Down syndrome, Our Family


If you had asked me eleven months ago what was special about today’s date, I would have immediately answered, “Sometimes it’s the first day of spring.”

Now, a new answer would come from my mouth,  “Today is World Down Syndrome Day.”

They chose this day, March 21, because it represents what is true of all people with Down Syndrome:  instead of two of the 21st chromosome, people with Down Syndrome have three of the 21st chromosome.  Down Syndrome is clinically called Trisomy 21.

My son was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 just two weeks after he was born, in April of last year.  Much has changed in my life since that time, and a lot of it has to do with becoming aware of Down Syndrome.  I never knew much about it, and so on this day, I thought I’d take some time to share a few facts with you, helping you to become more aware.

These facts are taken from the National Down Syndrome Congress Center:

  • Down syndrome is a common genetic variation which usually causes delay in physical, intellectual and language development.
  • The exact causes of the chromosomal rearrangement and primary prevention of Down syndrome are currently unknown.
  • Down syndrome is one of the leading clinical causes of cognitive delay in the world – it is not related to race, nationality, religion or socio-economic status.
  • The incidence of Down syndrome in the United States is estimated to be 1 in every 700 live births.
  • Of all children born in this country annually, approximately 5,000 will have Down syndrome.
  • There are approximately 1/4 million families in the United States affected by Down syndrome.
  • While the likelihood of giving birth to a child with Down syndrome increases with maternal age; nevertheless, 80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age, as women in that age group give birth to more babies overall.
  • There is wide variation in mental abilities, behavior and physical development in individuals with Down syndrome. Each individual has his/her own unique personality, capabilities and talents.
  • 30% – 50% of the individuals with Down syndrome have heart defects and 8% – 12% have gastrointestinal tract abnormalities present at birth. Most of these defects are now correctable by surgery.
  • Individuals with Down syndrome benefit from loving homes, early intervention, inclusive education, appropriate medical care and positive public attitudes.
  • In adulthood, many persons with Down syndrome hold jobs, live independently and enjoy recreational opportunities in their communities.

Reading this list seems quite impersonal, at least it did to me when I read it right after Mason was born.  But, it is helpful in understanding a little bit about Down Syndrome.  

There are some things that you won’t read in the clinical descriptions.  These are the things that I’ve experienced during these months and I want you to know these things about Down Syndrome too, for these are the things that characterize our precious little boy and right now describe a bit of our life. {I realize some of these descriptions might not be true of all children with Down Syndrome, but this has been our experience}.  

Children with Down Syndrome tend to have low muscle tone, which causes physical delays in gross and fine motor skills.  What they don’t tell you is that because of the low muscle tone, you will have a very snuggly baby.  Mason still loves to snuggle and it is one of the most enjoyable things for me.

The amount of affection displayed toward parents and siblings is insurmountable.  The joy that is shown on Mason’s face when he sees us is contagious.  I have never felt so loved and adored as I do by this little boy.
Each milestone reached is an opportunity for rejoicing and great delight for all of us.  Our four-year-old and three-year old daughters are too young to understand Mason’s condition, but they have joined right in with us as we have celebrated over things like rolling over, sitting up, clapping and doing ‘so big’.  I never realized how critical each of these skills were until I knew that there would be delays in Mason’s development.  
There are easy days and hard days.  Living life with a child with special needs is challenging.  I won’t deny that I have struggled a lot this year.  You don’t read in the literature about the ups and downs, but it’s real.  Though I hate to compare, there is always a battle within me when I see other children the same age, or younger, who are capable of doing much more than my son.  I just want Mason to eat a Cheerio, or drink from a cup, or move from a sitting position to his tummy.  But, he can’t; not yet.  And that’s hard.   
You won’t read in the literature how much your heart will expand with love for your child.  Yes, I love all my children, none more than another, but sometimes you wonder how you will feel toward someone who is different.  I can tell you that you will love them just the same.  Mason has completely captured my heart.
I could share a great many things, and I will write more in the days to come, but this is just a small list for you  on this World Down Syndrome Day.  
One thing I can share with great confidence is that Mason is loved, accepted, and delighted in by our family and friends.  We look forward to seeing what God has in store for this little guy.  

A friend just sent me a link to a blog post written by a mother who has a 5 year old son with Down Syndrome.  If you’d like to read another mom’s perspective, someone who has walked this journey longer than me, I encourage you to go over and read her post, at Making Something Beautiful.  It encouraged me.

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  • Reply sherri lynn

    Lauren this post is beautiful! I’m so thankful that God placed Mason in your family, and as a result, in our larger extended family. I love that little boy!! You have been incredibly strong and filled with grace in this past year (I can’t believe he’s almost one!!), and I admire and respect and look up to you so much for that! I love snuggling with Mason and I love watching him light up when the girls make him laugh or when you or B walk into the room. He brings so much joy into all of our lives!

    March 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm
  • Reply David Jerra

    Thanks for posting this, I’m blessed in reading it and seeing your heart. I agree with Sherri in being able to see God’s grace pour out of you, even from afar and through your blog posts & your beautiful smile!

    March 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm
  • Reply Claire

    Thank you for sharing this!

    March 21, 2013 at 1:22 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    What a beautiful article….and what a handsome little boy! You have been challenged, for sure, but God has enabled you to meet the challenges with His grace. Yesterday in my devos the thought for the day was, “When God gives an assignment, it comes with His enablement”. You are living proof of that statement! May God continue to bless you and Bradley as you raise your children for Him! Praying for you all! Bonnie ><>

    March 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm
  • Reply Natalie

    You are such a strong mom and family for him…and I know it can be easy b/c you have you have your hands full…but you are doing a great job! Thanks for sharing this!

    March 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm
  • Reply Sandy Roberts

    Thanks for sharing from your heart! Thanks for making us aware of the challenges that you and others face each day. You are a blessing to others as you trust in God to meet each new challenge. Mason’s photos warm my heart. He is precious.

    March 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm
  • Reply Ann

    Lauren, I concur with everything that Sherri said above. We are so thankful to share in the grand parenting of this darling little boy (who has captured our hearts, as well) and his precious sisters, with your parents. It is difficult living so far away from you all, especially when there is a medical problem, as you experienced several weeks ago when Mason was in the hospital. Yet, it is also a privilege to intercede in prayer and see how the Lord raises up the Body of Christ to come along side our dear ones. Dad and I are so looking forward to snuggling with our precious grandchildren in just a few days!

    March 21, 2013 at 9:17 pm
  • Reply Rachel

    Lauren, I am so glad we found each other on the web, I love how it can connect families like ours:) I am also thankful that God used my post to encourage you. Your son is beautiful!!

    March 22, 2013 at 1:37 am
  • Reply Rachel

    Wait a minute I just realized who you are, we have a real life mutual friend, Trish Timmons.:) I went back up and saw the blog title!! We prayed for you guys when you first got Mason’s diagnosis. Sorry I missed that when I first saw this. I am only a few years ahead of you but I would love to help in anyway that I can with questions, etc. Much love! rachel

    March 22, 2013 at 1:42 am
  • Reply Julie

    Oh friend this made me cry. Thank you for sharing your heart and your story. I’m so thankful you are letting God change you and free you through the pain, and that you can already count the beautiful ways He has blessed your family through Mason. He is good.

    March 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm
  • Reply Laura D

    Lauren, I love the mix of statistics and your family’s own take. Mason sure is one handsome boy! Snuggling is one of the best parts of being a parent. A couple weeks ago I started reading a blog about a family who adopts children with special needs from other countries. They have 3 children with Downs Syndrome and she too celebrated World Down Syndrome Day. Her blog is:

    March 26, 2013 at 1:10 am
  • Reply leslie.kidd

    Thanks for sharing! I would love to meet Mason and see him interacting with you and your family. I’ve meet a few children and a young man with Down Syndrome and I always thought they were so friendly and wonderful to be around. May God continue to bless and grow your family!!

    March 26, 2013 at 3:22 am
  • Reply avgoins

    I remember when our daughter was born with DS and how devastated we were in the hours after we were told the news. Now, 3 years later, as I look at her dance around our living room I feel silly and embarrassed by how we reacted. She is an amazing little girl and we wouldn’t change a thing about her.
    Thanks for sharing your story and I hope all the best for you and your son. Keep up the positive attitude!

    April 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm
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