Glennon, creator of Momastery, was having an ultrasound with her first born child when doctors discovered “a few issues.” Worried her baby would die, she waited anxiously for the doctor to tell her and her family what was going on. While she waited, she willed her baby to live.
The doctor went on to inform her that her baby boy had a large cyst on his brain and an echogenic focus on his heart. In addition, his neck was measuring thick. After looking her baby over for a few more minutes, the doctor left the room saying he would return shortly. When he finally did return, he told the family that any of those problems on their own could be a marker for Down syndrome, but together, it meant that the baby would most likely have Down syndrome. Glennon writes on her blog of this moment:
My family – we smiled at each other. We breathed one collective, THANK YOU, JESUS breath. Our baby was not going to die. Our baby was going to have Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome. Of course, I thought. Of course.
Glennon’s experiences with children and babies with Down syndrome had shown her how remarkable and joyful their lives are. From the children at the Special Olympics she volunteered at in elementary school, to Lucy, the girl with Down syndrome who welcomed Glennon into church, Glennon had a soft spot in her heart for people with the condition. So when the doctor told her that her baby likely had Down syndrome, Glennon was more than relieved. In fact, she felt special.
In preparation for life with a baby with Down syndrome, Glennon and her husband Craig interviewed pediatricians. They were looking for one who had experience with and was good with children with Down syndrome and they knew the moment they found that doctor. Glennon recalls:
We […] chose the [doctor] who stopped us during our interview and said, ‘You know, I don’t have a single family who wouldn’t tell you that their child with Down Syndrome changed their family in the best possible ways. These children, they turn your life upside down in all the most important ways. And most of us don’t get life changing opportunities like that. There are challenges -yes- but those challenges will shrink compared to the enormity of the new life you’ll have. The new perspective you’ll have. You are a lucky couple.’
Most stories we hear about a baby’s diagnosis of Down syndrome don’t include the words “relief” and “lucky”. Most stories are filled with sadness, denial, and finally either acceptance or abortion. But not Glennon’s story.
When Glennon went into labor with her baby boy, named Chase, she was eagerly anticipating her first meeting with her son. She cried, she nursed him, she laughed. Then, the on-call pediatrician checked Chase over and told Glennon that her baby was perfectly healthy. Confused, Glennon asked if Chase had Down syndrome. The doctor said no.
Glennon, not getting the baby she expected, felt a sense of loss. Still today, over a decade later she wonders why all of that happened. Of children with Down syndrome, Glennon says:
I know that these kiddos have something important to teach the rest of us. We who are so busy getting important things done and they who seem to know for certain what really is important and what is not. I think they are Little Teachers, if we have eyes to see and time to wait. […] I think they offer something to the world that the world needs more than anything else. Attention to detail. Senseless joy. Acceptance and love for all.
If only the rest of the world saw people with Down syndrome that way.