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gillian marchenko

Author and Speaker


Things I thought I wouldn’t do because of a child with Down syndrome


Things I thought we wouldn’t do because of a child with Down syndrome

When my daughter Polly was born in 2006, I remember thinking something that today, embarrasses me to admit.

One year.

I remember thinking in my grief that we’d have one year while Polly was an infant. Maybe life could be more normal than not, and people wouldn’t look at us with pity because our child had special needs. We’d have a year before things would be hard. We’d have a year until we’d have to start limiting ourselves because of Polly’s Down syndrome.

Polly is six years old now, and I am happy to report that once my time of grief over the child I expected dulled (I have to admit, it sneaks up on me here and there still) I’ve learned that having a child with Down syndrome doesn’t mean that life is less normal.

Our normal, for the most part is well, normal.

A couple of days ago, our family joined GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago at a Chicago CUBS game. Sitting in the bleachers with our tribe and several other families blessed with a child who sported an extra chromosome, eating popcorn and hot dogs, singing “Take me out to the ball park” in the seventh inning stretch, and enjoying the beautiful day, I was struck by the blessing it has been to parent all four of my children.

It has been a blessing to parent my two daughters, Polly and Evangeline, who both happen to have Down syndrome, just as much.

I’m not going to gush that it’s always easy.

But we’re living life happily, and doing things I thought we wouldn’t do because of having children with Down syndrome.

My kids prove me wrong every day.

We may tweak how we do things.

It may take us a bit longer to ease ourselves into new situations.

But life has not stalled because of Down syndrome.

It hasn’t even slowed down.

If you are new to the journey of parenting a child with Down syndrome, hear me.

Your life, although different from what you expected it to be…

Will be full.

Did you like this? Share it:
  1. Sarah says:

    I love that picture, how beautiful you both are.

  2. Tracy McCain says:

    I love this! I remember shortly after my daughter was born, and still in the hospital, my husband I stepped out for dinner, and went to Red Robin. I sat there and cried thinking we would never again be the typical family quietly having dinner out. We’d always make a scene, we’d always make everyone around us uncomfortable. Time passed, and what I had feared never developed. Four years later,,every time we visit that same restaurant I still well up and cry because we’re just a normal family having burgers, and no one’s bothered by that, especially not me! I was so wrong!

  3. bethelderton says:

    Wonderful post! I hope every parent reads this.

  4. Becca says:

    Oh, *definitely* full!! Our life is amazing, and I can’t imagine it any other day. I had that life-flashing-before-my-eyes experience when Sammi was born, too, only it was a dreary, dismal life. So glad it was just a flash… 🙂

    LOVE the photo!

  5. Becca says:

    Can’t imagine it any other “way.” Oops. 🙂

  6. Chris says:

    We just can’t take the future for granted, for better or for worse. I’m glad you’re encouraged!

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