The Mighty Logo

As the Mom of 2 Sons With an Extra Chromosome, I’m Asking You This

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Meet Aiden. A free-spirited young man with a charming smile and an ornery streak a mile long. Aiden loves Legos, blocks and way too much TV. He loves to help in the kitchen — cleaning and baking are his favorite pastimes. He is kind to those who are hurt or sad. He is opinionated and can be as stubborn as a mule sometimes.

His eyes are hazel and his hair is blonde. He loves noodles of every kind. He is a huge fan of eggs with cheese. As a matter of fact, he often raids the refrigerator for cheese and recently tried to pin it on Pinky Pie from “My Little Pony” by leaving her on the shelf of the refrigerator next to the opened bag of shredded cheese. He dislikes rice and mashed potatoes. (This still baffles me. Who doesn’t like mashed potatoes?) He prefers ground beef over steak and bananas over apples. He adores all things pumpkin.

Just like you and just like me, Aiden is a product of his DNA — the building blocks of his inheritance. All of the things that make him who he is, that shape his likes and dislikes, the way he looks, even the shape of his smile and the sparkle in his eyes are part of a beautiful genetic pattern that is uniquely his.

Twenty-two of Aiden’s 23 chromosomes are neatly and uniquely paired copies of two.

One of his chromosomes, the 21st to be precise, has three copies.

We call this Down syndrome. It’s a name attributed to this unique chromosomal difference. That’s all it is. Down syndrome doesn’t define or describe my son. It’s not a label to throw in front of his name. As a matter of fact, if you do the math, it’s a very small fraction of the entire “blueprint” that makes up who my son is.

It would be easy for me to sit and list some of the “issues” that are often part of a Down syndrome diagnosis. I could rattle off the common delays, potential medical issues and so forth. But really, is that how you would want to be defined?

As a mother of two sons who happen to have an extra chromosome, I ask you to look at my son for who he is, not what he lacks. I want you to define him by his amazing abilities, not by his perceived disabilities.

After all, who wants to be “labeled” by their challenges?

What color are your genes? What is it about you that makes you wonderfully unique? Is it your fiery red hair or your crazy obsession with math? Is it your athletic prowess or your joyful laugh? Maybe it’s the gift of creativity or the way you can whip up magic in the kitchen?

My son’s DNA was woven together in the most beautiful pattern that is his life.

So is yours.

Let’s just marvel at that for a minute.

Let’s marvel at our differences and celebrate them.


Follow this journey on From the Heart.

Originally published: October 7, 2015
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home