When Elisabeth found out that her first child, a little girl, would be born with Down Syndrome, she chose to turn to Heavenly Father for help and hope while her life plan was set aside.
I will never forget the moment we received the news that our first child would be born with Down syndrome. It hit me like a ton of bricks—my life was forever changed. This was not part of “the plan.” It was painful for me to try to understand why this would be Heavenly Father’s will. My testimony that Heavenly Father loves me and has a plan for me was the source of light that I clung to during this time of uncertainty. As it says in Mosiah 3:19, I needed to be “willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [me].” I felt incredible peace and comfort when I was able to submit my will to Heavenly Father and put my trust in Him.
When we finally met our sweet daughter Kayla, it was love at first sight. Any worry or anxiety I had felt melted away instantly. I remember gazing down at this tiny person in my arms and feeling my heart literally burst with love for her. I knew without a doubt that she was sent to our family for a purpose and that Heavenly Father had great things in store for her.
Having a daughter with Down syndrome has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I have discovered all the joy that comes from being a mother, despite the challenges that go along with that divine role. More importantly, I have learned that life does not have to go as planned or be “picture perfect” in order for us to be happy.
It has been a great blessing for me to grow closer to my Heavenly Father as I prayerfully consider Kayla’s various needs. My faith has grown as I continually seek spiritual guidance about which therapies, treatments, and doctors will help her the most. Despite fervent prayer and hard work on my part, there are many things that are out of my control, and it is necessary to put my faith and trust in Heavenly Father.
President Boyd K. Packer once said, “Every quarter of an inch of physical and mental improvement is worth striving for.” We have set very high expectations for Kayla, and her hard work and determination is truly inspiring. She has taught us to celebrate the small things. Although some of her achievements may come a little later than they might for a typical child, each time she does something new it is a celebration of how far she has come and all of our efforts to help her succeed.
Staying positive when we face both challenges and setbacks is an integral part of helping Kayla reach her full potential. There are discouraging days, but that is when it is most essential to turn to Heavenly Father for strength and guidance. As President Monson has said, “He will guide and bless us as we put our faith and trust in Him and will see us through whatever difficulties come our way.”