Down Syndrome Awareness Month | Joyful Mamas | Guest Blogger: Maggie Szafranski


Maggie is a stay-at-home Mama to five boys. Her youngest, Matthew, has Down syndrome. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her boys and hubby and documents their days through her blog, Mighty Matthew and Instagram, using her mad photography skills-- evidenced below!

Matthew is the sweetest little guy who lights up the room with his infectious smile. He turned 1 in May and is the youngest of 5 boys! He is one of the happiest babies I have ever been around. Matthew tries so hard to keep up with his brothers, and I believe they are the best therapy he will ever get.
Maggie's words:

"At our 20 week ultrasound the doctor told us that they saw a few possible markers for Down syndrome and recommended we do genetic testing. Ten days later I got the call that my doctor wanted me to come in to go over the results. I knew instantly why they weren't telling me over the phone and I could feel my heart beating out of my chest. The doctor told us that with 99.5% certainty that our baby boy would be born with Down syndrome.
When we got in the car to drive home, my husband held my hand and looked right into my eyes and said "God has been preparing us for this baby for a long, long time, we just didn't know it." He was so right.
One of the major ways that God prepared us for Matthew was by leading us to our school and church community. The school my older boys attend is one of the only private schools in Oklahoma with an inclusive education program. On that car ride home, being overwhelmed and flooded with emotion, one of the most comforting thoughts for me was that at least I knew he would be able to go to the same school as his brothers.
Since that day, inclusive education has become a passion for both my husband and me. We firmly believe that inclusive education, whether public or private, benefits every single child. Most people would acknowledge that it benefits those who need the extra attention, but what often goes unnoticed is how much others are affected by having people with different abilities in their class. It promotes acceptance and understanding which will be beneficial for the rest of their lives.
Since Matthew was born, my husband has worked closely with a group of others to start an inclusive education program at our local catholic high school. Knowing that Matthew has his education lined up through high school takes a ton of stress off our shoulders, and knowing that he will be with his brothers just makes it extra special!"

How does Matthew bring you JOY?

"The joy Matthew brings to the world is palpable. His smile lights up a room. His funny little laugh is infectious. The look of pride he gets on his face whenever he finally accomplishes something new will melt your heart! You can see the joy radiating out of Matthew from his hands and feet when he gets excited- he expresses joy with his entire body!
In this world we live in, where everything is fast paced and everybody is busy, Matthew has reminded us to slow down and enjoy the little things. He has taught our big boys to celebrate all the little victories, and they are right there cheering him on!"

To follow more of Maggie & Matthew's story, find them over at her blog, Mighty Matthew, or Instagram: @mighty.matthew & @mbszafranski

Thanks for sharing Maggie!

Down Syndrome Awareness Month | Joyful Mamas | Guest Blogger: Steph Ferguson


Steph is a Mama to Syler and Arbor, who has Down syndrome. She and the boys, along with her hubby Cody, live in New Albany, Indiana. Arbor is a year and a half (19 months). He loves to observe and has a laugh that could melt anyone's heart.

Steph's words:

"I didn't know that Arbor had Down syndrome until he was born. I freshly remember the emotions that washed over me, mainly the fear. I had so many questions. The Lord gave me a peace over the next few days. I don't remember praying for peace, but I know someone must have been.
I started to quickly see all of the joy that Arbor's life was bringing me and I knew that even more joy would come from his life! His Down syndrome diagnosis has caused me to step up as an advocate. I have learned patience- so much patience! Most of all, Arbor's life is teaching me the value of stopping to enjoy the moment. The baby years go by so quickly- raising my older son is a testament to that- and Arbor is taking longer to reach milestones, so each one he meets along the way is a cause for celebration to the point of tears. So many people cheer with us when Arbor learns to do new things. It is pretty incredible to see how he inspires people, especially me."
How does Arbor bring you JOY?

"I think Arbor is changing the world for the better every day. Life is not about "likes" and "follows" on social media, but I see that a certain number of people follow our journey with Arbor is it humbles me because I know that these people care to see him and are curious. The community around us and our family are so loving and supportive, and that brings my Mama heart so much joy."

Find more about Steph, Arbor & their family over at her blog or on Instagram:
Insta: @thefergseveryday

Down Syndrome Awareness Month | Joyful Mamas | Christy Cooper


Christy is a stay-at-home Mama to Tierney and Kellan, where they and her hubby live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Kel, who has Down syndrome, is 14 months. He LOVES to make music, especially with his drum set. He is easy going, snuggly, empathetic, and charming beyond words. He is also a burgeoning high chair comedian.

Christy's words:

After I received a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis, I spent six whole months of my pregnancy angry and resentful. I would scroll through photos of friends' kids and feel bitter that their babies didn't have an extra chromosome. I tried to focus on all the typical, happy aspects of having a baby, like washing the tiny clothes and choosing a name. But running in the background was a constant reminder of how sad and hard my life was about to get. I was prepared to be afraid and disappointed when my son was born on July 17, 2017. Instead I fell deeply in love the moment I saw him. In my dreams he had come out and it would be immediately apparent that he did not have Ds and the doctors had just screwed up. The reality was more magical; his eyes were a gorgeous almond shape with an extra fold that was obvious. He had Down syndrome. And I didn't care one bit. He had claimed me, and it didn't matter how many fingers, toes, or chromosomes he had. He was, and is, the joy and love of my life.

How has Kellan brought you JOY?

He brings out the best in other people. I fall more in love with his dad and his big sister because of seeing the parts of them that Kel puts a spotlight on. He is also my cuddler. His sister has been independent since she was in the womb. I adore her strong will and adventurous nature, but Kellan fills in that mama need I have to hold my sleeping baby for hours. He also has the best smile and laugh. His entire face lights up when he smiles, and he laughs with his whole body. No one can stay sad when Kel is happy.

Follow Christy & Kellan over on Instagram: @mellokello717 & @shutters527

Tulsa Buddy Walk | Team Fern & Friends

Every year the Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa (DSAT) hosts the Tulsa Buddy Walk. It is organized not only by DSAT but also by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). Each year the families that are a part of DSAT create teams centered around their "Buddy" and raise money for our local chapter (DSAT) and the NDSS.

This was our second year to participate, and we had a blast!
 DSAT does a great job making this event fun and free for everyone. We ate yummy BBQ provided by Oklahoma Joe's. The kids got to interact with various animals thanks to Safari Joe's and get balloons made by Balloon Man Neil. Cindella and Spiderman even made an appearance!
The event ends with a victories walk, hence the name Buddy Walk, where each team walks with their Buddy. Lindie had quite the crew supporting her this year, which we are super thankful for. Can't wait for next year already!
 Thank you to everyone who joined us this year to celebrate team Fern & Friends!

 Click here to see the 2017 Buddy Walk

Down Syndrome Awareness Month | Joyful Mamas | Guest Blogger: Kimberly Wyse


Kimberly is a blogger, speaker and stay-at-home Mama to Eliana, Charlie and Redmond. She lives with her husband and children in the rural Midwest and loves sharing their lives through her blog and Instagram.

"Redmond, who has Down syndrome, will be 19 months old on October 1. He has a great sense of humor. A few days ago, he and I spent the day together in doctor appointments. All day he kept smiling at me and saying, "Mom, mom, mom..." It was so sweet. Then a doctor pointed to me and asked him, "Who's this?" With a twinkle in his eye, he shouted, "Dad!" Then he laughed and laughed. When the doctor left the room, she waved goodbye at him. I've been trying to get him to blow kisses at me for months and he never has. When she left the room, he dramatically kisses his hand and blew it to her! He hasn't done it since."

Kimberly's words:

Redmond's diagnosis was a surprise to us at birth. We'd seen no signs of it prenatally, so when he was born with major health issues and this diagnosis, we were shocked. As older parents, we'd been warned of the possibility. I'd been particularly afraid of it, but felt hopeful that God wouldn't allow that to happen to us. We'd waited to have children until we found one another, much later in life than most, and I felt we deserved a free pass from further challenges. It never occurred to me that my foolish idea also meant that I thought other families deserved medical complications and disabilities. We nearly lost Redmond when he was born, and it was two weeks before we knew for sure that he actually had Down syndrome and that he was going to live. We were so grateful that we get to keep him that Down syndrome became much less of a big deal than it might have been otherwise. God has dealt with my spiritual pride and other secret places in my heart through all of this. I never realized how much I desired to be "normal", how much I associated difficulty and sickness with sin and God's displeasure. God has shown me so much more as I've learned to love my precious son. He has taken me to the very end of myself and I've learned to lean on Him more than I knew was possible. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "...My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." Through Redmond, I've learned the truth of this Scripture. People may see Redmond as weak - and low muscle tone means that his motor skills are delayed, but I've also seen the phenomenon of God's strength moving through him. Miracles heaped upon miracles have bolstered our faith. And when I look at my precious son, I see more of Jesus in him than in most people. He is my great reward.

How has Redmond brought you JOY?

Redmond lights up the room with his smile and laughter. When he works so hard to reach a milestone that comes easy for most, we celebrate enthusiastically. He delights his big brother and sister too. Everyone in our family is absolutely smitten with him and I'm pretty sure he knows it! He has brought more JOY into our home than we ever knew possible.

Thanks for sharing Kimberly!

Follow Kimberly & Redmond over at her blog, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook:
Instagram: @Kimberlywyse & @redmondthewise  
Twitter: @wyse.kimberly

Down Syndrome Awareness Month | Joyful Mamas

Lindie is a happy little 19 month old. She loves being near her family and pulling her sister's hair. She loves music and twirling her paci. She is a hard worker with a laid back personality and enjoys doing all her new tricks while fighting sleep in the crib.

One of the things I love about Lindie, and one of the things that brings me immediate JOY, is how she loves us. Recently, we began a pilot program at the Little Light House. The Little Light House is an early intervention school for children with disabilities. It allows children with disabilities, free of charge, to attend a gospel-centered school four days a week to help them advance cognitively, physically and socially. Lindie has been on the wait list for the Little Light House since she was three days old.

In the meantime, the Little Light House opened a pilot program for kids and their parents on the waiting list. Basically, it's a two hour class every Tuesday and Thursday every other week for the fall semester. During the class, parents are instructed on a variety of different engaging activities with their kids. So far we have stretched through baby yoga, we've read many books together, we've learned how to do educational activities through household items, and most importantly we've gotten a chance to connect with other kids and parents.

The pilot program has been one of the first consistent times for Lindie to be around other kids her age, which has been really interesting and fun to watch. One of the things I've noticed is that being around all the kids and parents and doing all the engaging activities really wears her out. Each class is about two hours long but so far each time by the hour and half mark Lindie "checks out." She gets really tired, turns to me with her arms in the air and snuggles in. She spends the remaining 30 minutes just like that, content and cuddled in my arms.

As much as I'd love for her to participate in the remaining 30 minutes of class, I also get it. It's physically and mentally draining for her, so if it helps her to be in my arms for the last part of it, I'm okay with that.

And to be really honest, I also really love it. It's a great example of how Lindie brings me JOY by letting me love her. She gives me many opportunities throughout the day to love her, whether it's being cuddled during her class or giving me big hugs and kisses each morning or reaching to me when she's scared. And I think it's so incredible.

I know this is nothing new or profound with any of our children to give us Mamas specific opportunities to show their great need for us and allowing us to love them, but I also think it is so profound. It's a beautiful thing to be needed and loved, and I'm so grateful my sweet little Lindie, who I struggled to bond with in the early days and who I felt like I had nothing in common with in the early days, needs me and loves me and in a reflective way I need and love her too.

This is just one of the many ways little Lindie Fern brings me so much JOY.
This October for Down syndrome awareness month, in addition to sharing stories and general information about Down syndrome, I will be sharing stories from other Mamas who have a child with Down syndrome, and one of the things they will be specifically sharing is how their child with Down syndrome has brought them JOY.

So follow along. Our first guest Mama will be sharing tomorrow!

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

It's October, which means its Down Syndrome Awareness Month-- one of my favorite months of the year!

This month I'll be sharing about Down syndrome on my blog, including facts about Down syndrome, stories about Lindie and our family, stories from other Mamas who have a child with Down syndrome and other helpful information.

Today (other than just showing you adorable photos of Lindie) I thought I'd kick off the month by sharing some basic facts about Down syndrome, straight from the National Down Syndrome Society's website:

  • "Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome
  • There are three types of Down syndrome: trisomy 21 (nondisjunction) accounts for 95% of cases, translocation accounts for about 4%, and mosaicism accounts for about 1%
  • Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. Approximately one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome – about 6,000 each year
  • Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels
  • The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age
  • People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives
  • A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are: low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all
  • Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to 60 today
  • People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, have meaningful relationships, vote and contribute to society in many wonderful ways
  • All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses
  • Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to lead fulfilling and productive lives"
Blogging tips