When Gil was born we weren't aware he had Down syndrome. The first thing I asked his father was: “Ten toes, ten fingers”? It was my way of asking: “is he ok?” The first thing he said was “He’s beautiful”. So when I was wheeled in to see my beautiful wild haired baby and the nurse was hesitant in handing him over to us I didn’t understand what was happening, even after she said “I think he has Down syndrome” I still didn’t get why she was holding on to him. When she finally placed him in my arms she must have seen my expression of “Give me my baby NOW” because she apologized , “I’m sorry", she said, "I just needed to make sure you were ok with him”.
There has never been a moment when I haven’t been “Ok” with him because he has Down syndrome, there have been moments when he’s sassy and I’m not ok with that, but that’s another story.
Later on the nurses in the hospital explained to us that there are some parents that are a bit shell shocked when they are given the news that their baby has Down syndrome, some mothers don’t want to hold their newborns, this didn’t happen to us. Yes it was hard to hear that there is something “different”, it’s hard to wrap your mind around something you really know nothing about, but what I did, what both his dad and I did was wrap our hearts around our beautiful baby boy. The way he smelled, the way his hair felt, how he sounded, and the fact that this little human was ours, all of that made it impossible to not fall immediately and madly in love with him.
You can read all the books, watch all the documentaries about parenting, you can listen to all the stories your friends, family and even strangers tell you, and you can even make assumptions of how you will be as a parent, but until you see him or her for the first time, until you hear their first cry you really have no clue.
So there I was at 4 am not looking away from my baby since the moment he was placed in my arms, and I made a promise. Not knowing what life was going to throw our way, not knowing what it meant that he had Down syndrome, I promised Gil I would do my best, I would always protect him from negativity, I would make his life the happiest it could be.
Now, any mother will tell you I made a very hefty promise. The words and intent might sound simple, and in that moment I can honestly say I didn’t know of what I was talking about, but in the almost 11 years that I have been his mom I have tried my hardest to not let him down.
Gil is our first and only born, he is all I have ever known. I didn’t think I would get the chance to just wing motherhood, I didn’t want to use a learning curve, I wanted to go all in. Little did I know how life was going to set me straight.
Because that’s all parenting is, discovering what will work one day and maybe not the next, discovering new methods of helping your child reach milestones, figuring out how not to lose your mind because you will inevitably put all the weight on your shoulders.
So, as he has grown up, so have I. It’s been my job to teach him how to eat and spell, but it has been my privilege to learn from him how to love.
Thank you little dude for making me your mom.
By the way, you say “mom” in the most glorious way.