By: Tyce & Kelly Jackson
When we were told that Kennedy was being tested for Down syndrome along with being born with a fatal heart defect I pretty much thought my world had came to and end.
I remember our Dr. getting choked up as he was telling me and me responding with " No! I had the test it came back negative!"
I am going to be honest here and admit that if the test had come back positive I would have considered termination. Growing up I knew of someone's brother who had Down syndrome, and my vision of him was that of a vegetated state. That was over 35 years ago and the medical field has come a long way since.
Looking back now, I am so thankful for that negative result. I can't say it has been easy but I can say it has been worth it.
When we were able to return home after 3 weeks of living at The Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco, 4 hours away from our home town that was when my true journey began.
I had two other daughters Kirstin and Kendall ages 13 & 9 to take care of. I also had to coordinate with therapists ,social workers and doctors for Kennedy . It seemed never ending.
During the first 6 months I was embarrassed to take Kennedy out as she had a feeding tube, leg braces, a huge scar on her chest and the obvious signs of Down syndrome.
I did not want anyone asking me what was wrong with her because that would have resulted in me having a complete melt down.
Then one day after her second heart surgery and a clear bill of health, it happened. I came to the realization that I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and focus on creating a bond with Kennedy. I made it a point that she was going to be raised the same way my other girls were being raised.
At one point in time I met a mother who was in the same support group as myself and watched as her little boy, who was about 4 at the time, play and wrestle with his dad at the park. It was exactly what you would expect to see from any 4 year old boy.
If you are a new or expectant parent of a child with Down syndrome, I would highly suggest reaching out to a support group in your area but never compare your child to any other child.
I look back now and I would do it all over again in heart beat. Do I ever wish that my child was not born with Down syndrome? Sure, who wants their child to struggle through life and have so many health issues but I believe Kennedy was sent to us and that test was negative for a reason and that was to teach me and everyone that she comes in contact with a lesson.
We might not all get the same lesson but she has taught us all a little something. The one thing that I remind myself often, more so when she was younger and spent so much time at the hospital is " If you think you've got it bad somebody else has it worse."
Kennedy is a funny, strong willed, stubborn, loving kid that is all girl. We have worked hard to keep her up with her typical peers and we have never set any limitation on her,encouraging her to give everything a try.
Kennedy will do great things. She is already making her mark in our home town and the people and kids that know her love and accept her 100% and it does not get any better than that.
Photo Credit: Amy Lindsey Photography
Name: Kennedy Leigh Jackson
Age: 10 years old
From: Redding, CA
Favorite Food: Pasta
Favorite Movie: Teen Beach
Favorite person: Sisters: Kendall & Kirstin
Best Friends: Lexi & Avery
Favorite Past time: Dancing & Singing