Meet Consuelo – DSIA’s Newest Board Member
In the June of 2010, my husband Ricky and I found out our daughter would be born with Translation Down syndrome. At this time, I was struggling with the decision of whether or not I would continue my pregnancy. I was completely terrified at the thought of having a child with Down syndrome. I was afraid my child would not have a “normal” life and may even “suffer.”
Going through my grief, I reached out to the National Down Syndrome Society. They then referred me to our local Ds support group – The Down Syndrome Information Alliance (DSIA). I called DSIA’s hotline and was offered much needed support via phone and educational literature via mail. The following week, I requested to meet a Parent Mentor, Heather Green at a local park. I asked her to bring her daughters.
I held in the tears as we drove up. I still felt a little fragile but I was determined not to breakdown. My husband and 4-year-old daughter, Maricela were with me. I was so nervous to meet Heather and more so her daughter with Ds, Gabby. As we walked up to the playground my eyes dashed side to side rapidly trying to find Heather and her kids. My eyes stopped instantly when I saw Gabby (9 years old at the time) She was spinning around with her younger sister Lucy on a merry-go-round and they were ALL smiles!! “No suffering was going on there”, I thought to myself.
Then I saw Heather, the DSIA Parent Mentor, walking up with her youngest daughter in her arms, she shattered any stereotypes I had left in my mind. She was a very young Mother with three beautiful girls…. just like me.
Heather introduced herself and had her little ones say hello to us. I remember I was trying my hardest not to stare at Gabby but I think she was on to me. When it was her turn to say hello to us, she stayed looking down to the ground and said very quietly under her breath, “Hi.” Heather must have not heard Gabby say a word because she then asked Gabby again to “Say hello, honey.” Gabby then sighed like a little total diva and said, “I already DID Mom” with a slight eye roll. I chuckled; this simple meeting and interaction with her showed me she was just a typical girl with feistiness and spunk. Just like my daughter Maricela. After the introductions the girls all ran off to play together.
I sat down with Heather she was able to answer my many questions. It was great! I now had answers to my questions that only a fellow parent could answer. It was time to go home, the kids were getting hungry. As we were saying our goodbyes, Gabby ran up to Heather, jumped up to hug her and they kissed and touched noses – it was the sweetest sight ever! Heather then asked Gabby what she wanted for dinner? She promptly replied “Hot dogs and french fries.” I thought to myself, “Wow!! How normal, she’s just a regular kid with typical kid taste in food.”
We finished our goodbyes and left the park, in the car ride home I was able fantasize about my baby girl’s future! I imagined her walking, running and speaking to express herself just like little Gabby!! My heart was at ease finally… I was finally at ease.
When Aliyah was three months old our family attended our first quarterly parent support meeting hosted by DSIA. I was able to meet other local families and many children of all ages born with Ds. Our family also attended many of the fun DSIA events put on throughout the year. In Oct of 2011 we participated in the annual Step Up for Down syndrome walk for the first time. It was so amazing for our extended family to interact with our new friends in the Down syndrome community.
I was determined to support new parents especially those with Prenatal Diagnosis. I became a Parent Mentor and have enjoyed meeting new families. Today, Aliyah is 4 years old she is a healthy, smart little dancing diva. She is also fully included in a Montessori school with typically developing peers. DSIA gave me the support and tools to start my journey with Ds and now I would like to give back. I am honored to be on the Board of Directors for DSIA and excited to serve our Ds community.