Because there had never been anyone like you ever in the world.
So enchanted with you were the wind and the rain that they whispered the sound of your wonderful name.
It sailed through the farmland high on the breeze...over the ocean and through the trees...
Until everyone heard it and everyone knew of the one and only ever you.
Six months....One hundred eighty four days.... Four thousand four hundred sixteen hours.....just yesterday....a lifetime ago....
On July 27th 2010 my son Austin Bradley Harrison came bursting into this world. I plan to always remember it as the first time he proved someone wrong. The doctors had decided he wasn't ready to be born. Austin had different ideas.....Those moments are a blur in my mind, a collage of sound and pain. People screaming.People running. Someone saying...“Don’t push.” “I have to.” “The Doctor's not here” “I can’t wait.” My boy made his grand entrance on a gurney. And as I pushed his slippery body into the arms of the closest nurse my world stopped.
They gently placed him on my stomach and my heart sank. There was something wrong. He was almost silent while they cleaned him. There were no tears or protests. And over a room just moments before filled with chaos, an unnatural hush had fallen. And the silence hurt. I screamed “why isn’t he crying', and no one said a word. No one said a word as my in-laws rushed into the room moments after he was born. No one said a word as I withdrew from my son and told myself I was just tired. No one said a word. But I knew. I looked into my son's dark almond eyes and I knew. Everyday for the last nine months I had been waiting to hold this life in my arms, but somehow now I couldn’t bear it. So I spent the night on Auto Pilot and waited for someone to tell me I was wrong. Morning came and with it our pediatrician. I remember a nurse came with her and stood by the door. There was no turning back; my life was spinning out of control. I heard my Doctors wavering voice and couldn't focus, I only heard Trisomy 21. Trisomy 21. Down Syndrome. My baby had Down Syndrome. My brain shrieks, “There must be some mistake.” The Doctor left us. My heart was breaking, and we just sat. My husband and I sat not saying a word. The unknown is frightening, and we were plunging head first into the abyss. After all what did we know? Our experience was limited to a teenager who occasionally sat a few pews in front of us at church. I was so sorry for him and his family. After all Down Syndrome is horrible. Isn’t it?
Soon we were home. Still I was numb.... I think I smiled. I think I spoke. I think I prayed. But I don't remember. I know I mourned. I watched life happen around me. Others were here to carry on when I could not, as we waited for a blood test to prove what I already knew. And they came. And they were positive. And I cried. I cried such horrible gut wrenching tears that I thought my eyes might swell shut. I cried on the floor in my room while my Husband held my son and his Nana held us all and his Granddaddy struggled for words to help us. "Children, at least you got to bring your baby home." And he was right. Over the next few days I watched my other children with their new brother. They didn't notice he was different. Their love was untainted by stigma and stereotype. I watched them and I was ashamed. I examined myself and came up lacking. My babies, my most beautiful precious possessions made me open my eyes and see my son. My son. Not his diagnoses. And I fell in love. I spent hours examining him, searching for the thing that made him different from you and me. I will tell you what I saw. The cutest chubby little hands, with one line straight across his palm. My palm has two lines. A flat profile with an adorable little button nose. My nose is by no means small and cute. And his eyes, his amazing little almond shaped eyes. They're not like yours or mine. When Austin looks at you with those eyes it's like he can see your soul.
The heartache and the anger I felt in those first few weeks is but a distant memory, like faded writing on the yellowed page of a weathered book time erases all. But occasionally I pull out this "book," and reverently stroke it's tear stained pages and pay homage to those precious moments. Because as much as I gave birth to Austin, he gave birth to me.
My baby has Down Syndrome. I can say that today and feel almost nothing. Just like I might say my baby was born with Diabetes. It's scary at first yes. It effects our lives in a big way yes, but does it define my son? The answer is no. My boy can do anything. There may be days when he has to try harder, but I will be there fully present ready to help him every step of the way, and he will continue to prove people wrong. My son and others like him are ambassadors to this generation. They are here to shatter stereotypes. It's happening now. They are small business owners, and artists, ballet dancers, and chefs, and yes even college graduates. They have social lives, and passion, and they fall in love. See them. They have the weight of the world on their shoulders as they struggle to overcome cruelty, ignorance, and prejudice. Help them. Reexamine what you think you know about Down Syndrome. I did. We all fear what we don’t know. So help educate. Pass the word. Change the world.Please?