Twenty three years ago, I held the promise of a new life inside of me. Close family members and friends shared the anticipated joy. After having experienced a birth with an unexpected diagnosis of Down Syndrome for my firstborn son, I could not help but wonder if this baby would fall into a category more familiar to me. Caleb was now two years old, but not quite walking, used sign language for communication, was in early childhood education classes, and went to countless doctor and physical therapy appointments. Motherhood was not typical for me.
Early in the first trimester of this pregnancy I woke in the morning and started spotting blood. It was gradual and then became heavier with intense cramping. I contacted my OB/GYN physician who confirmed that I was losing the viability of my pregnancy. Nothing could be done to save the baby at this stage. He tenderly instructed me to rest and let him know when the fetus had passed. Within twenty four hours I contacted him on Father’s Day and told him tearfully that I had lost my baby. He had me come into the office for an exam and a Rhogam injection and put me on a two week medical leave from my job. During this time I went through the gamut of emotions and the grief process as my budding dreams were crushed. My music pastor, who also happened to be a good friend, called to see how I was doing. I remember standing against the wall of the kitchen with the cordless phone to my ear weeping and asking him as I slid to the floor, “Will I ever be able to produce a normal baby?” I felt hopeless and helpless.
During my medical leave I received a call from the Postpartum unit of the hospital where I worked as a Registered Nurse taking care of new mothers and their newborn babies. My colleagues had a request of me. Two mothers had just delivered boys with Down Syndrome. Would I be willing to bring Caleb in and speak with them? Surprisingly I did not hesitate, and said I could arrive in the afternoon. Caleb has an infectious smile and a personality that warms the hearts of people. Both families were enamored by him as they saw the hope that their little boys could also bring them and others great joy. It also helped them to see that this was not something to look at negatively, but rather celebrating a new life as planned.
God asked me to give to strangers at the very time I had felt so much had been taken from me. Luke 6:38 ESV says, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Something miraculous happened that day. I no longer looked at my son as “not normal”, but extraordinary. He had ministered to families in a way I never could. When I gave my time even in the midst of my pain, what I began to notice what was taken away from me was my self pity and an incorrect view of my son. Normal is just a temperature of 98.6. It does not define any person. The good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, was sitting in my lap loving me and everyone he touched. And my smile returned.