Nathan is Hebrew and means "gift from God" - we couldn't have been more blessed than to have been chosen as his parents!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

A bit of good news!

We have two bits of good news! First, after two weeks of not gaining weight Nathan has gained 5 ounces in 7 days! The doctor was thrilled and said he never expected Nathan to do so well! When will he learn? Nathan will always defy expectations! :-) Pending any other issues Nathan doesn't need to see the doctor until he is 4 months old.

Secondly, I asked the doctor - "I realize that I'm Nathan's mom so, I think he just adorable, but when I look at him I don't see his Downs. Sometimes yes, but not a lot. Is that going to change as Nathan gets older?" The doctor said "Nathan doesn't have the striking features of most children with Downs Syndrome and I don't expect that it will change." How cool is that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As parents of an infant with Down Syndrome, Danny and I don't just worry about the really important things like Nathan's health, development, and future but also what I would consider some pretty insignificant details - like will he have friends, go to the prom, and have a girlfriend? I know this may seem vain but knowing that Nathan has been given a little reprieve in the physical characteristic department made me feel a whole lot better about those insignificant details.

When the Speech Therapist came to see Nathan that day - I asked her the same question and she confirmed what the doctor had said. I also explained to her that I had met another mother at the pediatricians office whose daughter had Downs and at 2 1/2 wasn't able to walk or talk.
She said "with Downs you just never know what you're going to get until you get there - it all depends on the card you draw." Whatever card Nathan draws will be fine because I have full faith and confidence in the care he's receiving from the Early Intervention Program, Danny and I, and our family -- the rest is up to God.

Speaking of God, yesterday at our Easter service, Pastor preached on the "Promises of God" and told a story of a boy who was about to graduate from high school. His father had promised as a graduation gift he would buy him a new car. The two went shopping and picked it out. On graduation day the father handed his son a bible - the young man was so disappointed that he threw the bible on the ground and never spoke to his father again. Many years later, the father passed away and his son returned home for the services. When he went back to his father's home he found that bible sitting on his desk. When he opened the bible he found a check for the exact amount of the car taped inside.

Although God doesn't promise us children, I couldn't help but to think of Nathan's birth and the gift He gave us. Not wrapped in the packaging we had anticipated but something much better. The father in this story didn't just give his son the money for his new car but he gave him something much better - the word of God.


Carol said...

I love this post - it's not vain at all and I completely understand where you're coming from. The story is perfect.

Mairead Elizabeth Hickok said...

Your outlook for Nathan is so positive and inspiring. What a lucky little guy he is! It's not vain at all to worry about the little things! We all want what is best for our little ones- that's our job! So glad to hear that he is doing great!

Barbara Cardella said...

Kandi & Daniel -- Thanks for the note to join your darling Nathan's blog --- what a cutie!! I don't know if we met at the conference; Michael was speaking to the self-advocate group (he also was the one who asked Karen Gaffney if she had a boyfriend). Perhaps we'll meet in the near future. (Barbara)

Anyway, this is the account of our beloved son who has a charming personality, an engaging smile, a terrific sense of humor, three jobs (including public speaking), ... and Down syndrome. Our own experience has been positive and we wouldn't trade him for anything! As Michael says in one of his speeches, "God Don't Make Junk!"
Michael just turned 30 years old, and it's been a wonderful and blessed 30 years!

The year was 1978. My husband, Santino, and I had been married a year and a half and were expecting our first child. The pregnancy was going well and life was good. I remember telling my aunt how fortunate we were as a family and how amazing it was that even though our family was so large, we had been spared from heartache and tragedy. We had no untimely deaths or disasters; we were so blessed.

Sunday, April 16th was my due date and Sandy and I went to church as usual. Though I was certainly big enough to deliver a house, there was, as yet, no labor activity. I was anxiously excited and feeling fine. The message preached that day by our pastor, Tom Bowden, will remain in my heart and mind forever. It was a sermon on the grace of God oftentimes being more significant and glorious than healing. He referenced Paul’s thorn in the flesh (eyesight) and how Paul had learned the power of God’s grace.

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Cor. 12:8-10

I remember holding and storing this truth in my heart, as if I might need it at a later time. I had not imagined how soon that day would come. Eleven days later, after a long and difficult delivery, our son, Michael, was born. He was a strapping boy: 9 pounds 7 ounces! We were so thrilled; I had so wanted my first child to be a son so our future children would have a big brother. My parents were especially ecstatic because this was their first grandchild (named after my father and brothers), and they had longed to be grandparents. It was well after midnight when we all finally got to sleep exhausted.

Early the next morning (about 6 AM) the pediatrician came to my room. She had first called Sandy to inform him that she suspected our baby might have Down syndrome, and she wanted him to tell me. Sandy knew the implication, thanked her for calling, and after whispering. “Lord, I leave it in Your hands,” returned to bed. The doctor no doubt felt he was “unable to handle the information” and decided to tell me herself. I was not familiar with the term and the doctor told me if Mike did have it, he would be “slow.” I was not shaken and remained confident, knowing that the Lord could do anything. Having a child that was “slower” than I might have expected was certainly not a tragedy to me.

A nurse came into my room right after the doctor left with my beautiful, big baby in her arms, and I innocently asked her what she knew about Down syndrome. That’s when the roof caved in. She told me, “He’ll never be an engineer; you can institutionalize him.” (Later, when told of this, my brother Mickey retorted, “Well, we know he can be a nurse!) I sat up, shocked and horrified as she proceeded to paint the most horrible picture of a vegetable that was to have been our son. Without taking a breath she blurted, “He’ll never walk, talk or know you. He will always be sick. He will need constant care,” and on and on. I tried to hide my terror and fear. “Lord, I take it back: this is not what I meant when I thought, ‘Together we can handle this’ “ The nurse left and returned with a book she said I should read. I later learned it was “standard issue” and was burned into the memories and minds of many new parents. It consisted of accounts and pictures of institutionalized people with Down syndrome; their demeanors (and lives) were pathetic. Now I cried. Holding what seemed to be an otherwise beautiful, healthy baby, I prayed for God to help me. I asked for wisdom; I asked for grace.

One thing broke my heart: I wept, begging God to let this child have enough mental (and spiritual) “ability” to know Him. That’s all I wanted: that my child could and would know and love Jesus. At that moment I felt the presence of the Lord so intensely. I knew He heard my prayer and He was pleased with the request. I felt like Solomon—I believe I had touched the Lord in faith and could have asked anything. I asked the thing that pleased God. It never occurred to me (or my husband) to ask God to remove or heal the syndrome; we knew the Lord had brought this baby into our lives. This was not an accident; he was not a mistake. (I knew God had a plan and I wanted “in” on it.)

It was then the Lord brought to mind Bro. Tom’s sermon. Yes, that was the key. Understanding flooded my heart: God’s grace in Michael’s life would bring the Lord more glory than healing him of Down syndrome could. Michael’s life would glorify Jesus. The years and events that followed have borne out that truth. The doctors said he would not live past age two with the severity of his congenital heart defect. Our God does miracles; nothing is too great for Him! We just need to seek and know His will and pray according to it. We prayed for this healing and his heart was miraculously healed, to the amazement of the doctors.

Throughout the years the Lord has faithfully touched and healed our son of so many (sometimes lifethreatening) illnesses. Jesus even healed and opened his ear canals (1992) right before he was to have a very painful and extensive reconstructive surgery. The doctor was astounded and had no medical explanation, but we all knew it was a miracle by Jesus: especially Michael. We have no fear or anxiety over his future; he’s in the Lord’s hands. Mike has a tremendous faith in God along with an incredible understanding of spiritual things. In the spirit he has no disability; in fact, he’s gifted and talented. I don’t know exactly when Michael was filled with the baptism of the Holy Ghost, evidenced by speaking in tongues; he seemed to have it ever since he was able to speak. He’s always loved to be in the presence of God and going to church to worship the Lord is his favorite thing to do. When he was thirteen he chose to be waterbaptized in Jesus’ Name for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) - it had meaning for him. The Lord is so faithful.

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty …”
1 Cor. 1:27

Because of Michael’s faith and fervor for the Lord, he can (and does) say profound things to many people about the Lord. He “preaches” the gospel with his life, and can do it without offending. He has spoken truths to our extended family and prayed for them with power and anointing and the Lord has answered his prayers. He is able to just speak the truth lovingly (without premeditation or motive) - things I would hardly dare to say.

Michael is now twenty-one years old and he has been such a blessing to us and those who know him. He is a true “big brother” to our fourteen-year-old Daniel, who looks up to Mike in many ways. Dan loves and respects his brother for his many accomplishments and his loving heart. Mike cares about people and comforts those who are hurting. He has childlike faith and loves God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. Through him we, like Paul, have all learned that God’s grace is truly sufficient for us; His strength is made perfect in weakness. That scripture (2 Cor. 12:9-10) has become Mike’s own personal testimony; he shares it with many people and also read it at his high school graduation banquet. I know in the end Jesus will say to Mike, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21). We are so thankful for his life; we are so grateful to the Lord!

We pray this testimony has blessed you and perhaps even given you a renewed thankfulness for the gifts the Lord has given you. “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48) -– we hope you will not waste them.
with love, Barbara, Sandy & Michael Cardella (1999)

e-mail address: BarbCardella@gmail.com