I used to think that most babies with Down syndrome were born to mothers over the age of 35.
Now I know that 80% of all babies born with Down syndrome are born to mothers under 35. This is due to the much higher birth rate among mothers in the under-35 age group.
I used to think that all people with Down syndrome had the same characteristics, to the same degree.
Now I know that while there is a list of characteristics and conditions that are commonly associated with Down syndrome, not every individual will have all of them. This goes for their physical appearance and abilities, mental abilities, medical issues, and temperament.
I used to think that Down syndrome was an unusual anomaly.
Now I know that it is comparatively common. And the more I learn about Down syndrome, the more I begin to see that God easily could have made it so that any chromosomal variation was incompatible with life. Instead, it’s looking more and more like He just decided to sometimes make a different kind of person, because He knew we needed them here.
I used to think that if we had a child with Down syndrome, that we would be more isolated and alone.
Now I know that not only have many of our old friends surrounded us and our baby girl with love and support and prayer, but there is a whole world out there we didn’t know existed. There are so many avenues to finding new friends who are further down this path, who are happy to answer our questions and offer support and encouragement.
I used to think that Down syndrome was a serious disability.
Now I know it means that Verity will have to work harder for a longer time to learn things our other children picked up easily. I know that the best thing we can do for her will be to have high expectations, focus on what she can do, not on what she can’t do, and work hard to help her reach her God-given potential, just like we do with our other children.
I used to think that all people with Down syndrome were basically alike, that they were part of the “Down syndrome family.”
Now I know that Verity will be more like her own family than she will be like others with Down syndrome. She will be an individual designed by God, with her own tastes and preferences and talents and personality, but still resembling her parents and siblings. Just like everyone else in our family.
I used to think that having a child receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome was cause for sadness.
Now I know that the ones who see it as cause for shock and grief are all back on the “before” side, where I was not long ago. Every parent I have listened to sees their child with Down syndrome as a beautiful gift who has impacted their life for the better. Not one of them wishes they would have aborted their child. Not one of them says they would change who God designed their child to be. They all express understanding of the grief that they also went through, but they say, “The early days are the hardest. It gets better.”
It looks very different from this side than I ever would have thought. Yes, there will be difficulties, but every privilege carries responsibilities with it. I can choose to focus on the heavier responsibilities or the more profound privileges.
So I wonder what else I am thinking right now that is just plain wrong??