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A Letter to My Son With Down Syndrome on His 1st Birthday

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Dear Anderson,

A year ago, you came into this world without much notice. Despite the anesthesia the doctors administered to numb my pain, I felt the contractions get closer and closer together. I pushed for what seemed to be only a few seconds, and there you were — claiming your place, wanting to be here.

You didn’t cry. Instead, your almond-shaped eyes stared directly into my rounded weary ones and even further into my heart. And I knew.

The doctors said you would be born with Down syndrome. I remembered the horrifying
my ob-gyn gave when reading the noninvasive prenatal test results. I remembered the puddles of tears I cried after the amniocentesis came back confirming you had an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.

I didn’t realize that I was the one in need of healing. I believe God not only healed but transformed my soul, and He did it through you.

The first year of your life, has been the some of the most profound 365 days of my own. I sat by your side through your NICU stay and open-heart surgery. Your strength and resilience helped me overcome my own weakness.

In your first year, I cried more, worried more and prayed more. Down syndrome can bring medical complications, and unfortunately your little body has endured more physical pain in one year than I have in all my 28 years.

But in your first year, I also experienced more joy. Each time I hold you, your body melts into mine, melting my heart. You light up every room, even if it’s one you don’t want to be in. Your spirit is contagious, and I love to catch it again and again.

Because of you, I have learned that having a different life does not mean having a less-than life. Because of you, I don’t take things for granted. Because of you, I have learned compassion.

Anderson, you have opened my eyes and my world.

Don’t mistake my words, son. I don’t believe God gave you Down syndrome for my benefit. Nonetheless, it has been for my good. 

And one day, when we have the conversation about what makes you a little different from your typical peers, I hope you won’t want to be any other way. Because we can’t imagine your story, or our story, without everything that makes you, you.

Jillian and her son Anderson smiling
Jillian and her son Anderson smiling

Follow this journey on News Anchor to Homemaker.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to your loved one. What do you wish he or she knew? How has he or she made a difference? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: January 9, 2016
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