As most of you know, one of my twin boys has Down Syndrome and the other does not. One thing I have found is that we have not come across many other families like ours, so I thought it might be helpful to share our experience thus far.
First, to answer a question I get most often…
No, we did not know Dominic’s diagnosis before birth.
I think this is a good jumping off point. We did not know that Dominic would have DS but we were aware of the possibility. Because I was pregnant with twins and had undergone IVF, I was immediately referred to a specialist because I was considered high risk. There, it was suggested that I take a chromosomal blood test to check for any abnormalities. Although the test could not tell us a definitive yes or no, it could tell us if there was a greater chance of one or both babies having a chromosomal abnormality. My test revealed that there was a greater chance for one or both of the babies to have DS. At that point, they asked if we wanted to do further testing for a definite answer, and we chose not to put our babies at risk because we knew it didn’t matter to us.
I had a relatively easy pregnancy and neither babies showed any “soft markers” for DS. Many babies show signs of having DS while in utero, but both babies looked perfect until the last month of my pregnancy. Dominic’s growth had slowed down and there was a definite placental issue, so instead of letting me go to full term, my doctor decided to induce me at 37 weeks. In that last month, as a final attempt for Dominic to gain some weight, I increased my protein and caloric intake. It worked and my boys were born at 37 weeks at 5 lbs 5 oz and 5 lbs 12 oz.
From birth, we could see that Dominic could have DS but he lacked a lot of the physical traits, so the only way for an accurate diagnosis was to get his umbilical cord blood tested. Shortly after birth we received the confirmed diagnosis. A lot of people share that they felt grief upon learning their new baby has DS. I think that the early on chromosomal test is when I grieved. I took that news very hard because we had worked so hard to get pregnant and I felt like once we actually got pregnant, everything would be perfect. I was worried that we would have anything less. Little did I know, my boys are beyond perfection. I know how that sounds, but it’s true.
While we were still in the hospital, there was a moment with Dominic that I will always cherish. I took him in my arms and held him close, smelling his head and kissing his face, telling him how I felt about this life we would share together. I told him that people may not see how special and wonderful he is right away. They may make judgements before they get to know him. That things may be harder for him. That we will need to support one another every step of the way. But first and foremost, he is loved and wanted. We could never possibly understand what this love would feel like. To be a new mom and have these two gorgeous babies was nearly too much for my heart–I thought it could burst.
Twins are a very special and unique thing. My boys have known each other since the very beginning, and to see them smile at each other, you know that their bond is unbreakable. I know that there will be fights and jealousy, but I believe in my heart that they will always support one another. I feel like they were born to be together, to be best friends. To know that Dominic will teach Giovanni to love without bounds and to be inclusive, while Giovanni will teach those around him by his example, is such a gift. I think that they will be each other’s biggest fan and protector.
So, yes, one is not like the other and that’s how we like it in our home. True individuals but cut from the same cloth.