At the pediatrician practice we go to there are two doctors. One is laidback and amenable, quick to dismiss the occasional rash or runny nose, happy to go along with our own delayed vaccination schedules. The other one? Well, we call her Dr. Doom and Gloom. She’s a bit, shall we say, overenthusiastic about tests and hospitals. (This isn’t always a bad thing; when Matty and I thought something was wrong with Declan since he was so small, she’s the one I went to see, knowing she would order the full battery of tests I needed to assuage my fears; he was fine.)
She has sent Amy’s kids to the hospital on more than one occasion, once to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia since our local hospital apparently isn’t good enough. She has literally begged me to get my kids vaccinated on the right schedule. Oh, and she told me at Molly’s one-month checkup that she might have Down Syndrome.
With the benefit of hindsight and negative test results, I can almost laugh about the whole thing now. But when Dr. D&G told me of her concerns, I began crying and barely stopped for four days. Matty and I examined Molly from every angle looking for the markers the doctor had seen: wide-set eyes, epicanthal folds, low muscle tone. That’s it. Those were the only markers. Sometimes we saw them. Sometimes we laughed dismissively. We pored over Web sites and message boards looking for clues. We imagined our future with a child with Down Syndrome and suddenly began seeing kids everywhere with Down’s: a tween skater dude at the movie theater, an adorable child on the pages of the Nordstrom catalog.
After four days, Molly began to be more alert and awake for longer periods. Her eyes, epicanthal folds and all, no longer looked even remotely Down-esque. The wide spacing of her eyes looked like her brothers’, nothing more. By the one-week mark, we were already fairly convinced that Molly did not have Down; that night, the other doctor in the practice called and told me he very much doubted that she did.
By the time the tests came back on Friday, confirming that Molly did not have Down Syndrome, I was relieved, but not surprised. Though (I hope) it goes without saying that we would love Molly no matter what, life is hard enough without starting out with the deck so heavily stacked against you. Down’s kids have a myriad of health problems to contend with, not to mention the social inequity from being so different. I’m sure Molly will have to endure many social hardships in her life, whether she’s a purple-haired tattooed Goth chick or nerdy straight-A student. Or both. I’m just happy that this is one hardship she won’t have to endure.