I hate labels.
I think they’re limiting and potentially misleading at best and downright insulting and dehumanising at worst. They often lessen or exaggerate because they deal with a generic stereotype rather than a specific individual.
It’s one of the reasons we didn’t find out the gender of any of our children during pregnancy (although I mainly loved the idea of the surprise).
But each of my children has taught me to see the world anew in many different ways and Faith is no exception. She may have saved the label “girl” to surprise us with postnatally but “Down’s Syndrome” and “heart AVSD” were ones that were given to her antenatally.
It made for a stressful pregnancy. If you’ve ever attended the maternity unit at Lincoln County Hospital you may not have even noticed the Quiet Room that’s located in between the two waiting areas and I hope you haven’t found yourself in it at your 12-week scan trying to take in the all sorts of possibilities that certain indicators may or may not mean.
I’m glad we were able to find out in advance even if at first it was hard to see past the label of the diagnosis to go back to picturing an individual child and all the myriad of characteristics they may or may not embody as they grow.
And I’ve also come to accept that the label can be helpful.
It made sure there was a plan in place for her care from the moment she was born – we already can’t say thank you enough to the maternity and paediatric teams who have looked after Faith in her first seven weeks so I know we will always be in the debt of such caring, skilled and dedicated professionals as she grows.
And it also means we’ve been able to find a welcoming community of families who are travelling a similar path and who are dedicated to not only supporting each other but also to celebrating life and simply having fun in numerous and diverse ways.
At seven weeks old Faith is already a “girl”, a “little sister”, “daughter”, “granddaughter”, “niece”, a “baby with Down’s Syndrome”, a “third child” and “blonde” and some of her labels have already changed too – the ones inside her clothes now read “newborn” instead of “tiny baby” as her weight chart now reads “7lb 1oz” instead of 5lb 8oz”.
And she’s proving to be a strong lass so far so, whichever paths she chooses to follow as she grows, she’s sure to be rocking her “designer genes” as she chases after her brother and sister on the odd occasions they’re not colluding to go in three different directions at once just to really keep their mummy on her toes.