We didn't know Drew had Down syndrome until he was born. He was struggling to breathe as they rushed him out of the OR and into the NICU. On the way out, the nurse practitioner leaned over me and said, "I think he has Down syndrome. There are a few soft markers," and my whole world changed. The first few days were terrifying. We learned our baby had pulmonary hypertension and a heart defect. I made many late-night bargains with God in the NICU, promising all manner of things if only my son would be healthy. But waiting simultaneously for echocardiogram results and karyotype results to confirm Trisomy 21 put things in perspective for us. Finding out his heart defect was minor and wouldn't require surgery was like a thousand Christmas mornings. Hearing that he did, indeed, have DS didn't seem like the end of the world anymore.
|First day of kindergarten!|
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Now, people with Down syndrome are just as different as people without it, so I wouldn't presume to make any blanket statements, other than to tell you that as a group, they are achieving amazing things. There are people with DS in college, working full-time, getting married, and volunteering in their communities. They are much more like you than you might imagine, unless you have the good fortune of loving someone with DS. Drew teaches me something new every day. A few weeks ago, for example, I learned that if you throw a Spiderman shoe out a school bus window at just the right moment and angle on Galbraith Road, you can hit the Red Lobster parking lot below. And there are bigger lessons, too. He's taught me about perseverance, and that achieving a goal after months of work is much sweeter than achieving it quickly. He's taught me about compassion and sensitivity. He's also taught me about patience, maybe the hardest lesson of all for an intrinsically impatient woman. I can't imagine life without him, and wouldn't change a hair on his beautiful little head. He's just as he should be. And maybe that's what I most want people to understand, this Down Syndrome Awareness Month.