By Heather Ledeboer | Category: 4titude Awards
Please share the trial, set back or loss you have experienced:
I wouldn’t call it a loss by any means, but probably just a set back and trial. My son Coby was born in 1999 with Down syndrome. It was a healthy pregnancy, my first, and we were young, so the diagnosis really caught us by surprise. We had a lot of adjusting to do mentally, spiritually and physically. Instead of running to mommy and me classes I found myself running to therapies and medical specialists. I started learning about a whole new world I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d be a part of. Life had changed as we knew it.
Despite the pain you have endured, what beauty have you seen come out of this?
We really have not endured too much pain. At first maybe selfish pain, like “why me?”, but I got over that pretty quickly and fell in love with Coby for who he was. And to tell you the truth, he really was no different than any other baby. So I proceeded to treat him like “any other baby”. However, we did still have some adjustments to make regarding our circumstances and his disability. I needed to create an environment for him that would facilitate his development and provide the extra stimulation he needed for optimal growth. In addition to his developmental delays, Coby was born with hypotonia (low muscle tone) and was adversely affected by carriers that placed his legs in excessive abduction (legs spread too far apart). He also required tight swaddling. It was disheartening not being able to carry him in a forward facing position as used in traditional baby carriers. I kept reading everywhere how good it was to “wear” your baby. And so not only did I want to hold Coby closely and show him the world, I wanted to do it appropriately. I could not use any carriers that were currently on the market, and with advice from his physical therapist, I ended up partially modifying existing carriers to provide a position for him where he could face forward and see the world and get the developmental stimulation and closeness from me, while having his legs in a more developmentally appropriate posture and having a tight swaddled and secure feeling. To fast forward a number of years, this carrier (which we named Baby K’tan –it means “Little Baby” in Hebrew) became very popular and I realized it was a great carrier for all babies, which is when we began to market it. So the end result has been that so much beauty came out of his birth, diagnosis and addition to our family. He has taught us so much about appreciating the little things, showing true love, and marching to your own beat. We have met wonderful people and been a part of wonderful charities and organizations in connection to his disability and all special needs kids. And we now have a wonderful company with a product that would not have been designed had Coby not been born.
To what or to whom do you credit this beauty?
Mainly to Coby. But I know deep down inside there is a higher being that made this all happen, and that everything happens for a reason.
What advice or wisdom do you wish to share with others having been through this experience?
The simplest way to put it is not to give up, because things have a funny way of turning around in ways you never expected. And the sky might look gray in the beginning, but there is always a blue sky behind it, and if you have a hard time seeing that yourself, make sure you surround yourself with friends & family that know it’s there!
If someone else reading this is going though something similar, do you have any resources to recommend they look into further for help or support?
The best thing to do is find a local organization and support group that is connected to the disability your child has. There may be more than one, and you might want to tackle them all or take it slow, but whatever your personality, keep yourself educated and surround yourself with others who know what you are going through. That is a great resource in itself.