47: Raising a child with special needs with Down Syndrome activist and adventure mama Melody Forsyth
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How can our trials be our greatest blessings? Today’s guest and is here to tell us how. Melody Forsyth is a mother of four and a down syndrome activist. At 40 years of age and pregnant with her fourth child, she was faced with trisomy 21 diagnosis early into her pregnancy. After going through the full gamut of emotions: fear, anger, denial, sadness, she realized she could either drag her feet in resistance or open her arms in acceptance to this child that was soon to make her way into her family.
What she didn’t realize, was what a true gift Ruby would be to her family. Yes, there have been very real health and developmental challenges that have gone along with Ruby’s diagnosis, but more profoundly her family has changed forever. Now they all pitch in to help and realize what a gift Ruby’s joyful spirit is in their lives.
Whats more, Melody has taken to the outdoors with her kids! Although she once believed it would be impossible to continue doing “cool things” as a family with a child with special needs, she now realizes that limitations are often in our heads. She tries to not impose limitations on her family or Ruby’s life, and continues to take her hiking and adventuring at every opportunity. This mama is currently on a mission to visit all the national parks, but are also content marveling in what our beautiful country has to offer.
(12:14) We can’t be “everything” as mamas, and Melody is honest with and articulates that to her kids.
(14:00) Melody recalls receiving the Trisomy 21 diagnosis in her second trimester of pregnancy.
(17:28) There was a turning point when Melody realized limitations are just in our heads and she would never stop her daughter from joining her family in the outdoors.
(21:03) Recalling when she first brought Ruby on hikes with her and how she truly saw her start to blossom.
(21:53) The many reasons Melody’s family encourage other families, especially those that have special needs children, because the outdoors can give so much for their senses and connection.
(32:29) She feels very fortunate to have a partner that is willing to help so she can find time for self care.
(39:48) Melody encourages others not to fear people with special needs or differences, and instead of staring to come up and say hello!
“I honestly thought we were never going to go anywhere (with a special needs child). I just didn’t now what to expect, not having that knowledge.”
And I just thought- if they can do it, why can’t we? Why does that diagnosis have to stop us and limit us from having a wonderful time as a family and being close?
“You know I just love her like all my other babies. . . you just require a little more time sometimes.”
“I think one of the most amazing things, and definitely where we consider a blessing, is how accepting my children are of others now.”
“Getting some physical activity, for me it really is an antidepressant. It’s like a big breath of fresh air and I can just feel my stress melting away once I get on the trail.”
“Sometimes the things that can seem like, the worst thing that can happen-aren’t. I look back now and because of Ruby, you know, I feel like I found myself, I figured out who I am. I found a voice.”
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