This week we’re celebrating Grandparent’s Day by featuring the stories of those who have grandchildren with Down syndrome. When new and expectant parents learn that their baby has Down syndrome, grandparents are sometimes unsure about the best ways to offer support in the beginning. This is why we offer the booklet, “Your Loved One Is Expecting a Baby with Down Syndrome” to help grandparents and other friends and family understand Down syndrome better and know helpful things they can say and do. So, between September 6 and September 13, anyone who donates $15 or more to the Down Syndrome Pregnancy program will receive a free, signed copy of the printed book to keep or share with friends, family, or a doctor who might find it useful.
Once the news settles in, and especially after the baby is born, grandparents often become a tremendous source of strength and joy: helping with laundry during those newborn days, cheering loudly at baseball games, and eating mushy roast beef at the elementary school Thanksgiving lunch. Whether near or far, grandparents can be an important influence in the lives of children, so we want to celebrate them this week and hear your stories. So, anyone who emails us a photo or story or posts a story in the comments of this blog post by September 12 will be entered into a drawing for a gift basket with strawberry jelly, salsa, syrup, butter, and muffin mix from Mercier Orchards in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Your stories help other grandparents know how to support their children and how to enjoy those precious moments with their grandchildren.
And look here for a list of other great grandparent resources by columnist (and Lucy’s grandma), Beverly Beckham.
Below is a story from my own mom, Bernice Hall:
When I found out that my youngest daughter was expecting her first child, I was overjoyed. The day of Andy’s birth was eventful. I was overcome with joy. However, that joy was short-lived. We were told that he had swallowed meconium and would need to go into the newborn intensive care unit right away. It wasn’t long before we were told that the doctors suspected that Andy had Down syndrome. My first reaction was to deny that my 23-year-old could have a baby with Down syndrome because I thought that only happened to older women.
The genetic testing confirmed the doctor’s suspicion. At that point, I had to say goodbye to the baby that I thought we were having and welcome this precious little boy for the beauty of who he was. Embracing that reality came quickly and with much love.
One memory that will stay with me forever involved a riding lawn mower. When Andy was about three-years-old, my husband bought the mower. He couldn’t have purchased anything that Andy would have loved more. For a couple of years, he just rode with his Papa. Then, he was allowed to steer. Andy put more mileage on that machine just riding for fun than Papa did cutting grass.
During that time, we took him to an animal park. Our means of transportation around the park was a large tractor that pulled a flat bed covered with straw. Andy was so excited that the attendant allowed Andy to sit with him. At some point during the ride, he allowed Andy to steer. He was able to maneuver through an open gate without hitting anything. The smile on his sweet face was priceless.
Andy continues to amaze me with his computer skills and his photography talent. He patiently helps me with my computer. Best of all, I love when he puts he arms around my neck and gives me a kiss on the cheek and says, “You’re the greatest Mawmaw in the world.” Of course, the love that we share just grows stronger.