We are honored to bring you this beautiful guest post this morning. It’s a look at the life of a child with Down syndrome through the eyes his a mother in observance of October as Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
“It would seem like you are going to have what we like to call a vanishing twin. One of your baby’s hearts is beating half as quickly as the other. This could be a sign that something is wrong. It is probably better if we let nature take its course and your body absorbs the twin.” These were the words of my doctor at our first ultrasound checking on the lives that God had miraculously placed inside of me. We began praying that God would strengthen this little heart that was struggling to survive. God answered that prayer and six months later, I gave birth to twin boys, Wyatt and Quinn. Deep down, I think I always knew. Our “vanishing twin” was different, special. But I in no way could have anticipated how wonderfully amazing our lives would be raising a child with Down syndrome.
Today, Wyatt is four and he has already taught me so much about life. How some of the greatest gifts come in different packaging. How some of the smallest accomplishments in other people’s eyes are some of our greatest reasons to celebrate. How everyone has a story, and what we see from the outside is not at all what it may be on the inside. Although we know that there are some legitimate ways in which Wyatt is “different,” I wish more people could see him the way that our family does. Wyatt is just Wyatt. He is one of the Rogers boys. He loves to carry utensils and his hair almost always sticks up in the back. He is learning how to jump on a trampoline and ride his trike. Like his brothers and most kids, he loves to laugh and play.
One of my greatest desires is that people would learn to see Wyatt for who he is instead of as a diagnosis. I know that having DS can cause a variety of different concerns, but ultimately every child is a unique individual, each having different strengths and weaknesses. It is always fun to meet others, when we are out and about, who just get it. They run up to tell their stories about the loved ones in their lives with DS and share their joy of knowing that special person.
I will be the first to admit that before having Wyatt, I knew very little about Down syndrome or other special abilities. I found myself feeling sad for those families who were given the challenge of raising these little ones. However, once we had Wyatt, our whole world has been opened in a very beautiful way. Being a part of the special needs community has given us opportunities to see the different abilities of those that we once saw as a diagnosis. Even those with Down syndrome do not share all the common stereotypes that society has placed on them. Cognitive delays range from mild to moderate. Some are extremely coordinated while other struggle physically. Some keep up with peers in school while others go at their own pace. So in our world, being different has become more of a compliment than something to be ashamed of. What is normal anyway?
All of this to say that Wyatt has had his fair share of challenges in his short little life. Two and a half months of life in the NICU complete with heart surgery unrelated to his DS was a hard start.We almost lost him on two different occasions and we were brought back to our knees begging and pleading with God to spare his life. God did and while he still has several therapies a week, he no longer takes any of the medication or sees any of the specialists he started his life with. I remember shortly after Wyatt was born I would come home from the hospital and a wave of fear would grip my heart. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what our future would hold. Wondering if Wyatt would be happy. And wondering how all of this would affect his brothers. But the moment I would go back to the hospital and hold my baby, all fear was gone. I instantly knew that everything was going to be okay and joy replaced the doubt.
Today, our lives are so full. My husband summed it up so very well when he said, “Sometimes I do not know exactly what Wyatt understands, but when you look in to his eyes and he looks in to yours there is a meeting of souls that cannot be described. You know at that moment he understands the most important thing and that is love.” Wyatt has and continues to fulfill our dreams as parents. He has already changed our lives and we believe God will continue to use him in the lives of others.
So whether it is a heart that takes longer to beat at a healthy rate, a delay in walking, a delay in talking or everything wrapped up in a package that you weren‘t expecting, life is not better without it. It is not a sign that something is wrong. It is just different, and when you are blessed to have it as part of your life, you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Carie Rogers lives here in the Valley and is married to her best friend, Josh. They have been blessed with 3 boys, Wesley, Wyatt and Quinn. Carie is passionate about DS awareness and adoption. If you would like more information about DS and support in Arizona, Carie recommends http://www.sharingds.org/ and http://www.dsnetworkaz.org/