Tamara Taggart: Two Conversations That Changed My Life (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Canadian television presenter Tamara Taggart’s TEDx Talk: Two Conversations That Changed My Life at TEDxSFU conference. You can also watch this on YouTube along with this transcript. To learn more about the speaker, read the bio here.


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Tamara Taggart – Canadian television presenter

Hi. I’ve had two conversations that have changed my life. Two conversations that are both important. They’re both ongoing conversations. They are conversations that really changed everything for me. And it wasn’t until I had the second conversation that I realized how wrong the first conversation was.

So this picture here is of me in the delivery room, minutes after my son Beckett was born. And it was a big moment as you can imagine. My husband Dave had just brought Beckett over. He’s so cute, and he was beaming. Dave was beaming. He had tears in his eyes. I had tears in my eyes. And I love this photo, because it’s — there’s so much happening, there’s love and excitement, and really just a moment of realizing that we created this beautiful being. And we were first-time parents, which if anybody has ever been a parent for the first time, it’s pretty exciting. It continues to be exciting. We have three children now.

The first conversation that I want to talk to you about was a conversation about my son. So five days after Beckett was born, my husband and I were at home. And Beckett was downstairs, being oohed and awed at by his family, his grandparents. And the phone rang and it was a new doctor of ours. And that doctor phoned to confirm to Dave and I that the blood test that Beckett had had in the hospital confirmed that Beckett had Down syndrome.

So as you can imagine, we were shocked. It was unexpected and we were upset, because we weren’t expecting it. But it was the tone of that first conversation that really hinted at all the conversations to come about our son. And in that conversation with that first doctor, we heard sadness, and it was a tone of really just somebody that felt bad for us, that they were telling us this news. And in that tone of sadness, the doctor even said to us, “I’m sorry to tell you”, we realized, you know, we’re not sorry that we have a beautiful baby boy. This is a beautiful baby boy and we’re thrilled. We weren’t expecting him to have an extra chromosome but he does and we still love him.

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But that first conversation with that first doctor was really the first of many conversations to come. And Beckett is seven now. So I have a lot of experience and my husband has a lot of experience in negative conversations about who we think is our perfect son.

So as we moved forward and saw doctor after doctor after doctor after doctor, we heard more negative things about our son. We heard all the things that our son wouldn’t do and couldn’t do and won’t do. We heard how Beckett had a greater chance of having leukemia. We heard about Beckett having a greater chance of Alzheimer’s when he got older. We heard that Beckett wouldn’t walk when he was supposed to walk and he wouldn’t talk when he’s supposed to talk. And he might not go to a regular school.

We heard that — and it was one of the worst conversations I ever had – somebody, a medical professional told me that, because I was really upset and worried about Beckett going to school when he was that big, that’s what I was worrying about. I was worrying about Beckett going to school and how he would be treated. And if he would be treated as a normal child. And that person told me that, yeah, it’s a true worry. People with Down syndrome are lonely because nobody ever wants to be their best friend. And it’s a pretty horrible thing to say to a new parent. It’s really a horrible thing to say to any parent about their child. It’s a horrible thing to say to anybody about anybody really.

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