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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Photographs of a Very Special Child | Maris Ehlers Photography

More than 4 million babies are born in the US every year.

5,000 of those babies are born with Down Syndrome.

40% of children born with Down Syndrome have congenital heart defects.

Only 275 people in the last 25 years have documented cases of both Tetrology of Fallot and Complete ASVD.

Gabriel has all three. 

Here is a very sobering image of little Gabriel in the hospital given to me by his father. 

This was Gabriel exactly two months ago.  

Look how far he has come! 

That means that at 4 months of age, this little guy has been through more than most of us will ever experience in a lifetime.  It means countless emergency room visits, surgeries past and yet to come, a feeding tube and lots and lots of worry.

But beyond all of that, beyond the worry, is the wonder.  The wonder of the miracle of life, of a little baby responding to the sound of his mother's voice, of his complete contentment in her arms.  The wonder of the love the parents have for this tiny child, and the hope is there, too.  The hope that the worst of his battles are over, that he will know and enjoy the love his family has for him for a very long, long, time.

As Gabriel's mom words it, "Gabriel is a very special and amazing baby.  He was born with several health problems including Tetralogy of Fallot and a complete AVSD defect as well as respriatory issues, Down Syndrome and more. He has already had open heart surgery and will have another surgery in the coming months.  We almost lost him but he fought his way back to us and  we are so thankful to have him in our lives.  His strength is overwhelming.  He has maintained  a wonderful disposition through it all.  Watching what he has been through, seeing where he is now and still has to go is truly humbling.  He has two beautiful brothers and a large family and circle of friends who love him very much.  We are blessed to have him home and in our lives."

Special babies are special people.  Special people teach us special things.  They remind us of the wholehearted simple things that life has to offer:  love, acceptance, kindness, support and most of all, grace.

The big bro Donovan.  What a spunky smile he has! 

Dad said this was one of the first times he had been able to hold Gabriel without his feeding tube etc., attached.  You can see the joy on Dad's face (Gabriel's, too!).  

Whew... that was hard work. 

Can you see the mischief in Zack's eyes?  :) 

Thank you Ward and Donna for sharing your lovely family with us. I wish for all of you many blessings. 


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