Thursday, April 7, 2011
We Laugh to Survive: Bringing levity to the art of motherhood
Welcome to the Club by Ali Van Heusen
So, 2008 wasn’t really my year. We lost my Grandpa just before the year started, February began with my dad being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and ended with my Grandma dying, and finally in October my dad passed away. Needless to say my whole family was looking forward to the birth of our first child, and the first grandchild, in March of 2009.
Well, just when I thought normalcy was returning to our world, life threw us another curve ball. Our daughter was born March 2, 2009 at 12:58am, and we were told the next morning that she most likely had Down syndrome. At the time we were devastated, all of the dreams and expectations we had for our first born had just been shattered. We didn’t know anything about Down syndrome or about having a child with special needs. I remember breaking down crying and saying to my husband, my mother, and my father-in-law that we were never going to be able to go on vacation again. It seemed to me that life as I had known it was over.
If I could have only known how wrong I was to think that the joy I would get from parenting wouldn’t be fulfilled. Mila, like the meaning of her name, is truly a miracle. You cannot meet her and not be absolutely charmed and enchanted by this little being. Everywhere we go she makes people smile, makes their day better, and often makes them laugh. We were at dinner the other night and a woman came up to our table and said she had been watching Mila, that she was “just beautiful” and proceeded to kiss her on the forehead before leaving.
Twenty one months and a another baby later I’ve learned that
“normal” is overrated, having a child with special needs is special in the most amazing and unexpected ways, and laughter really is the best medicine. Our house is filled with love and laughter because of the daughter we never expected, who just happens to have Down syndrome.
Labels: Ali Van Heusen