Silence; it was silent in the room, the doctor and nurses were silent, the boys were not crying and there was a calm yet nervous manner between everyone in the room. One of the nurses explained that both boys were fine and in no danger and that they were being cleaned and prepared for us to hold. This was taking place in a room connected to the delivery room with a window in which we could see doctor and nurses huddled together, taking care of our children, yet they were speaking so softly we could not hear them.
The doctor re-entered and immediately closed the door to the room we were in, the friends that were still there had gathered just outside, but the doctor had something to say that he wanted us to hear before our friends heard it. He had the nurses hand each of us a son, then he looked at both of us, in our eyes, and said, “Your sons, both of them, have Down syndrome.”
It is hard to describe all the emotions that I went through at that very moment, I was excited about my sons entering this world and at the same time, I was scared at the news that had been delivered with them. In some way, I felt hollow; as if someone had kicked me in the chest so hard it had knocked the breath out of me. Too scared to be shocked, I was concerned for Michele; she had just delivered two children and was physically exhausted; now she had just learned that her children had been born with a disability. My concern was for her well being, both physically and emotionally, how would she deal with this and what could I do to make it all better.
Michele went into shock and rightfully so, she cried uncontrollably. I stayed with her until she slept and that came with the aid of a sedative administered by doctor’s orders.
It was 2 in the morning, I had sent my mother home, she needed rest and I needed her rested so that she could be back at the hospital early in the morning in order to help me with whatever I might need help with. Not knowing anyone else I could call for help, I went to a payphone and called Michele’s parents inWyoming.
Not knowing what else to say, I informed Michele’s father, Marty, that he was now the grandfather of two little boys and that his daughter was sleeping. Then I asked him what he could tell me about Down syndrome, I remember a pause, and then he calmly explained what he knew, medically, about Down syndrome. This was the second conversation with someone in the medical profession that had no ‘joy of childbirth’ tone to it. All I really remember of the conversation is him telling me that barring any health related concerns, that the boys would be just fine and in time, we would learn more about the disability. So I made it my priority to make sure that my children were in no immediate medical danger, then, I focused on Michele and her state of mind.
Realizing it is now after 3 in the morning, I needed to get home, clean up and return to the hospital. I wanted to be with Michele when she woke up, so that she wouldn’t be scared and alone. I checked in with the nursery and let them know that I would return in a few hours, the nurses informed me that one of the boys, (I don’t really remember which one) had a low blood oxygen level and was in an oxygen tent, the other was sleeping peacefully.
From the time I left the hospital until the time I walked into the grocery store to buy Michele some flowers at 7AM, I do not remember anything. The only reason I remember the store was that our favorite clerk had given us a scrap book as a gift and she wanted to know if Michele had delivered yet. For the first time I suddenly began to cry as I tried to explain what was going on, I’m sure I did a horrible job of letting this very caring woman know that I was a proud father.
When I arrived at the hospital, Michele was already awake, in pain and crying. She apologized to me and I immediately let her know that she was not to blame in the fact that our, let me repeat that, that OUR sons, had been born with Down syndrome. Next, I wanted to hold my sons, so I called the nurses’ station and asked if that was possible, Michele said that she was not ready, so I went to the nursery and held each little boy. I held them and cried and I told each of them that I promised to take care of them and to love them and that I would figure out this Down syndrome thing and that I would be the best dad they could ever ask for and that we would have a loving family and that our lives, mine and Michele’s, would be so much better because they, Kyle and Hunter had been given to us as a gift.
Next, I returned to Michele, she was not ready for visitors and in fact when our friends heard the news, most stayed away. Those that did visit caused Michele to start crying again, so we kept most away unless they were on a list that was policed by the nurses and those at the visitors’ desk. One visitor however, changed our lives in a magical way, she was the neo natal nurse from the delivery room, I think her name was Pauline, it’s a shame I don’t remember for sure, what I do remember is that she gave us some information that would help us, to cope and to understand what Down syndrome, (DS) was. She explained that she knew of an organization that supported parents of children with DS and that she would have someone call, with our permission. We agreed, and on Sunday, March 13th, another angel appeared in our lives.