Thoughts on the birth of a baby
(1) Our baby was born on 1st August 2001.
I remember it vividly. For 5 minutes I thought we had a beautiful little baby, but then …
the first suggestion that our son, Robert, was any different came when the regular midwife seemed to have called in a second midwife. I cannot remember the exact sentence that she said to us, but it began something like “Have you considered the possibility of …”, but I well remember the final two words, “Down Syndrome”.
For the next 15 minutes - yes, I looked at my watch - I thought that our baby was some sort of monster (even though I was aware of Down Syndrome, or thought I was), but then something clicked in my mind and I realised that we had a beautiful little Down Syndrome baby - or, as I should have thought, a beautiful little baby who happened to be Down Syndrome (a phrase I later learned from the truly inspirational Wendy Uttley, from the Bradford DS group).
(2) This second thought may possibly arise, I’m ashamed to say, from my own prejudices at the time.
I anticipated all sorts of negative reactions from people we would meet in public; staring, pointing or even making derogatory comments - but, in fact, the only reaction that I have ever noticed is one of understanding, almost certainly from those who have contact with others with special needs. I had never thought of the word “indifference” in a positive light, but that is the reaction that, I am pleased to say, I notice from the majority of people - in other words, they look at Robert as they would any other young person.
Indeed, one the of the best compliments that I think I have received was from a social worker who had known us for some time when she said at one visit to our house, “you treat him just like your other children, don’t you?”.
OF COURSE WE DO - HE IS JUST ONE OF OUR CHILDREN.
He makes me cross like my other children; he won’t go to bed like my other children, he is untidy like my other children … but he also enjoys school like my other children, he likes going for walks like my other children, he likes going with Dad to watch rugby like my other children. Yes, he is different from my other children - but they are different from each other as well.