When Suzanne Loveland was told she was expecting a second baby girl, and she had Down syndrome, she was shocked and saddened. And much of that sadness was for her daughter, Emma, who would now always be a big sister to a sibling with special needs. Little did she know that baby Chloe would transform their family and turn Emma into the Best Big Sister Ever.
Today is World Down Syndrome Day and our family is celebrating this journey of love, acceptance and joy that we find ourselves on thanks to our little Chloe.
When I first found out about Chloe’s condition, one of my first reactions was sadness for Emma. I had certainly not planned on giving her a sister with Down syndrome and it worried me how this was going to impact her life. Some people around me also reacted in the same way saying things like, “How sad for Emma”. “Poor Emma.” “Emma will suffer.” Ouch.
Let me tell you how wrong all the people who said these things were. Yes, having a sister with Down syndrome does have its challenges but I can seriously say, Emma is in no way suffering. Her view of the world has been given a new and beautiful perspective.
Emma is extremely patient with Chloe and teaches her new things almost everyday. She knows that Chloe has Down syndrome but that means nothing to her. Chloe is her sister. End of story.
The two of them have their moments. Chloe sometimes doesn’t want Emma anywhere near her and other times, they play very happily together. Emma is extremely patient and kind and adores her little sister to no end, even when she messes up or steals things from her bedroom.
Emma and Chloe have an understanding between each other. Chloe knows never to interfere while Emma is playing with the iPad.
And Emma knows that when she has ice cream or yoghurt, Chloe wants to share (even if she has finished her own already!)
Not all sisters are close but I know that Emma will always be there for Chloe no matter what. Having a sister like Chloe requires patience, tolerance and understanding and for a girl her age, Emma already puts to shame so many adults (including me) with her kindness, compassion and ability to love.
I’m pretty sure when Chloe looked down from heaven and chose to join our family, she didn’t choose us because of me or Andrew. She chose us because she wanted Emma to be her big sister.
I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned so far on our journey and I am thankful to be surrounded by all my family and friends. As challenging as it is sometimes, Down syndrome has been a blessing to our family. Challenges make us grow and through everything I have been through, I am happy with the person I have become.
These days, I think a lot more about what kind of person I want to be and how I can do things better. When I am happy, I truly feel and appreciate that happiness. I am reminded everyday that I can’t control everything (and I have just about made my peace with that!) I am more aware of people and their unique differences and how they make our world rich, colourful and interesting.
I am inspired by the fear and sadness that still sometimes rears it’s ugly head. I let these feelings consume me and then I use them to refocus on all the joys and amazing things Chloe has achieved so far in her life. I then push these feelings aside and allow determination and delight to take hold. I love these times.
I have learned that there is so much more to a person than how they are different.
Happy World Down Syndrome Day to all the families who share this journey with us – especially all the amazing brothers and sisters of our wonderful children. We can all learn so much from them.