Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition in the United States with one in 691 children diagnosed. It occurs when a person has three copies of chromosome 21 rather than two. If your unborn baby has been diagnosed with Down syndrome you are most likely feeling anxious and scared. Talking to the right people and arming yourself with knowledge will help you deal with your fears.
Get the Facts
Most of us know very little about Down syndrome. We see what we have been trained to see — a person with a disability who will struggle in life. But in reality, we all struggle, just differently with our varying abilities. People with Down syndrome go to school, have jobs, get married, and grow up to become contributing members of society. While they experience cognitive delays, those delays are usually mild to moderate.
Talk to a Specialist
Your doctor only knows so much about Down syndrome. If you want an expert's opinion, you're going to have to go out and get one. Find a Down syndrome clinic in your area and talk to the doctors there. They are your best bet on getting accurate and up-to-date information on the medical aspects of Down syndrome.
Talk to Families
With 400,000 people with Down syndrome in the United States alone, there is bound to be someone in your own community living with the condition. Many families are willing to open up their homes to you and share what day-to-day life is really like with Down syndrome, including the joys as well as the struggles. The local specialist may be able to connect you to a family in your area. If you aren't comfortable doing this, visit a blog such as Our Unexpected Journey. Learning about the ups and downs and true blessings that Down syndrome will bring to your life will help quell your fears.
Build a Support Network
A support network is critical when you have a child with special needs, especially in the beginning. There will be days when you need a shoulder to cry on or just someone to babysit your little one so you can get a night out. Once you announce the news that your baby has Down syndrome, you will find out who your real friends are rather quickly. Other options for building a support network include online groups and local support groups.
Understanding Down syndrome will help you to plan for the future. One day at a time is the best approach for now. But knowing what is ahead for you is important. Your little one may need surgery and will need early intervention. Make a plan for the first few stages of life once you bring your baby home.
There are a great deal of misconceptions about Down syndrome. Don't let the news spoil the joys of welcoming your baby into the world. She has a lot to offer and you will soon be finding that out for yourself.