Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Not those exact words...

Actually, the doctor didn't say those exact words, but the words he used meant the same thing (I just want to be sensitive to my son if he ever reads this).

I'm pretty sure that I studied about Down Syndrome in college. I mean, I got a minor in Psychology after all. I'm pretty sure it would've been covered in 4 years of studying about human behavior. But, I'm sure that in my dreams of the perfect life, I would've glossed over any topic like that...because none of that would EVER happen to me.

At the time, I had no clue what this doctor was even talking about. I had lived all over the United States and gone to 16 different schools before college, but I don't ever recall seeing any person who had Down Syndrome. Ever. At first, I thought Down Syndrome might be like cancer or something...but I didn't care.  This was OUR baby and I loved him, and sick or not...nobody was ever gonna hurt this kid.

I remember coming out of the anesthesia. I could hear whispering and voices full of emotion. I saw my friend, Carolyn, talking to Jim.

I think Jim is the one who told me...and I don't think either one of us was prepared for my reaction.

From that minute when he told me about Joshua, I can't even tell you what happened inside of me. A protective momma-bear rose up out of this quiet little mom like a volcano...right then and there. And instantly, I knew. I knew that God was in control. I knew this was in His plan. I knew that He was with me...and I knew what my ministry was going to be here on earth. This little boy...so little and innocent...and cute...was given a big diagnosis. So many questions...so many people who loved him...and so many people who were determined to love us through it all.

My new-found protectiveness is what made me aggressively seek out information on Down Syndrome. CURRENT information, not the out-dated stuff. It was not like cancer at all. It's not something he would ever "recover" from. This was going to be a day-in and day-out thing...for life.

It also made me more assertive when it came to his care. We had excellent care during this time...in fact, we have had great doctors, nurses and therapists all of Joshua's life. We are blessed to have a large Children's hospital very close to us.

Joshua was pretty sick the first few months of his life...we were in and out of the hospital with him. We were told he needed heart surgery when he was strong enough. When he was 3 1/2 months old, the doctors said he was strong enough. He weighed a whopping 9 pounds. A team was assembled and we met with them in the days prior to the surgery. During a conversation about pre-birth testing, one resident suggested to me that "had we known in advance," we "could've done something about it," meaning that we could've terminated the pregnancy. I had her removed from Joshua's team immediately. I had to know that everyone was on the same page, focused on the same thing, believing that ALL life was of value...and fighting for Joshua's life.

Joshua had developed quite a following in his first few months of life. As young, first time parents, Jim and I didn't know what we were doing, but we took Joshua with us everywhere. We were pretty proud of him. And he was so stinkin' cute! Our friends from our Sunday School class at church...I mean, they were so wonderful. They lifted us up in prayer and they held us up in many, many ways.

On the day of Joshua's heart surgery, we showered Joshua with hugs and kisses and handed him over to a nurse. I spent the better part of 15 minutes sobbing in the hallway. They told us where the surgery waiting room was and we made our way there...and planned to settle in for a long day. Walking into the waiting room, we were immediately surrounded by family, friends and members of our church. I mean, seriously, y'all...they filled up the entire room.

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

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