So I have to share this interesting encounter I had with my dental hygienist. I came in and we made small talk- she asked how my girls were doing- I have only been to this office once before while I was pregnant but she was the one that cleaned my teeth the last time so I guess she remembered them. I told her they were fine but thankfully I had a friend watching them and I just had Bennett with me. He was in his stroller all covered up because I thought he was sleeping plus I'm a little nutty about germs right now.;)
Anyways, when she was done with my cleaning and we were waiting for the dentist to come in she kept peeking through the little window on Bennett's stroller and noticed he was awake so I opened it up so she could see him better. She made the usual comments "so cute", "aww" and then she couldn't keep her eyes off of him. She just kept staring at him so I'm thinking to myself :does she know, does she think he looks like he has Down syndrome?
After a while she said "Now how old is he?"
I said: "He's almost 3 months old" and then I proceeded (and I have no idea what possessed me to divulge this information but I felt like I needed to for some reason) to say that "He actually just had open heart surgery last week"
She said: "I was going to say because I can see a little of his scar" and then she said "what type of heart issue did he have?"
Oh boy, here goes: "Well, he has Down syndrome and the type of heart defect he had is very common in kids with Down syndrome, AV canal defect" again, not sure why I had to tell her he had DS, I just really felt like I needed to.
Waiting for the "Oh, I'm sorry" (which to this day I have never gotten by the way)
But instead, much to my shock and surprise she said:" I had a brother that had Down syndrome, he was in and out of the hospital, very sick, I was in eighth grade when he was born"
My jaw about dropped. Why I think I am the only one in the entire world that has a child with Down syndrome is beyond me. I know this is not the case of course but when I find out that someone I know has a child or a sibling or someone in their life with DS I'm always just amazed. Maybe because I have never known anyone personally with DS, until now.
So I said: "You said you had a brother, did he pass away?"
Her: "Yes, he was just 4 months old." "We just celebrated his birthday on August 2nd, he would have been 11 years old." "We each have pictures of him and try to imagine what he would look like now"
Me: "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that he passed away." "And he had Down syndrome?" There I go again, just couldn't help myself - I was just amazed.
She proceeded to tell me he was at CHOP for most of his short life- the same hospital that Bennett went to for surgery and that they (the siblings) would go and visit him on the weekends. As I was leaving she said she was so glad I brought Bennett in.
Ahhh, so maybe that's why she couldn't take her eyes off of Bennett. She knew, I believe and whether or not it brought back sad memories or wondering what her life would have been like with him or if her brother looked similar, I don't know.
You know, sometimes I hold back and I don't mention the fact that Bennett has Down syndrome but I feel like every time I don't hold back, it reveals something about someone that I never would have known and more times than not it shows me I'm not alone in this. Stay with me here...
Like 2 weeks ago I was responding to an rsvp for our neighborhood block part by email. I emailed the person that was organizing it (I did not know him at the time) and under my signature on the email is my blog address. I had totally forgotten that it was there- I added that a long time ago when I first started the blog. He writes back saying that he got my rsvp and that he happened to click on my blog and told me how lucky he was to have an uncle with Down syndrome and how he was the nicest person and wouldn't hurt a soul. He then sent me The Special Mother poem. How thoughtful was that?
I think my point in "I'm not alone in this" is that we sometimes keep things to ourselves about our lives because well, maybe we feel like we're the only ones dealing with it but when you open up a little or reach out to someone and sometimes by accident, you may realize you're not the only one. And the more I do, the more I realize Bennett is not something I have to "deal" with, he was born with a purpose and so far he's brought out the good in people time and time again.
So while I'm fully aware that many of you that read this blog do not have a child with DS or have any one in your life with DS, you may have things going on in your life where you feel you are alone in your own "issues" because maybe no one in your "real" life as opposed to the internet or phone is going through that, you'd be surprised. I'm not saying to tell people every little thing but keeping it bottled up and not being some what open about it can end up hurting even worse. I don't know, that's just been my experience so far.