I gave birth to Zainab through a C-Section and for a couple of weeks, I did not realize that she has Down syndrome. My husband knew but, due to my critical condition at the hospital, he kept it from me until I healed. At that time, I was unaware of what was Down syndrome. The doctor, while trying to explain the condition, told me that Zainab will never be able to become a doctor or an engineer; which I felt is okay because I am none of those either. He then elaborated that Zainab would develop a bit slower than other kids her age. I was very worried initially but then did my own research. I started watching videos of children with Down syndrome who had been living a prosperous life. However, most of those videos were from the West and I didn’t find any such examples from Pakistan. My husband, however, was very empathetic and hopeful. He said, “This is Allah’s Will. Let’s do our best for Zainab.”
At the age of 3.5 years, I visited a school run by Pakistan ex-pats who were very supportive and confident that they will be able to offer Zainab an inclusive learning environment with typically developing children. After merely 6 months we had to pull Zainab out of the school because the school management informed us that other parents were reluctant to admit their children to the same school because of Zainab. I did not escalate the issue and found another school for Zainab that happened to be a special school. It was after I attended a seminar by the Karachi Down Syndrome Program that I realized exactly what Zainab and I both needed. My daughter needed an inclusive school that valued her and gave her focused attention. In just a year of attending an inclusive school, Zainab showed remarkable progress in academics!
One of the things I adore about Zainab is that she is the most organized member of our family. She does not need a thing to be told anything twice. I take Zainab’s success as my own and I believe if she fails, I would fail. People ask if my life goals or ambitions are being compromised because of Zainab, but the truth is that she is the reason I live.