DeDe's Story "Redefining Perfect"

My journey started as a special needs teacher wanting to make a difference in the world. I met my current husband while in graduate school. Kevin has a daughter with Down Syndrome so I was going to rush in and save the day. After a year of dating, Kevin and I got married. Soon after we got pregnant. FYI, this was going to be the most perfect pregnancy because I read a lot of books on it and was a teacher. As a matter of fact, Tyler came three week early starting things off a bit rocky according to my definition of perfect.

Tyler was born on a Sat at 12:05. Kevin ran out of the delivery room to tell everyone that we had a healthy baby boy. While Kevin was out of the room, the nurse laid Tyler in my arms announcing that they suspected that Tyler had Down Syndrome. How could this be? His sister had Down Syndrome...this wasn’t supposed to happen to us. It can’t happen two times in a row; besides I was going to be their teacher, not their mother.  God had other plans for us. Many doctors told me they were sorry for the birth of my son. Throughout my hospital stay, they explained all the things Tyler couldn’t do rather than what he could do. Eeecckkkkkk, Tyler was perfect to me. Why couldn’t these professionals see it? I even had a doctor go as far as to tell me to never have another child and apologize for having Tyler. Wowzers, not my definition of perfect. However, this would not stop me from providing my son with every therapy available, and that I did. My Tyler was perfect

Immediately I placed Tyler in one therapy after another therapy. Tyler did many physical tasks way before they predicted. Everyday, Tyler worked hard with a different therapist.  I knew if I put the bar of expectations high he would achieve whatever. However, we couldn’t get a handle on his health issues, especially his low immune system.  This little guy was sick 24/7. Tyler missed field trips, family vacations, friend activities and many other social events due to being extremely sick. I refused to allow this to slow us down , although the tummy issues really took Tyler back. As a mother, I was constantly looking for answers to the low immune system, bathroom accidents and behavior problems. Feeling so frustrated, I took Tyler into the doctor for his bathroom issues, only to find out he had hip dysplasia. Again, no answers.

My final straw was the day I got a call from Tyler’s school to pick him up because he had soiled himself, and I was devastated. Tyler was a mess. While I bathed him, I cried and cried while Tyler sobbed. Lord what do I do?

For years, I had been told that children with Down Syndrome tend to be gluten intolerant. I had no other choice but to put him on a gluten-free diet. Within weeks, things started to turn around; speech was better, behaviors improved, and no more horrible bathroom accidents.

Still, Tyler continued to get sick...what was missing from our puzzle? We spend endless nights of research trying to find an answer. As we were headed out for a family vacation, Tyler started to throw up on the airplane. The flight attendants kicked us off, so Tyler and I had to yet miss another family vacation. Tyler and I waved to dad and brother as they flew off to Arizona. Heart wrenching to say the least.

Finally, it came to me. Gut health.. Tyler needed good bacteria to replace the bad bacteria in his tummy. What an amazing difference. Today we celebrate new beginnings of a vibrant and healthy life.

Tyler wants to be a rock star and one day marry Selena Gomez, who doesn’t? I can’t tell you how many people are amazed at how smart Tyler is and how well he does. Tyler is my shining star who has taught me the true meaning of pure love. I am so glad that my definition of perfect isn’t the same as God’s, because Tyler is the best definition of perfect

DeDe and Tyler with best friend and photographer, Shea Swinford (Thank you Shea for arranging and helping with this photo shoot and story).

DeDe and Tyler with best friend and photographer, Shea Swinford (Thank you Shea for arranging and helping with this photo shoot and story).