No two births are the same, and few people understand that as well as Amber Rojas. So when the mother of five from Cedar Hill, Texas, gave birth to her latest child in 2017, she expected the delivery to be a little different.
Still, she didn’t think her new daughter would have any health complications. Various ultrasounds and prenatal tests hadn’t shown any problems.
Rojas went into labor about a week prior to her due date and (in an experience with which too many unfortunate mothers can sympathize) had her contractions virtually stop once she arrived at the birthing center. She started pacing the grounds, hoping to kickstart the birthing process — and did she ever succeed.
“I almost didn’t think I was going to make it back into the birth center my contractions were coming so hard and so fast,” she told BuzzFeed News. “It was like this thing came over me and I could not help it.
“My body was pushing the baby out, and next thing I knew, she was out and in my arms. When I picked her up out of the water I could literally see it, I could see it in her face.”
The thing Rojas saw was her daughter’s flattened facial features and an upward cast of her eyes, potential indicators of Down syndrome.
The genetic condition, which is also known as trisomy 21, also leads to decreased muscle tone, reduced reaction times, potential heart defects, and a negative cognitive impact.
In another serendipitous surprise, the family had chosen to splurge on birth photography rather than have a baby shower, and the photographer captured the very moment Rojas realized her new child’s condition.
The mother’s face shows a combination of physical pain from the delivery and utter wonder over the small life in her arms.
What also shocked Rojas wasn’t just the fact that she could tell her daughter had the disorder. It was that no one in the delivery room wanted to talk about it.
It’s no surprise that Down syndrome carries a stigma all across the world, and Amy Julia Becker (a mother who has written extensively about her experience having a child with trisomy 21) described it well in The New York Times. “What bothers me, and what hurts our family,” she said, “is the perception, often reinforced by doctors, that a life with Down syndrome is not a life worth living, or that the burden such a child places upon a family and society is simply too great.”
Rojas would agree with Becker that her daughter, who she named Amadeus, is wonderful just as she is. “Our family was going a million different ways, and Amadeus has brought us together,” she said.
“We are learning together about a whole community that we never knew anything about! But at the end of the day, she is our baby, and we are her family. To us she is perfect.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.