Friday, February 5, 2010
When Taylor was born, I was devastated. Well, that might be a mild understatement. I was suicidal. I didn't want to be the mother of a retarded child. All I could think about was how his tongue was going to hang out. That's about what I knew about being Down Syndrome. So I secretly decided that I would kill myself--unassisted. I just didn't think we could raise a baby like him.
Realizing that I would probably not die if I jumped from the third floor of the hospital, I decided that I would simply starve myself to death. Yes, it would be a slow death, but it would be a death with dignity. I would be dead before anybody could really catch on that I starving (to death.) At 3:00 on the first day of my suicide starvation plan, one of the nurses told me that I needed to drink a milkshake because my hemoglobin was so low. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: I am here to tell you that it is impossible to pass up a milkshake---especially if it's what the doctor ordered. Day one towards my very own march to death had barely begun when my unassisted suicide plans were foiled---yes....by a milkshake! It was then and there I knew that, "Damn! I'm probably going to live to raise this child. I better get busy."
On the day of Taylor's birth, the only thing I can remember the pediatrician saying in her efforts to give me hope was, "Oh, I know a boy with Down Syndrome who can sing along with The National Anthem at all the football games." Oh great. That was supposed to make me feel better? What about the SAT? What about being on the Homecoming Court? What about soccer and Boy Scouts and Little League? How do you rearrange a life's view that's been blown to smithereens? I was supposed to settle for hearing Taylor sing The Star Spangled Banner on Saturday afternoons? Yes, indeed, that's when the road got bumpy---bumpy-er.
I drank that milkshake. (Six points to you Weight Watcher folks.) My unassisted suicide took a nose dive. The pediatrician was wrong anyway. Taylor cannot sing The National Anthem. And, like the rest of us, he'll never really know what "o'er the ramparts" means. But! He can say a darn good Pledge of Allegiance....."with liberty and jet skis for all!"