A Father’s Secret Wish
It was an early and quiet February morning in 2007 when Craig and Meg Krawczyk got up, headed to the hospital and checked in to Labor and Delivery to settle in and prepare for the birth of their second child. After a relatively quick labor (about 90 minutes), baby Emily joined this world. The nurses gave Emily a bath and a quick physical when they saw a few things that made them feel the need for further testing. Meg got to hold her newborn baby for a few minutes, and then they took Emily to the NICU for a few tests.
Craig remembers silence for about ten to fifteen minutes after Emily was born. He remembered that 4D ultrasound that they had the day before and how realistic is was and how their baby looked like a baby with Down syndrome. He remembered a spring Saturday years before when they went to watch his nephew play T-ball, and there was a boy on the other team who had Down syndrome. He remembered how that little boy was so happy and grinned from ear to ear after he’d hit the ball. He remembered the crowd cheering for that little boy just a tad more than the other boys. He remembered thinking how lucky that little boy’s parents were to have been given such a gift. He remembered wishing to be lucky enough to have a child with Down syndrome. A secret wish that he never spoke of.
After what felt like hours, a doctor and a nurse came in to confirm the news and tell Craig and Meg that their baby girl did have Down syndrome. Most of their visitors were a little surprised at how unsurprised Craig and Meg were of the diagnosis. Craig says, “I remember telling people, ‘We have a healthy, happy, new baby girl. The only difference is that she has an extra chromosome, no big deal.’”
Six weeks later, and after getting used to being a family of four, baby Emily started her early intervention journey at The Bell Center where she stayed in therapy until she was three years old. Emily was very prepared for her Pre-K years after leaving The Bell Center. Craig recalls coming to The Bell Center not knowing exactly what to expect and not fully understanding how far Emily could develop with The Bell Center’s help. He says, “It was an amazing experience.”
Emily is now ten years old (and has an older and younger sister) and loves being just like a typical child. Her daddy says, “She loves to dance, loves music and loves being with people. She loves being in the water and loves to rock climb. She is our jokester and the glue that keeps everyone together. Emily is on a swim team with all typical kids and takes dance classes with all typical kids. Her greatest special skill, however, is the monkey bars. The saying is true, Down Syndrome kids are more alike than different. If there is one thing we have been deliberate about is to treat her no different than our other two kids. Because of this, she surprises us every day as to what she can do.”
Even though Emily graduated from The Bell Center seven years ago, Craig is still heavily involved. He serves on The Bell Center’s Board of Directors and on the Tailgate Challenge committee. He gives back in time and talent, and The Bell Center is most certainly grateful for that secret wish he made so many years ago.
“One of the best things about the Bell Center isn’t the quality of care Emily got or how much she developed because of the program but was how much meeting other parents with similar stories changed our lives. The Bell Center serves the parents probably more than it serves the kids by connecting all of us who are in this unchosen club. We have lifelong friends through these connections.”- Craig Krawczyk