“When I was twenty-two, I found out I was expecting my second baby; another boy who we decided to name ‘Arbor.’ My first son, Syler, was only seven months old when I got pregnant again, but I was excited to have my two boys so close together. Syler was perfectly healthy and hit all of his milestones at just the right time, so I had every reason to think my second son would be exactly the same. He ended up being different in many ways, but it was the kind of different that changed my heart in a very radical way. The day before Arbor was born, I woke up after a restless night of wondering why he was not constantly moving like he normally did. I called my doctor, and was instructed to go to the hospital. I grabbed my fifteen month old son and his diaper bag, leaving behind the packed hospital bag I should have taken. My amniotic fluid was low, so they started the induction process. Labor was slow, but the next morning, Arbor was born.
A nurse held up his squishy, six pound, two ounce self so I could see him, and whisked him away to clean him up. My husband, Cody, went over to Arbor to take a picture of him to send to our family who was in the waiting room. I caught a glimpse of Arbor’s face, and I knew he had Down syndrome. His eyes were almond-shaped, his ears were tiny and low-set, and he had a sandal-toe gap. I thought back to a couple of weeks prior to Arbor’s birth, when my doctor called to tell me the results of the anatomy scan they did at my last appointment. The doctor sounded nervous as he asked me if I had the genetic testing done. I said that I did not. He continued, ‘Your baby’s femur bones are a month behind in growth. Sometimes we see that in babies who have Down syndrome, but we usually would see delayed bone growth earlier in the pregnancy if that were the case.’ At the time, I had let the thought of down syndrome leave my mind because it seemed like my doctor was dismissing the possibility. Knowing what I know now, I believe he was trying to prepare me for what was to come.
The days I spent recovering in the hospital were lovely. We soaked in the love that Arbor was receiving from family and friends. I am a very anxious person by nature, but I know I had an army of people praying for Cody and me. I am a believer, and turn to the Lord in prayer whenever I am placed in a situation that is overwhelming and terrifies me. However, I don’t remember praying during Arbor’s first few days. I could not pray yet, but people were praying for me, and I was sustained. I had the strength to work through the initial overwhelmingness because of the sense of calm God gave me. I remember feeling incredible joy and incredible fear at the same time. I was excited about the new world of Down syndrome, yet worried about the health issues that sometimes accompany a down syndrome diagnosis. Unless you walk through this, it is impossible to know all of the emotions that come into play.
I accepted and embraced Arbor for who he was made to be almost immediately, but I had trouble accepting the amount of therapy and doctor’s appointments he required. There seemed to rarely be a day there was not some sort of appointment. I asked the question, ‘why us?’ I cried because certain things Arbor had to go through did not seem fair. A year ago, his pediatrician did a routine blood draw to check his thyroid and found he had a low white cell count. For months, we would go to the doctor and hematologist to have his levels checked. His veins are almost impossible to find, so nurses would have to stick him multiple times in each arm to get any blood from him. I have spent hours on the phone with doctors and insurance companies, fighting for what Arbor should be able to have.
All of this was worth it, and I would do it all again if I had to. The love of a mother is sacrificial, even if she does not feel like being sacrificial. I cannot imagine Arbor being any different. He is two-years-old and has changed the hearts of so many. I can confidently say my life will not have nearly as great of an impact on people as Arbor’s life will, and it is an honor to know that. My husband and I are different people because of Arbor and the extra chromosome he has. The journey with Arbor will last a lifetime. We are excited to advocate for him as he reaches his full potential and changes people’s lives in the same way he has changed ours.
Arbor has developed a precious personality.
He is content with sitting and playing on his own, but also loves to watch his big brother play with dinosaurs. He will stop anything he is doing to focus on a theme song to a children’s show he likes. He is infamous for throwing his sippy cup after he has taken a sip. His favorite activity is being bounced up and down while I sing a dorky song I made up about him. He is a light. Down syndrome is a blessing. Every day I am reminded of that truth as I watch Arbor’s face scrunch up and his eyes disappear as he smiles and lets out a contagious laugh.”
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