Seven years ago I had my youngest son. I went into the birth expecting it to be much like the previous nine. I expected to bring my healthy baby home the day after the birth for that very important family bonding time.
The doctor had decided to induce me since we live 30 miles from town and I have quick deliveries. I thought the induction date was early but it worked well with my other kids' schedules and it was convenient. Besides, I was old and tired of being pregnant.
The induction took much longer than others had taken and I knew the baby wasn't ready, but once you start an induction you're committed to it. Finally, it was time and I only had to push once and he came flying out. I was both elated and relieved.
While I was holding my baby, my doctor came in the room and pulled him out of my arms, examined him and said, "He has some characteristics of Down syndrome You should have him checked." And then he was gone. Just like that.
I was still stunned when the nurses came to get him to take him to the nursery and clean him up. Not long after, I was stunned again when the nurse returned to tell us his lips were blue and he needed oxygen. Not long after that, we were told that since he probably had Down syndrome he was going to be be life-flighted to another hospital. I was so stunned I could hardly talk or even catch my breath. The flight team arrived with what looked like a glass coffin and the nurse told us he probably had the heart defect and/or lung defect and he may not even live through the flight. Talk about conflicting emotions in the matter of just a couple of hours.
Long story short, he ended up in the NICU in another hospital for basically no reason. They could never tell us why he was there. His heart was perfectly normal. His lungs were fine. His other organs were all normal. He didn't have newborn pneumonia or any other illness. I'm sure it happened for a reason and I learned a lot from it, but it was an emotional roller coaster. We did have the karyotype test done and although the geneticist thought he might have Mosaic Down syndrome, he was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome.
And thus we started on a journey that has both been painful and joyful. It is painful to realize that many people will never see my son for who he really is. They will judge him because of the way he looks, the way he speaks, the way he acts. They will make assumptions about him that aren't true. They will think they know more about him than they do. And they will treat him accordingly.
But it has also been filled with joy and wonderment. It is amazing to me that even with the extra genetic material in his chromosomes he can still grow, learn, laugh, love. He has likes and dislikes. He can program the DVD player, find any site he likes on the internet, use features on my phone I didn't know existed. He is his own person with his own definite personality. He loves to watch SpongeBob, eat corn dogs, and play in the iPad. He is such a light to me. And he has taught me to be patient, to trust that all will be well, and that life isn't a race to rush through to the end. It's meant to be enjoyed.
Sometimes he makes me crazy. But he also he makes me laugh. He makes me smile. Most of all, he makes me grateful. He is exactly who he is and I am honored to be his mother.