“Does it Really Matter? We Love Him.”
Guest post by Angela Warsinke
I thought I was miscarrying my second born at around 10-12 weeks. I ran to the doctor who told me the baby was okay, but it could be the beginning of a miscarriage and not much could be done to stop it.
I was raised Catholic. I’ve never faithfully practiced until that moment when I couldn’t control what was happening and needed to do something. While I was pregnant with him, I said the rosary every night. I prayed I would get to meet my child, that I would have a healthy pregnancy and he would not go to the NICU.
I started talking to him all the time, even while driving in the car. “Stay with me baby,” I’d say. “It’s you and me, I promise I’ll be there for you. We’re in this together.”
During a second scary hospital stay whenever they hooked me up to the monitor, I’d hear the loud whooshing of his heartbeat. It was always steady, strong, and confident. On a snowy day, a cardinal came to the window and landed on the sill. At that moment I knew what we would name him. My husband and I met Gabriel (Gabe), our little 5-pound baby, at 36 weeks on March 3rd, 2020. He did not go to the NICU.
Due to a crease on one of his hands, the doctor told us he was going to run a test to see if he had Down syndrome. He said not to worry, more than 90% of the time the test came back negative. Having previously turned down prenatal testing, we consented this time. Pushing my concerns aside, a few days later I signed the hospital discharge papers, handed back the clipboard, and began packing up my disheveled items.
While my husband was out installing the car seat for our departure, the doctor entered the room. His presence alone told me what he knew. I looked up at him and holding a half open bag asked, “Can you wait until my husband comes back?” The words came out of my mouth at the exact same time he said, “Your son has Trisomy 21.”
“He has it.” I repeated.
I think the doctor tried to be encouraging after that. I made my way over to the hospital bed and sat down to try and process. I remember the doctor telling me not to worry, that my child would still be able to go to school and wear a backpack.”
“A backpack.” I repeated.
Then a parade of people came in and out of the room. There was a nurse, a social worker, a Chaplain. Finally, my husband came back and I told him the news.
“Does it really matter?” My husband asked. “We love him.”
It was the perfect response.
We had to stay in the hospital a few extra days while the doctors ran more tests. The most important exam was on his heart. Gabe didn’t squirm as they placed the round nobs on his tiny chest and I heard the familiar whooshing of my son’s heartbeat; steady, strong, confident.
I remembered my promise to him, “It’s you and me. I promise I’ll be there for you. We’re in this together.”
Every child born has a different and unique journey. We got to meet our baby. I would get to take him home to meet his older sister. This was only the beginning. Gabe is now our strong, confident, steady-hearted, two-and-a-half-year-old.
Ours is a journey I never expected to be on. It’s easier and more typical than I would have imagined. As with any child, there are many developmental plains and plateaus, but it’s our journey to take together.
My hope is that kids will include him in their games on the playground.
My hope is when he starts school and wears his backpack, someone will sit with him at lunch.
My hope is he will receive as many hugs and as much love as he puts out to the world.
I hope the world sees Gabe for the strong-hearted miracle he is, and not for his differences.
Thank you so much for sharing, Angela!
Reminder to all, we would LOVE your help generating stories and shifting perceptions of individuals with Down syndrome.
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