The Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines Inc. was the first place I looked to for help, after I had ordered all my books from Amazon, and scoured the internet for blogs and online resources.
They were the guiding light that I knew I needed.
There was one particular doctor who sat with me for a long while when Gelli was in the PICU. Dr. Resty was calming, in a time when I was full of anxiety and worry. He explained things simply to me, when it came to Gelli’s healing from the corrective surgery from her duodenal atresia. He encouraged me to continue pumping milk when I went home and even in the hospital while sitting with Gelli in the PICU. I remember him stressing how breastmilk aides in cognitive development, and I promised myself that I would nurse Gelli as long as I could.
I already understood the benefits of colostrum, antibodies, and the immunity my milk provided for all of my babies before Evangelina was born, but for some reason, when it came to breastfeeding them I couldn’t make it past the 8 month mark.
He wrote down Down Syndrome Association Philippines Inc. on a piece of paper and gave it to me when I was going home one night. I told him I would look it up and join the group later that night.
Truth is, I quietly stalked the DSAPI group for about a month before I got up the courage to post. I liked the posts but did not comment. I searched the photos posted by fellow parents looking for a glimmer of hope and maybe even a friendship which would be nurtured by the commonality of our children’s extra chromosomes.
I can’t remember if Adette invited me to the Early Intervention Seminar in November, or if I discovered it in the Facebook Events tab from the group. I do remember telling Nino that I wanted to go and see what it was all about. It was a nominal fee to join, and there was a map showing us the easiest way to get to the venue. I told him that we should bring our yaya (nanny) at the time as well.
She should learn as we learn, right?
Even if I was the primary caretaker of Gelli, and I didn’t let anyone bathe her or put her to sleep, I still felt that the yaya could learn more about the special care that Gelli might need if she attended the seminar with us.
Nino didn’t really want to attend the Early Intervention Seminar. I remember him saying that he “wasn’t ready.” I respected the fact that he didn’t want to go, but I said that I was going. I was willing to share with him what I learned, but I wasn’t willing to miss this EIS because I knew the next one wouldn’t be for another 4 months.
Time is precious when you are talking about Early Intervention. The sooner, the BETTER…
Because I was adamant about attending the seminar, Nino decided to me to join me, and for that I was happy. I was looking forward to the parents we would meet and the things we would learn.
Through that EIS, we met other parents who had babies days before and after Gelli was born. We connected with them, their situations, and through the shared emotions that we were afraid to share with other parents who might not understand.
We looked up to the parents with older children. We asked what worked, and if things got easier as our children would grow. Even now, as Gelli is approaching her 5th birthday, we enjoy getting together with the couples we met during our very first EIS, and the couples we met in succeeding seminars as well.
DSAPI continues to hold Early Intervention Seminars for new parents. They have even added another seminar which fills the gap for growing kids.
We kick off the month long celebration in February with Tee Up for Down. This year, the golf tournament is on February 5th. If you participate in the tournament, you will know that your donations cover the medical outreaches and seminars held in all of the different chapters all over the country. From EIS, to the many other seminars catering to parents and caregivers alike, DSAPI continues to provide the support network that parents like me, need and look for.
Because sometimes, we just want to know that we are not in this alone.
Towards the end of the month, we will be walking together with all of our friends in THE HAPPY WALK.
Would you like to walk with us? We are prepping for Team Gellibean already!
Keep coming back all month to learn more about Down Syndrome and #29DaysofAwareness.