…Dr. Wagner had just gone through the Down syndrome fact checklist from the magazine in the waiting room, and I knew. I watched Steve’s face closely as Dr. Wagner finished his piece.
“Mark may have been born with a genetic condition called Down syndrome, but he is a beautiful baby boy and you should take him home and love him as a baby first and let nothing else get in the way of that.” God Bless Dr.Wagner! He put Mark, with his toes, fingers, ears, eyes, and the creased little hands into our arms and left us to fall in love and untangle our emotions.
Chapter 2: Friends in the Recovery room
The world of the unknown future pressed around our family. Yes, we cried and worried how this would all play out. My mother cried while my father held Mark, and studied him closely.” There’s nothing wrong with this baby,” he said. Luckily Mark was healthy in every way except for a heavy dose of jaundice. He would spend the next seven days sleeping in a bilirubin box, while I paced in anticipation to start his infant stimulation regimen.
The next day after Mark’s delivery, I woke up to see a strange man sitting on the bed next to mine. He had a small frame, gangly, straight black hair and bight blue eyes. He sat calmly sat with hands clasped in his lap, legs hanging down the side of the bed, and huge warm smile focused directly at me. My first thought was, “ How rude is this!” Who is this stranger in my recovery room? Meet Mr. Mike Mann, Alta California Regional caseworker.
I was astounded at this intrusion until I understood he was there to offer support and services for our family. Alta California Regional was there to provide or guide us into finding any services that we would need to raise Mark into a happy healthy child. Our hospital staff routinely called in the local support services for parents when a special needs child was born. Wow!
Not long after Mike left, I heard a riotous laugh and commotion heading my way. A sudden quiet and a tentative knock, followed by a child’s blond head peeking inside at me, gave me the surprise of the day.Wendy Paye followed her daughter Allison into my room, not really asking to visit, but telling me that they would be visiting! More strangers! Sure, why not!
I had Mark in my arms, and without asking, but filling the room with laughter, Wendy put Allison on the bed next to me. Allison was five years old. Stunning blue green eyes met mine in a smile I will never forget. Allison talked about Markie, talked about her family, talked about five year old type things, made me laugh, smile, and then she boldly took out Mark’s tiny feet and counted his ten beautiful toes for me. She could be a miniature talk show host!
I was still reeling with the weirdness of these people marching into the sanctity of my very birthing recovery room, when Wendy told me that Allison too, had Down syndrome. Allison was beautiful, animated, and engaging. Allison would always be my beacon for visualizing what Mark could accomplish and Wendy became the touchstone I would cling to for the inspiration needed to keep expectations high for Mark. SKY HIGH!