I have to admit, at one point in my life I was one of those people who strived for perfection and I was drawn toward materialism; I bought into this hype because I was surrounded by it. Rating beauty, intelligence, and perfection based on what society values, too often, seems to be the only socially acceptable direction. It wasn’t until the birth of our daughter, Olivia, that my husband and I learned the real definition of beauty and perfection; our daughter was born with Down syndrome. I have never felt more anger and hurt then on the day someone told me my child was imperfect. The comment made me question what kind of person would say such a thing and, to a greater extent, I wondered how society concluded who was a “perfect” child.
On July 16th, 2009, Olivia Layla was born. She was so beautiful. However, immediately following Olivia’s birth, the doctors advised us that she showed signs of Down syndrome. Additionally, it was determined that Olivia is affected with a congenital heart defect, which is common for children with Down syndrome. My husband and I experienced every imaginable emotion while reeling from these discoveries. On a personal level, I felt a great deal of guilt because I felt primarily responsible for Olivia’s predicament.
My husband and I both knew we had work to do. Our job as parents is to provide our daughter with the best possible resources to in order for her to achieve her full potential. Therefore, we tapped into services at a local, national, and international level and absorbed everything we could access. The more we learned about Down syndrome the more we realized how misinformed we were; there are so many stereotypes and misconceptions about this chromosomal anomaly called Trisomy 21. I admit to being one of those pregnant women who feared having a child with Down syndrome. However, since having Olivia, my husband and I have discovered how truly rewarding such an experience could be. Granted, our family will face more obstacles, but parenting challenges everyone differently; thus far, the positives that Olivia has introduced to our lives greatly outnumber the negatives.
I am a firm believer that we are all put on this earth for a reason. It takes a collective of people to make this world a better place and to bring us back to what is important. Our daughter has inspired us to take the time to enjoy the true beauty of things. To us, she resembles everything that is perfect. She is able to accomplish everything; it just might take her a little longer than the rest of the world wants it to. This is okay with us, because Olivia will be able to take the time to focus on the true beauty of our world.