Prepping For Heartbreak

It’s coming.

I’ve read enough and have heard enough to know that it definitely… is… coming.

It’s been 21 months since my daughter Willow was born. You’d think I’d have something prepared by now. A response, ready in my pocket. A facial expression reserved only for that moment. A gesture, cocked and loaded. I don’t have any of those. But, then again, how does one prepare for the day someone makes fun of their daughter, or worse yet, questions the value of her life?

The day Willow was born, she received her first label: Trisomy 21/Down syndrome. It’s a label we weren’t prepared for, but fully accepted. Since that day the list of labels has grown. “Special,” “Adorable,” “High Risk,” and “Failure to Thrive” are just a few that come to mind. I can’t argue with any of them. They’re all true, or were true at one point in time. Heart surgery took care of the whole “Failure to Thrive” thing. The “Special” and “Adorable” labels are sure to stick around. Just look at this girl!


Seriously. Look at her. Isn’t she amazing?

Willow is a gift from God. A hand crafted gift, mind you. He knew what He was doing when He snuck that extra chromosome in her. He gave her “more.” Why do some in this world see “less?”

I breaks my heart to think of some of the labels people have for Willow. They see her as some sort of joke or burden. Let me tell you, those are two labels I may not be prepared for, but I will never let stick. And don’t even think about using the R-word on my baby. I’ll… I’ll… well… I don’t really know what I’ll do at this point, but believe me, that is one label I aim to destroy.

In a society that preaches acceptance and equality, it’s hard to believe that this kind of ignorance and hate still exists. But, it does. And I know I’m bound to run into it. When I do, I pray that I’m ready, that I can stand up for my daughter, my beautiful daughter, yet not stoop to the level in which it came from. I pray that I don’t throw a punch. I pray that I don’t break down and cry. I pray that I don’t freeze. God, please, please don’t let me freeze. Willow is counting on me.


Because someday, she’ll need to be the one ready. And I want my girl to not only change minds, but also the world.

7 thoughts on “Prepping For Heartbreak

  1. She’s changed my life from the day you went into labor😊. She was talking and roll playing with me today. Oh, the world is a much better place with her love around!

  2. She IS amazing!!! John told me today that feels like he really needs to prepare “his speech” for the day that he has to defend Tessa. I don’t know if there is any way to feel prepared for those moments… in any case, Willow is so loved and what an amazing family she belongs to!

  3. Jen, you just did. You just stood up for her. Wow! Willow is so proud to call you, mom. When God designed her he also chose you to be her mom. What an honor and privilege. Much love.

  4. As the parent of a 12 y.o. daughter with D.S. (and board member of Keshet – a Chicago based school for kids with special needs – I would only offer a small piece of advice: Do nothing to prepare for such an event. Do not even think about it. Just know that the tragedy is theirs. How sad they do not have a Willow in their lives.

    But if you feel compelled to think about this, read “Jon Will’s Gift” a wonderful piece written by George Will on 02-May-12 on the 40th birthday of George’s son, Jon, who has D.S.

  5. It’s so hard to be a parent of an ordinary child. We all want to do our best, teach and protect them. I am full of admiration for parents with special needs babies – all the extras you put in. Kids are all beautiful and precious. Don’t let anyone say otherwise. Much Love xxx

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