- Posted September 21, 2013 by
INNERview: Inclusion Begins in the Heart of the Parents
Viviana Fernandez is a multiplatform freelance journalist. For over fifteen years, she was a leading journalist for CNN En Español. In 2008, she received an Honorable Mention from the CNN Heroes Initiative for her work to better the life of people with Down syndrome.
YVONNE PIERRE: When was your son, Cameron diagnosed with Down syndrome, before or after birth?
VIVIANA FERNANDEZ: Cameron was born September 24th, 2001. My pregnancy had been great and since I was not 35 years old yet, the doctor did not recommend an amnio. I am glad that he did not because if I had found out that he had Down syndrome before birth, I would have probably committed the biggest mistake of my life out of fear. Cameron was semi diagnosed right at birth and the news was given by a nurse. She yelled from across the room as I was still in the birth position and she was trying to get Cameron to cry: “Did you know that your son might have Down syndrome?”
YVONNE: What was your immediate response?
VIVIANA: I was in total shock and disbelief. Was she wrong? Why was this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? He will never have a “normal” life, he will never go to college, he will never get married, people will make fun of him, and I even thought: ”I hope that he doesn’t make it, this is not what I wanted or dreamed of.” Why can’t I just have a “normal” child birth experience with a child who does not have Down syndrome? I also felt no connection with him because I did not get to hold him. Right after birth, he was taken to the NICU and what I got a few hours later was a Polaroid picture of my newborn. Yes, a Polaroid picture that the NICU nurses sent to my room.
I kept recalling horrible stories of what people in many parts of the world still call “mongoloids” or even worse, the “r” word.
YVONNE: How has your outlook on his diagnoses changed over the years?
VIVIANA: It changed who I am as a person. I do not think that I was a bad person before, but having Cameron in my life has made me better all around. First of all, it made me face fears and prejudice that up until I had him, I did not know that I held inside of me.
I had to learn how to love, truly love unconditionally. What better experience can a human being get on this earth than learning to love and being love unconditionally?
I learned that we have to take the time to know and appreciate everyone just as they are. I learned that every single person, EVERY SINGLE person has a purpose for being in this world and each person here is a miracle from God. I learned to slow down and appreciate little things. I was “covering the world” as a journalist, but I had been missing out in the most important things to cover in my life. Cameron certainly made me “cover them” one by one through time. I remember clearly the day that I felt my first spiritual connection with him. I had brought him home with oxygen and I was laying him down in bed. He was staring in my eyes with such depth like saying: “What are you worried about?” Everything shifted inside of me after that day. I stopped crying for what it had not been and started to get to know him and started to get to know who he was and could be for him. Soon, I realized that “what could” be for him relied on how high my expectations were for him. I soon realized that the diagnosis did not define who he is or what he can accomplish in his life or how happy he could be in his life.
I think that I was always a “fighter” in life and very perseverant. I never really thought that I could not accomplish anything that I set out to do in my life. Suddenly, that same line of feeling and thinking was transferred to what I wished and hoped for Cameron.
There's more, continue reading this INNERview in it's entirety at http://hyhonline.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/inclusion-begins-in-the-heart-of-the-parents