Life is all about connections. We are all connected to one another. Many of those connections are obvious – family and friends. Some aren’t as clear – the woman checking out your groceries at the store, the nurse at the doctors office, the family passing by on their evening walk. If life is really all about connections, then Charlie has made us very connected family.
We are blessed to have an amazing family – parents, siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Our friends are remarkable – some we have known for our entire lives, others just a few months, but all play such an important role in our lives.
When Charlie was born our circle of “connections” took charge. I thank the Lord everyday that we were blessed with friends and family who see Charlie just as he is – a beautiful baby boy. They have from day one. Our house was filled everyday after his birth. Friends and family brought warm meals (for more than three months!) Flowers filled every inch of counter and table space. There were endless amounts of kisses and cooing over Charlie. You made our lives feel “normal” during a time when we felt anything but. Thank you.
We also made many other connections with people that we had never met before – people that left an imprint in our lives that we will never forget. I will touch on those amazing people in the future, but for today, my focus is on one family that we met just a few months ago.
When Charlie was eight months old we received a phone call from a friend (We’ll call her M) who also happens to have an older son (he is 26) with Down syndrome. She and her husband had been out walking and had run into a family with two young boys. They struck up a conversation and made an amazing discovery – the family’s youngest son Matthew has Down syndrome. He was born two weeks after Charlie. And their oldest son is almost the same age as Henry. M called me that very evening to share her discovery and to give me their contact information.
To many this might just seem like a coincidence (I assure you it was not, He was at work.) Or maybe that this has happened often to our family (it has not.) Yes, we have met a few other families that have a child with Down syndrome. And yes, we have heard many stories of “someone’s sister’s friend’s cousin” who had a baby with Down syndrome. We have even been to a “support group” for parents of children with Down syndrome. However, we learned that just because our children shared a diagnosis did not guarantee a friendship, or that we would have anything else in common.
This theme kept emerging. Our expectations are different for our son than many other parents. Early on, Alex shared a great piece of wisdom with me. People will react and treat Charlie based on our lead. So very true. What wisdom my husband has! So we treat Charlie as we would any child of ours and expect the same of others in his life. Our expectations of Charlie are the same that we have for Henry. We won’t lower them based on his diagnosis. Sure we will make adjustments as necessary, but we want him to reach for the stars. This did not seem to be the case with many of the families we met. From our very outside perspective it seemed as though they allowed the diagnosis of their children to dominate and rule. We were desperately seeking another family that felt the same way as we did.
But let’s be honest, even if we did meet another family that felt the same way– just because we shared the common connection of having children with Down syndrome didn’t mean that there would be an instant love connection. And not to mention that there just aren’t that many babies with Down syndrome born anymore…(don’t worry that rant is coming soon.) So yes, this phone call was very exciting news!
So back to the point of this post…the very next day I gave Amy (Matthew’s mom) a call. I was nervous and excited. And lets be honest…I really wanted her to like me. I was ready for a friend that could truly understand what our lives were like. Someone that I could have conversations with that truly “gets it.”
We hit it off. She shared their story. How they “found out.” Matthew’s health. What milestones had been reached? How their lives have changed and how they have remained the same. I shared ours. We laughed about the funny (and not so funny) comments from family, friends and medical professionals. We talked as if we had known each other much longer than our 45-minute telephone conversation. We made plans to get the boys together the very next day. Dinner plans for the next week were made – we wanted the dads to meet too.
And while our crazy schedules have gotten the best of us this summer, I feel so blessed to have made this connection –to connect with another mom who “gets it.” To have connected with someone that is a friend, who also happens to have a son with Down syndrome. (Though yes, for obvious reasons we connected first, because of our sons.) What makes this connection even better is that Amy had been praying for such a connection as well. This was a true miracle.
I would love to share Matthew’s story, but Amy tells it best on their blog: www.babymatthew.wordpress.com
Matthew’s story is full of miracles and he is a living miracle himself. It also sheds light on why His timing is perfect – our families weren’t supposed to meet a minute sooner than we did.
We feel truly blessed to now share in Matthew’s story and Charlie’s with his. I can’t wait to watch our boys grow-up together. To share in the joys and challenges our families will experience. I am so thankful to have Amy’s friendship and to have connected with a mother who understands.
In keeping with the “connections” theme, I am adding a list of blogs of those that we are connected to or have had an impact on our family. Some are written by family, others by friends, and some are new connections and discoveries that have been made recently. There are a few blogs written by authors that I don’t know personally, but they have played a role in our story and want to share them. I would love to write a description of each, as they are all important – each for different reasons – but I will let you do your own exploring. Also, I will do my best to keep this list up-dated with new additions, and organized by relevancy…