The moment I first held baby Junior, I looked into his eyes and I knew there was something different about him. “I wonder if he has Down Syndrome” I thought. But I quickly brushed the idea from my mind and revelled in the joy of holding our newborn.
The next day, the kids came to the hospital to see their long-awaited baby brother. They could barely contain their excitement. But they had to wait and wait and wait, since Junior was in the nursery with the pediatrician. He was taking an awfully long time. When my husband finally returned with the baby, the children were ecstatic. As they surrounded my daughter, who was holding little Junior, my husband whispered into my ear, “The doctor says the baby has Down Syndrome.”
Given my age and the hunch I had about Junior having Down’s, I wasn’t surprised. But the diagnosis was still hard to swallow. Really hard. No one wants to find out that their child has a genetic disorder that will affect the rest of his or her life. We told the kids that very day because Junior had a heart condition that required special care. He wouldn’t be able to come home just yet. When a nurse came to take him to the NICU, I thought my own heart would break as Princess burst into uncontrollable tears and Feisty sobbed inconsolably.
In the long days and weeks that followed, friends and family sent prayers and encouraging words. These helped us to process, accept, and embrace Junior’s unexpected diagnosis. They helped us to realize that despite the difficulties we were going through and the challenges that lay ahead, he is truly a tremendous blessing.
So I thought I’d share some of them with you…
“God must have great confidence in you to entrust you with one of his most special children.”
“Oh these heart babies…. We will keep you in our prayers, that you may pass the next while in the peace of Jesus’ love as you sit in the palm of His hand with little Junior cuddled into one of the coziest nooks. I am not sure if it works this way….but I figure if we can ask for Baptism for our children, we can also offer up their suffering. Place your beautiful baby’s suffering on the Cross, all will be well.”
“My love and prayers are being sent to you with the announcement of your baby’s birth! What an angel! You are truly blessed. My only son was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 6 and the road has definitely been a difficult one. But… Christ’s loving presence during these times is palpable… I came to realize how wrapped up my family is in the arms of Our Lord. You are wrapped up! Junior is wrapped up! Your faith is beautiful and inspiring, and even when you feel weak and tired, you are no less wrapped up in the arms of Our Lord.”
“Junior is a healthy little boy with Downs. It is like his fingerprint or coding; imprinted in every cell of his body. Although it is a “disorder” to this world, every part of Junior has been planned by God.”
“I know that his little life will be such a tremendous blessing to all of you! Children with Down Syndrome always steal my heart.”
“Go hold baby Junior and just fill your heart with gratitude; he’s the most precious gift. It’s not unlike being thankful for your guardian angel; Junior has changed your life forever, and you will be so grateful for how you come to see the world through his eyes.”
“God could not have chosen a better family for Little Junior. He will be inundated with love and care from every member constantly.”
“All children bring their parents crosses. It’s a part of life. With your other children, you have no idea of what those crosses will be; with Junior you already do.”
“My ten year-old-sister has Down Syndrome. She’s the joy of my life – the joy of my family.”
“My greatest sorrows as a parent have had nothing to do with having a Down Syndrome child. But my greatest joys have.”
Indeed, the past six months have been some of the happiest months of my life. The joy Junior brings his siblings and the love he draws from them is beautiful to behold. Yes, we were first grieved by his diagnosis, but we have all come to learn that Junior is truly God’s gift of joy to our family. I never could have imagined how much happiness a little boy with Downs could bring. God’s ways are mysterious, but they are always loving. Blessed be God forever!