Reshma Stanislaus tells us about her pregnancy with son Ishaan. She describes him as the glue of her family who is doted on by his older siblings.
She tells us “He is a very cheerful and generally, happy baby… stereotypes about people with DS aside (that they’re always happy)… but he really IS always ready with a smile.
He has taught us so much about resilience, strength and what is truly important in life.”
As always we are happy for our stories to be shared.
I was anxious throughout my pregnancy with Ishaan. In the first trimester, it was because of a couple episodes of spotting. I was worried that I was going to miscarry, as prior to Ishaan, I had already gone through 2 first trimester miscarriages. I was so relieved to get past the first trimester. In my 2nd trimester onwards, I experienced very strong and prolonged Braxton-Hicks contractions throughout the day. Preterm labour was a very real fear of mine. Other than that, my pregnancy was progressing well. We chose not to do invasive prenatal testing (we did not do it for any of our children) as this was a very much wanted and anticipated pregnancy. I figured that the usual, regular, ante-natal check-ups would be adequate care. Looking back, the only thing of note was that towards the end of my pregnancy, Ishaan’s weight had levelled off and he was on the small side (but still within normal weight range).
Our daughter, Mishka’s, birthday was on the 6th of October, so, we celebrated it as a family, doing things that she wanted to do. The very next morning, I started leaking. I was not in labour though. I was going through PROM (premature rupture of membranes). My husband, Devan, took me to the hospital and I was admitted that day. My doctor said that I could choose to wait until I go into labour spontaneously or I could be induced. I chose to wait. We welcomed Ishaan into our family a couple of days later. 37 weeks on the dot. He is our 2nd rainbow baby after Nikhil (our eldest child). When I first saw him, I already knew. My husband and I are both medical doctors and we noticed the folds around his almond shaped eyes immediately. The first thing Ishaan did when he saw me was to give me a big smile, which is so typical of him. He is generally, a very smiley and amicable baby. The midwife put him on my chest for a short while before taking him to the nursery to clean him up.
My husband and I reacted in different ways. He was upset as we were not at all prepared for Ishaan’s diagnosis. I had a bit of a delayed reaction as I was still in a daze after giving birth. When they brought him back to me, I held him and he got to meet his older siblings. It was love at first sight for them. That’s when we noticed the other features he had that were consistent with Down Syndrome.
The midwife then took him back to the nursery for his shots. Unfortunately, he developed respiratory distress shortly after that and had to be transferred to another hospital with a proper NICU (the hospital he was born in only had a small nursery). He was admitted there for around 3 weeks. He spent his first night alone but I was allowed to room in with him after that. They treated him empirically for congenital pneumonia, in view of my PROM, but later on, he developed hospital acquired pneumonia and presumed sepsis. During that admission (a few days after his birth), we were told that he also had a few holes in his heart. He was discharged well, with a cardio referral.
Initially, he was under conservative management and was put on a low dose of anti-failure medication. However, he had bouts of being unwell, when he first came home, so, it was always a case of, “one step forward and two steps back” when it came to weight gain. Eventually though, he was diagnosed with FTT (failure to thrive) and planned for surgery.
His surgery was done in March of this year. He had to be admitted for almost a month as he developed several post-operative complications. The recovery period was tough on us all but we’re overjoyed to have him well again and back at home with us. Ishaan is our littlest fighter. He has gone through so much and has taught us so many things in these past few months. When your child is unwell, everything else just falls away and your only wish is for them to have their health back. It puts things in perspective. The Down Syndrome diagnosis became irrelevant. As a family, we have many beautiful memories of Ishaan, Mishka and Nikhil. We look forward to many more.
I wrote this poem about him, after we got home from his first hospital admission…
~Our Littlest Fighter~
He is here…
To make us love and appreciate each other more.
To be gentle and kind to one another.
To be grateful for all that we have.
To be strong and united.
To stand for something.
To fight for a cause.
To accept the perfectly imperfect.
To have hope.
To cherish the good and withstand the bad.
To be led by faith and not fear.