Real Women: Real Life ~ The Blessings of Down Syndrome
This is Canadian Down Syndrome week. (Nov 1-7) We thought it the perfect week to share, our friend, Denise’s story and how Down Syndrome has blessed her life.
The Blessings of Down Syndrome
When my husband and I were married at the age of 30, we planned to start a family soon. After 8 years of marriage passed with no pregnancies, we were quite sure we would not increase our family by giving birth so we started down the path of adoption.
After three years in the adoption process, I became pregnant and had a miscarriage after only 10 weeks. Many women go through this in their lives and it is heartbreaking. It was for me too. I truly felt this was my last chance at becoming pregnant, as I was 40 years old. However, less than a year later – I was pregnant again.
This time we were much more guarded and waited with baited breath as each week passed. Week 17 passed and everything looked great. Week 20 came and we had a check-up appointment at the IWK, our local hospital for women and children. We sat in the waiting room for hours, and began to notice people who had arrived after us, were being seen before us. Odd. Then I saw a doctor come out, pick up our file, which had been sitting on the counter for a long time and called us in.
When she took us in the room and sat down across from us, I saw her face and felt as though I was going to pass out. “I am so sorry to tell you this, but your recent test results indicate there is a great possibility your child has Trisomy 18 or Trisomy 21.” She could see we didn’t know what she was talking about, so she quickly and gently added, “Trisomy 18 is fatal for the baby, and Trisomy 21 is Down syndrome.” I didn’t hear much more after that, as the world seemed to be suddenly crashing in around us. She let us cry and hold each other for a while until she sent us upstairs for more tests.
In a stupor, we went up the elevator to have an ultrasound to search for markers for this rare, but deadly condition. None were found. We would come back each week for several weeks to look for Trisomy 18 markers and there were none to be found… needless to say these weeks were agony as we kept this information to ourselves. During these weeks of testing there were some indicators for Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome. Short legs… slightly smaller head measurement… They would continue to remind us, “There is still time to make a decision.”
Even though we were terrified, we told them an abortion was out of the question for us – and they did not hint at that option again. This was an extremely emotional and scary time. I couldn’t help but think of others in similar situations that would be easily influenced at such time, out of fear, possibly causing them to make a different decision.
We prayed constantly and almost desperately clung to Psalms 139:13-14…
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
We didn’t know for certain whether our precious boy would have Down syndrome until he was born… but we did know that God had created him with precision, complexity and a deep, deep love.
The night he was born… it was confirmed he had the extra chromosome and our lives changed forever.
I can’t tell you I was happy at this news, because I wasn’t. I was terrified. I immediately worried about his future. I didn’t want my child to have any issues, problems or hardships – I wanted him to have a perfect life. (That’s realistic, isn’t it?)
What I can tell you is that since the day of his birth, this child has enriched our lives in ways I could never have imagined! Yes, it will take him longer to walk, talk, drink from a straw and eat with a fork and there will be many therapy sessions to get him there… but when he accomplishes these things – what a celebration!
And we celebrate daily!
My prayer is for all those women finding out their unborn child has Down syndrome. I want them to know their child is exactly the way God created them to be. Their child will be beautiful, funny, smart, sneaky, giggly, creative, loving, stubborn, silly, enthusiastic, sensitive… and so much more!
We’ve come to be so thankful that God chose to bless us in this way. It’s very hard to explain it, but we are so proud of our son, so honoured to be his parents, so excited about his future.
On our son’s first birthday we were on the other side of the world meeting his sister for the first time. They are two months apart in age and today are best buddies at almost 3 years old. She teaches her brother his letters and numbers and he teaches her patience and compassion – and how to belly laugh at the silliest things!
God had a plan for our family that we never imagined, and His plan is absolutely perfect.