‘I used to wonder why in the world parents would legally change their child’s name. Yet here I am, absolutely delighted.’: Mom explains legal name change for daughter with Down syndrome

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“The time I changed my kid’s name…

I used to wonder why in the world parents would change their own child’s name after the fact. (I see you Amy Schumer.)

But, yet, here I am absolutely delighted with a name change certificate in my hand. Finally officially making Pip my daughter’s name.

You see, 8 years ago on the day she was born, we had a different name and a different daughter in mind.

Courtesy of Tara McCallan
Courtesy of Tara McCallan

We called her Reid and I thought (or hoped) she’d be strong and smart with a side-of-sass. And while she ended up being all those things, she just wasn’t Reid. Or what I originally envisioned at all.

The news she had Down syndrome shook me to my core. And I had to grieve the daughter I thought I was having.

I’ll never forget the doctor’s sad eyes. Filled with what seemed like such sorrow. As he looked at me, holding my newborn daughter, and told me he was sorry to be the one to tell me but he saw signs my baby had Down syndrome.

My whole world crumbled in that moment. It felt as if he had smacked me right across the face.

I learned that day what it meant to weep. I was so sad for her. For us. For the family I thought we were supposed to be.

I could barely look at my husband in those first few days. I’d tear up thinking, ‘He’s never going to get to walk his little girl down the aisle.’

Ignorant I know now, because lots of adults with Down syndrome fall in love and get married. But, this is where my heart was then.

And it’s important to note, it’s okay to give yourself grace and know it’s okay to grieve in the process. As this unique child’s momma, this was a huge piece of the journey for me.

And in my grief, it is hard for me to even remember now, because a daughter unfolded more beautiful than I could even dream.

She’s nothing I imagined. Yet everything I hoped for. She defies the odds, every single day.

Courtesy of Tara McCallan
Courtesy of Tara McCallan

And she kept getting hit – be that a diagnosis, countless surgeries, or learning to walk again after double-knee-surgery. They said she might not talk or walk.

She’s had a broken heart, eyes that weren’t supposed to see, 24/7 bring-you-to-your-knees disorders like Type One Diabetes and pain-in-the-butt one’s like Celiac Disease.

Courtesy of Tara McCallan

She’s been sung Happy Birthday on an operating table by a room full of nurses and doctors. She’s missed out on field trips, birthday parties, and playdates. She knows hospitals and waiting rooms like they are her playgrounds.

And doctors have told me, ‘She must be in so much pain.’ Yet, she’s never complained. Not even once. Ever.

She is the most loving, forgiving, joyful, grateful, full-of-spunk, spit, and sass person I’ve ever met.

She’s Pip. Period. And now it’s official.

Courtesy of Tara McCallan

We gave her the nickname when she was just a few weeks old. Around the time of her very first surgery. She needed to have her eyes operated on, if there was any chance of saving her vision.

I’ve come to realize, giving your child, in this case my five-week-old newborn, into the arms of a doctor and waiting till they are back in yours is almost unbearable.

Each time, I hope it gets easier. And each time, I realize, ‘Nope, I love her even more now, so it’s that much harder.’

But, in the little hospital bed in recovery, she looked so itsy bitsy and we started called her Pipsqueak. And it stuck hard. She knows no other name.

My sons only know her as this. We’ve only ever called her it. To me, my own daughter is truly only Pip. Reid seems so foreign when it comes out of anyone’s mouth.

Courtesy of Tara McCallan

Trust me. If only you could see how proudly she writes out her name, owning that P.I.P and when she’s spicy she throws in a P.Y.

She is my Pip. Through and through. She was made to be beautifully different. And I didn’t know it then.

Like everything with her. I had to learn along the way…”

Courtesy of Tara McCallan

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tara McCallan of Kingston, Canada. You can follow their journey on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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‘Linda, I have news—please sit down.’ The delivery room was hush-hush. ‘She will be a burden to your family.’ Everyone was disgusted I wouldn’t abort her.’: Mom details emotional journey advocating for daughter with Down syndrome

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