An Unexpected Christmas Gift

Lynn Thibodeau Cyr is our FND transition coordinator and the proud mother of Annie. From the mom’s perspective, Lynn shares how Annie came to her life as an unexpected Christmas surprise and has continued to surprise her and everyone around with her personality and ability to achieve everything she has dreamed of. Annie is nowadays a young woman who keeps pursuing her dreams as she continues to defeat the limits imposed by society on people with Down syndrome. As Lynn shares, Annie can accomplish everything she wants, even though it may take a little longer.

Almost 24 years ago, I received an unexpected Christmas gift…I was pregnant at 39 years old!!! WHAT!?? How could this happen? (never mind, I knew how it happened, duh) I thought I had started “the change of life.” But there it was, the two little pink lines!!! Fast forward to 20 weeks and the sonogram showed a baby girl…which I just knew all along. I also knew that her name was Anne-Marie and she wanted to be called Annie….she had told me in a dream.

Friday evening, July 31st, 1998 was our last LaMaze class with the Special Beginnings Birthing Center (now since closed) in Winter Park. At that time, I didn’t have medical insurance, and other than my ‘advanced’ age, I had always had ‘text-book’ pregnancies (ex: gain 25 lbs, no gestational diabetes, no hypertension, no complications). Having a natural birth with a midwife seemed like the best way to go. We walked into the center at 10 am on August 1st, 4 killer contractions later, and Annie came into the world. She weighed 7lbs, 6oz, was 20 inches long, 8 on the Apgar Scale (not a 10 since she hardly opened her eyes) and we were home by 3 pm! I wish I could copyright that formula so I could market it to every pregnant woman out there!!!!

This was on a Saturday and we didn’t see the pediatrician until Monday. The pediatrician state that Annie looked yellowish, which was a sign of Jaundice….. And signs of Trisomy 21. I had never heard of Trisomy 21 — an extra copy on the 21st chromosome — commonly known as Down syndrome….” but only a blood test can confirm that.” Little did I know what an amazing life Annie would introduce me to.

She has THE BEST SMILE that I have ever been blessed to witness. She is sensitive to others’ feelings and loves every genre of music. Some might think that stubbornness is a personality trait for people born with Down syndrome. I think of it as perseverance and tenacity. My girl doesn’t give up until you understand the exact words that she is trying to say to you!!! I never gave up on her. We took advantage of Early Steps, the extra help in public school, and many social activities where she was included as ‘one of the gang’. Over the years, I have shared much of her life on social media with the intent of providing hope and positivity to others who don’t have a family member with Down syndrome. It’s a normal reaction to be anxious when you first hear the diagnosis. Hopefully, the pictures of her journey can reduce that anxiety.

This picture was taken two years ago when my girl was taking scuba diving lessons at our local pool. She accomplished her Certified Adaptive NAUI Certification and was able to dive with her instructor in the NEMO aquarium at Disney’s Epcot and in the river at Rainbow Springs. I have never forgotten the words I first read when I learned of her diagnosis…” she can accomplish anything every other child can…it will just take a little longer”

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