Monday, April 30, 2012

These Shoes

One Month Old!!
So Saturday night I took the plunge and joined a Down syndrome support group.  It wasn't until I was about five minutes from my destination that I realized I was about to go to a place I've never been, to meet people I didn't know.  I pulled in with four minutes to go, walked into a Pub (if you know me, you know I don't frequent the Pubs all too often) and was greeted by a full house, loud music and the smell of greasy food.  I stood inside the door for about two minutes before tapping on a woman's shoulder and said "I have a weird're not here as a part of a large group of parents are you?"  "No," she replied.  What in the world was I doing here?

I stood on tiptoes to see over the mass of people and scanned the room, and realized in short order that I didn't have a clue what or who I was looking for.  The woman I had talked to looked at me with a perplexed look on her face and I quickly said "I'm here to meet people I don't know, so I don't really know who I'm looking for."  She just smiled and turned back to her friends.

I stepped out into the entryway where it was much quieter.  I dialed the number of the lady who had invited me to come and she said they were on their way, so I told her I'd wait inside the entry for her.  I sat and waited.  I eyed up everyone who walked in the door, and asked myself - "is she the mother of a baby with Down syndrome?"  "Do they look like they have a child with Downs?"  "Is he the father of a little one with Down syndrome?"  I realized it was ridiculous to even ask myself that, there's no way to look at someone and know this.  So I stared at my shoes instead.

Then, in walked a woman who looked at those of us waiting in the entry and asked "Amanda?"  Finally...I didn't feel so lost anymore.  She led me to the back room where the group was gathering.  Within minutes, I met a family who had a baby with Downs just a month before Sam was born, two families with four year old boys who have Downs, yet another family with a girl with Downs, and so many these were people I could get to know.

We sat and shared stories for over three hours.  We talked about the moment we "found out", the health struggles that some of the children had shortly after birth and the adjustment we had to make when we brought our new babies home.  We talked about triumphs, like the little boy who learned to walk (just before he was three) just in time to be a ring bearer in a wedding.  We talked about breastfeeding, pumping, pumping while driving (cause you'll do whatever you have to do to get the job done!) and sore nipples.  One proud father proclaimed his son with Downs is quite a "chick magnet" - I love it!!

For three hours, I sat with a group of wonderful people, who wear the same shoes we're wearing.  I've been worried about these shoes, I've been afraid of what people might think of these shoes.  They're not exactly the "in" style, you know?  For three amazing hours, I could relate to the birth stories of these other moms, to the emotions they felt - everything from pain, to denial, to absolute joy.  One mom said that eventually, the fact that you have a child with Downs just fades into the background of your family.  I like the sound of that.
The shoes we wear these days

Three glorious hours of babbling on about my little guy, and not feeling like I was boring someone with the details, or overwhelming someone else with what I was feeling.  We have a remarkable support system at home with our family and friends, this was just a different kind of support.  One short month ago, I had no clue in the world that I'd be joining any sort of support group any time soon, but boy am I glad I did.  If it weren't for Sam, I'd have never even tried on these shoes - and you know what?  I'm starting to love the way they look.  Our family is going to walk many, many miles in these shoes and I can't wait!

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