Loreto is a 2-year-old child who under the name “Miss Loreto” spreads joy and Life –in capital letters- through the social networks. This bubbling, honest, sincere, untranslatable life has entered our hearts without notice and has flooded it with reasons worth living for.
Behind Loreto there is a family and a woman with a huge heart; her mother, Mar.
It is a privilege to present this gift that Mar has given us with such generosity, simplicity and above all courage. We must anticipate that it is impossible to remain indifferent after spending some time in her living room.
Firstly, we thank you for this warm reception. We are here, partly because your message has been heard, loud and clear, and it has brought us to your doorstep.
As a brief introduction, we are with Mar and her husband Sebastian, parents of two children, Gonzalo and Loreto. Up to there, there is nothing exceptional about their story, but in 2016, something happens that changes their lives, or at least it re-directs it. What happened? How was it?
Yes, till the fifth month of pregnancy, Loreto seemed like a regular child; we hadn’t done the triple test because we had decided to be open to life whatever the circumstance could be.
It was after the fifth month that the doctors saw that Loreto’s bones were shorter than usual, but as they were not growing as slowly as they do in a child with Down’s syndrome, they just thought that she was going to be a small child. After weeks went by, the slow growth was such that they thought that something must be going on. They referred us to a clinic that specialized in detecting fetal conditions using state of the art equipment. As soon as they saw Loreto’s profile and other typical indicators of the Down’s syndrome, like the extra space between her big toe and the other toes or the face’s characteristics, they told us that it wasn’t 100% reliable, but that it was likely that Loreto had Down’s syndrome.
As human beings, and as a young married couple which expected having wonderful kids, prettier than ourselves, smarter than ourselves, that can go far in life, we felt that our entire world had just fell apart. A million thoughts went through our heads: that our relationship would be ruined, that we were going to be unhappy forever, that our other son, Gonzalo, was going to be miserable…Neither of us had had a Down’s syndrome case close to us, not even at school, so we weren’t familiarized at all. I knew nothing about it: the age they start to walk, to eat, if they had health issues, if they could go to school, everything was uncertain. And all of these uncertainties lead to fear, the type of fear that crashes your dreams and hopes, and we entered a state of grief. We went to the Down’s Syndrome Foundation to receive information and advice. They first told us that we needed to accept that it was as if our daughter had died and now we were expecting a different one. Such a real feeling! They recommended us to change her name if it helped, but we didn’t want to because since we were a couple we had wanted to name our kids Gonzalo and Loreto. It is true, however, that we had to embrace that the Loreto that we had pictured and imagined was no longer going to come, it was a different Loreto.
The fear of how she was going to be was also present. You start surfing the internet, seeing pictures of the tongue, of the eyes, of every body part. You imagine every possible case scenario and yet, you can’t even imagine it at all. You even think the perfect little clothes you bought are going to be of no use. All these negative thoughts caused me a lot of pain, but with time I have managed to accept that it is a normal process that every parent goes through.
And our faith helped. I remember when we rejected the triple test, I cried a lot, and Sebas asked me why I was crying. And I told him that for me, it was like saying to God “I am ready for whatever you send”. And it was hard for me. God was already preparing me for what was going to happen. Without faith, this can’t be understood.
We thank you for your honesty and depth. We all have the project of a perfect family, perfect kids and a perfect happy life. Can you say that Loreto came to break all the moulds?
Yes, those moulds we once thought they meant happiness. I have meditated a lot about this, about what we think happiness is: having the perfect job, the perfect children, the perfect husband. We think that by obtaining all this we obtain happiness and I have realized that happiness is not in having it all, but in how we face and live life, whether it brings good news or bad ones.
And this impacts in a marriage, if life is faced together, the couple grows stronger and closer. In our case, Loreto helped us get closer, because happiness is the way you face whatever comes and how you manage to get some good out of it.
Each child changes our lives. What aspects has Loreto specifically changed in your life?
The way of looking. It is certainly true that each child is unique and special, and Down’s syndrome does not make Loreto more special, but she has taught me a different way to see people. I am now capable of looking beyond what people see, beyond disabilities. In times like these in which nobody wants to see imperfections, or I would even dare to say that everybody hates them, in which beauty and perfection is extolled, this way of seeing allows me to appreciate that behind it all there is a person, a heart and a life. This is Loreto’s greatest message to me.
As you said, we live in a world that has an inhuman concept of beauty, because it comes together with a sort of artificial perfection. This leads, many times, to the rejection of the things that do not comply with these standards. Have you experienced this rejection for not fitting in or because Loreto doesn’t fit in?
Well, as a matter of fact, no. I’ve never seen people staring at me when carrying Loreto on the streets, pointing fingers at me or pitying us. Maybe they have, but I am so happy with my daughter that I see in others what I want to see, and this is fundamental.
There have been mums of Down’s syndrome children that have told me quite the opposite: that people stare and point fingers at them. But I believe that it has to do with the way one feels; if you feel rejected, when people look at you, you are going to feel rejected instead of being positive. I feel happy with my family and I adore my daughter and think she is cute, so if people stare at us, I cannot imagine they are thinking she is horrible, it is impossible, I cannot feel that.
Sebastián: It also helps that Loreto is super likeable. The whole neighborhood is hypnotized by her. They just stare at her and say “look how cute she is!”. Everybody knows her (laughter). Her personality helps a lot.
A remarkable aspect of your story, of Loreto’s story, is your media dimension. In which moment did you decide you wanted the world to know your story?
Yes, when they gave me the news about Loreto, my mother told me about Pepita Mola. And it helped me so much. I was already feeling Loreto’s kicks inside, the feelings and emotions were strong and seeing Pepita gave me information about the Down’s syndrome, which was so unknown to us. I then saw that her family hadn’t been destroyed, that her parents were happy and her siblings were happy too. That they were a regular family that went to the movies, to the beach, that carried out any given plan. I thought all of it would end when Loreto arrived, but Pepita Mola helped me see the other side of the Down’s syndrome, a bright side. And if it helped me, I said to myself that I needed to help others too.
It is true that they are just images, but it is a language on itself, a way of communication. I didn’t have time for a blog, that’s why I needed something that was more informal, in which I could spend weeks without posting content and not feel guilty about it. And that is how I ended up on Instagram, without even expecting it to have the repercussion it currently has. Well, it’s not that big a deal, and I don’t want it to be a big deal. I have only one objective, which is to give the following message to our followers, whoever they might be: Down’s syndrome kids are happy and deserve to live. That is enough for me.
There are more and more influencers that have this social role of connecting and transmitting their message to many people, in your case, I would say the message of a big YES to life. Are you aware of the power Loreto has of reaching so many people’s hearts? Sebastián has just said that she stole everybody’s hearts in the neighborhood; now she does the same thing but from social media and in a massive way.
Maybe I am not very aware of such an impact. I know that physically she transmits so much, with her spontaneous smile, with her pure gaze, and that helps, that is what moves people on Instagram. We never plan a picture, or take a dozen of them, she is always smiling and always happy, and those who know her can confirm this. This is why I like your project so much, because it combines the commercial side of the brand with values, with the human side, with what we are, and this is what society lacks. We have talked about this several times: we feel the world is scared of feeling, good things and bad things. If I’m falling in love, better end it; if the baby comes with a problem, better not have it and not suffer and start all over again. Maybe that is the account’s success, I don’t know. People’s comments say that the pictures and the words deeply move them. I talk about my feelings and what Loreto generates and what moves our souls. People are afraid to talk about what they feel. Or worse, many don’t even know what they feel.
In certain way, Loreto has changed your heart and that radiates everywhere. Can it be said, then, that a child with certain difficulties or disabilities has a purpose in life, a mission?
This is a tough question. We believe in God, but I don’t believe that He sent us an illness. I think that these things are biological that just happen and that aren’t always up to God. Because we are humans, illnesses appear, in this case random, spontaneous chromosomal mutations. I don’t believe God interferes. Now, is there anything positive about this? Yes, I believe that every event has a positive side, including a child’s disease.
We know a boy, José María, who we are very fond of and who went through a very serious leukemia. His illness produced a miracle and his family’s hearts were transformed and now they are a strong, unique family.
It is complicated, but if at least that family manages to find some light in their pain, well beautiful things can be found that last forever. If that is a mission or not, I cannot say…
It goes without saying that a dependent child demands more attention, implies more generosity with your own life, how do you deal with this Mar?
Well I believe that from the very moment you decide to become a parent, you no longer are the center of your life and you start living for the other. It happens when you get married and even more when you have children. It doesn’t matter whether they depend more or less on you, the center of your life is them.
With reference to the fact that Loreto is disabled and requires more time, we really deal with it with absolute naturalness. So far Loreto goes two days to the Foundation, three quarters of an hour each day. One day her father takes her and the other one I do. And this is the same time that Gonzalo demands from us when we take him to his paddle tennis lessons, or to whichever activity he chooses in the future. When Loreto turns six, we plan to take her to ballet lessons. Each child needs different things. Loreto now goes to physical therapy sessions, and maybe Gonzalo needs this in the future or a math’s tutor, we don’t know. We haven’t felt the burden yet, even though we do admit that her learning process is slower and needs more perseverance and more persistence. But it doesn’t mean more work or more emotional effort. This last thing is something that you are scared to death about, because you think it’s going to require a lot of work. I even thought about quitting my job, and it turned out that life didn’t change, only my way of seeing things from deep inside.
At the moment, there is a very trendy topic in Spain, the demographic catastrophe, which is already having some consequences. After what you have just told us about giving birth to a child, what can you say about this?
Well we are actually expecting a new baby so we can end this demographic catastrophe nonsense. It’s not like the first time we got pregnant, that we were kind of thoughtless and were convinced that everything was going to be all right. God bless that thoughtlessness! (laughter). We are now more aware of the risks, and know that when you decide to become a parent, you need to commit. We take in a new child for ever, for we are always going to be his/her parents till the end. Today we face the problems related to a baby, but with time there will be other types of problems and difficulties. We are very aware that Loreto will have other obstacles as she grows up; maybe I will not have to deal with the typical teen dramas, and I’m grateful for that, but there will be others.
We talked about a beauty concept that excludes any type of imperfection or wrinkle earlier today. We see a lot of beauty in your family. And since we are involved in the fashion industry, we wanted to tell you that Loreto is always dressed beautifully. Do you follow any criteria when dressing her?
Well, as I was saying before, I even came to think that the pretty clothes I had bought for my baby were no longer necessary because there was no need for this child to wear pretty clothes as she was not going to draw anybody’s attention. And the minute your daughter is born, you can only see the beauty in her. I like my children to wear nice clothes and Loreto is no exception, why would she be? I think she is beautiful and I spend money on her clothes as I do with any other of my children, whether they have Down’s syndrome or not.
Sebastián: Mar has a great taste and dresses her fabulously (laughter). She follows several brands and orders the clothes the way she likes them, customized for the girl and with a lot of style. She loves to combine accessories and have Loreto wear fashionable clothes.
I very much like these last comments so as a way to wrap things up. And we can also close a circle in which love is behind beauty, and we believe that there is so much beauty here because there is a lot of love in your family. Thank you very much Mar and Sebastián, for showing us with warm simplicity and forcefulness the beauty of love, family and your vote for life. Thank you as well for wanting to share all this beauty that helps heal and save the world.