After giving birth to her son, Raquel is helping mothers around the world

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'Raquel del Barrio is from Spain. Her life changed completely four years ago when her baby was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome, and this can cause both mental and physical challenges. The news came as a shock to Raquel and her husband. But they were surprised by the reaction of their doctor.  

“Mamá EXTRAordinaria”
“The doctor who was with us at the 20 week ultrasound scan saw it very differently. He asked us if we would love our son if he had Down syndrome. And we answered “Yes.” “That’s great,” he said. Then he started singing to the baby and encouraging him to move, because he couldn’t see everything clearly. In that moment we felt very welcomed, accompanied, and respected.”

Raquel’s experience inspired her to create a group called “Mamá EXTRAordinaria,” “Extraordinary Mom”. It’s an online platform for new mothers to connect with one another through parenting support groups.

“Mamá EXTRAordinaria”
“The ‘extra’ [in extraordinary] comes from the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome. It’s not a disease, it’s an extra chromosome in the 21st pair. The project is intended for those mothers who are looking for more information online. The idea is to help pregnant women, and new mothers of children with this genetic condition, to enjoy their motherhood.”

Raquel says we need to build greater awareness about Down syndrome, and to promote inclusion, starting with life in the womb.

Meanwhile, faith continues to play an important role in Raquel and her husband’s lives.

“Mamá EXTRAordinaria”
“Without hope, I believe life-changing events can make living your life even more difficult. We experienced the support of our parish community, and all those around us. We were sustained in our faith by all those people who were praying for us, even though they didn’t know who we were.”

Álvaro is now 4 years old. Raquel says he’s taught her to look into people’s hearts, to pay attention to their strengths, rather than to their weaknesses. And always to keep focused on what’s positive.

Daniel Díaz Vizzi

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