I'm drawn to him like a magnet the moment I set foot through the door. I am torn between warring desires: locating the nearest sink to wash the bus germs away or getting my baby fix. The sink always wins, for his sake as much as mine. While my hands become clean, my thoughts are on him.
I'll walk over to wherever he is in the house. It's usually playtime when I get home from work so he'll be on his blanket surrounded by toys.
His eyes will focus on me and then: glee fills his face. Does a better greeting exist than a full-blown baby smile?
I live for that smile.
I've lived in San Francisco for a little over 3 months now. The way I found a job without looking, I thought an apartment would also fall into place in no time. Instead, I've joined the legions searching out a place of their own in this city. While I wait, I'm living with the family I house-sat for when I first moved.
I still can't believe I live here, much less that I'm an honorary member of Micha's family. For years we've traded stories and now I see the living embodiment of some of hers.
Her oldest two boys were already born when I first stumbled onto her blog. Our friendship grew the way only those connected via the internet can. We bonded over being 4s and lamented over not living closer. This was especially true this past year, as I would have loved to have been physically present during her pregnancy with Ace.
I was thrilled when she told me she was pregnant. A couple of months later she told me the baby would likely have Down Syndrome. It didn't change my love for the wee babe growing in her womb but there is an ache in knowing what the future might hold.
True, we never know the future. A baby born healthy is not guaranteed an easy road. Babies born with an extra chromosome grow up to live wonderful lives, especially babies born now when there is more education and support services. There may be uncertainties but there is still so much joy.
This has proven true for baby Ace. When he was born, I couldn't wait to meet him.
Who could have guessed it would happen because I'm living at his house?
When he smiles at me, I imagine it's his way of saying, "you're my person." I can't say whether he actually recognizes me yet but he responds to me and that's something.
I make noises and change words to songs to entertain him. When he's fussing at dinner time, I'll rock him or walk him around the house to soothe him. We've got our routines down during the small window we have in the evening.
He is one of the sweetest babies I know and I feel immeasurably lucky to get to spend so much time with him by virtue of living in his home. Each day he's growing stronger and bigger and it's happening before my very eyes.
He is becoming himself.
Ace has Down Syndrome. There is no changing that fact. It will mark his life in ways we don't yet know but it's not the best descriptor of who he is or will be. It is not a tragedy.
The future is bright for Ace and I cannot wait to see who he grows up to be.
This Saturday October 17 I'm participating in the Bay Area Buddy Walk. I'll be rocking my blue #ACEface is my friend t-shirt. You’re welcome to purchase your own shirt! (Multiple colors, styles, and even kid sizes available.) All proceeds from the sales will be donated to the National Down Syndrome Society.
You can also support Ace and all his friends by giving to the fundraising page for this year’s NDSS Buddy Walk.