“The Year My Son And I Were Born is a deeply honest, extremely moving, and lovingly-written memoir that tells a story few books are willing to tell. Taking us through her first year as the mother of a child with Down Syndrome, Kathryn Soper shares the contradictory emotions, self-doubts, and even spiritual questions that many young parents experience during that time but rarely admit even to friends. Along the way, her graceful, unsentimental, and gently humorous writing takes us through many struggles: navigating unfamiliar medical terrain, nurturing her six older children, keeping her marriage intact, and, above all else, accepting her son for who he is. In the end, she comes to see how to live life in a new way -- and so did I. I'm so glad Kathryn Soper had the courage to open her heart, mind, and spirit to readers. She has written a book that really matters.” —Rachel Simon, author of Riding the Bus with My Sister “Kathryn Soper's The Year My Son and I Were Born is a story of how sometimes life's lessons come at great personal cost—but that if we allow our hearts to open, even a mother's deepest despair can be transformed.” —Jennifer Graf Groneberg, author of Road Map to Holland: How I Found My Way Through My Son's First Two Years with Down Syndrome “Kathryn Lynard Soper’s The Year My Son and I Were Born takes on, with grace, honesty and candor, a difficult subject: what it means, in our culture of perfection, to become the mother of a disabled child. From her son’s early, traumatic birth, to learning what it means to be the mother of a child with special needs, Soper’s journey with Thomas will appeal to not only readers who share similar experiences, but also to any reader who has found life can often turn out not to be as expected, or predicted—in other words, all readers.”—Vicki Forman, author of This Lovely Life: A Memoir of Premature Motherhood “Kathryn Lynard Soper is a wonderful writer. Her prose is spare and achingly honest. With her talent for to-the-bone expression, she has produced this remarkable memoir about the birth of her Down Syndrome son and the inevitable life changes he brought to her family—and to her own life. It is at once heart-wrenching and redemptive, a memoir not just for someone dealing with a child’s disabilities (whatever they might be), but for anyone coping with a hard surprise. Soper is candid about the difficulty of embracing the unexpected, and leads her readers through the transcendent process of recognizing and loving the gift at the core of the challenge.In one chapter, another of her children looks at his toy and asks, “When can I exchange my Transformer?” The baby of the Soper family, with his unique needs and difficulties, is their “transformer”—and not to be exchanged. This book is itself a sign of its author’s transformation, and will be a guide and a comfort for any reader.”—Margaret Young, Creative Writing Instructor, Brigham Young University In Praise of Gifts: “This fine book helps dispel the fear and misinformation about Down syndrome that many parents and prospective parents face. As these deft essays convey, the world would be a sweeter place with more Down syndrome citizens, not fewer.”--George F. Will, Newsweek“Gifts is honest and life affirming, a chorus of mothers proclaiming what every obstetrician and gynecologist should know--that life is a gift and an extra chromosome is not the end of the world.”--Beverly Beckham, Boston Globe “Through Gifts we hear the powerful voices of mothers who said ‘yes’ when others might have been saying ‘no.’ These mothers take us on their journey filled with wonder, courage, and the belief that children with Down syndrome can and will succeed.”--Brian G. Skotko, M.D., M.P.P., Children's Hospital Boston and Boston Medical Center and author of Common Threads: Celebrating Life with Down Syndrome "A beautiful book that provides insight into family life with Down syndrome; recommended for public libraries."--Library Journal Xpress Reviews
Kathryn Lynard Soper is president of The Segullah Group, a nonprofit organization that produces personal writings. She is the editor in chief of the literary journal Segullah and the editor of two anthologies, Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives and The Mother in Me: Real-World Reflections on Growing Into Motherhood.
Excerpt from The Year My Son and I Were BornCould I love such a son?I rubbed my arms and legs with a rough washcloth, determined to scrub away not only blood and sweat and oil, but also doubt. Of course I could love Thomas. I already did. I loved him as I’d loved each of my new babies, with a primal strength full and fierce. . . . Yet I knew the bond wouldn’t be enough, not for long. It was instinctual. Even animal. Thomas deserved human love, the delight and appreciation and tenderness one unique person feels for another. I’d never felt this for a person with Down syndrome or any other disability. I didn’t know if I could. Goose bumps rose on my arms—the hot water was gone. And my time to indulge in weakness was gone. A child waited in a plastic box down the hall, and six more were waiting at home, waiting for security to surround them like a warm mantle, soft yet strong. Waiting for their mother.