“Words do matter …” See why this mother’s Facebook status about her daughter, born with Down syndrome, has gone viral.
Carolina Boudet is mother to a baby girl born with Down syndrome – sweet Louise. The normally private mother from France recently shared a status with an image of her beautiful baby and some words that soon caught the attention of the masses.
For Carolina, life with Louise is full of love, so she can’t help but notice the awkward and sometimes rude way that people react to her and her daughter. People, it seemed, were having difficulty understanding what is and isn’t appropriate to ask parents of children with Down syndrome.
In a bid to educate and enlighten, Carolina shared some thought provoking words that have now gone viral and are resonating and being embraced by people around the world.
“I know that if one does not experience it, one does not think about it but words do matter,” she writes. “They can comfort and they can hurt. So just give it a thought …”
Here’s Carolina’s full and beautiful message, translated from its original French:
Here is my baby girl, Louise. She is four months old, has two legs two arms and one extra chromosome. Please, when you meet a Louise, do not ask her mother, “How come you did not find out during the pregnancy?” Either they did, and the parents took the decision to keep the baby. Or they didn’t, and it was surprising enough for them, to talk about it over and over now. Keep in your mind that mothers have a tendency to feel guilty about each and every thing, so a surprising extra chromosome .. I let you guess.
Don’t tell her mother, “It’s your baby no matter what.” No. It’s my baby, period. Plus: “nomatterwhat” is quite an ugly name, I’d rather call her Louise.
Don’t tell her mother, “As she is a Downs baby, she will … etc.” No. She is a four-months-old baby who happens to have Down syndrome. It’s not what she IS, it’s what she HAS. You wouldn’t say “she’s a cancer baby”.
Don’t say, “They’re like this, they’re like that.” “They” all have their features, their character, their own tastes, their life. “They” are as different between them as you are from you neighbour.
I know that if one does not experience it, one does not think about it but words do matter. They can comfort and they can hurt. So just give it a thought, especially if you’re a doctor or nurse of any kind.
I usually do not make my status “public” on Facebook, but this one will be. You can read it and share it as you want. Because each year there are [in France] 500 new “mothers of Louise” that can have a day ruined by those kind of words. I know it’s not meant to hurt. But you just need to know.
At the time of publication, the status had more than 15,00 likes and nearly 29,000 shares since it was originally posted on Monday. The support has motivated Carolina to create Lousie’s own Facebook page, where you can find the articles that have been published all over the world, inspired by her simple, yet powerful Facebook post.
The pursuit of perfect babies
Australian blogger, Leticia Keighley from Embracing Wade, wrote an article for Kidspot after the story of Baby Gammy began making headlines the world over, in which she addressed the pursuit of perfect babies:
“We don’t need better babies, we need better adults. Adults that put aside prejudices and stereotypes and look at the facts before deciding whether to keep their baby. Adults that ask themselves how they can make the world better for children rather how they can make better children for their world. Adults that can see that Down syndrome is not an illness or a death sentence and that any child can face challenges despite the number of chromosomes they have. Adults that understand there is so much to be gained from embracing difference.
“I tucked Wade into bed tonight, I kissed him on the forehead and I thought about the countless ways he made me happy today. The way his whole body lit up when Dad brought home a giant play castle for him and he dove inside to play. The way he climbed up onto his reading chair and “read” me a story with all the fervour and gesticulations but no actual words! The way he had the entire restaurant in the palm of his hands as he does every week when we go out for lunch. The way he presses his ear against my head when I sing to him so that he can feel the vibrations and the way he plays the drums like a man possessed and I promised that I would keep telling anyone who will listen of his value and his place in the world in the hope that one day I won’t need to anymore.”