Monday, March 9, 2015

Do they notice?

As a parent of twinfants (infant twins) one attracts about the same amount of attention as a circus show. Ever since the boys were newborns, when we went out, we got the regular slew of questions: are they twins, are they identical, are they both boys (or more often: one boy, one girl?), etc. But there is another factor that I have been acutely aware of since they were born. I have a child with special needs that has common identifying physical features.

Now don't get me wrong, I am never and have never been ashamed of Asher or the fact that he has Down syndrome, but when I first started venturing out with my new sweet babies, I wondered if people could tell. I had heard that most people can't tell that a baby has Down syndrome, but I couldn't help but wonder anyway. There were a number of times that I blurted it out in case people could tell something was different but didn't want to ask. I guess I was attempting to put everyone at ease in the most awkward of ways (hence why I write). I now regret doing that. I truly believe that most people just saw Asher for the adorable baby that he is and was. I didn't need to explain anything and if people really did notice, I should have let them ask.

But that spurs the question, when will the first person make it known that they noticed and how will it happen? I have heard beautiful stories of strangers approaching moms in the grocery store and making a kind comment about their "beautiful" or "special" child and then I have heard sad stories of mom's being asked why their baby looks "funny". My moment happened a few weeks ago and it was surprisingly uneventful. I was checking in Asher for blood work at the hospital and one of the staff that happened to notice my beautiful children decided to come over and talk to them and ogle them. We were talking about the boys' different temperaments and she started saying things like "they usually are happy" and the such about Asher. I usually don't like Asher being classified as a "they" because he is an individual who happens to be part of a population that shares a commonality, in this case, an extra chromosome. But this time, I wasn't bothered, I was just relieved that our first experience of someone making it known that they noticed, was someone who was intending to be kind and supportive of the fact that my child is rocking a little something extra.

As the boys have gotten older, I am less and less aware that Asher does possess traits that are common among individuals with Down syndrome. I don't even wonder if people notice when we go out and I rarely blurt out that he has Down syndrome to complete strangers unless there is a reason for it to come up in conversation. I just let him be Asher with his beautiful, blue, almond shaped eyes,  adorably tiny little ears, cute little button nose with it's slightly flattened bridge, the tiniest little hands that grab my hair like handle bars so that he can try and eat my face, itty bitty feet that he can bend over and chew on from a seated position, and adorable pot belly, chunky thighs and rolly polly arms.

March 21st is World Down syndrome Awareness Day and I can honestly say that I have never been more proud to be the mom of a child with Down syndrome and to really participate in this day for the first time. On March 21st, we will celebrate Asher for all that he is, including his extra chromosome.