It was on a sunny Wednesday morning that I met Marc-Antoine, Carolanne & Noah. In the email he had sent us, Marc-Antoine said that their story was worth sharing, and when Carolanne opened the door, with her gorgeous smile and little Noah in her arms, I knew it had to be true.
Photographing them was suuuuper easy. Their happiness-in-abundance and the love they have for each other is just so pure and so true that it shines out in every picture. I was with them for just a little while and yet I felt so comfortable around them; I really could have stayed for hours.
Marc-Antoine, 26, is a video editor and a (very talented) photographer. Carolanne is 31 and the owner of a coffee shop, which she sold when she got pregnant. They’ve been together for about 4 years and in June 2016, Noah, this adorable little boy, was born. A couple of days after the birth of Noah, they were told that there was a chance he had Down Syndrome. A couple of tests later, it was confirmed. Yes, they are not a conventional family, but they are a truly beautiful one. I’ve fallen in love with them and so it is with pride and pleasure that I present to you their story.
For those who don’t know much about it, what’s it like having a child with Down Syndrome?
Carolanne : It depends on each kid, because they all have different needs. Most of the time, they have various health problems, such as eye sight problems, trouble hearing, and half of them have heart conditions. We’re lucky because Noah is very healthy. He is hyper-flexible, which means he is followed by a physiotherapist and he also has weekly appointments with an orthotherapist and an orthophonist.
And what would you say the hardest part is?
Carolanne : Well, when the doctors first told us, it was obviously a real shock, considering we didn’t know much about what Down Syndrome was. The more we looked at stuff on the internet, the less we thought that our kid would be able to do on his own, but we soon realized that this was not the case. We read a lot on the subject – lots of stories about families likes ours, so that now when we stroll down the street, we don’t feel like Noah is different.
Marc-Antoine : I think that the hardest part is the pity we feel from others. They have a way of looking at us or facial expressions that kind of say “Poor you” or things like that… They’ll never say it out loud, but we can feel it.
Carolanne : Maybe I would have reacted the same way, but that’s not how things are. When it’s not part of your daily life, you cannot know how it really is, but Noah has so much love to give, he’s always smiling and he’s our sunshine. We learn a lot by having him in our lives. So yeah, when we feel pity coming from others, it’s hard and I guess kind of confusing for us.
Marc-Antoine : But we always try to focus on the good. Some say that these kids are kind of like ‘doctors’; that they have an incredibly strong and positive energy and that others can feel it.
Carolanne : Sometimes, when I’m sad, I hold him in my arms and he gives me more hugs – it’s like he knows I need it. We’re pretty spiritual too, so maybe we are more sensitive to all that, but it can sometimes really feel like he’s been brought into our lives to make us grow, let alone himself!
Marc-Antoine : Oh, Absolutely! When he was born, we had two choices : be sad and negative or roll up our sleeves and move forward. Of course we were sad for a little while, but then we just went with it and we give everything we can to our son and we try to do our best every day.
What would you like people to know?
Carolanne : That this, like any other difference, is beautiful in today’s society. Whether it’s Noah with his Down Syndrome, another kid with autism, people from another culture – we all have something special and it’s time to come together and draw strength from this. I realise now that before, I’d wanted the ‘perfect’ little family. Now, I wonder what the hell I thought that meant, when what’s clearly perfect to me now is Noah!
Marc-Antoine : Exactly, we certainly can’t complain about that!
Carolanne : Although, I will never judge a woman who decides to end her pregnancy if she learns during the pregnancy that her baby has a high chance of having Down Syndrome. What I find legitimately upsetting is that people have such a negative view of the syndrome. The only thing they associate with it are the health problems that might accompany it, but they don’t know that the daily life is normal. I am very happy that I learned Noah had the syndrome after he was born, because I don’t know how I would have reacted during my pregnancy.
What would you say to the new parents or parents to be that have or will have a child with Down Syndrome?
Marc-Antoine : Just to live in the moment, rather than obsessing over planning, like many parents in ‘regular’ situations might be inclined to do. I think that it’s actually one of the best things about these kids: they will make you learn to truly concern yourself with the moment, or tomorrow, even, maybe, just about the day after that. We don’t even know what we’ll be up to or where we’ll be in 10 years, and that no longer matters to us, because the fact is that for Noah, planning in that way would be illogical and unhelpful.
Carolanne: We can do whatever we want in life. It won’t be all that different for him; it might just take a little while longer.
What do you wish for Noah in the future?
Carolanne : I just want him to be happy. Some parents will wish for their kid to be a doctor or something like that; I want him to do whatever he wants. I want him to learn to trust in himself and I hope that he will be able to have enough autonomy to maybe have his own apartment one day! But I know it’s too soon to think about that right now; he is just one year old (laugh).
Vox Pop Questions
Marc-Antoine : Sushi!
Carolanne : Sushi, too… or a good spaghetti with my mom’s sauce!
Marc-Antoine : The Tuck Shop in St-Henri.
Carolanne : There’s also the Park… or just a good soup from Montreal’s Chinatown!
Marc-Antoine : Carolanne is very good with Asian dishes and I am good with tartar!
Breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Both : Breakfast!
Marc-Antoine : We could have named La Maison Publique for our favorite restaurant!
Your Cook It favorite?
Carolanne : Anything Asian and/or fishy!