September 12, 2012 10:06 AM
Down syndrome: 9 reasons it won't ruin your life
September 4, 2012 - 7:30 am
Hearing that your child has Down syndrome is life-changing. And in that moment, your life typically isn't looking too good.
When I found out, at 16 weeks pregnant, that my son Wyatt had Down syndrome, I felt like my life was over. I cried for days, thinking about all the terrible things that we would surely have to suffer. I feared we would be doomed to a lifetime of suffering and misery, having to struggle through the terrible ordeal of raising a special needs child. The images I had in my mind were of a dumb, ugly child who wouldn't be able to do anything for himself and would depend on us forever.
I'm embarrassed to admit that now, because it isn't even remotely close to reality, but it's the truth. When you get news like this, the first thing you think of is the worst-case scenario. And most moms who find out their kids have Down syndrome don't often have accurate, up-to-date knowledge of what someone with the condition is actually like.
So now that my son's been born, has my life been completely ruined? What is having a kid with Down syndrome actually like?
9. You Won't Be Scared Forever
When you first find out the news, it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. And all you can think about are all the bad things that can happen: heart defects, leukemia, thyroid disorders, infertility, Alzheimer's, intellectual disabilities, and on and on. It's so easy to get overwhelmed when you start to read about Down syndrome and see all of the health risks that come with it. Before you know it, you've convinced yourself that your baby is going to have a million health problems and you're panicking and terrified.
But trust me: the fear doesn't last forever. Eventually, you'll see that light at the end of the tunnel. And day by day, you'll start to realize that it's going to be all right. Your baby is not going to have every single malady in existence, and there will be some point when you see that. Yes, there is an inevitable period where every negative emotion under the sun completely consumes you. But that doesn't last forever.
8. He Will Exceed Your Expectations
When we were in the hospital, the neonatologist told me that Wyatt had low muscle tone. I knew from researching Down syndrome that low muscle tone was to be expected. I didn't worry about it too much -- sure, he might take a little longer to reach some physical milestones, but that's what therapy's for. He'll get there on his own time.
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