Humans of Calvert County, Sarah Merranko & Anita Santoyo

“ I always declined the blood test with all three of my pregnancies. I was raised in the Catholic church, my dad’s a Deacon in the Catholic church, and abortion was something we would have never considered anyway. So we felt that whatever God gives us, he gives us. I had sonograms the week before I had him, and they didn’t pick-up on anything like the flat nasal bone. We didn’t have a family history, so we didn’t think it would be an issue. “

My youngest, Michael, was a surprise baby, and we found out a few days after he was born that they suspected that he had Down’s Syndrome. I thought it as soon as he was born, but I talked myself out of it. But then our nurse….thank God for that nurse, she started putting the pieces together that she felt uneasy about; his body temperature not regulating, not eating, and she did a heart test on him, and he failed. She came back to the room with a doctor, and not him, and they told us the results of his heart test, and that they suspected he had Down’s Syndrome. He was flown out to Georgetown from Calvert, and he spent several weeks in the NICU. They told us that if we had taken him home the next day, who knows what would have happened because he had to be put on a monitor and medication to remind his brain to breathe. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if we brought him home and he stopped breathing

When he was in the NICU, I definitely went through a period of mourning over the child I thought I would have. You know, the extremely healthy child, who lives a typical life, and goes to college, or becomes an electrician just like his father, uncle, and grandfather. But all of that probably isn’t going to happen. We are certainly going to push him within his limits of whatever he can do, and encourage and help him, but it was certainly a punch to the gut. I thought, ‘Did I do something wrong? Is that why he has this’ But after awhile, those feelings start to dissipate. He has health issues that my other two kids did not have, so that’s challenging. Feeding from a bottle was really difficult, and he has speech and physical therapy. He also has hypothyroidism and seizures, which results in sometimes 20 atonic seizures a day even with special medication and a special diet.

Someday’s I don’t know how I do it, but they depend on me. I felt like we were starting to get into a groove with his Down’s and the hypothyroidism, and then the seizures started. I definitely have moments when I say, ‘Why us? Why him? He already has so many things to deal with, why does he have to have this too?’ I’m willing to try anything to help him. It’s tough to watch as a parent. It’s really tough. The hardest things for me is not being able to fix things for him. I am grateful that his siblings are totally in love with him. As soon as they wake-up, they want to see him. They always want to hold him. They know he has Down’s, and I try to explain it to them as he is a little different on the inside how he is made.

They really love him, and they will get his bottles and toys. And since he is the youngest, he tries really hard to keep up with them. He crawled almost at the typical age and is starting to walk now because he just wants to get them and their toys. He smiles at them, and they love to try to get him to laugh out loud.

I know that I am someone who is very impatient, and always wants to know what the end result will be. I’ve had to learn that you can’t predict what will happen, and you just need to trust that you are doing the right thing. I just need to slow down and look at what’s in front of me. I’ve learned to focus on what he can do in the here and now. We can’t wait until he says mommy or daddy for the first time. He’s brought so much love and joy to my life.”

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...