In December 2016, my husband Isaac and I welcomed our first child. The day after our son Pederson was born, our world was shaken when our pediatrician indicated that she believed he may have Down syndrome. Pederson’s diagnosis was confirmed two weeks later, and we quickly found ourselves attending a plethora of doctors’ appointments and evaluations for which we were unprepared.
At four days old, we made our first visit to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, our local CMN Hospital, for an echocardiogram. We are very fortunate that Pederson’s heart is healthy and that he has not had to face many of the additional health struggles typical with a Down syndrome diagnosis. Despite that fact, we still have numerous regular checkups to make sure that Pederson’s health is on track including visits with his cardiologist, audiologist, ophthalmologist, and geneticist. Pederson generally attends at least twice the number of doctors’ appointments as a typical child his age. I cannot describe how much comfort it gives us to have such an incredible CMN Hospital in our hometown!
Although Pederson regularly visits these various departments of Arkansas Children’s Hospital for checkups, a particular emergency trip when he was almost seven months old will always stand out to me. Many people don’t know that children with Down syndrome are more susceptible and more affected by some childhood illnesses. This particular evening, Pederson started showing symptoms of a stomach virus that quickly turned scary. My typically happy child was inconsolable, and we were terrified. My husband and I rushed him to the emergency room at Arkansas Children’s Hospital where we stayed through the night so Pederson could be monitored. The following morning, my husband opened the blinds in the hospital room to look out onto a lovely outdoor courtyard. Isaac immediately exclaimed “Well that’s beautiful,” and my eyes welled with tears. The courtyard we were seeing was the same courtyard I had worked on with my chapter as a Phi Mu collegian when we volunteered for the hospital.
I think it is so easy to assume that the efforts we are contributing or the small amount of money we are donating do not matter. I myself remember working in that courtyard as a collegian and thinking that what I was doing was not making a real difference. I want to tell you that it is! Every moment, every dollar matters. It matters to the exhausted parents who are doing everything they can to care for their children and it matters to the doctors and hospital staff providing that care. After that night, I will never take for granted the efforts, however small, of those who volunteer and donate to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
We celebrate Down syndrome in our home and all of the beautiful things we have learned from and through it. Pederson is the greatest gift we have ever received, and I am so thankful to our local CMN Hospital for all of the education and care they have provided and will continue to provide for our family. From a grateful mom and fellow Phi Mu sister, I say thank you for all you do to help support an organization that makes those things possible!
If you would like to support kids like Pederson, please consider making a $5 donation on in honor of Child Health Day. You can #CommitForTheKids and become a #MiracleMaker.