"Augie is on the move!" I excitedly share on my Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network (DSDN) Facebook page. The likes, loves, and comments start to roll in..."Yay!" "Go Augie!" "Love!" While this may seem like just another social media exchange, I assure you it is not.
Because these women GET it. They get how hard Augie has had to work to BE on the move. It was no simple feat. And so they celebrate with us. They virtually cheer on Augie. And I wholeheartedly do the same for their little ones at every new milestone.
This group of women -- my Down Syndrome diagnosis network -- is one of the first places I go to share new accomplishments. And, one of the first places I go for advice. It doesn't matter the question, concern, or topic -- someone in the group has been there or experienced something similar and can offer advice. If nothing else, words of encouragement. This is a place of support. We are a community. Vastly different in so many ways, but with one thing that connects us deeply -- our babies all have Down Syndrome. Also significant, our babies were born within months of each other.
I was connected to DSDN while I was still pregnant with Augie. It was an extraordinarily emotional time with many highs and lows. Some days I didn't know if the tears falling from my face were happy or sad. I was all over the place. But I wasn't alone. Not only did I have support from my family, friends and local Down Syndrome community, I had this network of women who knew EXACTLY what I was feeling. Women who had the same fears, anxieties, hopes, excitement, and anticipation. It didn't take away my own uneasiness, but just knowing I wasn't alone made a difference. What started with the uneasiness of pregnancy has now evolved to the planning of first birthday parties. With the good, bad and downright ugly that found us in between. Our kids are growing up together. And the bonds that we, as their moms, have formed are growing stronger.
Friendships are usually born over a common interest. And sometimes, that happens unexpectedly when you have a baby with Down Syndrome. I never knew I wanted a child with Down Syndrome until I had Augie. And I never knew I needed these women in my life until they were here. Now, I can't imagine life any different. I have Augie...and lifelong friends.
I would love for each woman that receives a Down Syndrome diagnosis, prenatally or at birth, to have the opportunity to be connected to DSDN. This community is important because it allows interactions and shared experiences between women who have (or will have) babies with Down Syndrome close in age.
DSDN has over 80 local partnerships where they provide materials and resources to organizations across the country. Did you know you or your local organization can request DSDN brochures and leaflets? DSDN is happy to send you or your local organization materials to distribute to your local OB-GYN, Pediatrician, DDD provider or Therapist's Office. Click Here to request.