A Salt Lake City mother has shared a touching Instagram post in which she recounts the birth of her daughter Gwendolyn last year. The post has gone viral and has especially impacted mothers of children with special needs.
Jessica Egan, 31, and her husband were overjoyed when they found out she was pregnant with their daughter after years of trying to conceive. Eleven weeks into her pregnancy, Egan tested positive for trisomy 21, or Down's syndrome, a genetic chromosome disorder that results in developmental and intellectual obstacles.
Egan admits that she was devastated when she received the news. She had shared the joy her coworkers felt when they had gotten pregnant, yet she feared that when it came time to share her news, she would be met with sadness.
“All I could think when I received the diagnosis was that my baby wouldn’t be as accepted and celebrated as everyone else’s had been,” she said. “I spent the next three days at home in tears, afraid to tell anyone the news.”
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When I placed my order I said, “Regular amount of chromosomes, please!” That’s what everyone else got and what I wanted too. They called me shortly after my order was in production and said “Great news, we went ahead and upgraded you to extra chromosomes for free! You’ll receive the extra chromosomes with your completed order in 9 months.” What?! I was mad! All the other orders I had seen displayed via perfect Instagram posts did NOT have extra chromosomes. Well I decided that receiving my order with extra chromosomes was better than not receiving an order at all, so I settled in to wait for this surprise upgrade to arrive. I have now had my order for two months and am writing this review to let others know the upgrade to extra chromosomes is amazing!! If offered, definitely take it! I posted some photos below of the finished product and you can see the extra chromosome is so worth it - it is extra cute, extra special, and extra-ordinary! So much extra joy. Would purchase again for sure 😬 💛💙💛💙#sweetgwendolyn #t21 #theluckyfew #upsyndrome #extrachromosome #nothingdownaboutit
After the diagnosis, Jessica and her husband contacted their local Down's syndrome foundation to find out more about their daughter's condition. The genetic disorder is caused when abnormal cell division leads to an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), about 1 in 800 newborns have Down syndrome, and approximately 5,300 babies are born with the disorder each year in the US.
“We began to realize that Down's syndrome was nothing to fear, and when our baby [Gwendolyn] was born we were overwhelmed with love for her,” Jessica said.
Last month, when Gwendolyn turned two months old, Egan wrote a “review” of having a baby with Down's syndrome, which she shared on Instagram. Egan expressed how grateful she was for her daughter. The post was initially written for family and friends, but it has since gone viral, getting 346,000 likes, 29,000 comments, and 74,000 shares since February 24.
Between 1979 and 2003, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has increased by 30%. The life expectancy of people with Down syndrome rose substantially between 1960 and 2007. In 1960, persons with Down syndrome lived on average to be about 10 years old. In 2007, persons with Down syndrome lived on average to be about 47 years old.
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Finally put some makeup on so I could take a picture with my daughter. Only took me 7 weeks! 😳 When my mom gave us this little preemie outfit with a hood before Gwen was born, I didn’t think she would even get to wear it. Here we are almost 2 months later and it still fits! #teenybaby #sweetgwendolyn #motherdaughter #finallyamom #theluckyfew
Many on social media have praised Egan for the post and she has also been contacted by many women who have recently had a baby with Down's syndrome and are struggling with the diagnosis. She believes it’s necessary to accept the news with an open mind and an open heart.
Egan hopes her experience will inspire others. She is also optimistic that Gwendolyn will have a bright future. “I had a dream when I was pregnant that our little girl was grown up and she was working in a trendy decor store and was also a talented chef,” Egan said. “My hope is that there will be no limit to what she can become.”