Saturday, October 18, 2008

Acceptance

Now that I seem to be past the stage of feeling the need to unload Finn's whole story and diagnosis on everyone I encounter, telling people has become a more thoughtful endeavor. I no longer blurt it out, but I do tell people when it seems appropriate. I have to say that the responses I've gotten have felt very good.

Example: a week or so ago, the twins' preschool teacher approached me before school and asked me if the baby was okay. She said that Daisy and Annabelle both talk a lot about Finn and his being in the hospital (hearing this brought me close to tears - they rarely talk about that stuff at home anymore, but the fact that they talk about it at school sure says something about how it affected them). So I told the teacher the basics, that Finn was in the hospital for a couple weeks after he was born, that he had surgery, that he has DS, and that he's doing great now. She was very warm in her response. More suprising, I guess, was the following morning when one of the other moms approached me and asked me about Finn, saying apologetically that she had overheard my conversation with the teacher. She was very kind, and mentioned that she and her husband have friends who are the parents of a child with DS. She asked if Finn's surgery was for his heart (this seems to usually be the first assumption), and I told her that no, it was for an intestinal blockage and that his heart is fine.

Example: this morning I had an appt. for my yearly eye exam (can you say "blind as a bat"?). When I was in last, I had just found out that I was pregnant. My optometrist was also pregnant - with her second, and much farther along that I. At that point, I had only seen her a couple of times, for an eye exam and for a couple of contact lens fittings, but my appointments tended to be long because we hit it off and chitchatted a lot about kids and motherhood. So when I told her at my last appt. that I had just found out I was pregnant with #6, she impulsively hugged me - it was very sweet. Today, a year later, the first thing she said when she saw me was "You had your baby!" I could hardly believe that she even remembered. She took a seat next to me right in the waiting room and asked me all about Finn, and so I told her about his birth and the short version of what ensued after that. Her response? No shock. No pity. She congratulated me on my new baby and expressed concern about his hospitalization and surgery, compassion about his diagnosis, and left it at that. The rest was just regular trading of stories between two moms about babies and births. She even told me that although I probably didn't even realize it, I had given her a valuable piece of advice a year ago, and it had stuck with her. She was agonizing, at the time, about how a new baby was going to affect her then-2-year-old daughter, and I told her what I tell everyone: that having a new baby in the house certainly changes things for the child who is used to being solo and having all of Mommy and Daddy's attention, but that having siblings enriches their lives far more than it takes away from them. So, very cool that I actually said something meaningful to someone!

One last thing that I wanted to note: the other day my friend Tracy, who has 5 kids of her own, was going all mushy over Finn in his sling, and she said to me, "Seeing him makes me want to have another." Such a simple statement, but she probably has no idea how much that meant to me . . . how even knowing that he has DS isn't a "turn-off" I guess. Does that make sense?

I feel like Finn is accepted, and it's the most wonderful feeling.

6 comments:

Carla said...

What wonderful people you've encountered! It seems that Finn is much more than "accepted", he is cared about, asked about, and loved.

Laurie said...

That is so great, Lisa!! I LOVE when people respond in those kinds of ways. I can not stand it when people apologize or act sad when I tell them about Dylan.

Cleo said...

I’m happy for you Lisa!!!. Finn is a lovely baby and when people look at him, all they can see is his beauty, he is being loved and embraced by so many.

Tara Marie said...

I loved reading this post.

I think you will come to find that most people will accept and embrace Finn.....and I know his family adores him.

I wore Emma Sage in a sling for for a long, long time [I wore all my babies] but it seemed to me that she just fit there perfectly, as it was a way for her to watch and learn about the world, close to my heart.

I remember the point, where I used to mention that she had Ds [as a baby] and then a time where it didn't even creep into the conversation unless someone asked, or it was part of the discussion....I think in time you will find the same thing.

I love what your friend said.......as Finn is a beautiful little soul [and he makes me want to have another too!!!]

Enjoy your weekend.

Jeanette said...

Great post! I have found that the more casual I am about saying that Syd has DS, the more relaxed people are. Mostly I get smiles and people want to talk to her and hold her. We live in a different world now than the one that we grew up in and I am grateful for that.

Chrystal said...

Very nice. I'm so glad to hear your examples. We're in a very similar place when it comes to sharing with others and it's good for me to hear things that keep my fears at bay.