On Aug 16, 2011 our daughter Sienna was born. Although we had some hints and scares during the pregnancy, we thought most of them had cleared.

After Sienna’s birth I just wanted them to turn her over so I could see her face and be reassured that all would be well. Due to my husband’s cousin having Down syndrome (and having many health issues such as blindness) and our lack of knowledge of special needs, Down syndrome was the one thing that we feared.

I didn’t hear the words I hoped for. Instead I heard the respiratory therapist say “I am a bit concerned about her features”. My heart fell and my husband’s face turned pale. This couldn’t be happening. They took her from me saying her oxygen levels were low. She had no chance to nurse. I had no idea what was happening. She got whisked to ICU where she stayed for the next three weeks on a feeding tube and having test after test for her heart, her bowels, and her brain. I spent the next day crying.  I kept looking at her in the NICU and thinking our lives will never be the same. We would have to deal with feeding tubes (a child that would never eat normally), a child that will be like a “vegetable” and all sorts of medical issues. I thought we had ruined her sisters’ lives by giving them this sibling that would be ages apart in mental ability. I started reading books and getting info to reassure myself.

Fast track to 2014 – Sienna is two and…SURPRISE! Sienna has had no medical issues except for the occasional common cold. She is the best eater in the family. She started sleeping through the night at 3 months and she is about as opposite to a vegetable that one could be!!! She has the most expressive, hilarious personality. Every day she fills our lives with joy and laughter. She does everything her sisters do and her sisters ADORE her. She imitates them and fights with them for toys and attention. She is behind in her motor skills but she will catch up. Everyone who meets her loves her as she is a “social queen”.

She is saying a few words and she understands everything we tell her. She has not only brightened our lives in every way but also opened our eyes to other children with special needs and our knowledge of them. Our lives would be empty without her. I can’t wait to get home and squeeze her every day.

Now when people who are expecting tell me they are having amnio’s to make sure their child doesn’t have Down syndrome, I think to myself “why wouldn’t you want a child with Down Syndrome”. You don’t know what you are missing. But I know I can never pass that on to someone until they experience it themselves. Although I am aware that not all Down syndrome kids are as lucky as Sienna with health, I do know that they mean the world to their families. If only I had known how much I would adore Sienna – I never would have cried.

Lisa D’Souza