Congratulations and Welcome to the Family!! Whether you are an expecting/new parent or have been doing the parenting thing for a while we welcome you with open arms!
Those are the words that my now very good friend said to me when I first met her and told her at 38 weeks pregnant that my baby had Down syndrome. It was at that exact moment after walking out of her shop that I realized I was a part of this exclusive club which later would be called #theluckyfew.
My name is Paula Anderson and I am a wife, proud mom of two, Christian (5) and Lucy (2), and the Founder and Chair of Project 321 Peel Down Syndrome Association. For our first blog on our brand-new website I want to tell you a little bit about the history of Project 321 Peel and how we got to where we are today!
At 12 weeks gestation the nuchal translucency test came back elevated and we had a chat with our doctor about the possibility of our baby having Down syndrome. At that point it was just a suspicion, but I knew, my mom gut told me our baby had Down syndrome. So from then on I made it my mission to learn as much as I could. Fast forward to around 20 weeks gestation it was confirmed via an amniocentesis that our baby did have Down syndrome. We asked the genetics team that delivered this news if we could meet a family that was walking this same journey as we were embarking on but to no avail they weren’t able to provide us with anyone. Over the next few months I read A LOT of information on Down syndrome, some scary and very out dated and some exciting that made me want to meet my baby and see what he would be like.
Months after Christian was born we went back to see the genetics team, they wanted to check in and see how we were doing and how our newborn son was doing. It was at that meeting that I decided that something bigger was expected of me. I told the team how terrible it was that they didn’t have a family to refer us to when we asked during our pregnancy and I never want another family to feel as alone as we did. I gave them my contact information and gave them all carte blanche to please use my information for anyone who requested it. I never wanted another family to feel so alone and scared the way we did just months earlier.
Weeks later I got my first phone call from a mom who had just had her baby. We chatted for some time, she was having a rough time with the news and I think I helped her, made her feel less alone, and most importantly validated her feelings. This is when I first felt Christian was my ‘Why’; this was going to be my new role, my passion, this is what was going to make me do greater things. I wasn’t going to be the next food network chef (lol) which is what I envisioned for myself when I was in my 20’s, I was going to be an Advocate for the Down syndrome community. I was going to be a part of change; I was going to give a voice to those who couldn’t say what they wanted to say just yet.
“The two most important day in your life is the day you are born and the day you find out why” -Mark Twain-
Time went on and I got some more phone calls, some from expectant parents and some from new parents and my role continued to blossom. I needed to find out how I could do more with this. I would visit and talk to my friend Mary at Cristina’s Tortina Shop and she casually mentioned to me one day that I should start a group; I thought she was crazy. I had no time for that, I was a first-time mom, I didn’t know anything about starting a group, but the more and more I sat with it the more and more appealing it was to me.
So I did it, I called a meeting one night in September of 2014 and invited all the other #luckyfew parents that I had met along the way. We had an amazing turnout, lots of stories were shared that night, some tears were shed, and lots of laughs were had. That is when I realized our community needed this! We continued to do monthly meet-ups and my desire for more continued. I wanted us to be a charitable organization in the Peel region, at the time there wasn’t one… We needed an ‘official’ voice for the Down syndrome community for the Peel Region and so it began. A few of the mom’s that were there from the start and had the same vision for our kids joined on to make a board of directors and from there we moved on and officially became a Canadian registered charity in October 2017. Since then, we have done many great things for our community.
Once again welcome to our Fam Jam, we can’t wait to see you soon!!