A Guest Post by Yvonne Pierre
Shortly after giving birth to Zyon, he was taken to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) because he couldn’t digest or hold any fluids down. My husband and I had to wait before we could go see him. Every minute felt like an hour. Once we received the call, we immediately went to see him. As we stepped off of the elevators, there was a team of doctors near the entrance. I could see one of the doctor’s mouth motions, “Here they come.” My heart dropped.
Wait. Let me back up for a second. At 5 months pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I had to inject 3-4 shots per day into my stomach. I was put on bed rest because my pregnancy was high risk. My doctor feared that I would have a stillbirth or the baby might go into shock after they cut the umbilical cord due to the baby’s dependency on insulin. I had both of my sons early. Zyon was 5 weeks premature and my oldest son Zyair 4 weeks premature. Zyair is 10 years older than Zyon.
Back to the hospital. So, as we came down the hallway to go visit Zyon in NICU, I felt like everything started to move in slow motion. I had to remind myself to breathe.
After the doctor told us that she suspected that Zyon had Down syndrome, a diagnosis that I had no idea about, I zoned out. The CDC reported that there are 1 in every 700 babies born with Down syndrome. Although I didn’t know anything about Down syndrome, after she said those words I saw the doctor’s lips moving but I couldn’t hear what she was saying. All I could think of at that moment was that he might not live. “Can we see him?” I asked. She took us to go see him. I stood by his bedside. All I could see was that his tiny body was covered with tubes, IVs, monitors, and oxygen.
I excused myself and went to the bathroom. It was a single restroom. I locked the door, slid to the floor, and cried. While crying, I caught myself. I stood up and walked over to the mirror. As I wiped my tears, I thought “What are you crying for? He’s alive. And he needs you. Get up.” I vowed to myself at that moment that I will focus on what Zyon needs and give him the love that he deserves. I never cried like that again. When I went back to his bed, I was able to see past the tubes and see HIM. I promised him that no matter where this road led, I would never leave his side. I will never be so focused on me and how I feel that I lose sight of him.
When we received the results of my son Zyon’s diagnosis, the geneticist told us not to get our hopes up high. He told my husband and I that we’d be lucky if Zyon can tie his shoes. He went on to say that he wouldn’t be much of a contribution to society. I was very upset, not because Zyon had Down syndrome, but how this doctor was speaking of him as if he was not human. Zyon is 18 years old now. The life lessons learned are indescribable. The doctor was wrong, Zyon does contribute to society. His contribution is the many life lessons taught to most, if not all, that he’s come in contact with over 18 years.
Zyon is a Special Olympics athlete that plays soccer and basketball. He played for the MLS Atlanta United Unified team as part of a Special Olympics inclusion initiative. He’s an orange belt in martial arts. He played baseball for two seasons for the Horizon League. Zyon loves to dance and entertain. He’s performed in three talent shows so far. He loves playing video games and is very good at it. The benefits of keeping him involved in activities that he enjoys are endless.
Since 2005, I’ve been advocating positive awareness through projects in hopes to give parents who may struggle with accepting their child’s diagnosis a different perspective. My most recent project, ZOEY is a fiction book about a mom, Claire, who struggles to see her daughter in a positive light until tragedy strikes.
I didn’t accept what the doctors said about Zyon but unfortunately, many parents do. We all deal with the diagnosis differently. I believe the response is based on the core beliefs and perspectives of life, ourselves, and who we believe them to be. Zyon will not be a doctor or attorney, but he contributes to our family and society. What many deem as “a contribution” is how they economically contribute. But Zyon contributes something more priceless and meaningful than money. He might not change someone’s economic status but he changes their heart and faith status. He has touched more lives in 18 years than some people touch in their lifetime. His mere presence encourages us to be better.
Despite it all, if I could go back in time, I would choose Zyon over and over again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Yvonne Pierre is a proud wife and mom of two sons – Zyair and Zyon. Her youngest son was born with Down syndrome, which led to her advocacy. Yvonne is a writer, producer, and advocate. For more information, visit www.ypierre.com. You can find Yvonne N. Pierre’s books at www.amazon.com/author/ypierre.