Today was the first time I've seen a newborn with Down syndrome. Well I guess I should correct myself - with suspected Down syndrome. We still have to wait on the chromosomal tests. But my attending is pretty sure that's what it is. This is a baby who pediatricians would lovingly call an FLK (Funny-Looking Kid). With FLKs, we always look at the parents to ensure they aren't FLPs (Funny-Looking Parents) - this baby's parents were not. So we had to consider other reasons, one of them being Down syndrome. She has several of the classic findings: downward-slanting eyes, flattened nasal bridge, protruding tongue, redundant neck tissue... and she is SO cute (well technically being cute is not a classic finding, but I just had to throw that in there). She was wearing this little yellow onesie, and was looking around the room, trying to figure out what was going on. Her parents did not take the news very well. They kept saying things like, "Well she just has a lot of swelling around her eyes" and "She has a lot of fat under her chin, maybe that's why she has all that tissue in the back of her neck, too". This is their first child. I'm sure nobody wants to be told their first child may have Down syndrome. I felt really bad for them. And the worst part is, the chromosomal test won't come back for a month. Can you imagine being a new parent, wondering for 4 long weeks whether or not your child is normal? It must be so frustrating.
The experience made me think of a book I read, called "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards. It was an excellent book - I highly recommend it. It's about a doctor who gives his child away because she has Down syndrome. Very sad, and very moving. I hope this family I met can deal with whatever diagnosis ends up being given to their daughter. And if it's Down's, I hope they can manage to be as excited about her as they would be about a healthy "normal" baby girl. I found an interesting video from the Christian Broadcasting Network, interviewing parents of Down's children. I don't know how to post it, so here's the link: http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/191521.aspx. I really enjoyed the video - it gives you a different perspective. Now if you really want a heart-warming story about Down's children, go buy (or borrow) the book I recommended!