So I think based on the events of the past three months that we've earnt the right to say that Naomi and I are good communicators, between ourselves and others. I consider myself a good listener and talker, somewhat opinionated but rightly or wrongly wouldn't classify myself as (overly) arrogant (insert question mark here), and Naomi admits that she's better at listening than talking, she usually sits on the fence and hates conflict, but is a good observer.
From day one, we've said to our support network 'Guys talk to us, ask questions, even inappropriate ones', those who know us know that we are over-sharers, open minded and hard to offend.
So in between the craziness of the first month or so there was all sorts of communication going on, from the loving and supportive, to the genuine and genuinely awkward, to completely random stuff and at times rather funny...
I'm still laughing at my mother in law who said about a week after Leo was born 'Gee his eyes are a bit puffy still from the labour aren't they'! ... 'No mum that's just the Down syndrome,' Nomes said.
One thing we learnt was that there is an incredible amount of learning that goes on when you find out that your child has Down syndrome, so we learned quickly to give people a grace period. Comments like 'Gee he really is just like any normal child' isn't he! were quickly forgotten.
Over the last few months we've been asked everything from 'how do we feed him?', 'hold him?', 'change him?', and to many people's surprise we answer 'like you normally would'... 'oh, so you just change him like a normal child then?' It's usually at this point you can hear the crickets chirping as the person realises what they've said.
So this did present an interesting question, in the overly PC world, is it ok to use the 'N' word, 'NORMAL!'?
It's been really surprising to ourselves more than anyone the relative ease (yes I realise that he's a newborn and they're not EASY!), that we're bringing Leo up as we have with Emmy, in a normal household, with normal methods, based on our normal everyday parenting style. So as you may have gleaned, we use the "n" word and we don't really take offence should you happen to use it around us in one way or another. Like the true Trisomy 21 he is Leo just fits into our normal little life like any newborn, with the exception of a few more specialist appointments and physio sessions in between.
After the obligatory but necessary first round of vaccinations we managed to be able to get the little man out of the house and went out for Chinese with a group of friends. This has been somewhat of a ritual for us over the past two to three years that once a month or so we'd catch up, and even though it is so much easier with one child, we strolled into the restaurant with Emmy in the highchair, another little one in another high chair and Leo on the floor between us in his capsule - as we did with Emmy from day one.
If we take Leo's upbringing in our stride and carry on like we normally would as a family it's amazing how quickly those around you who may not have been quite so up to speed with Down syndrome move from 'deer in headlight' stage to the 'cutesie baby' stage of 'oh my god he's so adorable, give me a cuddle' stage.
The main thing that I've noticed is that you begin to realise that people feed off you, quickly become advocates once the initial stigma and barriers are broken down.
The mindset from the first few weeks until now has shifted dramatically from ok 'we have a child who has Down syndrome,we're going to have to do everything differently' to 'gee it's great to have a newborn that sleeps through the night'. A far cry from Emmy who still decides to grace us with her presence multiple times per night.
I have to admit Naomi has been amazing to this point, she's far more patient than I am in terms of dedicating the time to Leo's physiotherapy plan. I really shouldn't be surprised she was amazing with Emmy for the initial six months getting her into that inevitable Thompson routine (insert eye-roll here) and it's continued with Leo.
Three months ago we were shocked by the news we received upon the little man's arrival, today even though we both sit there some days and say to each other in a casually mystified manor with the wryest of grins on our faces 'how did we get a son with Down syndrome?', our life just continues on.
As with any newborn the nappies are dirty, the sleep is somewhat deprived and the smiles we get from Leo when he looks at us and coos are as rewarding as they were with Emmy, possibly more so, all because we know that even though we've got a mountain to climb, we've all taken our first steps and managed to arrive safely at Base Camp.