What My Son With Down Syndrome Has Taught Me
The pink line grew as I sat there, staring at it, stunned. “This can’t be right!” I thought, thankful I’d purchased a box with two tests. The second one, however, showed the same line. In my heart, I knew it already. Seventeen years after our daughter was born, we were pregnant again. I was happy and sad at the same time. Our plans for “empty-nesting” went right out the window in that second. Our world was rocked — little did we know how much.
Despite the relative easiness of the pregnancy, as the months went by, I was still considered “advanced maternal age.” I was 44 and my husband David was 50. Doctors talked with us about risks and abnormalities, about “options.” We were shown outdated photos. Our monthly sonograms showed nothing out-of-the-ordinary, yet we were encouraged to have an amniocentesis “just to be sure.” Our odds of having a child with a chromosomal abnormality were 1:30, based on my bloodwork and age. We declined the amino, not wanting to take a chance with this precious gift God had blessed us with — our bonus baby.
The months went by. We’d been so busy preparing for life with a new little one that thoughts of anything else had gone by the wayside. At eight months along, my blood pressure started rising and the amniotic fluid started dissipating. “Today is the day!” the doctor announced at my checkup. I quickly packed a bag and excited, we headed for the hospital. We’d known Caleb was a boy for a few months and also that he was breech, so our plans for a natural delivery were replaced by preparing for a c-section. I was ready, but also nervous, to meet this little one.
I felt the tugging and finally heard the words “it’s a boy!” then waited to hear that first cry. It seemed like eternity, but it finally came. The room seemed quiet though, certainly not celebratory. We took first pictures and then the anesthesia came crashing down on me. When I woke up in my room the next morning, David was by my side, tears in his eyes. “They think he has Down syndrome,” he whispered. My mind went blank. It didn’t register quite yet. All I knew was that I wanted to see my baby, right then. We headed to the NICU. There he was, our precious child, pure and innocent. I knew right then we would do everything we could to make sure his life would be the best it could be.
Caleb is 12 now. I could write chapters on the different experiences we’ve had. It’s been a long, interesting road, but a road full of joy and blessings. There have been some hard times, sure. There have been times when we didn’t know how the path would lay out before us. But we’ve also learned to forge ahead, to make new paths, to take chances. We had no idea what life with Down syndrome might be like, but I will tell you that having Caleb has taught us so many lessons – about the value of true friendship, the treasure of “inch stones,” the beauty that is his smiling face, the tenderness of his innocence and trust.
We’ve also found a beautiful community of support, not only in our area, but online – across the U.S. and even the world! We have found friends and fellowship in the most unique places and have been blessed with those who would help guide our way. If you are expecting a child with a bonus chromosome, welcome to our club. We can’t wait to meet you!
Getty image by Eleanora_os.