Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review: Gifts by Kathryn Lynard Soper

Book Info:
Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: Woodbine House (May 15, 2007)
ISBN-13: 9781890627850
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: My Shelves
Rating: 4/5

Having a baby with Down syndrome is not something most parents would willingly choose. Yet many who travel this path discover rich, unexpected rewards along the way. In this candid and poignant collection of personal stories, sixty-three mothers describe the gifts of respect, strength, delight, perspective, and love, which their child with Down syndrome has brought into their lives.

One of the things I like best about reading reviews from other bloggers is that the reviews aren't written by nameless, faceless people. We all get to know other bloggers and little bits of their personalities come through in every review. While I think all reviews have a personal touch, this one hits closer to home for me.

Some of you may know that we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first baby at the end of the month. What you don't know, is that there is a very high likelihood that our baby will have Down syndrome. In an attempt to educate myself and my family as much as possible I have been reading everything I can get my hands one. Gifts was provided by a local DS organization.

Gifts is a collection of stories written by mothers of children with Down syndrome. The stories are short, anywhere from one to four pages, but they are all filled with hope, strength and love for their children. All of the thoughts, questions and concerns I have for my baby have all been experienced by these other women, and it is a comfort just to know that we are not alone in this journey.

Most of the stories are written by mothers whose children are about 4 years old or younger. I really wish there were more stories from parents of older children included, but other than that I have found this book to be comforting and would highly recommend it to other parents or families facing a diagnosis of Down syndrome. 4 stars


Passages to the Past said...

Sounds interesting, thanks for the review. The cover is super cute!

Sandy Nawrot said...

What a beautiful book! I did not know you were facing this probability. I'm in awe of your strength and attitude of preparing yourself for whatever happens. I've got friends that have had Downs Syndrome babies, and these little angels are such blessings to them. I will say a prayer that everything goes well for you and your baby. Please make sure you keep us updated!

Kathleen said...

What a beautiful book cover. I will be praying for you and your family. While children with Downs pose special challenges to families they give back more than they take. Our good family friends raised their daughter with Downs and it changed their lives in so many positive ays. The mother was 92 and passed this last year and the daughter with Downs is still alive and in her 60's. She was a blessing to our family and to hers!

Zibilee said...

Oh Melissa! I had no idea that this was something that you and your family were going through right now. I admire your commitment and bravery in this situation and think that your child will be blessed to have a mother such as you. I will place you and your family in my daily prayers as well. I know that whatever happens, this new baby will be a blessing to you.

Melissa said...

Thank you all for your prayers and support! While we know we may have some challenges ahead, we can't wait to meet our baby and know that s/he will bring amazing blessings into our lives.

I will keep you updated too!

Schmendro said...

I loved this book. My litte sister has Down syndrome and she is the most loving and wonderful person I know. She has been a blessing to everyone in my family. Her first year was very difficult fo her, health-wise, but she is doing so great now. She just turned seven the day after Christmas!

They just recently came out with a second "Gifts" book that focuses on older kids, which you said you were interested in learning about. If you search on Amazon (or anyother book site) for "Gifts 2" it should come up.

I hope the best for you and your baby!

Kelly said...

Melissa, I just stumbled across your blog and I just wanted to say Congratulations of the pending birth of your baby. He/She will bring you more joy that you could ever think possible. I am mom to almost 11 month old Landon (feel free to visit our blog). Landon is my 3rd son (yes, very busy) and he was born with Down syndrome. My risk factor during my pregnacy was 1/3 (extremely high), you can read more about it on my blog. It's great that you are our there reading (some books can be quite scary). Gifts and Gifts 2 will become permanent fixtures in your home and you will find yourself reading them over and over again. Soon, you too will see the beauty of the road less traveled. I wouldn't change a thing......Landon is who he is because of that extra chromosome which means there is just "MORE" to love. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy.....I'll be looking forward to seeing some pics of your precious baby!

Kelly said...

Melissa, here are a couple of other readings that will bring more inspriation (also great for family members to read):

1) Roadmap to Holland by Jennifer Graf Gronenberg

2) Welcome to Holland (an essay) by Emily Perl Kingsley

Happy Reading (literally)!

kyouell said...

My son with Down syndrome is 4.5 years old. We didn't know ahead of time, so I didn't have to go through some of the trials and tribulations that the mamas in "Gifts" did, but it still touched my heart deeply.

Besides the second book, I humbly suggest that you get in contact with that local group that gave you the book and ask about self-advocates. You may be surprised by what the older kids with Down syndrome in your community are doing. Also, ask them if they have a Buddy Walk in the fall. That was how we first got exposed to people of all ages with Down syndrome. It really made my heart soar to see an older gentleman and his sister walking that mile together at our first Buddy Walk.

As far as older kids go (not that mine is old) please be aware that the platitudes about these children being sweet little angels aren't true any more than they are for ANY children. All children are blessings and little angels. Our kids with Down syndrome can also be little terrors with grumpy days and temper tantrums. Please don't think you have been spared this. ;-) From my experience the "smiling angel" face is something my son puts on as his way of dealing with new people. Once he knows you he's willing to reveal more facets of his personality.

I recently read "Angel Behind the Rocking Chair" by Pam Vredevelt. It's wonderful and inspiring (and bittersweet because it was written awhile ago and her son has since passed). Lots of religion, so the only people I wouldn't recommend it to are those who can't stomach that.

BTW, I found your post thanks to a link in a tweet by @SHetherington (

Mimi said...

I agree, the cover photo is amazing.

My cousin and his wife have a daughter with Down Syndrome.

Adrienne said...

Wonderful book, helped me a lot!! Don't know your exact situation but I know this is a difficult time waiting whether it's for an amnio or until birth. Just do your research so you can be prepared either way but whatever the result be prepared to have a beautiful baby that needs love, DS or not!

Adrienne said...

Sorry, missed the part that you were waiting and only have a month to go! Hope all goes well with the birth!!!

Tara said...

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Our "odds" going into labor for our sixth were 1:20. Turns out, we were the lucky 1! :) I recommend alerting the L&D staff that Ds is a possibility and expressing your desire to hold your baby before receiving any kind of diagnosis.

I second the recommendation for Gifts 2! Great book. The essays in that one are written by grandparents, friends, siblings, therapists, etc.

Hope you have a wonderful birth experience!

Wrighty said...

Congratulations on your little one! I'm so sorry for your extra worries now. As the mother of three teens I know that it was already a scary enough time. Parenthood is full of great fears and great joys. It's the hardest, yet best job I've ever had. I hope you have much love and support though it all. Your baby is blessed to have you for it's mommy! It sounds like you are doing all you can to prepare for anything. There are many terrific and supportive comments here. I hope they help.

This looks like an amazing book and I'll be looking for it. Best wishes to you and give us updates. I can't wait to "meet" the little one! Congrats again!

Anne and Whitney: Up, Down and All Around said...

Hi Melissa! I just happened to glance at our blog and notice we had a few more "followers" than I remembered having, so I clicked on your site and read your post about Gifts. (GREAT BOOK!) Good luck with this last month in your pregnancy. I know this has to be an exciting but also anxious time for you and your family - as Adrienne said, Ds or not, this baby will be yours to love and will be the greatest blessing and joy (while at the same time, will test you and make your hair turn gray... ha ha!) I recently came upon a blog called Raising Reid and Cheri, Reid's mom had a beautiful post that if you have a minute, you might want to read: Good luck to you with the last few weeks before your little baby is here :)


Leah Spring said...

Hi there! Congratulations on your expected arrival! My name is Leah, and I'm one of the contributors to "Gifts". ("Enjoying the Ride" by Leah Spring) I'm one only two "older" parents in the book. At the time my submission was written I think my daughter Angela was 9 or 10. She's 13 now...a young lady..and just as amazing as ever. Even after all these years each day still brings wonder. Like 3:00 a.m and New Years morning when I heard her talking in the bathroom. I went in to discover her dressed in a hideous outfit, complete with black leather jacket (think 80's style) applying lip gloss. She was dressing up to go on a mission with Beth Chapman. You know, Dog the Bounty Hunter's wife. Don't know her? Google her for a laugh!

Is life always easy for us? No. Is it terrible? Bigger No! Here's a video of a stage performance Angela did last spring

And another of her bowling in her own...umm..unique way. It doesn't take much to see that she is her own best cheerleader. LOL

If you want more reading, you're welcome to hop on over to my blog.