The Year My Son and I Were Born: A Story of Down Syndrome, Motherhood, and Self-Discovery


Kathryn Lynard Soper

The Year My Son and I Were Born
Editions:Kindle: $ 19.21Hardcover: $ 20.06
ISBN: 0762750618
Pages: 336
Paperback: $ 4.50
ISBN: 0762760346
Pages: 336
For most of her life, Kathryn Soper was like most people in one key respect: She hadn’t given any serious thought to the subject of disability. That all changed the day her son, Thomas, showed up with an extra chromosome.
With six other children at home, Soper was prepared for the challenges another newborn would bring. But after Thomas’s complicated birth, his diagnosis—Down syndrome—forced her to face her deepest fears and weaknesses, her ignorance and prejudice, and her limitations as a mother and as a human being. Her struggle, coupled with the demands of caring for a fragile baby and juggling her family’s needs, sparked the worst depression she’d experienced in decades.
In The Year My Son and I Were Born, Soper takes us along on her personal journey through Thomas’s tumultuous first year—as she strives to balance the loss of the child she thought she would have with loyalty for the baby she actually holds in her arms. Can she love Thomas for himself? Can she protect him from the world’s insensitivity—andfrom her own doubts?
Ultimately, Soper escaped her downward spiral of despair and emerged with newfound peace. Antidepressant therapy restored her equilibrium, and interactions with friends and family brought needed perspective. But the most profound change came through her growing relationship with Thomas. His radiant presence shone through her outer layers of self, where fear and guilt festered, and reached the center of her very being—where love, acceptance, and gratitude blossomed in abundance.
Reviews: POV on Amazon wrote:

Coming on the heels of a world-wide media introduction to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's baby, who has Down syndrome, Kathryn Lynard Soper's memoir should be on every public library's shelf. With some 5000 children born with DS each year in the U.S. alone, and a 90 percent abortion rate for those diagnosed prenatally, this is an important book. While offering hope and encouragement, Soper dispels some of the myths about DS, including the adage that special children are given to special people. She didn't feel chosen by a magic wand or divine intervention. DS is a random occurrence, about one in 800-1000 births. Soper's honesty about her initial feelings of disappointment, resentment, inadequacy, discomfort around people with disabilities, despair, even embarrassment, is commendable. Her words are a gift to anyone facing the fear and uncertainty that come with raising a child with special needs of any kind.

Soper's prose is compelling and endearing, but for me, the most poignant words in her story come from her husband, Reed. On the Mormon occasion called the Baby Blessing (baptism is at age eight), he holds his seventh child and recites blessings that sum up the family's acceptance, love, and dedication to Thomas. He blesses the baby for his unique mission here on earth; that of teaching them how to love each other. He asks that the family be able to bear any burdens placed on them by Thomas's health. He ends with, "And, Thomas, we say unto you, we say that any good thing denied you in this life will be given in the life to come."

I was left with the feeling that Thomas is in capable and nurturing hands.

Eliza on Goodreads wrote:

I polished this off in an afternoon. Opened my eyes and heart wider to the possibilities for growth through trials for all of us as humans, and to our capacity to love. Very tender, a little bleak at times, very hopeful at times, maybe a little too analytical/philosophical at times (pot -> kettle: black), and not sentimental. Recommended.

I also very much enjoyed Soper's essay compilations, "Gifts" and "The Mother in Me." (she was the editor and wrote I think one essay for each.)

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