This time last year I was about to go into labor. This time last year was the last night I would go to bed without listening to the sound of Rowenna’s breath as she settled into a deep sleep. I had my hospital bag packed, her nursery set up, a stack of cloth diapers ready to go.
She came into this world after 25 hours of intense labor. From the beginning I knew we were going to be quite the pair. After my normally gentle, sweet doctor came in and told me in a very cocky way that I had at least another 20 minutes of pushing, I told my doula I was going to have Rowenna right then instead, and sure enough – out she came before anyone was there to catch her. She was on her own timetable from the start, I suppose.
And I was a momma. 7 pounds, 7 ounces, 20 inches made me a momma for the first time.
But she has made me so much more than that in the last year.
She has made me so much more compassionate. She has made me so much more patient. She has made me into someone able to roll with the punches and still smile at the end of the day. She has rekindled my passion for politics and has made me an advocate. She has made me aware of a whole world I knew nothing about. She has made me a better person.
My beautiful, sweet baby girl. (And her new goofy faces!)
And I’ve learned a lot during this year.
I’ve learned there is incredible generosity in this world, and incredible kindness. I have seen there are people willing to love us just for who we are and don’t care about what we aren’t. I learned it’s possible to shed the “shoulds” in life and take things as they come.
I know more about my genetic make-up and about Down syndrome than I ever cared to know. (And there’s still so much more to learn!) I know what captopril is for, I know how to insert an NG tube. I know how to work with an oral aversion. I know what stacking is and why it’s crucial for Rowenna.
I have learned that ignorance and fear and hatred exist in this world in a way I just didn’t think possible from a fellow human being. I’ve learned there are people who think Down syndrome is contagious, that Rowenna is a burden and a mistake, that Down syndrome is something you can pray away if only you really, really believe. Thankfully, I am also learning to let these comments roll off, to determine which are the battles worth fighting.
But on the whole, people are good. Perhaps that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned this year. People are good. They want to help, they want to love, they want to learn. People are hungry for human connection and my baby girl busts those doors wide open.
I hope I can teach Rowenna in her lifetime as much as she has taught me in just one year.
I love you so much!