Monday, November 10, 2003
Tomorrow is Veteran's Day.
It's also my wife's birthday. The congruence of the two dates makes it easy for me to remember her special day (thankfully -- I am the WORST at getting cards, etc., for birthdays).
This year, I think I shall get her a book she has mentioned -- Common Threads by Cynthia Kidder and Brian Skotko.
The book is a combination photographic journal and essay on various people who have accomplished remarkable things despite the burden of Down's Syndrome.
Amy wants it, of course, because our youngest daughter, Katie, has Down's.
We didn't know about her condition until she was born. We had just moved to Ohio the day before (literally -- I drove the moving van up on Friday afternoon, Amy flew in Saturday afternoon, and Katie was born Sunday morning (early)). The first words the doctor said after a long and difficult labor (during which she was denied an epidural shot because, in the doctor's opinion, 'she didn't really need it') were not "Congratulations!" or "It's a girl" or "Here's your daughter" or even "Here she is" but instead "Nurse, have this infant checked for Trisomy-21."
Here we were in a new state, away from friends and family, not even unpacked, and the doctor starts our new child's life with THAT?
We didn't even know what Trisomy-21 was. We had opted against amniocentesis because, being pro-life, we would take whatever God had given us.
A few weeks later, a local pediatrician confirmed the news. When my wife started crying, he said "This is a genetic condition that is usually traced through the mother's genes.
Thankfully, a table was between us and him, or I might have decked him on the spot.
Do they even understand the concept of bedside manners in Ohio?
In any event, Katie has impacted all of our lives in a profound way. Our oldest daughter, Elizabeth, decided shortly after Katie was born (Liz was 8 at the time) that she wanted to be a doctor and do medical research, especially regarding Down's. Now, at age 13, she still wants to be a doctor, though I am not sure whether the research part still holds.
As for Amy and I, Katie probably saved our marriage. We were at a low point for a number of reasons, mostly due to my own failures, and Katie was and is something innocent and beyond the fray. You don't have time to fight with three or four kids -- and particularly when one is a 'special needs' child. You suck it up and move on, taking care of business the best that you can.
I hate that this is what God has burdened Katie with in order to help us save our marriage -- I will carry that as a burden for life. But I love that Katie is, and will always remain, so refreshingly innocent. Although she is now five, she is developmentally about two (my favorite age).
Anyway, that's the reasoning behind Amy's present. I suspect it will go over well.