Thursday, October 4, 2012

31 for 21...sort of

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month (it's also Awareness Month for a bunch of other things, but DS is what I'm interested in, of course).

Since Down syndrome is also known as Trisomy 21 (meaning there are 3 pieces of the 21st chromosome "pair"), many folks post "31 for 21" during the month of October; 31 posts about DS or their child with DS or their experiences with DS.

No way can I commit to posting every day for the entire month of October! There are days I actually do not go anywhere near my computer (really!). There are days when the only "downtime"I have to even think about composing something puty and witty is while I'm driving the darn minivan around town.

So I'll post what I can, under the guise of 31 for 21.

Here goes...

I have always known I would have a daughter like Sofia.


When I was 16, I traveled to Israel with United Synagogue Youth's Israel Pilgrimage. Six weeks without my folks or my sister (awesome!), traveling all over the country. Awesome.

One place we visited was Maon LaTinok, which was an orphanage for children with Down syndrome. At that time, in 1981, children with DS were not very well appreciated in Israel, and many were abandoned. So this woman named Hadassah Levi rescued 40 babies with Down syndrome from local hospitals and raised them herself at Maon LaTinok.

One of the most vivid memories I have of that summer when I was 16 was sitting on the floor, playing with an adorable little girl, less than two years old, with braids in her hair. Next to me sat one of the football players in our group, and he, too, was playing with a small child. It was the sweetest moment. And it made me fall completely in love.

Which is why I was not scared when Sofia was born.

And when I was ready to celebrate weaning her, after nearly 2 years of nursing, I planned to mark leaving that phase of my life behind by going to the mikveh (the ritual bath). As I searched for text for the ceremony, I came across another which the parents made a donation to none other than Maon Latinok!

So my 31 for 21 is this: I have always, since I was 16, known that I was supposed to have a child like Sofia. I just did not know how incredibly beautiful life with her would be!