Down Parents Share Stories of Tears, Joy

You’re likely familiar with the concept of keeping a diary. Maybe you have one yourself. I kept a diary while my son was deployed to Iraq and found it very therapeutic.

However, this diary, belonging to a very special mom, is like none other you’ve seen or read about.

Jamie Freeman and three-year-old son Benjamin, with her husband and their baby daughter. Photo: Phoenix Features

Jamie Freeman and her husband Mark found out early in their pregnancy that they were expecting a son who had Down syndrome. Both parents, in their late 30s, cried for weeks.

But when Benjamin (Benny) was born, Jamie’s fears of the unknown dissolved and now, looking back, she realized all of those tears and anxieties were unnecessary. As a result, Jamie decided to begin a diary, sharing her initial struggle, in all its painful honesty.  The pages, she said, were stained with coffee, tea and tears.

It didn’t end there.

Jamie set out on an unusual journey with her diary — to help future parents of children with Down syndrome avoid the anguish she and Mark experienced.

A resident of Detroit, she decided to include other parents who’ve walked in their shoes, so she decided to forward the diary to them so they could tell in their own words their personal journey with this special member of their family.

Before sending it off, Jamie wrote a few instructions for future authors, encouraging them to be honest about their experiences, both the uplifting and the challenging aspects of raising a child with Down syndrome.

News of the diary got around through Facebook postings and word of mouth. Thus began a three-year journey that included various points throughout America and Canada, with a final tour in the United Kingdom, after which it will return to its original owner —  21 families in all.

The diary’s first stop was to a mother in Ontario, Canada.

One of the first things a family would do is read the previous posts. Without exception they were inspired by what they read, and motivated to share their own stories — both the highs and lows.

The mother of a four-year-old struggled to recall the difficult early days because life was now such a joy. So instead, she wrote about the happiness and inspiration her son brought to their home.

Jamie Freeman shared her diary of Down Syndrome parenting with other families, who added their stories. Phoenix Features

Those who added their personal perspectives were as varied as society itself. One mother wrote of her journey with a daughter who is now grown.

Judging from the tear-stained pages, a Utah father provided the most moving contribution.  Another father, a stay-at-home dad, hoped the diary would prevent future abortions.

Some expressed frustration with the dire predictions many doctors and medical staff inflict on expectant parents. They lament that these distraught parents don’t often have the benefit of their knowledge and experience to put their hearts and minds at ease.

Which is chiefly the main objective of the diary — to give moms and dads a peace of mind that allows them to joyfully welcome the newest member of their family. The children themselves even weighed in. Oliver, in the UK said “Tell them not to worry, mum.”

Jamie wants the diary to become a tool for expectant parents and medical professionals. Too many times, Jamie says, doctors terrify parents with statistics. And many of them (the statistics, that is) are outdated relics.

It’s also her earnest desire that the diary will prevent future abortions.

Hopefully, when this “diary of love” is published it will open the eyes, hearts and minds of both doctors and parents to say yes to life and welcome this special child.

We have tons of resources for parents and others interested in the issue of Down syndrome. Please utilize them to deflect a fear of the unknown and instead equip them to expectantly look forward to the joys of a having a bundle of blessings.

Protecting all babies,

Bradley Mattes
President, Life Issues Institute

Life Issues Institute is dedicated to changing hearts and minds of millions of people through education. For 25 years, organizations and individuals around the world have depended upon Life Issues Institute to provide the latest information and effective tools to protect innocent human life from womb to tomb.

Life Issues Institute welcomes comments relevant to columns that are civil, concise, and respectful of other contributors. We do not publish comments with links to other websites or other online material.