My son, Tyler, was born on August 18, almost 11 years ago. We had moved from Orlando to Virginia after we got an all clear from the baby doctor. It wasn't until the birth that we found out the level 2 sonogram had missed 5 heart defects and Down syndrome. Floppy at birth with low muscle tone, Ty was climbing my pantry shelves, doing back flips off his chair and running as fast as he could away from us at 3 1/2. He loved the Wiggles and Blues Clues. Now, at 10 1/2 yrs old, he still loves running, playing tag and swimming. His favorite shows are Spongebob, iCarly and America's Funniest Home Videos. He can out negotiate anyone and is very confident!
I have many blessings to be thankful for. It had taken me seven years to have two children, so every moment is a blessing. Having been through three open heart surgeries and many other smaller ones, we are blessed to have Tyler with us today and that technology and medicine has allowed our kids to grow old.
When Tyler was born and I was told he had characteristics of Down syndrome I was shocked, but luckily, I had a childhood memory of meeting my mom's class when I was young. Back then, she taught children with Down syndrome! I thought they were great and this helped to alleviate my fear. We were transferred to another hospital due to the heart issues where they let me bond with him, taught me about the defects, set up a social worker for support and resources to the local Down syndrome association. A Child Life director took our picture, found music for my son and brought us a quilt and hat made by local folks.
After that, we decided to move close to family in Jacksonville. Here we have gotten to know nine doctors that we feel are part of our family. We are a part of the Down syndrome association of Jacksonville and I coordinate visiting to families undergoing cardiac surgeries with their kids under Mended Little Hearts. We have met and made friends with many families with kids with Down syndrome that we would not have known before. This is part of the blessing of having Tyler. I quickly changed my career from advertising, sales & management to advocating and teaching others how wonderful our kids are and all they can do. I have been fortunate to come across kids with Down syndrome who can read, hold a job, speak in front of hundreds of people, play beautiful music and shop at garage sales to find great items for their new apartments.
The heart problems have not slowed Ty down much and I hope he fulfills his aspirations. While we have had some real ups and real downs, I would not have traded him for anything. As you go along, remember to treat your baby like you would any other baby of yours and the blessings will come. They are gifts from God.