“Ryan was born with a bang in July 2006. At 32 weeks I was in the hospital overnight for monitoring due to the baby’s erratic heartbeat. Well aware of the risks that come with prematurity, I was praying all would be fine and I’d go home the next day to allow the baby to keep cooking until done.
But the baby didn’t care about the risks, apparently, and the doctor was not happy with the heartbeat, so in I went to the operating room. After four attempts to insert the needle into my spine (apparently I have small spaces), we were ready to go.
The doctor held up the baby and announced “It’s a boy!” I took one look at him and couldn’t believe my eyes. I exclaimed right away “He’s perfect!”, because he was. He looked fully cooked to me. He was beautiful. He looked right into my eyes with his gorgeous blue eyes. All my worries about having a premature baby faded away.
That was until the next morning when the neonatologist walked into my room.
While it took me a while to come to grips about Ryan’s diagnosis of Down syndrome, I always loved him as him. He was still that perfect baby I saw when they first held him up. It took me a while to realize that, but I did.
At first I thought perhaps it was all a dream. Maybe I fainted in between one of those sticks by the anesthesiologist. Once the shock -- and dream theory -- wore off, I felt really vulnerable all the time. Did those older women in the grocery store who cooed at Ryan know he had Down syndrome – is that why they were so curious and attentive?
21 Strong takes away the vulnerability.
I love that when my son Colin sees another child who happens to have Down syndrome, but he is not so sure, he asks “Is he 21 Strong?”
21 Strong equals love, support, acceptance, peace, fun and being yourself.
It is so heartwarming to read all of these family spotlights. I am so proud to be a part of this group. I can’t believe Ryan is now an elder statesman and part of the “tween beat.” I thank Melody and all the other moms who are keeping it going. “Through the acceptance and respect of all individuals, we allow everyone to thrive and their gifts to shine.” Susan’s original mantra remains today, and for that I am so grateful.”