She was born on February 26 of 2007, almost 10 years ago. As an experienced mother of an older child with Down syndrome, when the nurse placed her in my arms, it didn’t take long for me to recognize the features related to the extra chromosome. I saw it in her eyes, on her hands and even on her toes.
Despite being a newborn with Down syndrome, she really was a very typical newborn, more alike than different to any other. She was born two weeks before expected and she was already over 7 pounds. She was small, but healthy, beautiful and very strong.
I’ll never forget the way she looked at me. Most newborns don’t have their eyes open yet, but she did. And since birth, she has kept them wide open as her most distinguished characteristic.
That February 26th, I realized how human I was and how human she was as well. In her humanity, I recognized strength, determination and a strong personality. I cried a lot along with her during the first weeks and months of her life, just because I didn’t know a baby could be as demanding as she was. It felt like being a mother for the first time all over again.
One of the things that were hard to process was her rejection of my breast milk. She never liked it and that was it. There was no way to convince her to nurse and I had to give up when she was six months old. From the beginning, she was determined to show me how different she was from her brother who, on the other hand, grew up making me feel indispensable and unique.
From the beginning, she loved cuddling in her father’s arms instead of mine. Many times I felt there was something wrong with me. Then I realized her world was bigger than I could see, and for that, I deeply admire her boldness and her honesty.
I have always loved her for being strong, for being brave, for being determined and for being fearless. I love her even knowing she’s not an angel. I never before in my life have felt so human: when she bends my authority with her stubbornness, challenges my thoughts with her tough discussions and also when she melts my heart with the sweetness of her storytelling.
She has the power to turn simple things into the most magical. She’s the child who always comes home from school with a well-told story. She is the little leader and self-advocate who’s completely aware of her challenges but also of her strengths, and would never settle for less than she deserves. She gets upset and offended when people treat her differently from others. She believes in fairness and equality and is willing to fight for it.
She’s not an angel.
And I love her because there is not a single day in which she doesn’t challenge me to be a better person, to learn more, to answer her most complicated questions. She doesn’t settle for half of my attention. She wants it all and she gets it, no matter how long it takes or how hard it can be.
I love her in her challenges and strengths. I love her in her battles and in her triumphs. I love her humanity, her differences, her similitudes, her loftiness and her incredible humbleness.
I love being her mommy, I love to recognize myself in her, I love her laughter and I would give it all up to save her from crying. But I love her so much that I believe in her as I have never believed in anyone before. And although I have to control myself from trying to give her all the answers, I have faith in my love and its power to help her become the best version of herself. All this, even knowing she has never been and will never be an angel.