Just. A. Mum.

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additional needs, down syndrome, down's syndrome, equality, family, inclusion, pregnancy, special needs

I have always promised to keep my posts honest, even when it means a tough admission on my part or sharing a rant. I don’t ever want this page to be sugar coated, rose tinted or soft focus. What I want is for everyone to see what a typical family life we lead – the good, the bad, the ugly. I want it to be real. And real life is a mixed bag, whoever you are.

One thing I have always been brutally honest about is my own ignorance. The last 6 years have had a massive, incomprehensible effect on me and my thoughts. I am so much more open minded, I think things through a lot more, I challenge myself and my opinions and I try to see every single person on this planet as an equal. I think twice before making judgements and I try to remember that the “oddball” pushing a dog around in a buggy or the convict or the person behaving “differently” or deciding not to conform to what society dictates as “normal” is someone’s son, or daughter – if you get my drift. And trust me, I am still learning.

I know my unnecessary fear of being told my baby son had Down’s syndrome was borne from ignorance and failing to see beyond labels and stereotypes and I often wonder how i would have reacted to the same news if a friend or acquaintance of mine had had a baby with Down’s either before or instead of me.

I pointlessly worry about what I might have said. I hope I would have just said all the same things I would say to anyone who had just had a baby, any baby, and if I didn’t know what to say I hope I would have just admitted that or asked for more information.

Obviously my own personal experience makes me well equipped to say the right things……now.

What is incredible though is the comments that knock the wind out of my sails most often come from well meaning people, people with no malice or bad intention. Somehow this hurts more than the vile trolls I have been subjected to. The trolls are anonymous. The trolls have bad intent. The trolls sit behind their keyboard preying on who they think are vulnerable. The trolls may just be kids. The trolls have issues of their own. The trolls fit into my newly opened mind – I don’t know what has happened in their lives to make them so mean. So I can kind of forgive them because I pity them and their lives.

Today on my way to school I got chatting with someone I had not spoken to before. Dominic was at preschool and Polly was up front in her baby sling. The person was super pleasant and asked me who my child was. Naturally, Seb is pretty well known throughout the school. I gave his name.

“Oh you’re the one with a Down’s boy”

*OUCH*

“Yes Seb does have Down’s syndrome”, i choked back…..and blonde hair and blue eyes and likes football and reading and the Lego movie and sausages and ice cream and and and and and and…..

I glossed over, thinking it wasn’t the time and place to get all angsty and political and there surely was no bad intent there. What good does barking back do anyway? You end up looking super touchy and super silly – or worse, bitter, which I am not. And just as I got my breath back, I got struck again….

“Wow, you’re brave having another child after one with special needs” EH?? and then finally, the patronising sign off “I *really* admire you”

And that hurt.  Someone admiring me, really hurt.

And this isn’t the first time. All through both of my subsequent pregnancies (yes I did point out to the stranger that I had been brave enough to have TWO more kids), people felt happy to voice their amazement that I had decided to have more children.

So why WOULDNT I have had more children? Is it because it sucked the absolute life and soul out of me? Is it because of the risk of having another child with Down’s syndrome? Is it because Seb doesn’t deserve a brother or a sister? Is it because Seb is somewhat less value or equal to his siblings. And what is their to admire about me? I am a mum.

Just. A. Mum.

I can, hand on my heart, say that even if Down’s syndrome was an inherited condition (which it is not), I would have happily gone on to have another child, even if we knew there was a 100% chance it would have Down’s syndrome. In fact, we were actually pushed to have invasive testing with Dominic and we refused it. A sibling is a sibling.

Every person in this house is an equal and valued member of our family. End of. Each brings their own little quirks and personalities and shapes the very dynamics of our team. Just the same as any family on any street.

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