In October 2017, at our 20-week ultrasound we found out that our little girl, Morgan, had a congenital heart defect called an AV canal. We were told to schedule an appointment in Marshfield to get more information about her condition. In Marshfield we met with Genetics, a cardiologist, and it was at this time we were also told that she would most likely have Down syndrome. During these appointments we were asked to consider terminating the pregnancy, which we refused due to our faith that if God blessed us with this child, we needed to give her every chance at life.
We then met with a high-risk OB/GYN and she respected our decision and asked if we would be interested in taking a harmony test to get a more official diagnosis of Down syndrome and we agreed. The test came back a few weeks later and confirmed Morgan had a high probability of having Down syndrome. During my next appointment my doctor asked if we needed anything and I asked her if there were any books or materials, they had to give us so we could learn how to be the best parents possible for Morgan. She was wonderful and gave us the book “Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parents Guide.” I read this book (however may have skipped the chapters on every illness/condition a child with Down syndrome could ever get) and what stood out to me the most was the fact that with early intervention people with Down syndrome will learn to do all the same things everyone else does.
So once Morgan was born, we worked with our pediatrician and Birth to 3 to get her weekly occupational therapy at home. The first time I heard about GiGi’s was when I was at work and a co-worker talked to me about their relative who had a young son also diagnosed with Down syndrome. He said she was working to start up a GiGi’s Playhouse in Wausau and asked if I would be interested in connecting with her. I said absolutely, at that time we didn’t know anyone who had a child with Down syndrome.
A few weeks later Erica called and we talked about our kids and then about GiGi’s and its mission and vision. After talking with her I knew we had found what we were looking for to give Morgan the early learning opportunities she needs to grow but, also a place where she can interact with people who are like her. We are thankful for Birth to 3 and the outpatient physical therapy she receives on a weekly basis but, I am so excited to start programming at GiGi’s because it is designed to help her learn in the ways that are best for those with Down syndrome. In addition, it is completely free to families and offers lifelong learning, so it gives all people with Down syndrome the ability to participate in programming. I am so excited to be a part of the startup committee for GiGi’s Playhouse and look forward to opening our doors in Wausau!