Today is Mack’s birthday. He is three! Where did the time go? The main reason I wanted to start this blog is to share my stories of Mack and his abilities. He captures everyone’s heart and I know my heart has grown remarkably since he was born. I remember that day often with fondness.
Mack’s birth was an incredible experience. I had been having contractions the day before and did all I could to speed things up. At midnight they were painful enough that I couldn’t sleep. I took a nice hot bath and when the contractions were three or four minutes apart I woke up my husband, Ben and let him know it was time to go. I had planned for an epidural, but secretly wanted to do it all natural. When we arrived at the hospital it was to late for any medication. Mack quickly arrived and I remember feeling an immense amount of relief as he made himself present. Ben laughed as he saw his red hair. He was beautiful! Mack was born at 40 weeks. Right on time, unlike my other 41 week pregnancies. As I held him in my arms, I noticed he looked different.
Ben had a premonition on the way to the hospital. He knew Mack would be born with Down syndrome. Of course there was no time to mention this to me. My mom and younger sister Kim were there at the delivery. My sister kept commenting on his cute little crooked pinky. “It looks just like Olivia’s” (Olivia is her daughter and was born with Turner’s syndrome and cute crooked pinkies). They knew Mack was born with an extra 21st chromosome. I did not. He struggled to latch on to nurse, but with some help from my doctor he got the hang of it. She didn’t notice he was born with Down syndrome either. It wasn’t until the pediatrician made his rounds later in the morning that I was made aware of the possibility that my son might have an extra chromosome. He simple pointed out a few physical characteristics and said he will run some tests and we will wait and see.
I called Ben in tears. I felt like the doctor had picked all my son’s cutest features apart and called them ugly. I took it very personal. I was 36 when Mack was born. Was his diagnosis my fault? What would people think of me? How was Mack going to be treated?
Ben spoke of his premonition. He let me know that Mack gave him a greater understanding of the eternities. A phrase I didn’t quite understand until I heard a quote from Elder Holland (of the LDS religion) “I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind.” Ben said he was not sad and everything was going to be ok.
I searched for information about Down syndrome and was surprised at all the positive stories that I read. I was given hope. We shared the news with family. Some were as ignorant as I was, but together we studied and learned these individuals were so much more than their diagnosis.
I talked with someone I knew who has a sister with Down syndrome. He gave me his mom’s number. When I called I was hoping to meet with them. I could feel the love she had for her daughter through the phone. I could also sense the smile on her face as she told me her daughter thinks she has grown out of her Down syndrome. She is a college student at SUU.
I met with others who have loved ones with Down syndrome. All my encounters were uplifting. In fact I can only remember one negative comment. A woman stared at Mack with a puzzled look. I knew the question she didn’t ask, so offered the answer. She quickly replied, “yeah, he has the mark”. What mark? I will never again offer information about Mack unless it is beneficial to him. I admit it took me a while to figure this out.
I have been able to enjoy Mack longer as a baby than any of my “typical” children. He is a cuddler, and loves to be held. Recently he has started holding my face with both hands so he is able to kiss me with my undivided attention. I love him!
Mack brings so much joy to our home. We love to celebrate his milestones. As hard as it is to believe for some, he has not been so different from our other children. Mack rolled over from the begging and sat without support at 7 months. He fed himself at 18 months about the same time he stopped nursing and learned how to drink from a straw. Mack did not start walking until he was 2 1/2. I remember praying…begging to have him walk before Emmett was born. Trying to carry Mack on top of my pregnant belly was taking its toll on my back (my age was starting to show). He would walk holding my hand, but never alone. Not until we went to Disneyland for spring break and Isabelle’s birthday. He wanted to walk on his own and stand in line all by himself. He has not slowed down since. In fact he has started to run. He is so cute as he swings his arms and moves his feet as fast as he can trying to keep up with is older sister Isabelle. I often feel like I’m raising the tortoise and the hare, and that’s fine with me. I have always loved the tortoise.