Blessed to Call You My Son
By, Jennifer Vancura
We found out that our son Camden was going to have Down syndrome halfway through our pregnancy. On ultrasound, it was discovered that he had duodenal atresia (a blockage in the duodenum, or first part of the small intestine). We were told that about one-third of infants born with duodenal atresia will have Down syndrome. At that point we had to know, so an Amniocentesis was performed.
I will never forget waiting for the call that Saturday morning. The phone rang. I was terrified to answer, knowing that in an instant I would be extremely happy or completely devastated. I picked up the phone and answered with my husband Blake sitting by my side.
I was told the news I had feared so much. Our son was going to have Down syndrome. We felt hopeless. Hopeless for what our son’s life would look like, hopeless for what parenthood would be like, and hopeless for what our family would be like – different from the one that we imagined. The dreams that we had for our son felt completely shattered.
Camden arrived on July 3, 2018, at 9:58 PM. I got to hold him for a quick picture and then they took him straight to the NICU. Camden went into surgery on July 4, 2018. Surgery went well and we were in the NICU for 2 weeks while he recovered.
Early on, we contacted the Down Syndrome Association for Families of Nebraska for support. It has been amazing to receive the support from other families and to see these families happy and flourishing. I have built strong relationships with the families in the community. We all have a special bond with each other. We call ourselves “The Lucky Few” for a reason.
Blake and I have had several high points this past year that Camden has been in our lives. Watching him grow and develop, getting to know his amazing personality, and seeing his smiles and laughs that melt our hearts over and over again. He has brought us a greater sense of purpose that has enriched our lives.
It does take a little more work for Camden to reach his milestones; but the extra effort makes every milestone a cause for celebration. We utilize the Early Childhood Development program through Lincoln Public Schools. As a team, we set goals and interventions so that Camden may reach his fullest potential.
I’ve been reflecting on our life before Camden and how humbling it has been to learn from him. One thing Camden has taught me is to accept and see the beauty in everyone. He has changed my perspective about people with unique differences and abilities. I now see immense beauty in differences, whereas before I may have thought the differences to be more of a flaw. He has taught us how to accept people as they are, regardless of their abilities and differences.
This past year we have fallen completely in love with Camden. Down syndrome has quickly become background noise. All that matters is that our child is happy and healthy. We finally realized what everyone was telling us the entire time to be true – that he is just our child. He is not the Down syndrome child; he is Camden.
If I could go back in time and relive one moment, I would go back to the day I heard the words “your child has Down syndrome”. I would want to replace that anxiety, sorrow, and anger with different emotions; hopeful ones. I wish I would not have cried all those tears, however, I do feel it was necessary to grieve the loss of the child we thought we were going to have.
To the new Moms or Dads facing the diagnosis of Down syndrome, I want you to know that in the end your child will “just be your kid”. You will love them more than you think you could love someone and you will embrace them for who they are. They will make you see life in a new beautiful way, I promise.
Try not to fear the unknown. I remember fearing all the “what if’s” and I let the fears consume me. “What if he never leaves the house?” “What if he wants to have a child someday?” “What if his peers don’t accept him?” And the list went on and on. Most of the fears that I had dwelled on, have completely faded away. Don’t waste your time fearing the unknown. Have faith that life will be better than you could ever imagine.
Camden, every day I am thankful that we were chosen to be so abundantly blessed to learn from you. How you have helped us grow! You are much more than I could have imagined prior to knowing the Down syndrome diagnosis. I am blessed to call you my son.Support Camden and families just like Jennifer and Blake’s by participating in the Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk on October 5, 2019. Every contribution, large or small, will help change lives.