I have a happy baby. All that means is that she has never been colicky, and most days she is well fed and rested.
We succeed in the car, because if she is screaming her little head off, I know that “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” can carry us a good 45 minutes or more without tears.
We succeed at the supermarket because I walk around like a fool singing about fruits and vegetables and planning our meals aloud for the whole store to hear.
But all the mommy tricks in the world can’t overcome my strong-willed Hope when she is mad. And let me tell you, this girl can express her emotions!
At the top of her “dislikes” list are tummy time, when we finish reading and put our books away, when I attempt to lay her down for a nap, phlebotomists, and pureed meats. An extra chromosome isn’t going to change that.
I hadn’t given much thought to the comments I’ve often heard that people with Down syndrome are always happy until a woman at our doctor’s office, who has a son with DS, asked me in reference to Hope, “Isn’t she always happy?” She explained to me how her son is “always happy,” so I felt mommy-shamed and lied, “Yes! She’s such a happy baby!”
Although true, I knew what this mom meant by the comment—the confirmation of the stereotype that babies, children, and even adults with DS have an untouchable happiness that can transcend the proverbial last straw.
There are many negative stereotypes about DS, and our worldwide community has done an incredible job of combating these stereotypes long before our family came on the scene. But the positive stereotypes can be tougher to take on, because it’s easy to walk around and have everyone think we have a glowing child every waking minute of the day…that despite our disability, we have something greater than does anyone else.
But I don’t believe Hope should be measured on a different scale, even if this gives her an advantage. The world needs to know that she isn’t just going to grin and bear experiences that displease her, nor is she going to deny you the opportunity to make her smile and laugh when you meet.
I have a happy baby because she is loved and adored, not because she has an extra 21st chromosome.