is such a joy to watch.

When adversity paints itself into your life, you have two choices... you can overcome it or allow it to consume you, bathing you with defeat. You can choose the easy way out or take the long road home and enjoy the scenery. It's not always going to be easy... it may NEVER be easy but does that mean you should quit? NO! Absolutely not! If you quit you will never know victory, and if you never know victory you will never understand the purpose of defeat.

Although this video of Abrielle is old... (I think she was a little over 1 year old at the time) it is still by far one of the most inspiring videos I have seen, and it's not because she is my little girl. As you watch it remember this; she has every reason to give up... but because I refuse to let her know that she just keeps trying... we can all learn from that.


God DID give me more than I can handle... more love, more smiles, more lessons, and more to share by presenting me with this precious gift of a special child. Her existence has taught me more and changed me more than I ever thought possible. She WAS a blessing... truly, the most amazing one of my life.

Over the next few weeks I will be preparing her annual video for World Down syndrome Day, (3-21) and I cannot WAIT to share it with you. Until then, I hope that you enjoyED this video and share this blog post with everyone you know. There is power in numbers... and in order to change the way people see these special people who have been put here on earth to change our hearts, we must share the stories, share the defeat, share the joys and share the grief of what happens to us in our lives.

Wishing you all a great evening, a warm heart, and a glimmer of hope when you need it most!