Nickelpicklemama's Blog

October 1, 2009

Down Syndrome

Filed under: Uncategorized — by nickelpicklemama @ 4:49 pm

Before October 13, 2007, Down sydrome was not something that I gave much thought. After that day, however, it became more than an obscure syndrome about which I knew very little, it became a part of my heart. That day changed me; I thank God it did.

My brother Pete is older than me, but bc he’s the youngest of my three brothers, I’ve always considered him to be my “baby brother”. He was a bear to grow up with, demanding and competitive; he says what he means and means what he says. Yet, beneath his tough exterior, lies the heart of a lamb. He loves deeply, and is fiercely protective of the people he loves. He has always taken care of me, and when my son Nick was born, he and Pete formed a very special bond. They look exactly alike, and to this day Nick looks at Pete like he’s some sort of super hero. I knew that someday, Pete was going to make one hell of a daddy.

Pete met & married his lovely wife Julie, and a little more than a year later, she gave birth to their firstborn, a son. They named him Peter Jr. We all anxiously awaited his arrival, and when we were brought to the recovery room after his birth, everything seemed perfect. I will never forget the look on my brothers face as he gazed at his wife and newborn son. I had never seen him smile so big; he was on top of the world. Pete and Julie were both young and healthy; there was no reason to believe that anything could go wrong.

My heart elated, tears of joy streaming down my face, I got my first look at my new nephew. I wish I could say that I looked upon his sweet face and noticed his rosebud lips, his alert blue eyes, his rosy cheeks… I wish I could, but I can’t. As I looked at him, my years of nursing training took over; I saw that my nephew’s eyes had an upward and outward slant. I saw the folds of skin on the inner sides of his eyes. I sucked in my breath. No. No! NO! I looked around, my panic rising; but everyone was acting as they should be. They were smiling, oohing and ahhing. My parents are both doctors. My mom’s a pediatrician! They both seemed perfectly content, fawning over their adorable new grandson. Did no one else see this? Could I be wrong?

I hate admitting this, but I prayed that I was wrong. I begged God to let me be wrong. I acted the part of excited aunt, forced a smile on my face; all the while, praying to God that someone say something, ANYTHING, to explain away what I was seeing.

A short time later, after we left the proud parents alone with their new baby. I stood with my parents, and with Julie’s anesthesiologist, a family friend. I had to force the words from my mouth. “He looks like he has Down syndrome. He has Down syndrome; doesn’t he? Do they know? Do Julie and Pete know?” My parents both spun their heads to look at me, aghast at what I had said. The anesthesiologist however, nodded her head and said the words I didn’t want to hear. “The doctors did notice some characteristics of Down syndrome. They will examine him more closely when he gets to the nursery. And no, Pete and Julie have not been told of our suspicions.”

At that moment, I knew without a doubt that life as we’d known it was going to change forever for my family. My brother and his wife had a child with Down syndrome.

And so our journey began….

I’ll continue Peter Jr.’s story in my next post. Thanks for reading.

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