“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” – 1 John 4:18
My daughter’s friends sometimes become a friend of the family sharing dinners, weddings and births. This is true of Shantal whose recent announcement, to those of us who know her, strikes a chord of courage and perfect love. With a gracious and enthusiastic heart, she has allowed me to share her story.
Shantal Sequeira: “My story you all know is a happy one. I met my love, got engaged, married, then pregnant. My pregnancy was virtually perfect, I felt good, no sickness, no hormonal emotions, I got a really happy vibe from this baby in my belly. When my son was born the nurse showed him to me for the first time, we locked eyes and she said what do you think? I shook my new baby’s hand (because he put his hand out as if to say “nice to meet you”) as he looked in my eyes, I thought ‘he’s perfect’.
Any mother knows your heart falls in such deep love that very moment in time. In that moment in time I was told my son may have Trisomy 21, a.k.a. Down Syndrome. In that moment I was so confused yet stayed calm because I didn’t know what this all meant? I just wanted to hold him and be with him. Nothing could block the new mommy, love, excited, fascination and beautiful love feelings I had for him, not even the possibility of him having this syndrome that I knew little about.
After being told baby Julian has displayed a positive diagnosis, my husband Elmer and I were shocked and wondered what was going to happen. We didn’t know how to feel really but with a deeper sense of warmth and responsibility, we held hands and asked every question in the world. Then, off we were on this journey into parenthood of a very special child. After covering all the bases about health conditions and possibilities down the road everything looked normal in Julian (his heart, his lungs). The only difference was… now I knew a little bit more about him as a person, that’s all.
They say you are supposed to go through a process of sadness, to ‘grieve’ or ‘mourn’ this life that you imagined for your child like, him going to Harvard or whatever… but to me, I always lived in the moment because you never know what the next moment has to offer. I am so SO proud of my son and he hasn’t gone one day without making me smile. They say it’s normal to cry and think “why me” but I’m not one of those people, Julian has special needs but he has a GREAT life, he has two loving parents a house, two puppy brothers and everything he needs to strive and reach all his milestones in life.
Julian has been full of surprises since week thirteen of my pregnancy when we thought he was going to be a girl. LOL. Well, there is no better or perfect family for Julian to have fallen into than with myself and Elmer as his parents.
Contrary to popular belief this doesn’t mean he has a disease, or considered retarded or whatever. No, it is a combination of characteristics that causes developmental differences than a typical child. There are so many myths out there but EVERY child is different so there is no telling when he may begin to talk or walk. The community has SO many resources that provide early interventions to help with anything we need.
Either way, Julian is a baby, I’m a new mommy, and nothing has changed my experience as a mother and the bond we share together. I haven’t had a moment to write about this since breastfeeding is an all-encompassing experience. I feel blessed, my heart never loved so hard and I’m not saying I love my son more than any other mom out there, but the truth is I was meant to have him. We were meant to have him.
The crazy thing is, I remember a year or so before I got pregnant the day my husband and I had a conversation about down syndrome kids and I specifically said I wouldn’t mind having a kid with special needs, he answered back and said you know what, me neither. I get chills repeating that because God, the Universe was listening and I feel so lucky. One out of something like seven hundred kids are born with downs and I was chosen to be one of the moms of this awesome kid. Also contrary to popular belief the majority of kids born with Trisomy 21 are young moms, not over the age of 35 like people believe. (I got pregnant at 30).
Julian is amazing, at 2 months of age he is the most courageous baby I have ever seen. He doesn’t cry when he gets poked at the doctor and he has this peace about him that I wish I could imitate. He is patient, confident, he actually never cries. Sometimes he yells and it seems as if he listens to the sound of himself yelling and thinks to himself, “I don’t like that sound” and stops. He sleeps through the night, doesn’t make a peep and he’s actually a pretty serious baby. I love his personality so far, he has his dads big serious eyes, he doesn’t smile yet, but very rarely when he does… he smiles using his eyes and his smiley lips with no teeth. My heart melts. And I don’t doubt that throughout his life he will melt a lot of hearts.”
Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together
(Song excerpt, “So Happy” by : Alan Gordon, Allan Lee Gordon, Garry Bonner)
It was a pleasure to share Shantal’s powerful story; it melted my heart. I trust that baby Julian will follow in his mom and dad’s loving ways.
Speaking of melting, summer is a good time to share my daughter Marianna’s favorite summer treat. This frozen treat will melt in your mouth before or after a workout. A tasty snack for kids of all ages, it’s healthy and easy to make too!
Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Energy Pops (short for popsicle)
One tablespoon of peanut butter
Option: Mixing some dark chocolate chips to the peanut butter
1. Take a ripe banana, and slice it in half (like you would when you slice bananas.)
2. Take one of the halves and slice it horizontally, so it resembles the sandwich part of an ice
3. Smear one tablespoon of peanut butter on one side; put the other side on top, wrap it in aluminum foil, and pop them in the freezer.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the other half of the banana.
When the treat is frozen, take it out of the freezer and let it thaw for one minute. Then enjoy this delicious pick-me-up snack. I’m telling you, it tastes like peanut butter banana ice cream!
Marianna Riccio comes from a long line of “healthy treat junkies.”
Long before big health food chains such as Whole Foods even existed, her grandfather and grandmother who are my mom and dad, Albert and Lee Alberici raised nine children on natural, unprocessed foods and created healthy treats for the family.
Marianna is a third generation still living in the same light. Back in the 50’s, my sister and I, Alberici Sisters, were raised as vegetarians before it became popular. We wrote about being health pioneers and our entertainment adventures in our book, Beyond Our Wildest Dreams.
Thank you Shantal and Marianna for sharing,
Maria Lauren, a.k.a. Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio,
Your Powerful LIFE blog
~ If you would like to be an advocate for people with Down Syndrome, I suggest finding out more at N.D.S.S., National Down Syndrome Society.
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