An article I read the other day got me thinking about a gift I never knew existed from my son, the big brother of three younger sisters. It was a gift I had never thought about until I read the article. I wanted to write this piece so that one day my girls will know that Jake, their big brother, gave them a gift I could never have given.
When Jake was born in 2004, we learned four short days after he arrived, of a rare condition that he had, one that we were not aware we carried. It was because of his birth, and the prenatal testing done post-birth, that we were able to identify what the condition was, how to care for him and provide him with the medicine that he would need to keep him alive. This turn of events at one of the most wonderful times in my life, turned into a very dark period of questions, fear, sadness which also grew into gratitude, hope and faith. This happened to be the scariest roller coaster we had ever ridden, and we are still hanging on tight today.
Until recently, I haven’t revisited the events and what we learned just shy of 10 years ago this year, because they will still get me emotional just thinking about it. Jake, unknowingly, saved all his sisters lives. If it had not been for Jake being born with the condition first, we would not have known to test the other babies in utero for this specific condition. If we had not tested them for the condition, it might have gone undetected. If it had gone undetected, we might have lost one very early on after birth as the medicine needed to keep them alive would not have been given so quickly. Or after the baby girl had been born, she might have needed invasive surgeries that could have been prevented had we known earlier about the silent condition we passed on to our children.
But because of Jake, our lives were changed. All three of his little sisters were born under the watchful eyes of people who could help us prepare for them. We have educated our selves about prenatal testing, genetics, and how new born screenings really do save lives. I hope that my girls will know the kind of gift Jake gave to them one day. I know that I am forever thankful to Jake for all that he has given to us, without even ever know he did so.