The Importance of Connecting With Others
I recently encountered a sweet reminder of the importance of connecting with other moms! Although everyone has a unique journey that has a special purpose; similarities in circumstances, beliefs, and experiences can begin a lifelong bond! After our prenatal diagnosis, while in the hospital to deliver our third beautiful daughter, and even during all of our routine checkups with our pediatrician, we were not provided information (other than worse case scenarios) about Down Syndrome. We were never directed to support groups or avenues to gather positive stories that may encourage us with hope. We were never offered information that would give us advise. We were never provided resources that are available to greatly help our children, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. We were never even given a brochure or told exactly what Down Syndrome is. Unfortunately, this is the common story I have heard from some other moms.
My only resources were Google and Web MD. YIKES!! I found myself having such moments of desperation to know our unborn daughter would be ok.
I slowly began to find mom's like me on IG that truly inspired me and continue to do so. Through Instagram, I was able to see so many beautiful children that had an extra chromosome. I saw families that were living life as usual and doing amazing adventures together! That gave me hope!
One day, when our Savannah Lanier was about 6 months old, my husband happened to turn the tv on and The Steve Harvey Show was playing on that particular channel. He was interviewing a lady named Nancy Gianni. She is the founder of GiGi's Playhouse, which is named after her daughter. GIGI's Playhouse is an example of a positive resource for many, including new parents that have been given a prenatal diagnosis all the way to adults living with the beauty of Down Syndrome. They provide weekly physical therapy for babies and toddlers and have various social classes that include activities and music. Most of all, this organization provides education and support for the entire special needs family!
They have a location in Atlanta, which is only 90 minutes from where we live. We made plans to go that very weekend!
We finally felt there may be a place for us! They were our very first personal contact with our DS community!
When we arrived at GiGi's Playhouse and began to talk to other parents, we were directed to another organization called 'Babies Can't Wait'. They also provide various local therapies for one with special needs. Through 'Babies Can't Wait', I made my first local contact with another special needs mom. She has inspired me by making amazing baskets full of gifts, information, and encouraging words! She then takes them to the hospital when notified about a family that has just had a precious little one like ours!
My newest find is an organization called AbleFinder. Savannah and I have the honor of being one of the ambassadors and spreading the word how it connects parents around the globe! After Savannah’s prenatal diagnosis, I had desperate moments with little hope. I clung to my faith and kept telling myself “God makes no mistakes!” I needed hope. I needed to see other families that were beautiful and normal living with the beauty of Down Syndrome. I wish I had Ablefinder during that time, but I’m here to share this hope-FULL way to actually connect with other families that have paved the way, giving insight with truth, hope, and love. It is also a way to not only receive when needed, but to be that light to another.
What a mission field we have to love, encourage and give hope!
How has the medical community dropped the ball in the matter of delivering positive feedback and hope during a diagnosis of DS? Lives are more than a medical book and statistics. Instead of pointing a finger, I feel it's our duty to share our story to cheer the next one in line! Paving the way for others and advocating on behalf of our children can bless those that come behind us in countless ways! The question I ask myself and try to live by daily is, "What are some things I can I do, to be the person I needed, to someone else?"
God has used this "journey within my journey" to open my eyes to a future I look forward to with HOPE and standing arm in arm with some wonderful new found friends!
You may connect with AbleFinder at
I write about life and family. My heart's desire is to educate as I am being educated, while inspiring and encouraging others through the beauty of Down Syndrome.