Today is Aaron's third birthday! It's hard to believe it's been three years since our lives changed so dramatically. In some ways it feels like yesterday, in others it seems like it's always been this way.
We didn't know Aaron had Down Syndrome before he was born. I had the "quad screen" test while I was pregnant but the results came back normal so we thought there was no chance there was anything wrong. We were shocked when he was born and the doctor told us he wanted to have him tested. Even the genetecist wasn't sure, but a week and a half later when we finally got the results back, our fears were confirmed. I'm not going to lie, it was devastating. I knew what Down syndrome was, but I didn't know nearly enough about it. All I could think about was how people were going to be so cruel to him and it wasn't fair. I think I cried for a month. And it took a year before I was finally okay with it. That doesn't mean I was devastated that entire year, but it was hard to accept that life wasn't going to be what I had always thought it would be.
It is hard to explain to someone who doesn't have a child with special needs, but most parents actually go through the grief process when their child is diagnosed with a disability. Even though I didn't lose my child, I lost the child I thought I was going to have. It is emotional and traumatic and we (or at least I) won't ever be the same.
But now that I have had three years to process it and bond with my little boy, I don't think I would change it if I could. Of course I wish he didn't need therapy five times a week. I wish he didn't have so many medical problems. I wish he could eat the same food everyone else eats. But I wouldn't change him. Aaron is the sweetest, funniest little boy I have ever met. Jacob is sweet and funny too of course, but Aaron is different. He will love a stranger almost as much as he loves his family. He blows kisses and gives high fives to everyone he passes on the street. He will laugh and make funny faces a hundred times a day. He has brought so much joy to our lives - and to this world - that it amazes me every day.
That is not to say he's easy to take care of. He is a handful and so much more challenging than his big brother ever was. He has no concept of safety awareness and could care less if he is wandering off by himself. It makes for a very high stress level for me every time we leave the house, but it's just one of those things we have to deal with. Even though he isn't talking much yet, he has recently discovered that he has an opinion about everything. And he's not afraid to let us know. He wants things to be his way and if they aren't, he'll let us know that he is not happy about it. He is walking - and climbing - everywhere. He wears me out, every night I am utterly exhausted.
But he has changed us for the better. I look at the world differently now. And I tend to like this view better. I have come to appreciate every little milestone so much more. And there are so many milestones to celebrate that I never knew about! Who knew it would be so exciting when your kid learns to make the "guh" sound?!