Audra’s Journey to the Playhouse

The moment my daughter, Makenna, was born and the doctors shared with us that she has Down syndrome we knew our lives were never going to be the same.  The facts about Down syndrome can be overwhelming and scary.  Because we were uneducated and unprepared, we dove into the educational materials given to us at the hospital, which gave us considerable fear considering the many issues that children with Down syndrome face.  We found that our daughter would need ongoing medical attention to stay ahead of potential problems, and we would be adding therapy to our schedule to help Makenna meet her developmental goals, as she would likely be delayed in many areas.

While the literature made us nervous; it became also obvious to us through blogs, Facebook pages, and parents who were willing to share their story what a huge blessing having a child with Down syndrome is!  My husband and I were feeling alone, scared and nervous.  Although we had a vast amount of support from our family and friends; we didn’t feel anyone could truly understand what we were experiencing and feeling.

To be able to share our story is an honor and I hope it helps other parents who are feeling lost and terrified that they cannot handle this diagnosis. I loved my daughter so much from the minute I saw her and held her, but I was, honestly, a mess.  I randomly connected with a woman through Facebook, Laura Brost, who had also had a birth diagnosis when her son was born 2 years prior.  She happened to live near me and she connected me with a local group of women who all lived in my community and all have a child with Down syndrome. It just so happened that these women were meeting for dinner the following night and Laura invited me.  I was beyond nervous, but I was desperate for a real life connection.  I packed Makenna up at exactly 3 weeks new, and we ventured to a local restaurant where we met 30 wonderful women who welcomed us with open arms!  It was an amazing unforgettable experience!  All of these women were so nice and just loved Miss Makenna.  I sat with a table full of women, several of whom, had gone to my alma mater, Purdue, around the same time I was there, and all of whom currently live near me in a suburb of Indianapolis.  I quickly realized I would have been friends with them anyway, and it was simply incredible hearing them talk about their experiences so far on this journey.  I know going to that dinner was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I was instantly connected to an entire network of people who I knew would be supportive, helpful, and just “get it”.

After that dinner I was still connected to these women through Facebook, but I learned that the dinner I attended was a rare occasion for the group. As much as I absolutely love social media and the connection that affords everyone; I wanted the physical contact of hanging out with these other moms over a glass of wine, just discussing all of the stressors of life with a special needs child, or just raising kids in general for that matter. I think most would agree it is an awesome outlet!   I knew it was time to start a monthly Mom’s Night Out event for our group.

When GiGi’s Playhouse opened last January, it gave us the perfect location for this event to take place.  GiGi’s Playhouse is all about connecting and supporting individuals with Down syndrome AND their families!

It is a huge blessing to get together once a month where several of the gorgeous, giving, selfless mamas take a night out and head to GiGi’s for dinner, drinks and some fabulous, true, honest and vulnerable conversations.  No matter what the discussion may be, most often, everyone in the room just “gets it”…and that is the best!  I am personally forever thankful to GiGi’s Playhouse Indianapolis for providing us “a place” for not just this fabulous monthly event but for everything they provide to our families and to the community.

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