October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month when thousands of families across the globe advocate for the people they love and educate friends on what it is they want them to know about Down syndrome. What I want you all to know has hopefully been woven into every single thing I’ve shared online for the past eight years–yes, in posts specifically about Down syndrome, but more so in what I’ve shared that isn’t–the celebrations, the holidays, the family trips, the everyday stories of hustling kids out the door, attacking neglected piles of laundry, attending to work, exploring hobbies, raising a family and filling in the gaps with the sweet simple pleasures that make life grand. Hopefully through all of that, you’ve read between the lines this subtle yet screaming message–that Nella fits perfectly in this family and that having a child with Down syndrome is not an experience to be pitied, but a joy that very much fits the profile of the American Happy Family dream, especially when you understand what happiness really means.
I have learned that no one is entitled to being part of the 699 in a 1-in-700 odds, and that becoming the “1” can sometimes be a golden ticket to a secret only other ticket holders know. That secret did not reveal itself to me the day Nella was born because I had a lot of fear and expectations of what my family was supposed to look like to chisel through (I skipped the chisel and went for the bulldozer–we had a lot of digging to do), but it came. And here we are.