April 11, 1996, a beautiful baby girl was welcomed into the world and a day that changed the course of my family’s lives forever. Already having three beautiful and healthy children, my mother often wondered what it would be like to have a “little number four.” And on my oldest sister’s 14th birthday, Kate was born. The excitement, the happiness, and all the planning of bringing a little life into the world doesn’t leave a lot of room to think about the scary things that can happen when a child is born. Someone once told me God gives us only what we are strong enough to handle. We can not choose the hand life deals us, but we can choose how to play it.
Kate was born with Down syndrome and a hole in her heart. I will never know the emotions my parents felt that day in that hospital room; unexplainable joy turning to unexplainable grief and panic. I was 10 when Kate was born. When she finally came home, my parent’s kept a united front to keep life as “normal” as possible for us. We used to go to Myrtle Beach, SC every summer for vacation. Kate was on a feeding tube that summer because her mouth muscles were too weak to eat. My mom used to sit for hours in a chair just trying to get 3 ounces in her little body. And can you believe, my parents voluntarily packed up all four of us kids and drove the nine hours to Myrtle Beach for our summer vacation, feeding tube and all. When I asked years later why my parents were so crazy to put that much work on themselves, my mom simply said, “I never wanted you children to miss the beach.” They never wanted Down syndrome to define our lives or Kate’s. The journey has not been an easy one, but one in which my family has grown and learned from.
Kate has redefined perseverance. Every day is a struggle. But with each struggle comes accomplishment. Kate has taught our family that nothing can be taken for granted. She is so funny and she knows it, and when she cracks a random joke you can’t help but laugh out loud. Our “little number four” has brought times of sadness, times of heartache. She has brought joy and laughter; humbleness and patience; excitement and an indescribable love that has changed our family forever. And to think my parents weren’t crazy enough, they didn’t stop at number four. When Kate was 5, Hannah was born bringing the clan of kids to five. Our home is always active, loud, and constant commotion. But we love every minute of it.
March 21, 2012 is National Down Syndrome Day and today our family will celebrate our little number four that has blessed our lives with tolerance, patience, and so much love. Today we all can celebrate the feat and triumph of all the families and individuals that Down syndrome has touched.
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International Nutrition specializes in nutritional and dietary supplements for children and adults with special healthcare needs. Our Compounding Pharmacy Division offers specially-prepared, customized medications and drugs that can be formulated to be dye-free, sugar-free, and preservative-free.