October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. As you may know, T.S. Poetry Press has published a memoir: Sun Shine Down—called a “jewel [that] rises to the top” of the category of Down syndrome memoirs. Yes, we have an interest in bringing beauty to light, regarding this life reality.
Throughout October, we will feature poetic and artistic looks into the experiences of those who live with Down syndrome in one way or another. Today’s feature is a peek into Sun Shine Down…
From Chapter 5 of Sun Shine Down
The first time I’d felt the baby move, I was in the bath, looking down at my cushiony middle. The movement was just a flutter. The baby probably wasn’t much bigger than a child’s hand. I loved taking baths, and when I got pregnant I continued my nightly ritual. The tub was deep and wide. The warm water swirled, while soap bubbles popped and fizzled around me. I would lay in the bath and commune with my unborn child. It was us against the world, protected by the high, Pepto Bismol-colored walls of the tub. I was happy, regardless of loneliness or homesickness or frustration over the Russian language.
Around the time I first felt the baby move, Sergei brought home a few books for me to read. Once in a while he’d stumble across a vendor who sold books in English at an outdoor market in Kiev. Whenever he’d come home with something new, it was like Christmas morning. One book in the pile caught my eye. Jewel by Bret Lott. The story took place in the backwoods of Mississippi in the 1940s. Based on true events, it was about a woman whose sixth child, Brenda Kay, was born with Down syndrome. I read the book in one sitting, ignoring my husband and kids.
The day I finished the book, I was sitting on the bed in our room. The sun was setting. The children were already in bed, even though it wasn’t dark yet. The air was tinted green. I thought about my baby growing inside me.
“I couldn’t do it, ” I told Sergei. “I could never mother a child like Brenda Kay.”
“Gillian Marchenko’s Sun Shine Down is a moving account of the birth of her third daughter, Polina. She describes her depression after Polly’s birth and her own difficulty in loving her child. Beautifully written, this memoir is hopeful without being glib.”
—Susan Olasky, World magazine