‘Lucky Me’

Sheri Plucker of Snohomish wrote this story, “Lucky Me,” about her experience with her daughter Hailey, who was born with Down syndrome. The story will be featured in “Chicken Soup for the Mothers of Preschooler’s Soul,” which will be published in February.

“Lucky Me”

By Sheri Plucker

“Let us pray,” announced our pastor as we bowed our heads. Tears rolled down my cheeks, frightened for the journey that lay ahead. Only days before, an amniocentesis test had confirmed that our third child would be born with Down syndrome.

I pressed my eyes closed, pleading with God: “Why is this happening to me?”

Suddenly I opened my eyes, startled by the noises surrounding me. The congregation was talking among themselves while filing from the pews. Apparently, I had missed the pastor’s final “Amen” while in deep prayer.

I knelt down to grab my purse and wiped away the tears.

Behind me I heard someone whisper, “Sheri,” and felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned and rose to my feet, staring into the face of an older woman.

She smiled as she spoke softly. “God only chooses special parents to have children with Down syndrome. Don’t ever forget that you’re one of the lucky few.” She squeezed my hand, kissed my cheek and walked away.

A few months later, Hailey was born. The nurse smiled as she placed her in my arms. I cried tears of joy as I studied my daughter for the first time. My mission, calling and purpose for mothering this little baby with Down syndrome became clear as I cradled her gently in my arms. I was to share my unconditional love with one of God’s special children.

The fears that had permeated my thoughts before her birth were replaced with an inner peace as I remembered the words of the older woman, “You’re one of the lucky few to parent a child with Down syndrome.” A smile stretched across my face, for now her words made sense.

Hailey is now 5 years old, and we thank God daily for her presence in our lives. God chose me to be the mother of a child with Down syndrome for several reasons.

He knew I would nurture and take care of her wholeheartedly.

He knew I would support and encourage her to succeed in life to the best of her ability, regardless of her disability.

He knew I would step forward and make a difference in how others perceive children with Down syndrome.

He knew I would offer an abundance of one thing: a mother’s love.

He knew our family was the perfect home for a child with special needs, and that together we would shower Hailey with love.

In fact, Hailey’s two older brothers confirm their love daily when they fight not only for Hailey’s attention, but for her hugs and kisses as well.

“She’s my Valentine!” “No, she’s my Valentine!” the saga over Hailey’s love continues.

I envision God looking down from heaven with a smile asking himself, “Which family needs a special blessing in their life?” Every morning, we remember why God chose us to be Hailey’s parents when she climbs into our bed and hugs us while singing her favorite Barney tune.

“I love you. You love me. We’re a happy family, with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you. Won’t you say you love me too?”

She squeezes us tight, kisses our cheeks, grabs our hands and repeats the song again as we attempt to sleep through another round of Barney tunes.

Again, I am reminded of the bond between mother and daughter when I drive Hailey to preschool every morning, then climb into the car to run errands. Two hours later, I pull into Hailey’s school with my window rolled down, singing to a familiar tune over the stereo.

Suddenly I shake my head, roll up the window and chuckle to myself as I realize I am singing along to Hailey’s Barney tape again. I look around in relief: “Whew, no audience today.”

As a parent, the love for my children will never diminish but will continue to grow stronger as I strive to make a difference in their life, just as they have in mine.

Every day, Hailey looks into my eyes with a smile and squeezes me tight, saying, “Mom, I love you.”

I reply, “I love you too,” as I am reminded of how fortunate we both are to have each other.

The big purple dinosaur words sing true: “We’re a happy family.”

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