Most mothers who find out they’re carrying a baby with Down Syndrome are overcome with fear, but this mom of twins had a completely different reaction.
Rachael Prescott, then a mother of two, was excited to discover that she was pregnant with twin girls. This was great news to her and her husband, Cody, who had planned to reverse his vasectomy and no longer needed to. A couple of doctor’s appointments later, the good news was mixed with some worrisome information. Both girls would be born with congenital heart disease, and one or both might have Down Syndrome. Soon after it was confirmed that both babies had Down Syndrome. The nurse who told Rachael the news braced herself for the disappointment, but instead she was completely surprised.
Rachael responded “Really?! Yay!” According to her, Down Syndrome was in no way something to mourn, but absolutely something to celebrate. She explained later, “to have a child with Down Syndrome is like discovering your best self and winning the lottery at the same time," and expressed that expecting parents should be familiar with Down Syndrome and understand how lucky they’d be if they conceived a child with it.
Down Syndrome occurs when a child is born with an extra Chromosome 23 (it’s all called Trisomy 23 for this reason). Our chromosomes control everything about how we appear, act, and grow, and an extra chromosome causes differences in all these areas. Those with an extra Chromosome 23 may have differently sized tongues and organs, and they may appear small in stature with distinctive webbed eyelids. Their cognitive and verbal level may vary. Prenatal tests can reveal risk factors for being born with Down Syndrome, and follow up tests can confirm it, although these tests present some risk. Sadly, most women who carry babies with Down Syndrome choose to abort.
And yet, those who birth children with Down Syndrome learn what a blessing they are to their families and to our world. It’s time for us to realize that people with Down Syndrome aren’t genetic mishaps, but they’re meant to be that way. Their DNA is coded slightly differently than ours, but that’s ok. And that just might be wonderful. Of course, raising a child who stands out from the norm comes with its set of challenges, but that’s simply because we aren’t used to it. Rachael’s best advice for women getting ready to birth babies with Down Syndrome is to join a support group of mothers going through the same experience.