Down Syndrome: When the Biggest Blessings Come in Disguise
We weren’t really trying, but we weren’t exactly not trying either. My wife (Renee) and I had been married for 10 years at that point. We already had five young boys ranging from eight down to one-a-half years-old. Our lives were going great as we were living in Anchorage, Alaska, where I was stationed in the U.S. Air Force. We had a great church, an awesome extended family, and, as I previously mentioned, five little boys that kept us constantly on our toes.
Then it happened.
My wife called me while I was at work. I was about to go into a meeting when I felt the vibration in my pocket. I knew from the sound of her voice that something was “wrong.” She broke the news with what sounded like fear and apprehension in her voice. I was ecstatic. In her mind though we were finished having children; that chapter of our lives was over. God had other plans though. Back when my wife and I had first started discussing children, even before we were married, we had settled on the number three. So, with a new pregnancy we would be at double the originally planned amount. That number seemed a little daunting, but after a few days to process the news my wife started to embrace the bundle of joy that was growing inside her.
With our first couple of children we experienced false positives when tests were run to detect genetic abnormalities. Because of this, we stopped using the tests for our next three children. When it came to Haddon, somebody told us that we could possibly find out the baby’s sex early if we ran the test. So we did. We couldn’t determine his sex that day, but we found out that Haddon might have Down syndrome. Further testing and scans confirmed what we feared. We already loved this baby boy but were fearful of all the “what if’s.” Abortion was never an option for us but the genetic testing was important as we wanted to know for sure if he had Down syndrome so we could be as prepared as possible for his arrival.
Before we knew it, the induction date was upon us. Haddon made it to about 36 weeks, but due to my wife’s health issues it was recommended that be delivered early. The procedure went relatively smooth with just a few areas of concern. When he made his grand entrance, we could immediately see the “almond-shaped” eyes on our new little boy. It was that distinct look we were expecting to see. We fell in love with him all over again. Of course, the doctors and nurses did their thing checking Haddon’s vitals and conducting all the weight and length measurements. He had Down syndrome but as time would tell there were no heart or lung issues present. We were extremely blessed in that aspect. Haddon did spend about a month in the NICU, but that was simply to give him time to learn to eat properly. This gave us time to learn to slow down, something we’d have to do a lot as Haddon grew up.
Although he’ll turn six this year, Haddon is essentially a toddler. He can’t do all the things that his five older brothers did at his age and that’s OK. He just needs a little help and that’s what big brothers are for. All five of them love Haddon and are always willing to help him out any way they can. It doesn’t matter if that means playing with him, feeding or even bathing him, they’re ready to jump right in. They try to teach him letters, numbers, sounds and so on. Without their help, this journey would’ve been a whole lot more difficult. Haddon loves his brothers. He loves his Mommy, Daddy, Mamaw and Papaw. He loves his teachers at school and his friends at church. Haddon loves everybody in a way that we should all emulate. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, Haddon will gladly be your friend. Just ask all the strangers at Walmart that he yells “Hi” to as he happily waves. Down syndrome is not a burden but a blessing. You can learn so much from these blessings if you’re willing to sit back and simply slow down. I know we’ve learned a lot and we owe it all to our littlest buddy (but biggest blessing) Haddon.
Photo submitted by contributor.