Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

So many days throughout the year I try and raise awareness about Down syndrome and educate people on what it means to have an extra 21st chromosome.  But because October is the official month for Down Syndrome Awareness, I try to make it a top priority to blog each day of the month in hopes of raising even more awareness!  I have successfully completely the challenge of blogging all 31 days in support of Down Syndrome Awareness for the past 4 years, and even though blogging has taken a backseat in my life, I am determined to make year 5 a success too!  I plan on sharing some posts from the past, and writing up some new posts as well.  I hope that everyone who visits my blog this month will take away some piece of valuable information.

Earlier this year Sophia participated in a project called 21 Dreams.  She had her photo taken and it was put in a book, along with 20 other individuals who have Down syndrome.  I was asked to write "our story" that would go in the book as well.  The goal of the 21 DreamS project is to open people's eyes to a life of awareness, acceptance, inclusion, and inspiration.  We were so blessed to get to be a part of such an awesome project, and I wanted to share what I wrote.....

When Sophia was born I didn't know in those first moments that she had Down syndrome.  All I saw was a baby- my baby- looking back at me with loving, baby blue eyes.  She was everything I had prayed for.  I have loved her from the moment I found out I was pregnant, but in those first few moments of actually meeting her, I was completely in love with everything about her.

Shortly after Sophia's birth, I remember getting the news that the doctors suspected that Sophia had Down syndrome.  I remember waiting for them to tell me the bad news.  Because the way they were acting, I just felt like there was something worse to come.  But, at that moment, that was all they had to tell me.  I had already seen my daughter though, and she looked fine.  She was beautiful.  She was my daughter and I loved her.  To me, that was all that mattered.  To me, she was perfect.

In the months that followed, Sophia did have some medical issues that tend to be more common in babies with Down syndrome.  We spent some time in the hospital after Sophia's birth and went through a few surgeries.  We were in and out of the doctors' offices regularly and began weekly therapies to help our daughter get strong.  We were thrown into this new world of raising a child with special needs, and even though it can be a little overwhelming at times, it has been a life-changing experience for our family that has only made us grow as human beings.  

Sophia's birth has not only opened the eyes of our immediate family to the world of special needs, but she has opened up the eyes- and hearts- of so many people around us.  Sophia is a spunky little blonde-haired, blue-eyed firecracker who loves life and people.  She is a person first, with wants and needs just like anybody else.  Of course Down syndrome is a part of her life, but it isn't her whole life.  Her diagnosis doesn't define who she is as a person - she defines who she is as a person!

Sophia is so much like any other four year old.  She loves to play outside.  She loves swinging on her pet set, riding her bike in the street, and jumping on her mini trampoline.  She loves to be around people, especially if she gets to be the center of attention!  She loves music and can dance like nobody's business.  She wants to be included in what is going on around her and be accepted by her peers.  She has feelings just like anybody else and shows a wide range of emotions, depending on what is happening around her.  Sophia loves school and riding the bus.  She is a sponge - taking in new things each and every day.  She is smart and capable of anything and everything her peers are capable of doing.  

Sophia is amazing.  She is my angel right here on earth.  She has a way of always making everything better.  I never thought I was a strong enough person to raise a child with special needs, but Sophia has taught me differently.  Because of my daughter, I know that I can do anything that I set my mind to, and so can she!

(Sophia's Mom)

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