Friday, October 1, 2010

31 for 21: Down Syndrome Awareness

I signed up for 31 for 21. It is for October being Down Syndrome Awareness Month. The theory is that we raise awareness for Down Syndrome by blogging about our life each and every day of October. 31 being for the 31 days of October, 21 being which chromosomal "pair" has the extra chromosome. It may be too much information, but I look forward to see what strikes me as important each day!

My first post will be about Gayle.

We did not know that Elise had Down Syndrome before we had her. In retrospect, they should have caught it. I remember a lot of red flags that should have been connected, but I am glad that they dropped the ball. I have said many times that Down Syndrome as a disability is daunting, but a baby is just a baby.

When we had her, she had some of the characteristics, the tilt-y kitty cat eyes, and very short little fingers, such that they were suspicious that she had Downs.

My OB doctor just about cried when he told me. He even had the gall to tell us that there are many people out there who would adopt "a baby like that", if we decided that we didn't want to do "this".  I am still mad at his reaction. He could have told us with more congratulations about the healthy (we thought at the time) baby. How beautiful she was, how she would be a blessing. I think that if we had known beforehand, he would have been one of those doctors that would have encouraged an abortion. Statistically, at least 90% of babies who are prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted for the belief that they will "have a poor quality of life." I think those decisions are made because of fear. I don't know a single child with Downs that is not a blessing and that does not Enjoy Life....they have low days, like all of us, but over all life is full to bursting.

My nurse however smelled like Johnson & Johnson's Bedtime Lotion...and had the same sweet spirit. Her name was Gayle. She gave us a copy of a beautiful devotional that she photocopied...she said that she had read it that morning and thought of us...I still have it. She also asked if we would want to hear from other parents with babies or children with Down Syndrome. I said yes, and she had someone there that afternoon. I was shown pictures of a pretty little girl of 4 years old playing, going to dance class, and having a normal life. She brought with her hope of some semblance of normal...

Gayle told us how beautiful Elise was and oohed and ahhed over her gorgeous eyes...she was a balm to our spirits...

I called the hospital about 6 months later and there was no Gayle on the floor. I called every single person in the phone book with her last name and never found her. I still think she was an the very least she was the first of a whole host of gifts that God sent to bless us with our Elise.

She brought joy. I will always be thankful for her.


  1. You are right to be glad you did not know a head of time. If I hadn't I think I would have enjoyed my pregnancy much more. Thankfully my OB did not suggest abortion to me or he would have had one less patient! Instead he was very loving and supportive. Your story about Gayle gave my chills. I only wish she had come to visit me when Gabi was born!

  2. What a beautiful story. I am glad that we have a good suspicion that Ollie has DS so early in my pregnancy. I'm prepared for it now, but at the same time this week has been hard & not knowing is some what hard. I know how I feel about the DS now, and I know how I want my family to feel. I am already tired of people "grieving" for me when I'm still having my baby & we're thrilled about this baby. There are also people avoiding me like I have the plague for fear they may have to talk to me about our news. That's the bad part of knowing this early. However, this too shall pass and in 5 months I will finally get to meet this blessing & I hope we have a nurse as supportive as your Gayle :)