We went to our first Down syndrome conference this weekend. To my surprise, it was a day filled with many different emotions. Excitement, connectedness (is that even a word?), worry, acceptance, fear, love. As a matter of fact, it's been 2 days and I think I am still trying to get myself back on track.
Our first session was for new parents. We met Dr. Allen Crocker as well as a couple of other well known women in this area, who also have children with Ds. They spoke about various issues, told stories, and then welcomed questions from the new parents. It was amazing...the connection I felt with all of these people. Even though I did not recognize their faces, even though I did not know them, I know they have walked our walk. Everyone sitting there, in that room...they know. They know what it is like. I kept looking around the room. There were so many babies in there. All with Down syndrome. And their parents. Ah. It was amazing.
The next session we went to was called: "Medical Issues In Children with Down syndrome". Need I say more? Ugh. You know, originally I had thought it would be important for us to gain more knowledge about the possible issues we may be faced with down the line. Um. Well. Maybe so, but it was certainly not the best idea for a worrier like myself to sit through a session like that. Sheesh. I left that session feeling anxious. And paranoid. Every move that Dylan makes now I wonder...hm, autism? Could it be? Please don't let it be that. So, yeah. That session was blech. I told Dave it was WTMI, in which he responded, "What the heck is WTMI?". Wayyyyy too much information, my friend. Way too much, indeed.
We attended a luncheon in which the keynote speaker was a 20 something year old girl with Down syndrome. She made a beautiful speech about her life and her dreams. At some point during her speech, it hit me, yet again, like a ton of bricks. Dylan has Down syndrome. Dylan is going to be a 20 something year old with Down syndrome. Sounds odd, doesn't it? Here I am, at a Down syndrome conference, and it took me until about lunch to fully grasp the fact that my baby, who has Down syndrome, will grow up to be a 20 year old with Down syndrome.
Dave went to the last session about financial planning while I decided to blow it off. By this point Dylan was getting tired as was I. In between my yawns, my mind raced with thoughts. Thoughts about Down syndrome. I spent the last hour or so with my new friend, Michelle, and her little guy, Aaron. We walked up and down the halls trying to process this Down syndrome stuff and what it may mean for our sons.
I am glad that we decided to go. I mean, it was a lot. It was a very heavy day, but a day that was necessary. Another step forward for us in this journey, I think.