On February 26, 2007, the nurse put my daughter in my arms for the first time and said, “She has Down syndrome, but she’s healthy and incredibly beautiful.” My eyes couldn’t believe it. She was just so perfect, even with that extra chromosome.
As the experienced mother of an older child with the same condition, I thought I already knew it all. I expected her to be sweet, quiet and defenseless like her older brother. But she didn’t only come to rearrange my life, but to end my most unconscious prejudices.
There she was crying out of control, and at her side, there I was crying along with her, with no clue or understanding of her pain. When the doctor showed up, I was desperate and asked him to do something to help her calm down. “Please, can’t you run a test? There’s something wrong with her,” I said. “Have you tried giving her formula?” he asked.
“Formula? I don’t feed my kids with formula. She just breastfed.“ I replied sobbing. “Well,” he said. “You should be aware that not all children feel full with maternal milk, so before doing any testing, I would highly recommend trying some formula to help.”
The nurse gave me one of those small hospital bottles. I put it on her lips and in a matter of seconds, she finished more than two ounces. In that moment, my daughter provided me with the first of many learning experiences.
First lesson: Mom, every child is different.
Second Lesson: Mom, thank you for your milk, but no thank you. I’m the kind of girl who likes the bottled stuff.
In less than a day of existence, her strong and determined personality was already showing. With that she made me realize that I was not as experienced, as smart and as wonderful a mom as I thought. I was a new mom again, of a newborn with no limits and with no prognosis. Ayelen, the joy of my life.
With her I’ve learned that the power struggle is a reality. And that sometimes, no matter how much child psychology and positive parenting strategies you use, there is no way to avoid human clash of personalities. But along with her I’ve grown up, I’ve matured, and I’ve accepted that the problem is that we are much more alike than different.
With no one else I’ve lived the sentiment of pride of seeing myself reflected in such a little body and such an impetuous attitude. I was born again in her, and avoiding the recount of chromosomes, there is no one else more like than me than she.
I see her in my own eyes, I love her with all my heart, and since the day she was born more than nine years ago, she’s taught me so much. Over and over again, she teaches me that attitude counts, that strength is a choice, and that everyone has the power and ability to lead when we are determined to succeed.