Author: Emily Denholm, ds-connex team member
Approximately 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, with an average of 6,000 of those babies having Down syndrome. So, what is the likelihood four babies with Down syndrome would be born over four days in a row at the same hospital? Meet Clyde, Ivan, Emily, and Jake; four babies who each happen to have an extra chromosome and were born a day a part from each other (July 28 – 31, 2014) at WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center in Marietta, Georgia.
Born first among the four was Clyde. “He is the most energetic, active, curious, inquisitive little boy,” said his mom, Leanne. “Clyde loves figuring out how things work and making everyone around him laugh. I think what brings Clyde the most joy is being around his family and friends. He also likes playing ‘rough’ with his daddy!”
The day after Clyde was born, Emily came into the world. Nancy, Emily’s mother, described her as “such a happy little girl.” She enjoys playing with toys, reading books, and climbing on just about everything. “She lights up a room when she smiles.” Nancy shared with us how amazed she is at how much Emily has grown. “Her personality has blossomed so much and she has really started to show it off.”
The day following Emily’s birth, Ivan arrived. “Ivan is the funniest and most loving child and would give up anything for a good cuddle,” said his mom, Nadia. Ivan makes it known his likes and dislikes, but at heart is “a total goofball and loves to make silly faces to make people laugh.” He also loves his dogs and any reason to be outdoors, whether it’s his swing, sand or water.
Born on the last day of July was Jake. “This boy loves people,” shared his mom, Carrie. “He loves to see smiles and is constantly surfing the crowd looking for that eye contact and smile from someone. His 5-year-old sister can always brighten up his face. He thinks she is just the funniest thing ever.” Jake is also known in his family for his hearty appetite. “There are not many times during the day he’ll turn down a meal and/ or snack of any kind!”
At the time their children were born, none of the parents knew each other or that 3 other children in the hospital had been born with Down syndrome. Ivan’s mother, Nadia, shared with us, “The social worker at Kennestone Medical Center was amazing and asked if she could share our contact information among the families.” It was the first time the social worker had ever seen a scenario like this. Emily’s mom, Nancy, recounts a similar conversation with the social worker. “At that point, I had no idea how special these other families were and how close we would become. I shared my contact info, hoping for the best, but got so much more.”
Soon the families decided to meet to get to know each other, and their little ones, better. Nadia remembers this meeting fondly and recalled walking away from it with an overwhelming sense of comfort in knowing “You’re not alone in this.” Added Nancy, “From the first meeting, we all bonded and quickly formed friendships that will stand the test of time.” It was at that point, the parents decided to make this first meeting the first of many. The families now meet once a month for a mini play group.
“Having this bond means the kids will have lifelong friends,” shared Nadia. Knowing this is a great comfort to her and the other parents. The connection these families have formed has allowed them to be a support for one another. “We share therapy notes. We share doctors’ advice. It’s so much more than emotional support.” One of the favorite things the parents enjoy each time they get together is seeing how much the kids have changed. “I’m in awe because all of the kids are so different, yet so similar. Each child has their own personality; it’s really fun to see!”
At their June 2015 get together, the topic of the Atlanta Buddy Walk® (hosted by the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta) arose in conversation. Nancy reflected, “It is so powerful and amazing that we all found each other; there was no doubt we would be on a team together for the Buddy Walk®.” Soon after, Team Kennestone Krew (named for the hospital where the babies were delivered) was born.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Team Kennestone Krew blog spotlight!
This post is a part of our ongoing Walk Team Spotlight blog series, which profiles Down syndrome walk teams sharing their unique backstories, as well as fundraising, recruitment and networking tips! Check back for future posts in this series coming soon. Submit your walk team’s story.