As I read this story that was poured from a new mother’s heart, my gripes suddenly seemed terribly insignificant. I held my little baby boy close and tried to keep the tears from cascading down as I lay in bed unable to navigate away from this story. The photos that accompany Nella’s birth story are amazing. Even if you do not want to read, look at the photos. They are enough. Just simply enough.
Many people do not know that I have an uncle with Down’s Syndrome. He is my mother’s older brother and his name is Rick. I always think of him as “Uncle Rick”. (case in point: I had a hard time typing Rick without “uncle” in front of it!)
He was always around when I was growing up; he lived with my Grandma and “Puppy” until she died from cancer when I was ten. He then moved up north to live with various members of my mom’s family. He eventually came to live with us. Us being my mom, dad, three brothers, paternal grandmother with Alzheimer’s, three cats, nine dogs, cockatiel, and chickens. Thankfully, we lived on a farm. In the middle of no-where. In a speck on the map in Alabama.
When I was younger, I knew that Uncle Rick wasn’t like other people. He lives for the Dallas Cowboys, one dollar bills, Cheerios, and Days of Our Lives. He thrived on routine, phone calls, cards, and milk shakes. He rarely got frustrated with my brother and I. He was always interested in “doing homework” and would gladly pay us a dollar to write a sentence repeatedly on a piece of paper.
Growing up, I heard my mother talk about how it was to live with a brother who had DS. Her stories ranged from heart-warming to gut-clenching. The way people treated him was terrible. The way people still treat people with mental problems is disgusting, but I digress.
During my pregnancies, before any tests ruled out genetic abnormalities, I worried about DS. It consumed my thoughts and fears. It took a lot of soul searching and shame for me to finally admit I do not believe I could raise a child with DS. It is so hard to think that though, much less voice it or type it. I believe that the people who do raise children with disabilities are freakin’ amazing. Their patience, love, and joy consistently humble me and make me feel ashamed of my weaknesses.
Kelle Hampton’s blog, for the first time in my life, made me think that maybe, just maybe, I could also raise a child with DS. Would I feel all the roller-coaster emotions she did? Without a doubt. Would I weep and rage silently? Probably not so silently, honestly. But…she made me think I could do it. And for that, thank you Kelle. Thank you.