Step up for Down

Michelle Ressa-Aventajado

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I have learned that approximately 1 in 900 babies worldwide is born with Down Syndrome

GIFT. 'Evangelina has made realize what's truly important in life.'

February is Down Syndrome Consciousness Month. This is a fact I was not aware of before Aug 26, 2011. It was on that day that I welcomed my fourth child into our family.  

When you have a child, not many people share the adventures that lie ahead. They say, “Congratulations.” They say, “God Bless your growing family.” What they don’t say is how your children will hold a mirror to you like no one else can. What they don’t say is how your children can take you on a road full of introspection and how each little breath they take is a gift, a wondrous gift that can have you reeling with happiness and pride, or worried with fear.

Other facts I have learned in my motherhood: Always keep the nappy near when you are changing your son — because at any given moment you might get sprayed. Tree nuts are not something you introduce to a toddler until she is about 2 years old. Two kids are manageable because you have 2 hands. Three kids puts you over the top; you DON’T have 3 hands. 

I’ve learned that when cooking batches of time-consuming meals…make 2 so that you can consume one now and then have one for later in the freezer on those days your kids have tried your patience and you KNOW there is no way you can pull it together to cook a full meal. I’ve learned that baking soda can get rust from tile floors and that used dryer sheets can help clean the soap scum and grime from the glass shower doors.

I’ve learned that a kiss on a boo boo can soothe my child’s hurts and that a discussion about the imaginary monsters that do NOT lurk in the dark will still warrant an extra bedtime story and even a light left on in the bathroom with the door cracked.

I have learned that if kids can eat it with their hands, you’re more likely to get it in their bellies — no matter what it is. I have learned that there is strength in numbers — so that saying that “it takes a village to raise a child,” is absolutely on point. 

I have learned that I should watch what I say about others while my children are listening — because they are listening, despite the fact that they are busily playing in the corner with Legos. I have learned that they will repeat these things at the most inopportune times.

What’s truly important 

With the birth of my fourth child, I have learned to pay more attention to the milestones I took for granted with my 3 previous children. I have learned that the senses have a lot more to do with how babies learn to sit up, crawl and eventually walk. I have learned that there are many more doctor visits that go hand in hand with having a child with special needs.

I have also learned that with each child I birthed, I changed. Maybe it was the learning that took place with each child that came before, maybe it was the faith in God that was strengthened and made me realize how each baby was truly a miracle. One thing that shocked me was how each baby regardless of having the same two parents and growing up in the same household would be completely different from one another.

I have learned that an extra chromosome for the 21st pair is life-changing as a mom. Not because my child is differently abled or any less loved, but because that one extra little chromosome has completely changed my perspective. That change in perspective has brought about a deeper appreciation of life, of love, of the small things that I had taken for granted before. That change has given me the chance to slow down, talk less, listen more, and enjoy what matters most. 

Evangelina has made me realize what’s truly important in this life. 

Because of Evangelina I have learned that the Happy Walk (Step up for Down) is on February 19th this year, that March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day, and that JFK had a sister who had Down Syndrome. 

I have learned that approximately 1 in 900 babies worldwide is born with Down Syndrome, and half of those babies are born with serious heart problems. I have learned that there is something that happens when you meet parents you can identify with because a special-needs child is a common denominator.

The bond is more empathetic. A friend of mine compared it to a club where you feel like an elite member who has earned certain privileges and gained an understanding of how the world works that some parents of “typical” children might not have acquired. 

I will be joining other parents with children who have designer genes at 8:00 am on Sunday, February 19th at SM North Edsa Skydome in walking together…in supporting one another…for awareness…for our children. –

Read more about the author’s personal journey in the February issue of Working Mom. For more information on Happy Walk (Step up for Down), please visit


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