Today’s Featured Blogger is the writer of Gabi’s World.
Here’s her interview:
SNP: What is your name and where do you live?
I am Shannon aka Gabi’s Mom, and we live in Southern Indiana.
SNP: Your website title and url?
I blog at Gabi’s World. (http://gabis-world.blogspot.com)
SNP: Your kids’ names, ages, and disabilities?
In order of age our kids are Jeremy 15, Christopher 12, Anthony 11, Gabriella (Gabi) 8, and Preston 1. Gabi was born with Trisomy 21 (aka Down syndrome) and Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF). ToF is a congenital cardiac defect. Gabi had open heart surgery to correct her heart defect when she was 3 months and 1 day old.
SNP: Do you blog about their issues? What do you personally get out of that?
Not only do I blog about Down syndrome, but my family jokes that I blog about everything! While not entirely true, I do blog about most of our life events and funny stories.
SNP: What does a “typical” day consist of for you and your family?
Besides blogging, Sesame street, Dora The Explorer, and Barney, what else is there? No, just kidding, but somedays are like that. On a typical day, Gabi goes to school (which she loves by the way) and I am home with the baby blogging between diaper changes and bottles. Once Gabi gets home, it’s always an adventure!
SNP: How have their disabilities effected the children specifically? And the family as a whole?
As far as my kids are concerned, I think their relationships are pretty typical of most siblings. They play, argue, laugh, fight, etc… The family as a whole has had to learn more patience. Dealing with Gabi is more like dealing with a 4 year old, and often we have to remind ourselves and each other that even though she looks like an 8 year old on the outside, we have to adjust our expectations a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, this girl surprises me often with her accomplishments, but to expect her to act and behave as a typical 8 year old just isn’t fair.
SNP: How have their disabilities effected you as a person and as a mother?
When I was pregnant with my oldest child, I used to think I was going to be an awful mother because I had absolutely no patience. I found out after he was born that I had a little more patience than I thought (but just a little). Jeremy was a a very easy child though, and so was Gabi until she became mobile. Wow, things really changed after that! She started becoming very stubborn and was difficult to keep up with. Also, she started having a lot of tantrums related to the frustration of not being able to communicate her needs very well. The few signs she knew helped, but she remained frustrated if I didn’t understand what she wanted right away. I remember I used to pray to God daily for patience with her and sometimes I just had to go in another room for a good cry and prayer. Of course, God taught me patience through my experience with Gabi. Today, her meltdowns are less frequent.
Being Gabi’s mom has even helped me in my profession. I am a Registered Nurse and patience is a much needed asset for a nurse. And when she had her open heart surgery, I learned the perspective of being the mom of the patient. It’s so much more comforting for parents to hear “I’ve been in similar shoes and I understand why you have those feelings.”
SNP: What did you do right? What do you wish you had done differently?
I wish I had spoke to other parents like me when I was pregnant and as Gabi was growing up. Last year, I was introduced by a friend to a message board for parents of kids with Down syndrome, and it was a Godsend! It’s so nice to be able to turn to parents who have been there or are currently going through similar experiences. This would have been a great resource in those days that I spent crying in my room out of frustration.
What I did right was to trust God even though I didn’t have a personal relationship with him yet. When I was told that my unborn child was at increased risk of having Down syndrome related to my Triple Screen results, I never prayed that she wouldn’t have Down syndrome, I just prayed to God that if having a child with Down syndrome was the job he wanted me to do, then I will accept it.
SNP: What do you want other parents fighting the same fight to know?
I would want other parents to know that their feelings are normal no matter what they are. There is such a wide variety of reactions parents have felt upon getting the news that their baby will have Down syndrome. There is no right and no wrong to how they should feel. Reach out to others who are going through the same or similar experiences. Buy the book Gifts and read it. Contact your local Down syndrome support group. And most importantly, trust God, for your child is made perfectly just as God intended him or her to be.
SNP: Anything you else you wish to share?
The story of how I found out about Gabi’s diagnoses and her heart surgery is located at my website.
Thank you Shannon for taking the time to answer my questions!