Oakley Peterson is every mom. She is loving and dedicated. She watches over her children, protects her children, and she wants nothing but the “best” for her three kids. She wants them to live full, beautiful, and enriching lives. But when Oakley gave birth to her second child, Welles, she worried that may not be possible because, as Oakley explains in a now viral video, immediately after Welles’s birth, the Peterson’s learned something was wrong.
“We were so excited. He was beautiful. [But then] the nurses started whispering in the corner. I could tell there was some concern.”
Welles was whisked to neonatology.
“[The nurse] asked us if we had done quad screen — basically they tell you what your chances of Down syndrome are — and I did and it was standard. And she [the nurse] said, ‘Well, we think he has Down syndrome.’”
And the nurse was right. Welles did in fact have an extra chromosome, and Down syndrome. Unfortunately, that diagnosis was no comfort for Oakley because the mother of three had no frame of reference for what Down syndrome looked like, nor what it would mean for Welles and the entire Peterson family.
“My first thought was … this can’t happen. My face was puffy for days because I was just worried. I don’t know what to expect with his health. I don’t know what to expect with his life, and that’s scary for a mom. That’s scary for any parent.”
The good news is that, while still in the hospital, a few of Oakley’s friends visited her and her husband and — as Down syndrome parents themselves — they were able to give the Petersons perspective, and the hope they so desperately needed.
“You just hit the jackpot,” they told them. “Your family is going to function like a normal family. Your family is going to do wonderful, fun things. And it’s actually probably going to be more fun because of Welles.”
And the Peterson’s quickly learned this was in fact true.
“Welles gives me more hugs and kisses than anybody. Welles picks up on people’s moods and loves with a capacity that we aren’t even capable of understanding … there is nothing down about Welles, his diagnosis, or about people who live their life with Down syndrome.”
For that reason, Oakley started “Nothing Down About It,” a blog that chronicles not only the life of Welles but also aims to teach people about Down syndrome while also providing support for other Down parents:
“The pure happiness of a Down syndrome child is simply too beautiful not to share! [Nothing Down About It] highlights the tender mercies God bestows on families with special needs … together we can shrug off stigmas and help people embrace the goodness of these angels among us! Together we can help all of our children realize their full potential.”