Sunday, March 8, 2009
Two weeks ago for the first time I was involved with the delivery of a baby diagnosed with Down Syndrome. His name was Daniel. Daniel had the strongest spirit and will to live that I have ever experienced in a newly born babe. Daniel is now stable at Richland Hospital. After this amazing experience, I began to think more about what it would be like to have a child with Down Syndrome. My dear friend Mike would like to share with you his personal experience with his beloved Kiernan.
By Mike Burgess:
My son is perfect. He has the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen and a smile that could melt the heart of Satan himself. His laugh is infectious and my heart breaks every time he cries. He consumes every free moment I have and manages to soak through every brand of diaper on the market. He can suck down 40 ounces of formula in the course of 24 hours and still have room for his fruits and veggies four times a day. He weighs a ton and doesn’t like to be left alone for more than a few minutes. In my eyes, he’s just like every other infant I’ve ever met, with one small exception: Kiernan has Down syndrome.What does that mean? Nothing, really. He goes to the doctor a little more than other children, and some of his development is a little delayed. Beyond that, I view him no differently than I did my five siblings. He loves to beheld or rocked, and normally he is comatose the minute the car starts moving. If he can hold something, then it invariably ends up in his mouth. He discovered his volume control at the most inopportune moment, cooing at the top of his lungs in the middle of a crowded restaurant. He has learned the game of fetch, knowing that if he throws his toys that daddy will pick them up and give them back to him. For me, he is just a little boy, and the center of his daddy’s universe.And yet, when others find out that he has Down syndrome, they are conflicted. Some extend their apologies. Others babble on about how he “looks so normal”. A third group feels the need to recount a story about the special needs child of a friend of a friend with whom they are acquainted. My favorite, though, are those who respond with a simple “so” or “okay”, and move on. For me, they get it. They realize that yes, things may be a little different for Kiernan, but that’s okay. He’ll grow up just like everyone else. He’ll fall in and out of love, he’ll screw up, he’ll succeed, he’ll be embarrassed by his parents. He’ll go to school, he’ll make friends, and he’ll even make enemies. Most importantly, he’ll live. Ultimately, that’s what we all want: to live life. And that’s what I’ve promised to my son: to help him live his life to the fullest, whatever it takes.