Banks was supposed to have Down Syndrome. I don’t mean that in a “something seems off, there may be a possibility” kind of way. The very same day that I was diagnosed with a Percreta, I was also presented with overwhelming evidence that the child I was carrying had a chromosomal abnormality. He had several “soft markers” with the two most prominent being a duodenal atresia and a heart murmur. On their own, they wouldn’t have been as threatening. Together, combined with several other small but significant markers, led to an assumption that Banks would be diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth.
Jon and I had several rounds of genetic testing performed, all of which came back normal. The only “for sure” way to know whether or not Banks had Down Syndrome before birth was to participate in an amniocentesis. However, because of my percreta and the fact I had previa, that was not an option as it was considered too dangerous both for me and Banks. Our only option was to wait.
Any time a child has a special need, I think it’s only natural that the parents grieve to an extent when learning of the initial diagnosis and we did. It’s not we didn’t or wouldn’t love and cherish him every bit as much as we did Jack and Wade, but our hearts broke at the thought that he may have more obstacles to overcome in life. We were not “disappointed”. We were worried. And we quickly decided to keep the possible diagnosis close to our hearts.
We didn’t want people’s opinions or success stories or miracles. And personally, I didn’t want anyone to “pray it away”. I wanted people to pray for Banks’ health. Not how God had formed him-whatever that looked like or meant for our family. So we stayed silent on it all. I researched the best products for babies with Down’s and many of the products I registered for were recommended without anyone knowing a thing. I discussed possible outcomes with the NICU doctors and surgeons and was prepared mentally for the reality once I woke up. My doctors doubted the possibility more and more as the pregnancy progressed, but tubes were set aside to collect cord blood and test just the same.
Banks was born very prematurely at 29 weeks, 2 days. He was only 3 pounds, 4 oz. I didn’t get to hold him or see him in person until I was discharged. He had surgery on the atresia two days after birth and has done incredibly well. He came off oxygen in the first few days, his scar is healing beautifully, his digestion system is working, he’s eating like a champ and today we received his final report regarding any type of chromosomal abnormality, including Down Syndrome: everything checked out normally. In addition, his heart murmur is healed. His atresia is healing. He’s strong, especially for a premature baby. And today, I rocked him extra long in the NICU.
I want to make it clear, we aren’t celebrating “No down syndrome” tonight as if that diagnosis would have derailed our love for Banks or his chance to succeed in life in any way. We are so fortunate to have family members and dear friends with special needs that inspire us and encourage us daily at the remarkable life they live. We knew this diagnosis, if God had allowed it, would be a beautiful part of Banks’ story even if it seemed overwhelming at first. Tonight, we are celebrating Banks’ health despite all of the odds that have been placed against him. We are celebrating the fact that he has no other diagnosis-of any sort-working against him as he heals from surgery. We are celebrating the fact there is nothing additional prolonging his time in the NICU or threatening a life-long health struggle. We knew with a risk of chromosomal abnormalities that all of these things were possible and we grieved that possibility as we awaited his birth.
But today, we are humbled. We are amazed. And we are so thankful for Banks. He’s truly the bravest boy.