Well, it must have been what I needed to hear tonight, because one of the moms came up to me after the party and said, "You know, she looks JUST like you!".
When our children are born with Down syndrome, one of the things we wonder is if that child will look like the rest of the family. Sometimes it's hard to remember that while they share most of the same features as their peers who also have DS, that is only ONE tiny piece of genetic material, yet ALL of their genetic material comes from us, their parents. So of course our children will look like us, and yet they'll also look like others who have DS.
For those of you who know my boys, you know they only look a little bit like me. They really look like their dad, so Angela was my last chance for a mini-me. Well, here's a post I wrote in September 2007 on the same topic! I'm glad someone reminded me tonight.
I want to get Angela's hair cut. Something short and sassy, but still feminine enough that she won't be mistaken for a boy. I went to Stellure.com and did a one month membership that allowed me to upload a photo and select hairstyles to view with Angela's face super imposed in them. (It was interesting, but not worth the $20.)
Part of the process of using this program is establishing certain points on the face that become landmarks the computer uses for making a digital rendition of the subject. Zooming in on Angela's eye I mapped out the exact corners, the center of her pupil, the arch of her brow line, her perfect eye brows. As I marked the bridge of her nose, I discovered she finally has one! (most babies with DS lack a nasal bridge.) I tried on some funky hairstyles, then decided to mess around with my face.
As I mapped out my eye, I re-discovered that Angela and I have exactly the same eyes. I was reminded of a time when I was a little girl around 11 or 12 years old. I was at a friend's house and her little sister (then about 6 or so) asked me, "Are you chinese? You have Chinese eyes." Well, I'm very much german caucasion, but I definetly have almond shaped eyes. These eyes match my daughter's and my mothers. Nobody else in our family has these eyes.
As I matched Angela's nose it reminded me of a nose I'd seen before. I pulled out a picture of my son Noah at about 9 years old, and one of me at 10. Sure enough, all three of us have the same nose.
I mapped out Angela's mouth; the down-turned corners that are a marker of her extra genetic material. Except that they also mark her family, as I have the same downturned mouth. (I just have more creases in the corners of mine!)
I mapped out her ears, the right one being slightly over-curled, and both set low on her head. Funny...that's where mine sit too.
Examining Angela's features this way brought back memories of the day after Angela was born. I stood at her bedside in the NICU as the neonatologist went over her body, feature by feature, showing me what things pointed to Down Syndrome. "But...she just looks like me!" I said. Really...she looked just like me. I'm sure they thought, "Oh that poor mom. She just doesn't want to see that something is wrong with her baby." But no....really....she just and still does, look just like me.