Happy first day of Down Syndrome Awareness Month! Let me tell you, we are going to be celebrating here at The Mango Memoirs each and every day this month! Since day one of our Down syndrome journey, the very day our sweet Samuel was born over three years ago, we have met some incredible people. This is a world we hardly knew existed, and now we can’t imagine not being a part of it. But we remember those days before Sam’s diagnosis, back when we didn’t know a whole lot about what it meant to have three copies of the 21st chromosome. And that’s exactly why, for the next 31 days, we’ll be sharing the stories of those who have a beautiful extra chromosome. Their stories will be told by a loved one. Mom, dad, sibling, grandparent, caregiver. We’ll have photos and touching words, sometimes you’ll laugh out loud and other times you want a tissue. So make sure you bookmark us or save us in your browser, because you won’t want to miss these next 31 days as we celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
Our first feature, on this first day of October, is our dear Samuel. But his story does not come from me. This story comes from Sam’s Auntie Becky, my sister. I had been watching her girls with my Ella the afternoon I went into labor and left Ella with her. Here she tells of the night Sam was born, May 24, 2012.
I was waiting for my sister’s call when I fell asleep- she was in labor, we didn’t know if she was having a girl or boy. My niece Ella was sleeping in my bed- I was excited to wake her up and tell her she was a big sister! Some time after I fell asleep, Angela called with baby news- “It’s a boy, his name is Samuel Thomas.” I was happy to have another nephew! But something in my sister’s tone told me there was more she wanted to say. My immediate thought- something is wrong with the baby. Then she said it, calmly, but obviously hesitant: “He’s in the NICU right now, they’re running some tests…He has Down Syndrome.”
I was surprised. But it didn’t occur to me to be sad or “grieving” (as I’ve read since that day is a natural reaction.) I was suddenly overcome with absolute love and a sense of “protection” for this boy! I cried and told my sister truthfully “That makes me SO HAPPY.”
I worked for years in homes with residents who were developmentally disabled. These folks became some of my very favorite people- people I feel blessed to have known. They often show amazing qualities that most people I’ve met lack- and their relationships bring out so much love and humility in others. I’d always thought, I’d be happy to have a family member with “special needs.” I’d seen that my clients with involved family members could live the happiest, most fulfilled lives. I knew when Sam was born that our family would love any little one unconditionally- and as time passes I see more and more the beauty Sam brings out in the lives of everyone who knows him. Turns out he isn’t lucky to have us for a family- we’re lucky to have him.
You can find Becky on Instagram as @beckyjolson – And yes, we do have the same last name! We both married Olsen/Olsons. We love it.