Arbor is our third grand-treasure. He has Down syndrome, which simply means he has an extra copy of chromosome 21. I asked his Mommy…my daughter-in-love, Stephanie, to write a guest post today telling the story of his birth diagnosis. It’s such a sweet story of God’s faithfulness even through unexpected times. Enjoy Steph’s story and some pictures that show how Arbor is quite a big deal to his family!!
I am a person who values consistency and predictability. My first pregnancy was very normal, as expected. My second pregnancy and the birth of my second son, Arbor, taught me that consistency and predictability are not where my ultimate hope rests.
My pregnancy with Arbor did not go as expected. I found out during the gender anatomy scan that Arbor had a bit of fluid around his heart. I was sent to a specialist the same day. The specialist did an ultrasound to check Arbor’s heart and rattled off a few possible reasons that Arbor has the fluid there. He mentioned a scary, life-threatening diagnosis, then dismissed that. Then, he mentioned Down syndrome. I left the office and drove home while wiping away hot, angry tears. Why would the doctor mention a serious disease, Down syndrome, and other diagnosis like this is some kind of guessing game? We had no other reason to believe than Arbor had Down syndrome, so I dismissed the thought from my mind after a few days. I continued visiting the specialist and getting bi-weekly ultrasounds because I also had low amniotic fluid.
When I was thirty-three weeks along, my doctor called to tell me the results of the anatomy scan they did at my last appointment. The doctor sounded nervous as he asked me if I had the genetic testing done. I said that I did not. He continued, “Your baby’s femur bones are a month behind in growth. Sometimes we see that in babies who have Down syndrome, but we usually would see delayed bone growth earlier in the pregnancy if that were the case.” At the time, I had let the thought of Down syndrome leave my mind because it seemed like my doctor was dismissing the possibility. Knowing what I know now, I believe he was trying to prepare me for what was to come.
The day before Arbor was born, I woke up after a restless night of wondering why he was not constantly moving like he normally did. I called my doctor, and was instructed to go to the hospital. I grabbed my fifteen month old son and his diaper bag, leaving behind the packed hospital bag that I should have taken, and went to the hospital. My amniotic fluid was low, so they started the induction process. Labor was slow, but the next morning, Arbor was born.
A nurse held up his squishy, six pound, two ounce self so I could see him, and whisked him away to clean him up. My husband, Cody, went over to Arbor to take a picture of him to send to our family that was in the waiting room. I caught a glimpse of Arbor’s face, and I knew he had Down syndrome. His eyes were almond-shaped, his ears were tiny and low-set, and he had a sandal-toe gap. How was I so ignorant to not take to heart what two different doctors said to me about the possibility of Down syndrome? I remember that my first thought after seeing Arbor was “Oh. Duh. I should have known.”
I knew right away that Arbor was born into the most supportive family in the world. When I first went to the hospital to be induced, my Mom and Grandma met me at the hospital to take care of Syler. A family friend took Syler home for the evening so that he didn’t have to wait at the hospital all night. My mother-in-law sat next to me and rocked Arbor while I slept shortly after delivery. We had a lot of visitors that gushed over how cute Arbor was. Knowing the amount of support I had was one of the reasons that I accepted Arbor’s diagnosis easily. However, all of the family support in the world cannot compare to the grace God showed me during Arbor’s first weeks of life. I cannot put it into words. I was given a supernatural peace that only comes from God. He gave me the strength to embrace my role as the mother of a child with special needs, and the wisdom to advocate for Arbor to the best of my ability.
To know Arbor is to love him. Arbor does not fit in with my old dreams of a safe and predictable life, but he has shown me the gift of Down syndrome. Special needs Mom life is clunky and awkward, but the greatest ride I’ve ever taken.
Thank you to Stephanie for sharing from her heart!