I wasn't going to read Bloom- Kelle Hampton's chronicle of discovering her daughter has Down Syndrome. The book records Kelle's feelings and experience throughout baby Nella's first year of life. I came across a glowing review of it a couple weeks ago and decided to pass. I was happy that it was published, happy that it's getting good reviews, thrilled that it is receiving main stream exposure. I am strongly in favor of any kind of experience that illustrates the similarities between people with developmental disabilities and people who develop typically. But I just wasn't sure that this particular book was for me. I'm embarrassed to admit that, for whatever reason, the tone seemed a little saccharine, a little too "Hallmark channel". I think it's important to honor the grit, courage, and perseverance that parents who have a child with a disability often display. I didn't want to waste my time reading a polished Pollyanna version of what is inevitably a difficult process.
However, I changed my mind when a mother of a son with Down Syndrome strongly encouraged me to read the book. She said that Kelle's depiction of her experiences rang true to many families who have children with Down Syndrome. She advised me to read it, particularly as I am currently doing research about families' experiences understanding their child's disability.
So the next day, I picked up a copy (more specifically, I coaxed my mom to come with me to pick up a copy so as not to break my 100 day rule).
I immediately liked Kelle. She is honest. She didn't know that Nella had Down Syndrome until after Nella was born. She courageously tells of the evolution of her feelings, letting us be privy to the ugly thoughts, the lonely moments, the times of bottomless fear.
But she also expresses unspeakable love. She is never a victim, a saint, or a martyr. She shows her gratitude toward a truly remarkable support system. As she experiences Nella, she learns how to become an advocate for her daughter.
It's true that Kelle's generally optimistic attitude has attained its share of detractors. But I loved it. It reminded me of a truth that is so obvious that we often forget it: that reality is subjective. Our experiences are what we determine. And since that's true, why not look at everything and see the opportunities and potential? Why not look around and search for beauty?
Through her experiences as a mother with a child with Down Syndrome, Kelle has accomplished some amazing things. Through her blog and book, she helps people understand that there are more similarities between people with developmental disabilities and people who develop typically than there are differences. She has helped raise over $100,000 for the National Down Syndrome Society. And she reminded me, at least, to relax and look for moments of beauty.