I've been reading a lot this month (although not as much as previous years) for Down Syndrome Awareness. I've read some beautiful posts about "If you're having a baby with Down syndrome, it will be okay. Life will be beautiful." But over five years post-diagnosis and much of that time spent chatting with new moms, my perspective has changed.
Oh, I don't mean that having a kid with Down syndrome will ruin your life.
These observations aren't about the first year. Most of us, when receiving a new diagnosis, take it as "bad news." I'm talking about what you settle into a few years out.
Are you generally a happy, positive person? You will see your child as a delight, you will overcome the challenges of raising a child with a disability with a smile or humor, you'll get frustrated at times but Down syndrome won't define you. You will probably see your child's genetic makeup as a fluke at worst or a blessing at best. You'll see Down syndrome as a challenge, but you'll see the good things that come from it as well. Even if you don't love Down syndrome, you will love your child. Even if your child isn't a superstar (and really, few are in all areas) you won't let that define your child either. In short? You're a generally happy person and generally happy with your life, including your child. You'll cry when things are hard and you will probably laugh, too. You probably will see most of your life that way, just like you did before you had your child with Down syndrome.
Are you generally negative? Guess what, your child with Down syndrome will challenge you daily, you will wonder what you are doing wrong. You'll love your child but most certainly not love Down syndrome. You'll see Down syndrome as a burden. But you'll see a lot of other things as a burden, too.
Down syndrome doesn't discriminate. Whatever your general outlook on life, Down syndrome will find a place in it. Happy? Okay, let the news settle (and it may take a year or more) but you'll be happy again. Miserable? I hope your child is joyful enough to change that for you, but that's a big responsibility to put on a kid.
We give Down syndrome too much credit for the general feelings we have about life as parents.