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Our second daughter, Alice Grace Skinner, blessed us with her presence on September 18, 2018. Not only was her gender a surprise but her extra chromosome was also a surprise. I think the best gifts often come as surprises.

I would be lying if I said her diagnosis didn’t also bring some fears along with it. Questions that would not be answered and wondering why us, why her. But those fears were quickly diminished as I held my sweet baby girl who only knew how loved she was. She knew her mother’s love for her, her father’s love for her, her sister’s love for her, her family’s love for her. And that is what mattered.

I want every mother and father who has an experience like ours to know that it is okay to go through a whirlwind of emotions. It is ok to grieve for what you expected to get, but know that what you got is nothing short of a miracle.

Every child is deserving of love, of a life full of possibilities and hope, of being accepted, no matter how many chromosomes they have, no matter what obstacles they might face, no matter what. Alice rocks an extra chromosome, proudly and with purpose, and I am thankful everyday God chose me to be her mother.

Having a supportive community around you during times of uncertainty is a blessing. I quickly found comfort through seeing other stories similar to ours. Through seeing the beauty of our children through little squares shared on social media. Through seeing that a future with Down syndrome was beautiful and messy all at the same time. Just like life. The relationships made through connecting with other moms gave me a sense of peace. Hearing them share their struggles and triumphs and knowing we were not alone was a comfort. And now having that community to lean on when we face our struggles and when we celebrate our triumphs. It is beautiful.

We had recently spend time at the Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon due to a few sick spells that Alice had. My heart broke on multiple occasions as I watched my baby girl be whisked away, hooked up to machines, have so much oxygen pumped into her little body to help her breathe. The community that surrounds us walked with me, held their arms out wide, and filled my cup with their support. Having this community is a treasure, a wonderful gift, just like Alice has been to all of us.

I want our story to be one of hope. I want others to see that Down syndrome does not define a person but only helps to describe a part of them. Alice has sparkly blue eyes, a cute button nose, the chubbiest of legs, and she loves the feeling of hair. She lights up when her sister laughs with her and she will not shy away from what she is determined to do. She loves to snuggle, loves to eat, and gives the best little hugs. She is loved beyond measure and makes our lives fuller, bigger, busier, messier, and more beautiful.

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