My son, Wil, was born with something extra special; an extra copy of his 21st chromosome. In other words Wil has Trisomy 21, the most common type of Down syndrome.
When I first received the news that my newly born baby's tiny body carried this extra special chromosome, I didn't feel as if something was given to him, I felt as if something was taken away.
I was surrounded by sympathetic looks in my birthing room and handed folders full of definitions, statistics and new doctors. This information was meant to be helpful, yet felt completely overwhelming at the time.
Soon a social worker walked into my hospital birthing room with yet another folder. A royal blue folder. She didn't hand it to me, though. Rather she held it up for me to see the front cover. A close-up picture of a blond girl, approximately five years old, with large bright, blue eyes stared at me. She was breathtaking. The almond shape of this little girl's eyes told me she had Down syndrome.
"Isn't she beautiful?" The social worker asked me gently. I nodded my head yes as tears stung my eyes and spilled down my cheeks.
The little girl on the folder was not a number or a statistic. She was a girl with blond hair and blue eyes who also happened to have Down syndrome.
The folder full of statistics and doctors' numbers were very helpful and have been well-used over time. Yet first and foremost, my child is a boy. A lively, blond-haired blue-eyed boy.
A boy that plays soccer, basketball and baseball. A boy who loves to sing. A boy whose favorite ice cream is a vanilla shake and would eat hot dogs all day if I let him. A boy who both adores and antagonizes his older twin sisters, who both adore and antagonize him back. And, he also happens to have Down syndrome.
The stories in this book are meant to bring that blond-haired blue-eyed boy up close and personal to you. So you may see the boy in front of the statistics. The boy who happens to have a little extra chromosome than you and me. His little extra has made this world a better place. It's quite extra-ordinary, actually.