January 26, 2007, was a day I will never forget. On that cold day in January, I sat in stunned silence as a doctor told me and my husband that the 18 week ultrasound of our second child revealed a number of serious concerns.
The doctor described for us a number of “markers” she saw, including a small nasal bone, a cyst on the brain, a spot on the bowel, an increased nuchal fold, and some fluid around the heart. There was also the possibility of the baby having a cleft lip. As we sat and listened, all I could think about was that this could not be happening to me. The baby I had waited so long for could not have so many things wrong with him.
The doctors talked about some decisions we would need to make. They thought all of these markers were pointing to either Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) or Trisomy 18 (which would most likely be fatal). We needed to decide if we wanted an amniocentesis done to determine if our baby did indeed have either Trisomy 21 or 18. The outcome of the amniocentesis test would then lead us to another decision. If the baby had either Trisomy 21 or 18 we would need to decide whether or not we would continue the pregnancy.
My husband and I spent a lot of time in prayer in the days that followed, as did many of our close friends and family. We decided to have the amniocentesis test done and on February 12, 2007, I received a phone call that I can replay in my mind today, almost word for word. "I'm calling to let you know that the amniocentesis test results came back and I'm sorry to say that your baby boy has Down syndrome". I can't remember what I said but I remember the genetic counsellor asking "you indicated that you would not terminate this pregnancy regardless of the outcome is that still your desire". I said yes, hung up the phone and went completely numb.
The days, weeks and months that followed were so hard. I questioned God's purpose and I questioned my ability to handle a baby with Down syndrome. The hardest part for me was wondering how this would affect my son Caleb (who was 2 at the time). I really wanted a sibling for him, but I wondered what it would be like for him to have sibling with Down syndrome.
On June 12, 2007, we welcomed our precious baby boy into the world. As soon as we saw Joel, we fell in love with him and felt so blessed to be his parents.
Our love for him has grown deeper since that day. We see the significance of his life every day and feel incredibly blessed to have him in our family. He brings joy and perspective and we are so proud of every one of his accomplishments.
There have been hard moments since Joel was born but the love and joy that he brings us far outweighs the difficulties. I remember reading about other families that had children with Down syndrome when I was pregnant. They would talk about how much they loved their children and how much joy their children brought to their families. I was pretty sceptical then, but now I know it is true. I love Joel with all of my heart and I thank God for giving me two such amazing boys. God knew all along how amazing Joel would be and I am so grateful that He entrusted Joel to us.
Contributed by Heidi Peterson.