Jan. 1, 2003
Love story
By Celia Stevens, EditorHappy 2003! Last February, our cover article examined prenatal tests that screen for birth defects. You might remember, MLOs cover that month was a replica of a sepia-toned page from Leonardo da Vincis sketchbook that beautifully depicted a baby curled up in the womb. In the article, authors Sharon Miller and Jeanne Isabel discussed things like amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling and alpha fetoprotein levels and neural tube defects and hCG hazy, abstract names to mothers, but important measurements to lab professionals.AFP tests and amniocentesis and nuchal translucency were being talked about a lot in our family last winter. In the fall, my younger sister shared with us the very welcome news that, at age 39, she was expecting her third baby. She and her new husband and her older boys, 14 and 16 at the time, naturally were thrilled. An early sonogram showed a blurry picture of a little boy, and they happily began mapping an addition to their house to make room for a nursery. That was before second trimester screening alerted us to my sisters elevated levels of AFP. She underwent further tests, then amniocentesis. I called her from my office to find out what the amnio showed, and caught her in the car. Her reply, Our little boy has Down syndrome. Then silence.
The news caught us all off guard. Possible heart defects other physical problems developmental delays? We cried. We prayed. We hugged each other. We read everything we could get our hands on, then we prepared to welcome him with open arms.Our little Benjamin made his appearance last March, more than a month early. And as I write this, hes about to celebrate his very first Christmas.Yes, he has Down syndrome and lots of the things that go along with it. A faulty tricuspid valve. Poor muscle tone. Tracheomalasia, and some other things that make his breathing difficult sometimes. Hes a little slower than our other kids were in learning to sit up. And we just found out the other day that his hearing may be seriously impaired.But Ben doesnt let any of that stop him. He keeps on smiling, laughing and patting our faces with his fat little hands. He rolls over, and gets up on his hands and knees and rocks, working hard to get ready to crawl. He loves his stuffed tiger, drinking out of his orange cup all by himself and Gerber peaches.He loves all of us. And we are unbelievably in love with him.Someone told me, after we heard the amnio report, that theyd never known a person with Down syndrome who hadnt changed, in a positive way, the lives of everyone who knew them.
Our little Ben is already doing that. Hes teaching all of us to be a little more patient, a little more tolerant, and to keep on trying, especially when things are hard for us.
And to love each
other, just the way we are.
Celia Stevens
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