Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How the Gift of Down syndrome Changed My Life...

I will never forget the day I found out my youngest daughter Abrielle was going to be born with Down syndrome. I was 20 weeks pregnant and a routine blood test that is automatically given to pregnant mothers 35 and over had come back abnormal giving my unborn child a 1 in 11 chance of being born with Trisomy 21... aka Down sydrome. I agreed to have an amniosentisis to confirm the possibility for the sole purpose of knowing how to prepare for this special little gift I may have been blessed with. I was given the news over the phone. At the time my marriage was a mess and I had decided prior to getting pregnant with her that I wanted to end it, she was a complete surprise. I had three other children one being only 6 months old at the time of conception, it was a really rough time in my life. I cried for a moment after the nurse gave me the news; not because she would have DS but because I knew that my beautiful innocent child would be born with a reason for society to reject her. I became determined to learn as much as I could about DS and wanted to help create awareness about what Down syndrome really is, education squashes ignorance and I needed to educate myself in order to educate others.

Abrielle is now two and a half , she has come a long way from being born at 4.5 pounds. She was perfectly healthy and strong at birth and she is now a thriving, determined little girl that is full of smiles and hugs. She has combated every obstacle that has come her way. We have been fortunate that she has a higher functioning form of DS with fewer "typical" Down syndrome traits such as heart issues, hearing and sight problems, and severe developmental delays. However her friends with DS are just as amazing as she is regardless of how severe their cases are. You see... Down syndrome is nothing more than a delay in brain function, it can be mild or it can be severe and anything in between. No matter what, they are still human beings who deserve a place in society and deserve to be treated as any other person should be treated.

A disability is nothing to turn your head away from, people with disabilites have so much to offer this world. They offer compassion, care and big bright smiles. They offer warm hearts, unconditional love and can teach you how to let the small stuff go when you are trying to achieve a goal. There is something "missing" in the mind of a person with DS and that missing piece is the piece that I wish we all were absent of, because in a way I think this world would be a much better place.

Just 30 years ago, babies born with DS were automatically institutionalized...banned from society; parents were denied the choice to take their babies home. Can you imagine that? Today, we are given mandatory testing to determine if our children will have DS if we are 35 years old or older. I can't help but wonder after my own experience if this test is merely a way to discourage these children from being born. The moment I sat down at the desk of the high risk doctor after confirming the diagnosis, a piece of paper about terminating the pregnancy was pushed across the desk to me. I immediately pushed it back and said "no thank you", but unfortunately many people sign on the dotted line afraid of the responsibility. I will tell you... and I hope that you LISTEN UP, I have 4 children and Abrielle has been the easiest to care for out of all of them, even now that she is a full blown typical toddler that is into everything. She is a great listener and an incredible asset to my family. Raising a child is NOT easy no matter how typical they are, so if you are afraid of the responsibility then get your tubes tied and avoid getting pregnant.

On the other hand if you are the parent of a child with a disability, know this... YOU ARE BLESSED. God gives us no more than we can handle, and he intends for us to share our blessings with the world. Please help me spread this message by sharing my blog, your "share" can help change the minds of many!

Down Syndrome Facts:

An estimated 92 percent of all women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies, according to research reviewed by Dr. Brian Skotko, a pediatric geneticist at Children's Hospital Boston.

In the absence of prenatal testing, the United States would have experienced a 34 percent increase in the number of Down births between 1989 and 2005. Instead, 15 percent fewer such babies were born during that time, representing a 49 percentage point difference between expected and observed rates, according to Skotko's research.

In the United States, Down syndrome occurs in 1 of every 800 infants 

I cannot imagine how many wonderful moments and life lessons I would have been deprived if my sweet little "Brie" was not here. She does not belong in an institution... she belongs in society and that is more than I can say for some "typical" people out there! 


An amazing story of  Down syndrome SUCCESS!