Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'm doing the 31 for 21 Challenge!

Get It Down; 31 for 21
I've just learned about this 31 for 21 challenge to write daily for the month of October to raise awareness about Down syndrome. Why this month? Why now? Because, this is Down syndrome Awareness Month - so why not? I think it's a sign that I've actually come across this blogging event today on the first day - so I'm jumping in and rising to the challenge.
Now about our littlest billy goat. Aidan was born three years ago, and the fact that he has Down syndrome came as a complete surprise to us. Well, we were surprised, but we weren't. It's very hard to explain. James and I were aware that there was a higher chance of having a child with Down syndrome because of my age, so I think we both mentally prepared for it. Also, we chose not to have any testing done while I was pregnant other than the ultrasound. At that point we had a rather "whatever will be will be" outlook.
I have no regrets. None at all. I had a very good pregnancy. We all anticipated his arrival with great joy. We actually knew he was a boy from the ultrasound, and were calling him Aidan long before he joined us out of belly.
What I wasn't prepared for was his heart condition. I was not aware that there are so many other health complications, and I was quite floored by the news that he would need heart surgery. I cried my eyes out in the bathroom next to the Variety Heart Centre. I sat in the waiting room like a zombie. I felt like I was repeatedly kicked in the stomach. It was very, very hard.
Is Aidan blowing raspberries again?
This photo was taken when Aidan was almost a year old.
What helped? My big boys. They didn't see all of the complications when they saw Aidan. They saw their baby brother. They loved him up right from the beginning and it did my heart good.
What else helped? I went on-line. I searched for images of children with Down syndrome and came across a few group sites on Flickr. Going through images of children and their families made me have hope. Gradually I made connections and saw that other kids made it through with flying colours. Families survived the stress involved in watching their babies go into heart failure, and come out of the hospital pink and all fixed up.
What else helped? My family and friends. They were so amazing. They loved me even when I was strung out with anxiety.
What else helped? Respite services. I remember walking around the mall near our house...I was completely in my own head, but I needed that escape (even though I felt guilty at first). It was healthy to get away and come back happy to see my little guys.
This has been a rather long post - I'm excited about the 31 for 21 Challenge - but expect some brief entries to come.

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