All my three pregnancies were good. I could eat and sleep and I only felt nauseous. So you can imagine the weight I put on. Thankfully, I lost most of them when I breastfed the children.
When I was expecting Li-Ann, I had an inkling that she may have Down syndrome (DS). I was surprised and concerned. But God’s still, small voice said,’Trust Me.’ So I did. Regular scans showed everything was fine. During the detailed scan at 20 weeks, my gynecologist noticed a white spot on the heart. He suggested further checks and said there was a possibility that the child may have DS. The results was supposed to help us to decide to keep or abort her. Hubby and I talked and prayed. Aborting the baby was not an option for us. Hence, we decided not to spend money on the tests. Again, God reminded me to trust Him. Li-Ann was born a full-term baby, naturally without epidural, on 8 January 2005 at 1209 hours at Mount Alvernia Hospital. She sucked very well right after delivery. However, I didn’t see my baby for at least half a day. I sensed something wasn’t right as a newborn who was totally breastfed should be hungry within a couple of hours. Even if my baby had DS, she still needed food. The nurses didn’t want to reveal anything except that the pediatrician would tell me personally about my baby’s condition. The pediatrician was ‘99.9% sure’ LA has DS and said the blood test was the 0.1% that would confirm this genetic condition. He then went on to tell us that LA was born with an imperforate anus and that was the reason why she could not be fed and was kept on the drip. Having delivered less than 24 hours ago and to hear of my baby’s condition in such a factual and clinical way was so unkind. Surely there could be some empathy…
While we waited for the blood test results, we had to first resolve the issue of LA not having an anus. We were recommended a very good and experienced doctor at NUH. So we discharged ourselves in the middle of the night and then admitted LA to the A&E at NUH. The team of doctors saw her soon after, assured us they would do their best and quickly did the initial tests and scans. With the results, they proposed a three-staged procedure – a) create a hole at her side so that the gas and faeces would collect in the colostomy bag b) as soon as LA reached a good weight of 5kg, she would undergo another surgery where the anus would be created c) when the created anus was sufficiently dilated and condition deemed satisfactory, she would then have the hole at her side closed.
I was grateful when LA FINALLY reached the magic weight of 5kg as she was beginning to be more mobile and active. I remembered being so excited as the last 9-10 months prior to that was very trying – draining the gas and poo from the colostomy bags, cleaning and changing the expensive bags (the cutting and sticking was like doing craft work), changing LA’s clothes and bedsheets when the bag leaked (either due to my poor skills or because LA moved around too much) etc. Right after the doctors closed the hole at the side, I was told to listen for the first fart and also to look out for the first lot of poo she passed out. It was like looking for gold – something so precious as they signify that the intestines were working well. I prayed for God to continue to extend His mercy to LA as she was recovering. My only regret was not taking a photo of that first poo in the diaper 😦 Anyhow, God knew all and had held her in His bosom all this while. Praise the Lord she recovered quickly.
The blood test confirmed that LA has DS. Chee Meng and I talked about how we felt, where we could get help, how to help her and how her future would be like. Remember God telling me to trust Him? That kept me calm and rational. We also wondered if our expectations should be lower for LA. As I had taught John and Rebecca at home myself and having read up about home schooling, I realised that for learning to be effective, it should be tailored to the child’s learning style and also at a pace comfortable for the child. I resolved to love LA just as I’ve loved John and Rebecca and would not expect anything less than what she could achieve. If I had to teach her 50 times for her to understand, I would. If I had to give her 10 minutes more for a task, I would. If Method A doesn’t work, I would try Method B. Why? Because I know eventually she’ll get it. And you bet she did!! We are so happy we have her and she’s such an adorable cutie. We never see her as a burden because she is a blessing from God. God has been faithful and has provided for ALL of her needs and ours.
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.