At midnight on the evening of January 18, 1997 - I pleaded to God to let my son live -- a moment that changed my life and I will remember forever. My brother was asleep on our couch and my husband and I were sprawled out on our living room carpet watching TV while our newborn lay between us. We freaked when we looked down at our baby and saw he was turning all shades of gray. I immediately attempted to breathe over his mouth and nose -- furiously searching my brain for all the rules on how to give mouth-to-mouth to a newborn that I know they covered in my lifeguard training CPR courses. I looked up to the heavens and pleaded, "God, please do not take my son."
Two months prior to this date, my son Matthew was born and immediately upon delivery, the doctor informed us he had Down syndrome. I was 30 years old, a low risk for this sort of deal and frankly Lamaze class hadn't prepared me for this. Since the birth, we struggled with sympathy from friends and family and ourselves, how much this diagnosis changed us, changed our family and changed our lives by burdening us with the obligation of caring for a mentally retarded son. But at that exact moment when it was a big possibility that I might lose him, I changed my point of reference and view on life. After 10 long days and nights at the intensive care unit at the hospital I was finally able to bring my "new" baby home like it was the first time.
Matthew will be 16-years-old next month. He has one older brother, and two younger siblings. We have all grown mentally and emotionally so much more because of the challenges and adventures afforded by his uniqueness. Our lives individually and as a family have been much more meaningful and fuller. Matthew helps define our special family and I could never imagine our family without him.