At birth, Nathan was diagnosed with the most common form of Ds - Trisomy 21.
But what exactly is it?
At conception, Nathan received 23 chromosomes from Danny and 23 from me - each of our cells contain 46 chromosomes, or 23 "identical" pairs. Chromosomes are made up of strands of DNA - think of them like a spiral staircase carrying your genetic code. Every cell in your body contains these 23 pairs of "identical" chromosomes (22 determine genetic make-up and the 23rd determines gender).
In order for a fertilized embryo to develop into a fetus, cell division and duplication must take place. It is during the initial cell division that Nathan's Ds came to be - his 21st chromosome did not divide - it was copied as a whole. This is called nondisjunction, which literally means, "not coming apart." Once the initial nondisjunction occurred each division continued in exactly the same manner.
When Nathan was born Danny and I began asking - did we do something to cause Nathan's Ds? Danny really took it hard blaming himself and it broke my heart. But, we soon learned that it wasn't Danny's fault and the doctors said it wasn't something I had done either. However, my research has found, that although I did nothing to cause Nathan's Ds, that 90% of the time it is the mothers 21st chromosome that doesn't divide properly. Is that hard to deal with? Sure, but I'm over it. Does that mean if Danny and I have another baby that this could happen again - it's not impossible but highly unlikely - that's why it's called a genetic anomaly.
The above picture is what Trisomy 21 looks like at the cellular level. As you can see, there are three copies of chromosome 21.
So how does the extra chromosome affect Nathan? What could be in his future?
I'll tell you tomorrow.