Tuesday May 31, 2016

Tara McCallan: Different is beautiful

Tara and Pip.

Tara and Pip. (Happy Soul Project)

Listen 15:13

A surprise pregnancy and the birth of her baby girl gave Tara McCallan a lease on life she never could have imagined.

Shortly after her daughter Pip was born, doctors told Tara that the baby girl has early signs of Down Syndrome. Tara shared her initial shock and devastation in a candid blog post. She didn't expect that the post would reach and resonate with millions of parents around the world, many of whom were in similar situations.

"I think you're allowed to grieve something that's unexpected in life," Tara told Candy. "And for me, it was part of the process to get me where I am today." 

Pip McCallan Tara McCallan

Tara writes, "Life is more beautiful because of my baby girl, Reid, {nicknamed Pip} who happens to have an extra chromosome..." (Happy Soul Project)

Nowadays, it's hard for Tara to recall the sorrow she felt after she first heard about Pip's diagnosis. "The grief I had before is nonexistent now," she said. 

Tara has written a letter for a package from the Canadian Down Syndrome Society that is now given to all mothers whose newborns receive the same diagnosis as Pip. She shares her own story in hopes that the experience will help others realize the beauty of motherhood, despite the extra chromosome. "It's so important to grieve the steps of it, but it's also important to know that you're going to grow so much within it," Tara said. 

After the overwhelming response to her blog post about Pip, Tara started the Happy Soul Project, a non-profit organization that aims to promote inclusion and celebrate people's differences. 

"What started as a blog that I thought my mom and girlfriends would read, has turned into this big beautiful community where people are so invested. And it's not just about Down Syndrome, it's about inspiring change and getting people to look at people first and differences second."