Welcome to Our House - The Analogy ©

Having a baby is special. For some, it’s a lifelong dream, for others, a wonderful surprise. Either way, many of us have thought about taking this journey and whether it’s planned or a pleasant surprise, we all have preconceived ideas about what our child will look and be like. But what if it isn’t what we planned or expected? This is a short story I have written for parents who have or are expecting an exceptionally special child.

Welcome to our House – An analogy

After many months of dreaming, you finally decide it’s time. You are going to build that perfect house of your dreams. You have saved and saved, and now it’s time to put your plan into action. You find a wonderful, perfect piece of land in the city. It’s exactly what you are looking for – because it’s the plan that everyone talks about. You envision the all brick house sitting on luscious green grass, surrounded by a white picket fence. Inside is a marble foyer leading into a family room with beautiful oak hardwood floors. Granite lines the kitchen counter tops and there is an island sink in the middle. Upstairs has four perfect bedrooms and the master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and an enormous walk-in closet, of course. It’s truly a dream come true, and it’s only a matter of time. You purchase the land and think to yourself, in nine short months, you will have it all.

But suddenly your agent calls to tell you, the land is not properly zoned, and the city has not approved it for building your perfect home. They have instead, given you land in the country, where an old country home sits. You are absolutely devastated, your dreams vanishing right before your eyes. You know you can’t back out now, you need a place to live, and despite it not being what you wanted, you know that somehow you will manage and that you can continue on.

You tell everyone what has happened, and everyone is disappointed, some even offering their condolences. You know that everyone else has a nice city home, and that was what you had planned, but you have to come to terms with the fact that you must learn to live in the country.

You go to see the property every month until closing and something funny happens. You start to fall in love with the place. The air is fresh, it’s peaceful and serene. There’s a pond on the land, and the house, though not a new all brick home, is quaint, and has lots of hidden potential. You soon realize it’s not a awful place, it’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than the city, less noisy and flamboyant, but it’s beautiful none the less. And in the process, you soon realize you may even get to meet some new and wonderful neighbours.

Its closing day and you suddenly find yourself full of anticipation, but you are still a little worried. After all, it isn’t what you had originally hoped for, and the house may need some repairs. But you are determined to accept it, and tackle everything one step at a time. You open the front door, and suddenly you are thrilled with what you see. The house is lovely, and has lots of character. The rooms are smaller but it’s decorated with beautiful attention and detail. The kitchen has marble instead of granite, and the bathroom has a soaker tub instead of a Jacuzzi. There isn’t a walk-in closet in sight, but the rooms all come with an indescribable view. Somehow, you just know that it was always meant to be and that this is now home.

This is my analogy of what it will be like for people who discover that they will be caring for a baby with Down syndrome. For us, it is not a terrible place to be, it is a journey full of surprises, milestones and discovery like any other child. And as the story suggests, sometimes it’s only a matter of ‘point of view’, and surprisingly, once you have been there, you don’t want to be anywhere else. The journey, like all others doesn’t come without some bumps in the road, but once you find your way, it’s all about the place you discovered, in most cases - quite by random chance
Author: Sandi Graham-McWade, Copyright

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All about Us & Contact Information

My name is Sandi Graham-McWade and I am a 40 year old mother of our "chromosomally enhanced" Kindergartener named Hunter 2 ½ year old Toddler Hayleigh and our newest addition, 9 month old Baby Hudson!  My husband and I learned about our son Hunter's diagnosis prenatally, at 18 weeks pregnant so we had lots of time to prepare and learn about this syndrome.  We are still learning everyday, and Hunter is definitely our best teacher.

I am a strong advocate for Down syndrome, and I try very hard to make sure that I live up to being a good one by helping others learn about Down syndrome.  I President and Executive Board Director of the Durham Down syndrome Association (www.ddsa.ca).  In the beginning of 2010, I was also asked by the Genetics Department at the Rouge Valley Health System Hospital to be a parent support guide for those families who have received a diagnosis of Down syndrome.  In this role, I am available for the parents and families who might have questions or concerns, who maybe be struggling to come to terms with a diagnosis of Ds or just someone to talk or chat with to ask questions and find answers or to maybe see what the future might hold.  
CONTACT:  Anyone can contact me directly at 1-416-918-7004 or via email sandi@welcometoourhouse-ds.ca 

OR feel free to use my contact form page listed under my blog heading called "Contact Form - Questions or comments about Down syndrome" or click here to be taken directly to the page.

Along with being a Mommy (to Hunter, Hayleigh and new addition Hudson), I am a wife and 5 time incorporated business owner:  Random Momemts Photography, Dragon Ink Tattoos & Piercings Inc., Creative & Custom Temporary Tattoos, Dragon Media Designs and of course, Welcome to our House.  My husband John has been the most wonderful and supportive person in my life.  When we learned about Hunter's diagnosis, he never faltered and when a moment may have seemed dark, confusing or challenging, he was (and still is) my number one supporter and my rock.  He is a terrific father, and he continues to be my source of strength.  He is my soul-mate.

Something that many people who meet me do not know about me is that I am also a police officer.  I have been a police officer for 17 years and became a "poster girl" for my police department about 10 years ago.  You can find my testimonial on the recruiting webpage on the Ontario Provincial Police's website:
Ontario Provincial Police Recruiting Testimonials  - my picture is in the 2nd row, 3rd one in.  "Sandi Graham"

This is the direct link to my actual testimonial:  Ontario Provincial Police - Sandi's Testimonial

As well as being an advocate, I am also an Author.  To date, I have published three books and some articles.  You can see and actually purchase any of my publications through this blog by visiting "Sandi's Publications".  This blog was originally created to assist me in writing the book, "Welcome to Our House" which is currently in the works.  "Welcome to Our House" is the real life true story of our first few years of Hunter's life and journey with Down syndrome.   I find that using the World Wide Web to chronicle events in Hunter’s life makes it easier to write the book and also for the education and inspiration of the general public regarding the journey.  I have been writing creatively for many years, and I truly enjoy writing as another form of stress relief.  I have also created a resource website for Down syndrome called "Welcome To Our House - Ds" (www.welcometoourhouse-ds.com) which contains various information surrounding Down syndrome, stories and other general information.  Being involved in writing has also led me to keep many photos and videos of our sons development.  You can find all of our videos in one place on YouTube specifically on my YouTube Channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/Dragon73SGM?feature=mhum - please visit any time.

I have many interests including Tae Kwon-Do, unfortunately due to my own Genetic Disease called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and a severe back injury, I am unable to continue teaching this art.  Now, my time is filled with caring for my three children, advocating for Down syndrome and ensuring my businesses are sucesfull.  (I am still an officer, but I am on full disability due to my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and multiple spinal injurires).

It is important for me to say, having Hunter did not only change my life, he really saved my life.  I say this freely despite being a police officer, despite having a few family members with different special needs.  Hunter is certainly one of those gifts I didn't even know I had ever wanted.  Sometimes it's simply wonderful to embrace unknown gifts.  I often hear, "I couldn't do what you do" or "You are a special super mom".  But the truth of the matter is, I'm not.  You don't know what you can do or what you are capable of doing until you do it.  I am no one special or some superhero.  I am just an average, everyday person - "me".  At the end of the day, what I have also learned is, "choice" is often irrelevant, and you are stronger than you think.  I wholeheartedly believe, in the face of adversity, we become the strongest person who we never knew we could be.

My hopes are that someday people will have a new found understanding of Down syndrome, what it really is and means and really get to know and respect those who have Ds or live with someone who has it.  If I had a choice, I would rename this syndrome, since "Down" is such a negative word.  Unfortunately, for this community, the man who discovered Down syndrome had the last name "Down".  Perhaps as more people become familiar with Ds or someone who has Ds, they will realize that it is not something to be fearful or afraid of, and maybe even understand why many people wish to adopt babies with Ds.  I love my son and certainly have no regrets giving birth to him.  Hunter (and his siblings) are the light of my life, and am proud to say that while initially I didn't plan to have a baby with Ds, I welcomed him into my life with all the love possible.  My life would not be the same with out him, and he has saved me in more ways than one.

Sandi, John, Hunter, Hayleigh & Hudson.

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