What’s in a Name? A Mother’s Story of Hope

Guest post by Shannon Blaeske

Twelve years ago, the only thing keeping me from succumbing to fear was hope.

Enter: Fiona Hope.

Her first name was decided before we knew anything about our baby other than a biological gender. A few weeks later we learned she had Down syndrome along with some life-threatening medical concerns. Today, I look at my beautiful, healthy, thriving, smart, sassy, full-of-personality preteen daughter and that fear seems like a lifetime ago. She rocked our world in so many ways, and every single one is a blessing.
Our parenting priorities shifted the day Down syndrome became a part of our regular vocabulary. Where some dreams died, new ones sprouted. We were young parents, in our early twenties with 2-year-old twin boys, who now have no memories without Fiona in their lives. Natural protective instincts developed in our boys, as well as the ability to empathize with people different from themselves. I sit back now, watching my children interact and bond like I had always dreamed my kids would. I honestly don’t know if this would be true without that extra 21st chromosome.
I now work in special education, another road in my life I don’t think I ever would be on if it wasn’t for my daughter. All the students I work with learn differently and at different paces, but they are all growing. Watching your child grow, especially when it takes longer to get there, is incredibly rewarding.

There is nothing to fear anymore in my eyes.

I have the same worries any parent has, but not fear. Fiona continues to amaze me as she jumps hurdle after hurdle with the right assistance. For every weakness she may have, there is a strength. Like her stubbornness… as difficult as it can be at times, it has helped her achieve so many things.
Down syndrome isn’t a part of our regular vocabulary anymore. It’s just Fiona. It’s hard to explain how the label fades away. I fill it in on forms at the doctor and at school, I may use it to explain a delay to someone who hasn’t met her before, but otherwise it rarely comes up. When Fiona was little, I felt like I had explain her to everyone. Not anymore. I have never met anyone more proud of who they are than my daughter. While we have always been open with her that she has Down syndrome, she just sees Fiona. And my sweet Fiona Hope, so do we.
– Shannon Blaeske

Thank you so much for sharing, Shannon! 💙💛

In recognition of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, we would LOVE your help generating stories and shifting perceptions of folks with Down syndrome.
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