Thursday, July 2, 2009

Book Review - The Year My Son and I Were Born

The Year My Son and I Were Born by Kathryn Soper

Tears and laughter. Happiness and Sadness. Despair and Triumph. I felt all these while reading, but now I'm drawing a blank. I read the book so fast and felt so many emotions, but how to sum it all up in a few paragraphs is making my brain work in overtime. Little J is quickly appoaching 1 year old and reading Soper's book was a wonderfully refreshing way to take a trip down memory lane. My experience was different than hers, of course. Yet the same in so many ways. Boys for both of us, Down syndrome diagnosis, NICU stay, feeding tube, breast pump, feelings of despair, feelings of intense love, strong desire to protect our babies from the world. The list goes on - a full year worth of shared experiences.

Many times while reading Soper's book tears would fill my eyes and usually roll down my cheeks. The kids would badger me about my crying, "Are you reading that sad Down syndrome book again?" "Why do you cry when you read books about Down syndrome?" Yeah, why was I crying again I asked myself. The book's not sad. I'm not sad. After a little self reflection, I realized I was crying because I had been there. I had experienced the intense feelings of anger and gratitude that came from people helping us during the early weeks of Little J's life when we were tethered to the NICU and clinic and newborn weight scale. I cry because I feel validated for feeling anger and selfishness and pity and love and happiness and protectiveness all at the same time. I cry because Mrs. Soper and I are survivors. Survivors of the Down syndrome lifestyle. The frequent Drs. appointments, physical therapy, audiology appointments, well meaning comments that sting, individualized family service plans, thoughts of our babies' dying. All part of the first year of life with a baby with Trisomy 21, an extra chromosome.

If, like me, you've experienced any thoughts that brought about guilt during your child's first year and have pressed on, this book will be a welcome read for you. Kathryn Soper articulates the process of coming to terms with her own feelings towards and about her son and his future in a way that is refreshingly honest and painfully real. Her subtle bits of humor were welcome as well. Because if you can't look back on your life and laugh a little...well, then all you'll do is cry.

1 comment:

  1. wow, great post! I have not read the book but she just asked to be a friend on Facebook and I looked to see who she was. Sounds like a great book, thanks for the info on it!


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