October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, dontcha know.
For the first two and a half years of Finn’s life, I faithfully blogged about him and the impact of his diagnosis of Down syndrome on our family, from the day – er, night – of his birth in a birth pool in our bedroom (if you are wont to peruse things I had to say during that time, you can check it out here: Finnian’s Journey). Over time, Down syndrome became a less and less glaring aspect of our lives. Life just kind of went on, as life so often does, and our focus as a family shifted to other things – some big things (like the cancer my husband was diagnosed with when Finn was only seven months old – that gave us some healthy perspective about Down syndrome, let me tell you), but mostly just your average, mundane, day-to-day things, like, what the hell should I cook for dinner tonight that my kids won’t complain about? (That, my friends, is a losing battle if I ever saw one.)
Yes, Down syndrome is with us all the time. Sometimes things come up that are directly related to Finn and Down syndrome, and my compulsion to write overcomes me, and I find myself back here on my laptop blogging not about dinner, but about Finn and/or Down syndrome.
This month, however, is officially designated as Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and so I am committing to doing my part to raise awareness about Down syndrome by participating in the annual 31 for 21 Blog Challenge: a call for bloggers – especially those touched in some way by Down syndrome – to post something on their blog every single day for the month of October (31 days) in honor of Down syndrome, or Trisomy 21 (hence, 31 for 21).
I can’t promise that everything I post over the next month will be directly related to Finn or Down syndrome. I guess my hope, though, is to allow whoever comes across this here blog to see an honest picture of how a little boy like Finn fits into a family that’s average in a lot of ways, and maybe not so average in other ways.
Raising awareness is two-fold for me. On the one hand, I’m beseeching the world at large to see my son, and people with all manner of differences, as complex, feeling, valuable human beings. I want to dispel myths and stereotypes and preconceived notions, and ask for respect, kindness, compassion, and open-mindedness. On the other hand, I want to hold the hands of new parents just trying to digest what quite probably was a shocking diagnosis for their child; I want to tell them that yes, it kind of yanks the rug out from under you, yes, it can be frightening, yes, your grief is valid (but it gets better, I promise!).
It’s kind of a tightrope act in a way.
Without further ado, though, let me introduce you to Finn (if you’re new here!) and tell you a little bit about him and our family:
Finn, as you can see, is an adorable little boy with a mischievous smile. He’s three years old, he loves music, dancing, and our dog, Twinkle (he’s probably the only one in our family who loves her, which might be the only reason she’s still with us). He’s healthy; we have been very fortunate that he’s never had any major health issues. He doesn’t receive Early Intervention or go to preschool yet (because we’re rebels like that). And yet, he thrives and continues to make developmental strides in all areas. He is fiercely loved and ferociously adored by everyone in his family.
And a big family it is! Finn is the youngest of six kids (yes, we know how that happens). His older siblings are: Kevin, age 14; Joey, age 9; twins, Annabelle and Daisy, age 7; and Lilah, age 5 this coming Monday. His dad, Michael, is an attorney/musician/Little League coach/cancer survivor/devoted dad. I’m maybe a bit of a radical: atheist, home-birther, vocally opinionated (sometimes too much so for my own good), lover of lemon drop martinis and screwdrivers, avid reader, wannabe writer, smart-alecky and slightly irreverent. There’s a whole lot more depth to all of us, but there we are in a nutshell.
Stick around and see if your ideas of Down syndrome change over the next few weeks.