When Oakley Peterson gave birth to her second child Welles, she was overjoyed. The labor was quick and her son was beautiful. But soon after, she heard her nurses whispering with worried looks on their faces. They were concerned her child had Down syndrome.
"My first thought is, "Why are you interrupting us? Of course he doesn't. You only hear of that happening to women in their late 30s, that's what 'the chances' are,' " Oakley said in a powerful Facebook video for online retailer Jane's #StrongLikeYou campaign, which aims to highlight and empower strong women around the world.
The nurses insisted on having the neonatologist take a look at Welles to know for sure.
"What if they're right? What if he is? That can't happen. I had my boy perfectly pictured," Oakley said.
Her husband Scott delivered the news that Welles did have Down syndrome. This information made both Oakley and Scott cry and feel worried for their newborn son's future. "I don't know what to expect with his health. I don't know what to expect with his life," she said. "And that's scary for a mom; that's scary for any parent."
Friends of Oakley and Scott visited them at the hospital after Welles was diagnosed. They too had a child with Down syndrome and their words helped to reassure the Petersons that this new journey would be a positive one.
"You just hit the jackpot. 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," Oakley recalls them telling her.
After this encounter, the Petersons started to change their mindset. "Once I adjusted to this new journey our family was one I felt this pull to be Welles mouthpieces, his advocate," Oakley said. "I don't want people to feel bad for him."
So, she started a blog titled Nothing Down About It to help raise awareness about Down syndrome and encourage other mothers who are new to this situation.
"People don't understand just like I didn't. They see the things that are hard, but what they don't see is that Welles gives me more hugs and kisses than anybody. Welles picks up on people's moods and loves with a capacity that I don't think we're even capable of understanding," Oakley said. "If you spend more than two minutes with Welles, you can tell his quality of life is better than maybe all of ours. There's nothing down about Welles, about his diagnosis, and about people who live their life with Down syndrome."