On March 24th, 2018 I was fortunate enough to attend a life changing conference with 140 other moms of children with Down syndrome. I had debated going to the conference for some time because I wasn’t sure how I would feel going alone. At times I struggle to feel comfortable in places where I do not know anybody. Thankfully, my beautiful cousin purchased a ticket and came to support me and help me enjoy the experience more. My cousin Brianna has been one of my biggest supporters with going through the process of different emotions since Amor was born. In the weeks before getting her diagnosis, I talked to her about my fears and the grief I was feeling about not wanting Amor to have Down syndrome-that I did not want this for our lives. Whenever I talked to her she always found a way to show me the beauty in Down syndrome and how regardless of the results, Amor is going to be more than I could have hoped for. She has always had a soft spot for people with Down syndrome and she already knew what I am just now starting to realize. I asked her to send me some Instagram families who are raising kids with DS so I could gain some insight and maybe find comfort in what I already knew in my heart was true. I tried for some time to dismiss the features on Amor where I saw glimpses of Down syndrome and convince myself that I no longer saw it. When I think about it now, I realize that I was in a way preparing to hear what I already felt in my heart to be true. While we were on our way to the conference I had so many emotions....I knew that it would be an emotional day but I wasn’t aware how much I needed to connect with others that have gone through this same journey. I needed to hear other moms’ birth stories and how they felt when they received their child’s diagnosis. I felt a weight being lifted off my chest that I have been carrying around since the day Amor was born. I realized that although I might think I am completely healed from the sadness, grief, shame, worry, fear, and all the negative emotions that I so badly don’t want to acknowledge or shed light on.... I STILL HAVE PAIN. And you know what? IT IS OKAY. Once I began to realize that I was still carrying these feelings inside, I found that my healing has really started to transform. By listening to others I am reminded that, I AM NOT ALONE. There are so many women who feel like their bodies failed them... who didn’t have a euphoric life changing moment when they first met their babies. I needed to hear that another woman felt ashamed, embarrassed, anger, and betrayed by GOD. I felt a profound comfort when I heard how those emotions lessened with each day that went by and how Down syndrome has become the most precious gift in their life. I cried. I cried while talking to the moms sitting at my table, and hearing the stories of those who are further ahead in this journey than we are. It was truly an honor to meet so many amazing and inspirational women. My cousin and I were able to meet and talk with Heather Avis who is the writer of the book “The Lucky Few” where she talks about her journey with infertility and her journey through adopting her 3 kids (2 of which have Down syndrome). I told her my story and tried my hardest to control the sobbing and ugly cry that was prying it’s way out from deep inside me. Heather got teary eyed and reassured me that I am doing a great job and that it is all going to be better than I could have ever imagined. I gained so much strength, and confidence and feel that through these women I have given myself permission to be still and take everything one step at a time. I learned that comparison is the robber of all joy. My duty to Amor is to love and support her. I can’t worry about the families who didn’t have a child with Down syndrome, or envy those who had the perfect birth. I learned that I am ENOUGH & more importantly my beautiful daughter Amor is more than ENOUGH.
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