Down Syndrome Awareness: Mahaly

Down syndrome Awareness Month: Payton & family

Join us in October for Down Syndrome Awareness Month as families from our DSDN Birth support group share,
what they wish others knew about their child with Down syndrome.

My daughter, Mahaly, is pure joy. She lights up every room with her smile and laughter. She makes me a better person every single day.

We rushed to the hospital on April 1st, 2020 just two weeks after COVID shut the world down. We were nervous, but SO excited to welcome our fifth child into the world. We barely made it to the hospital in time. Mahaly was born on a gurney while I was being wheeled through the hospital emergency room doors.

When the house pediatrician gave us the suspected diagnosis of Down syndrome, it was not given in a positive way. My husband and I locked eyes with each other and we were transformed right there in that hospital room. We were advocates now. We were ready. God prepared us for this.

I still had not laid eyes on my baby girl. I only wanted to see her. When I was finally able to see her in the NICU, she took my breath away. She was so beautiful. My beautiful baby girl. This was the baby that I had carried for 9 months. She just came with a little something extra.

We made our birth announcement to everyone loudly and proudly. The support was overwhelming and beautiful. There really are a lot of good people in this world. Mahaly joining our family has definitely helped us to sort out the few bad apples.

After 10 days in the NICU, we were able to bring our baby girl home to meet her siblings. Our family was so happy to be all together again. Since Mahaly came home, she is THRIVING. Down syndrome is a part of who she is, but it doesn’t define her. She works hard for every milestone, but she has taught our family to CELEBRATE every moment. We cheer LOUDLY. It makes life so much more fun when you are celebrating the little things.

Mahaly is our social butterfly. Ever since she was born, she loves connecting with people. As the youngest of 5, she has had lots of opportunities. Whether it’s simply locking eyes or her smile or her giggle. Her presence changes those around her. She draws you in. She makes you WANT to be better. To do better.

Mahaly is everything I never knew that our family needed. That I needed. Recently, my 2 oldest children had to do an introductory project for school. Separately, they both chose Mahaly as THE thing that was MOST special to them. Each one of my children have a special relationship with her. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed.

I never thought that I wanted to be a parent of a child with special needs. God knew better. God sent us this amazing BLESSING, and I am humbled by the opportunity to be her mommy. We really are #theluckyfew.

If you want to follow our story, find me on Facebook (Heather DiDonato) or Instagram (@hldidonato).

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27 NIV