The Blessing of the Extra Chromosome: One Mother’s Story

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

In an effort to share the heart of these beautiful blessings with the extra chromosome, I asked my sweet mama friend Joanna Sowders to share her story of birthing and raising one of those very special superheroes.

Because friends, after signing up to host one of these extra special superheroes this winter, I’m learning that there is nothing down about it.

In fact, more and more, it looks like the parents of Down syndrome superheroes are actually the lucky ones.

This mama sure is.

By Guest Blogger Joanna Sowders


Sitting in the ultrasound room with my husband as we waited for what seemed like an eternity will be a memory I will never forget, but even more importantly, one I will never look upon with sadness or regret.   

We found out that our son had an increased chance of having trisomy 21 at our 20-week anatomy scan. Further testing supported the suspicions of the tech, doctors and geneticists we met with in the coming weeks.  Although we did not opt for the definitive testing due to the risk to the fetus, as a mother, I just had an innate sense. I knew. 

My son probably had Down syndrome. 

The blessings began on that day in the ultrasound room.   

I will never forget the supportive calls full of encouragement and sincere excitement we received from my amazing doctor and genetic counselor and the support we received from an incredible group of family, friends and other healthcare professionals. I cringe at the stories I have heard from other mothers about that pressure they felt to terminate their pregnancy once finding out this kind of news, and I thank God for putting a strong support system in our lives.  

Our Daniel was born several weeks later with a full head of hair, bright blue eyes and an extra chromosome.  He is one of four beautiful, healthy, happy children.   

And he is perfect. 

Of course it is a roller coaster of emotions when you are faced with the realization that your child may struggle in any way in his lifetime.  But that is parenting … not exclusive to parenting a special needs child. 

Sure, we may have to devote more time to doctors and specialists than we previously imagined, but we are also growing so much as a family.  My marriage is growing stronger, and we are partners in a new and sometimes challenging adventure. That adventure has shown me another side of my husband, a wonderful side that I may have missed out on otherwise.   

Our situation has also opened my eyes to the beautiful innocence in our other children that is sometimes overlooked in the craziness that is our world today.  Our little ones are so in awe of their little brother.  To say that they adore him is an absolute understatement.  Their love is unwavering and unconditional and it is a beautiful thing to be privileged enough to witness.  I am so proud to be able to raise accepting, kind, strong little people. 

Especially when not everyone is this way. 

In the face of raising a son with Down syndrome, we have been met by the opinions of others who let their fear of something they don’t understand outweigh their willingness to learn, grow and accept.  It makes me angry, sad and hurt, but once I let those emotions run their course, it motivates me to teach and help others learn so they can accept those who may not be exactly like them.  What a gift our Daniel has given us to be able to do this.

It seems terribly cliché to say, but we feel so incredibly blessed that God put this special little boy in our lives.  Each and every day we grow and learn from him.  I am so excited, as I am with all of our children, to see what incredible things he will accomplish and to be a part of the amazing little person he is.  I treasure each and every conversation I am able to have with friends, family and strangers wanting to be a part of this new journey. 

I love seeing the good that still exists in this world and love even more that our little Daniel seems to be bringing that good out in so many.