Leila was born at 28 weeks, weighing only two pounds and measuring 13 inches long. Even though she was so small, she never required oxygen. We didn’t have a diagnosis of Down syndrome until two weeks after she was born. We were scared to death. As they told us about Leila’s diagnosis, I didn’t know what to expect. I looked down at my daughter and cried, because I didn’t know what the future held for her. Leila also had a heart defect, and all of this information was so overwhelming that I could do nothing but cry for days.
After the initial shock of it all, I was bound and determined to not let Leila’s quality of life be anything but the best. At five weeks old Leila was released from the hospital, and even though we were nervous about bringing her home, we were so anxious to start our journey with this precious life that God had given us. Her doctor told us she may never walk, and she may never talk, but I refused to believe her. After countless hours of therapy, and her screaming and crying through every bit of it, at two years and five months old - just two days away from Christmas - Leila took her first step! We cried and rejoiced, our hands clapping, and saying "yay Leila!" She smiled the biggest smile I’ve ever seen her smile, and it was the best Christmas present I ever received in my life!
Her feeding issues were terrible though, and she wouldn’t eat anything but baby food and pediasure for the first three years of her life. She wasn’t talking either, and again her doctor told us she may never eat table food, or talk, and once again I refused to hear her words. Now at the age of seven, Leila eats table food. Her favorite food is spaghetti, and when she accomplishes something new, we still clap our hands and yell "yay Leila," only now she joins in.
Who knew when I was pregnant with her that I would have a child of wonder and amazement? We have been fighting the battle for Leila to get into school. They tell us they can’t take her in, but I refuse to listen. She will be attending school this year, and she will learn. One thing that I would tell new parents is it’s really scary not knowing the outcome of your child, but never give up on them. Don’t listen to the doctors when they tell you that your children can’t do something, because they can. Leila now is a healthy thriving child, who loves to run, and climb. She can talk, and my favorite words to hear her say are “I love you Mommy.” I wouldn’t trade my life for anything in this world, and I know she wouldn’t either.