The very first words out of my mouth when I held my baby were "Does he have Down syndrome?" and I felt bad for saying that and for thinking that. There was something about his pretty slanted eyes that were swollen shut, his tiny nose and his little tongue sticking out but my comments were quickly dismissed and kind of nervously laughed off as a delirious mommy moment.
Joaquin was seen by a LOT of doctors and nurses during our stay at UC Davis Medical Center. It's a teaching hospital so you have countless residents coming in to see your baby and do their assessments. Joaquin failed his hearing test and I was told this was very common and not to worry. I was told he would get a referral for a second test in a few weeks and most likely everything would be fine. Well, he failed the second test too which indicated he had fluid in his ears. He was then scheduled for an ABR (auditory brainstem response test) around his three month birthday.
No one ever mentioned anything about Down syndrome. Ever. Hector had mentioned to the pediatrician in charge the morning of Joaquin's birth about my first impression of Joaquin. The doctor said the baby had a few mild markers but didn't think it indicated Down syndrome and said the only way to really know for sure was with a chromosome test and he didn't recommend one. From that day forward, both Hector and I thought there was nothing to worry about and just got on to the business of falling in love with our new baby.
Joaquin was seen by his regular pediatrician several times for routine visits and checks, maybe 3 or 4 times. Joaquin was doing great....eating, sleeping, pooping, peeing, etc. He was even army crawling in his bed at night. We'd put him on one end of the crib and by morning he would have inched himself over to the other side of the bed. We are firm believers in "belly sleeping." I think he was about 5 days old when I watched him flip himself over from belly to back. Proud mommy moment.
My mom who is a neonatal nurse pointed out that Joaquin had a simian crease on one hand, but otherwise his hands looked just like my other two boys. We also noticed that he had a wide space between his big toe and his little toes, what I later learned is called a "sandal gap." We just thought he had extra cute feet. He also had a bit of extra skin/fat on the back of his neck, just baby fat we were told. Joaquin also had a tiny little nose and tiny little ears. He really looked like a porcelain doll. We were told over and over again how beautiful he was and I really had to agree :)! All of these things we noticed occur on "normal" babies but something in the back of my mind was adding them all up. I think all of us (my mom, Hector and myself) kept wondering about these markers but again felt confident that surely the professionals would see things clearer than we would.
As time went on, all I could see was my beautiful baby boy who we loved so very much. He was such an angel baby. Rarely cried. Slept like a champ and slept a lot. Nursed without any issues. We were in sync with him and we all just adored him. The first three months were truly wonderful. Diego and Mateo were great big brothers. Diego loved to dote on the baby and although Mateo wanted very little to do with the baby at first, he was gradually warming up to him, calling him "mama's little baby."