How a Stranger Changed My Thoughts About Down Syndrome

One beautiful Sunday at the local farmers market an eccentric-looking woman standing a safe distance away from me looked at my belly and said, “It’s a girl, isn’t it?”. I was six months pregnant.

“Yes, it is,” I replied. Then with a perplexed look and a furrowed brow she said,
I can tell. I can SEE her. She’s interesting. She’ll come in the morning. Will you breastfeed?” 
“Yes,” I said, “Tell me more.” 
She said she couldn’t because she wasn’t working that day. Then she walked away. I started to panic, it was the “she’s interesting” comment that bothered me. What did this woman see? Did she see the Down syndrome? Was there more that she could see that ultrasounds hadn’t shown yet? Clubbed feet? Extra or missing fingers? Was she ugly? I tried to shake it off but my mind was running all over the place, bad places, negative places. 
We spent a little more time at the market and then decided to leave. We walked a couple of blocks to where our car was parked and there she was, standing right next to it. What in the world? 
“Oh it’s you again,” she said. 
I had to say something back, I had to get more information from this woman who in my moment of pregnant insanity I thought would be able to answer all the questions I had about my baby that blood tests and ultrasounds couldn’t answer. So I proceeded to say, “I already know she’s interesting,” referring to the Down syndrome. 
But before I could say anything further she asked, “Do you have a name picked out? She needs a strong name. She’s going to do great things.” 
At that moment I felt immediate relief. This lady doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She knows nothing! This baby has Down syndrome and will unlikely do great things. 
“Are you Jewish?”, she asked. 
“Nope, Catholic, why?”, I ask. 
“Because I see the star of David on her. You’ll have two more children too.” 
Keep it coming, lady! You’re wrong. The relief I felt was because I was still worried about the “she’s interesting” comment. She was wrong about the baby doing great things and the star of David and the two additional kids so therefore she must be wrong about the clubbed feet and deformities that I assumed she saw. 
It wasn’t until the next day when I was relaying the story to a friend that I realized what was wrong with the whole situation. Whether this woman was a true psychic or just a wildly eccentric woman, she taught me two things. The first was that I was already putting limitations on my unborn child due to her diagnosis and I needed to stop that. The second thing she taught me was that I had a negative attitude because as soon as she said the baby was interesting I was assuming she meant something bad. She made me realize that yes, my baby was interesting but not in a bad way. She has Down syndrome, and that’s interesting. It makes her unique and unique is interesting and interesting is exciting and not boring.
After that encounter I looked forward to our family pictures with the three girls and the uniqueness she would bring to that picture and our family. And I realized she can most certainly do great things. 

October is Down syndrome awareness month. This month I am participating in a blog challenge for Down syndrome awareness. Click the link below to see a list of more blogs posting for Down syndrome awareness during the month of October…

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