Then I became an adult. I met my Jason, moved to Noblesville, got married, and started feeling settled in a town I love, with a man I love, and made some new friends. And over time, over the course of 3 kids, through jobs, through neighbors, through church, and through Jason, I met some incredible, kind, loving friends. And by the time I got the call from the genetics counselor who said, "your amnio tests came back and your daughter has Down syndrome," not only was I lucky enough to have loving supportive family to call, I had 5 best friends to notify as well. I am blessed. Okay, so maybe not all of them would sit next to me in that jail cell, but I love them like sisters. And I knew they would love my daughter no matter how many chromosomes she had.
Over the past 2 years I've been lucky to meet new people in the Down syndrome community. I wouldn't trade my bests friends for ANYTHING, but we all need those people who are experiencing the same things as us: NICU's, surgeries, delays, glasses. I feel like we are members of an elite club. These club members can give us perspectives that the experts and specialists can't. I've met some of these people by blogging and message boards and mutual acquaintances. Every so often you see someone out in the community who has a child with Down syndrome and start up a conversation. It happened to me once at the Children's Museum when Lexi was a baby and I was sitting alone feeding her. A mom and her 6 year old daughter who has Down syndrome walked by. The mom was very nice, but our time to talk was limited since her daughter, who was so sweet and fascinated by Alexis, was not up for sitting still while we chatted.
I always hesitate to approach anyone with Down syndrome. I was once told of an older child in our city who has Down syndrome and he doesn't know it. I also worry that I'll think someone has Down syndrome but they don't. Some new moms are understandably uncomfortable talking about their child's Down syndrome because it's still new, still a shock. It can take a while for the grief to subside. It can take a while before we're ready to celebrate being members of the club. It's easier, when I see someone with Down syndrome, to give them a little smile and keep walking. And if they want to approach me, I'm thrilled.
And then today, I was at Meijer with all 3 kids. Blake was pointing out all the pirate-themed cakes in the bakery. I'm used to people stopping to comment on Alexis. Especially since getting her glasses, she gets stopped more than me flying through a speed trap. And today a lady came up to me, commented on how cute Alexis was and then told me she had a daughter with Down syndrome. My first thought: She's in the club!! She was one of those people that you immediately like; kind eyes, warm smile. Her daughter is about a year younger than Alexis and we stood there talking about our kids like long lost friends. We could compare therapy stories, feeding issues, vision concerns. I think if we'd had some Legos there to entertain the boys and a table and a cup of coffee, I could have sat there talking to her for days. She was my instant ally. It was so comfortable and natural that we exchanged names and numbers (and Facebook accounts--hey, it's 2011) before heading on our way. Already tonight we've connected again and shared some frustrations and relief that we've found someone who feels the same way about some of those frustrations. And I can't wait until I can meet her little angel because I've seen her pictures (what did I do before Facebook?) and she is beautiful!
I wouldn't trade my friends for anything. But I love adding to the list, even if she doesn't want to sit in a cell with me.