There are lots of people who help us on our journey to becoming who we are meant to be.
Some of these people who we will come across we might not even meet in person.
Some of my teachers on this journey have been my parents, my grandparents, my godmother, my friends, my sorority sisters, my yoga teachers, my REAL life sisters, my boyfriends past, my boyfriend for life, and my children.
Oh my… my children…and because of one of my kids’ extra chromosome, she has been my greatest teacher of all.
In order to equip myself for the new journey that I was embarking on, when she was born I found lots of books I wanted to read. Many books were textbooks…textbooks on how to teach my child to read (bc everyone learns differently), how to reinforce her gross motor skills, how to reinforce fine motor skills, and even things to expect in the first two to three years of her life.
I looked for blogs and websites to help me get through the dark and sad moments where I questioned my faith. I found mothers who were angry, mothers who wanted to fight, mothers who gave helpful hints and how to’s, and I found mothers who were all about rainbows and unicorns.
As I read the books, the blogs, and searched the websites of organizations and the not for profits, I realized how joyous and (contrastingly) difficult it could be to raise my daughter. I realized that I would come across people I would have to fight in order to get what I needed for my daughter, and I also realized that I could look for the good in every situation so that my whole family would find happiness in the gift of Gelli’s extra chromosome.
I wouldn’t be honest with all of you if I didn’t tell you about this one book that I read cover to cover in a matter of days. Bloom, by Kelle Hampton, helped me bloom into my “special” motherhood with Gellibean.
I haven’t always been the kind of girl that would choose to look at the silver lining. Many things can cause a shift in the way we think and the way we perceive the world. Sometimes, it’s a moment. Sometimes, it’s a period in your life that changes everything. Sometimes, it’s a class. Sometimes, it’s a book. And…sometimes it’s an extra chromosome.
If Kelle Hampton’s blog helped me survive those first few nights without my daughter at home while she was in the PICU, I knew that her memoir would be even more special for me. I knew that I would be able to laugh and cry my way through her story and find comfort in another mother who was handed a diagnosis of T-21.
I would like to take some excerpts from the book and share them with you.
Contextually, this quote comes from the part of the book where Kelle’s sister arrives and puts everything in perspective for her. Her sister Carin, can actually be a combination of a couple of different women in my own life, who have done the same thing for me, no matter the situation…
“So many people fear hard times, ” she said, “they go through their life solely seeking comfort and avoiding personal growth at all costs because it hurts. But I promise you, Kelle. I promise if you can find a part of you to believe me and trust what I’m saying-you will be happier than you’ve ever been. There will come a day when you believe everything I’m saying from the deepest part of your soul, and it will be real and true. That’s growth. I want you to picture some hypothetical person in your mind-someone who handled Down Syndrome exactly like you wish you could. Now go and be that person. Rock this out, Kelle. Rock it out and show the world another way. Imagine a light switch in your brain-a switch that shifts your paradigm. Put on different glasses, discard the old ones, and flip the switch, Kelle. Because life is all about how you look at it.”
And if that shift in perspective wasn’t enough for Kelle, she had a visitor just before she was ready to go home from the hospital with Baby Nella nestled lovingly in her arms. One of the nurses came into to see her before she left the hospital.
“I have to tell you something,” she whispered. Her beautiful Spanish accent was thick and pronounced, turning her words into poetry. “No one else knows, ” she continued. “I heard the nurses talking about this woman with a baby with Down Syndrome and I thought I must come see.”
She gripped my hand a little tighter, and her smiled deepened.
“You are…so lucky,” she said, “so very, very lucky.”
I smiled, warm tears rolling and nodded. Yes, yes. We are lucky. I leaned down and kissed Nella’s cheeks while a tear rolled off onto her forehead and I quickly brushed it off.
“You see, ” she continued, “I was you one day long ago. I too had a very special baby just like yours. A little girl. And I wanted her so very much. Everything was pink” – she laughed and waved her arms in the air- “the room, the clothes. I couldn’t wait. And when she was born, they told us that our baby too had Down syndrome.” She rolled the “r” in syndrome so beautifully that for the first time, the word sounded pretty, magical…poetic. “But, you see-” She stopped for a moment and wiped her tears. ” Our baby didn’t make it. She was sick. And I would have done anything to keep her. I would have done anything to be in your place.” She looked down at Nella and touched her cheek. “So I just want you to know, you are a very, very lucky woman. And she is beautiful.”
This memoir was made even more special for me because my mom, knowing how important this book was for me (since I asked her to preorder it on Amazon) asked my dad to take her to a book store where Kelle was holding a book signing in Florida.
Thank you Mom. I LOVE YOU.
My biggest take away from this memoir?
The fact that we can all choose to find the good. Life is NOT always good…but we can find the good…just like Kelle says…if we look.
I don’t have to look too far, Kelle…thanks to Gelli and her extra chromosome.
Wanna find some good with me this weekend? Join us as Team Gellibean walks in our third Happy Walk with The Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines Inc. (DSAPI)