Monday, December 09, 2013

The Birthday Girl

My second child was born on December 11. Every year I can't really focus on Christmas until we get past celebrating her birthday. And she likes to celebrate for as long as possible.

Eliza's official due date was Dec. 24. Lon and I decided if she was born on Christmas we would make her middle name Noel. We ended up liking the sound of "Eliza Noel" so much that we later decided her middle name would be Noel no matter when she decided to arrive. And she was smart--she came two weeks early, so there'd be plenty of time to celebrate her birthday without having to compete with Christmas.

Eliza will be 23 on Wednesday. Her birth story, if I were to tell it here, would include the part where we were told and struggled to comprehend that she has Down syndrome. That part of the story is much longer than the hours of labor, and sadly, I remember it better than the part where her dad's hands caught her as she slipped out into the world. I remember it better than when I first held her.

We had a long and noisy party yesterday for her birthday, with seventeen guests, a high-energy mix of family and young adult friends. I did not know in those first days of her life that the experience of raising a daughter with DS would lead to such noisy, fun birthday parties. But that's the way her parties have always been. She knows how to command the center of attention when issuing invitations, opening gifts or blowing out candles. And her friends, whatever their abilities and disabilities, are wonderfully gracious about crowding around her and sharing her joy and excitement.

A few years ago, Eliza's Best Buddy at the high school gave her a pink Miss-America style sash to wear on her birthday, with script-style letters that proclaim her the birthday girl. Eliza also a "Birthday Girl" tiara she wears for her parties. She looked great yesterday.

And I'm thinking about borrowing them for my birthday next summer.

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