As a family of three, we anxiously awaited the arrival of Cael, our second baby. We imagined what he might look like, what his personality would be like and what kind of little brother he would be. Being that it was our second baby boy, we knew what to expect, felt prepared and were eager to meet him! When the time finally came he rocked our world from day one. A beautiful 8 pound baby with a full head of hair forming a natural mohawk, the chubbiest cheeks you have ever seen, and much to our surprise, with Down syndrome (DS).
“What in the world is Trisomy 21?” was my only response to the doctor sitting across the hospital room from my husband and me. My mind raced with endless thoughts and questions and even though I could tell she was still talking, I couldn’t seem to actually hear her. The days were long as we awaited test result after test result. Was his heart ok? What about his sight and what’s this about a failed hearing test? Finally the ultimate question - would the genetic test confirm the doctor’s suspicions of DS? Two weeks later, the DS diagnosis was confirmed and just like that, we walked into the completely unexpected world of raising a child with special needs.
What would follow would be a season of grieving and learning. We had no idea what DS really was, everything was unknown to us. Would he be able to connect with the rest of our family? What school will he go to? Will he have friends? Ever get married?
It felt as if every dream we had ever had for our family and our boys was taken away. There was so much we didn’t know. All we knew for sure was that we loved our baby and were willing to do whatever was needed to care for him.
Now, six years later, I wish I could walk back into those first painful moments. I would wrap my arms around that couple holding each other in tears and tell them that the son they were getting would be worth EVERY.SINGLE.TEAR.
That eventually those initial raw emotions would soon give way to a new fierce kind of love that changes the way you view and interact with the world around you.
That their son would be the source of tremendous pride and joy in their life.
That YES, they were right - Down syndrome would in fact change the shape of their family, but it would also give it depth and make it more beautiful than ever before.
That they would soon know what strength and resilience truly look like.
That tiny milestones would evoke giant emotions of celebration because nothing would ever be taken for granted again.
That he would welcome a younger brother into the family and the three brothers would daily make their mamma wonder why she ever worried about the love they would have for one another.
That he would be much more like his brothers than he would be different. In fact they would treat him no different and show no mercy - (much to his disappointment, I am sure :))
That he would form real and meaningful relationships. In fact, he would eventually ask to facetime his friends daily!
That he would inspire everyone around him.
That he would introduce his parents to a community of people whose strength and devotion would humble them. Whose friendships and support would become invaluable to their family.
That he would lead them to Rock the 21 before it even had a name.
That their child’s story would change them.
We are not the same people today that we were six years ago. Having Cael has changed the way we measure success and growth. He has expanded our hearts and has taught us to take on humility, patience and love. We have learned to embrace this journey and enjoy it! We are better people because of our son, Cael and could not be more grateful for the gift he is to our family.
- Ana High