Many people do not know that when I was in high school I spent ALL my free time with the special needs class. I would go in early to meet them as they were getting off the bus. I would spend my lunch hour with them, and any free hours I had during the day. I would arrange for them to come to the gym and watch me and the rest of the guard practice. I did this for 2 years.....I loved being with them so much, that I had decided that I was going to be a teacher to kids with special needs.
When I graduated high school, I wasn't ready to go to college, so I took some time off to just work and spend my time with my now husband, Mike. We got married two months before I turned 21, and when we found out I was pregnant, we were thrilled! Since I was only 21, the doctors had no reason to test me for anything. I did have the Alpha beta protein test, which tests for spinal bifida and Down syndrome. Everything came back normal. I wasn't due till the end of June of 1990, but at the end of May of 1990 I came home from work in a lot of pain. My husband, Mike, ended up taking me to the E.R. and I had to have my appendix out. I was 8 months pregnant at the time. They were able to do the surgery without doing any harm to the baby. My doctor did tell me that coming off the pain medicine may kick me into early labor, and 3 days later, still in the hospital waiting to go home, my water broke! We found out that our daughter was breech, so back into surgery I went. On May 28, 1990 at 5:50 A.M. Brittany Renee was born! She was 6 lbs and 8 oz and 20 inches long......and 4 weeks early!
The doctors knew right away that Brittany had Down syndrome, but the family didn't want to believe it. I think my husband took it the hardest. Taking off out of the hospital to walk around the whole thing. The doctors wanted him to tell me when I woke up, but he just couldn't. When I finally woke up, they told me, and I remember looking at them and saying, "ok, what do we need to do?" I knew from spending my time in the special needs class at school that this was NOT a death sentence. I also knew that the Lord had sent her to us to take care of her and raise her, and that we had a job to do. Not one time have I ever questioned Him.
Riley Hospital came and got Brittany by 11:00 A.M. and everyone, except my husband, went with them. He stayed behind to be with me since I was still recovering from 2 major surgeries in a week. I think he really needed me by his side when he did get to go up to Riley, which didn't happen for a week. While I was still in the hospital, my doctor came in holding my chart saying, "I just don't understand how she could have Down syndrome. The test came back normal." I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "It's ok."
Now it's not been a bed of roses, but it's not a death sentence either. I would not change a thing that I have done, where my daughter Brittany is concerned.
Fast forward 22 years, the year is 2012. Our little Brittany is all dressed up in her cap and gown sitting in the "green dome" with the rest of her high school senior classmates. The principal gets up to make his speech, and he starts out talking about how everyone has their own hero. They may be a movie character or in a comic book, but his hero delivers the newspaper to his office everyday with a smile on her face, that makes his day. By this time, I was in tears. I knew my daughter delivered the newspaper everyday to him, because she would always come home talking about it. She loved it! He continued to talk about how the doctor's didn't give her much hope of living when she was born. How she had been through a couple of surgeries and was in a wheelchair for a while due to one of her surgeries, but TODAY , she was going to walk up the stairs, and across the stage, to get her diploma. After he was done, he looked at Brittany sitting out there with her classmates, (I'm fighting back the tears writing this)and everyone in the green dome jumped to their feet and gave our little Brittany a standing ovation while they were wiping their own tears. Graduation went on, and when it was Brittany's time to walk up the stairs, and across the stage, I was in tears again. When they called her name, the entire senior body stood once again, followed by the audience, and she received another standing ovation! I was totally shocked that these young people showed our little Brittany so much love that day. I can say that at least 50% of the audience did not know Brittany, but it didn't matter. That day, in 2012, it was Brittany's day. A day I will never forget.