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The Year My Son and I Were Born: A Story of Down Syndrome, Motherhood, and Self-Discovery Paperback – April 13, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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

Review

“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
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: GPP Life; First edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762760346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762760343
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,913,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book starts out like a freight train. Kathryn and her husband are waiting to be dismissed from the hospital where she's been treated for premature labor and are eagerly looking forward to getting home to their family -- when her water breaks. After a harrowing labor, she gives birth and within hours is informed by the medical staff that her son Thomas probably has Downs Syndrome. Then she's put into a sort of limbo while genetic testing is performed, during which time at least one doctor tells her that Thomas probably DOESN"T have Downs, and then they find out that he indeed does.

The author does an exquisite job of straddling the lines between those who want her to embrace Thomas' specialness and tell her what a heroic person she is for taking on this job -- and coping with her own anger, fear, frustration and even shame. She tells us somewhat proudly at the beginning that her other children do very well in school and that some of the six have even been identified as gifted (even profoundly gifted). We all know neighborhoods and schools like this -- where parents call themselves "gifted parents" as though they themselves were gifted, and live vicariously through the child, taking their own cues about whether or not they're measuring up as parents from how well the child rank vis a vis their peers on standardized tests. Parents also seem to use the 'giftedness' thing like a shield -- convincing themselves that since their child has been identified as bright and a winner, nothing bad will ever happen to them. Life is a contest and they appear to be winning, even triumphing over others.
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Format: Hardcover
An intimate portrait of grief, the kind that mourns the hidden fears of loss and failure that lurk within us all. And of course, the kind of grief that tranforms its bearer, teaching them about the long dark night but also about the beauty of the brilliant morning sun.

Yes, this is a book about mothering a child with Downs Syndrome, but also a universal story of motherhood and self-awareness. It may be trite to say that it's a story about love, but as with all things, love has both yin and yang. Kathryn is bold enough to explore both.
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Format: Hardcover
My son-in-law found this book for me and I'm so glad he did! Our son, Jeff, had DS, but we didn't know it until he was 1 1/2, in the early 1960's. When I could stop saying, "Why us, Lord?!" and ask "Where do we go from here?" things began to happen for us. I identified with Thomas' noisy breathing, and with Soper's comment, "He's slow, slow, slow. So what?" Our pediatrician said the same thing to me. She told me to record all that Jeff COULD do in the back of his photo album, and that was the start of the book I wrote about him: "Journey With Jeff; Inspiration for Caregivers of People with Special Needs." (Amazon.com) Jeff died in 1988, from leukemia, at the age of 27. He began to have seizures when he was 14, and the meds took a toll on his body. I earned my Masters in Special Education as I learned how to help Jeff, and worked with children with special needs from pre-school to senior high. When I see a child living with DS now, I identify with the lady in the book whose baby died at age 5. She said, "His face, his face. It's been so long." Tears came when I read this. "The Year My Son and I Were Born," plus Soper's video on You Tube, have meant a great deal to me. They are highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
As the mother of a child with severe brain damage, this book spoke to me. Kathryn Soper clearly and candidly articulates coming to terms with having a disabled child. It is not all about having a "special spirit" in your home, it is about fear and desperation in the NICU, frustration with a multitude of doctor's visits, therapies, and paperwork. It is long nights filled with worry, despair, and questioning your core beliefs. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a disabled child.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a rare find. I love that the author puts words to the feelings we have all felt when we find out our child has DS. It is quite amazing that even though we are two different mothers our feeling and emotions can be so parallel. This is a discovery of who we are and finding out what we value. Great book for someone who is discouraged and realizing there is a light at the end of a tunnel.
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Format: Hardcover
Kathryn Soper's courageous and bittersweet memoir, The Year My Son and I Were Born, is a gift of supreme generosity to her readers. With "microscopic truthfulness" and without a shred of self-pity, Soper invites us along on her mothering journey when her seventh child is unexpectedly born with Down Syndrome. Emotionally vivid, Soper's account is alternately tender and funny but always poignant. She invites us on her painful yet illuminating journey as she comes to terms with her own imperfections and vulnerabilities. As Soper faces her worst fears and biases about Down Syndrome, she must also learn to face her worst fears about herself. The Year My Son and I Were Born is a book that will not only enlarge your understanding of what it means to parent a child with special needs but also enlarge your vision of what it means to be human. In the end, Soper's memoir will leave you with the feeling that hope and resilience can ultimately triumph even in the midst of distress and uncertainty.
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