MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota family wasn’t expecting what doctors told them more than a year ago. Their soon-to-be son had Down syndrome. Now, a special basket is changing the conversation about the diagnosis.
When the Carroll family had their second pregnancy in two years, they were overjoyed.
“We like it busy and crazy. We were excited to have (the boys) close in age,” Carissa Carroll said.
However, when she went into labor, her baby’s heart rate dropped dramatically. Doctors had to put Carissa under for a C-section.
A nurse eventually brought the baby to her husband, Chris Carroll, and offhandedly asked if he’d ever heard before of Trisomy 21, otherwise known as Down syndrome.
“She was like, ‘just enjoy your baby, enjoy your baby.’ I was rattled. I didn’t know what was going on,” Chris said.
Hospital staff then left it up to Chris to tell Carissa when she woke up.
A year and a half has passed since then, which is the day they say Jack stole their hearts.
“People always say, ‘he is so lucky to have you as parents,’ but we are the ones who have been totally blessed by him,” Carissa said.
Since then, Carissa has set out to change the way the Down syndrome diagnosis is delivered through something she calls Jack’s Basket. It’s a basket filled with toys, booties and music for families — along with resources for families, too.
Like the Carroll’s, most families forgo the detection test during pregnancy, so most will get the news after their babies are born.
Carissa’s goal is to give baskets to all Twin Cities birth centers. She’s also teaching hospitals how to better tell parents, but her biggest gift to families is her own story.
“Hello, my name is Carissa and I want to be one of the first to congratulate you on the newest addition to your family,” she reads from her blog. “My prayer for you is that you take the time to grieve the baby you thought and love the baby you were given.”
It’s a personal letter to parents to let them know they are not alone and that the hard days come when families look too far ahead.
“I’m quickly reminded, when I gaze upon his beautiful eyes, that he just needs my love today,” she said.
A little boy they never imagined is now one they can’t imagine living without.
“I want each family to start their beautiful journey with a Jack’s basket knowing that their child will change their life for the better,” Carissa said.
One in nearly 800 babies born in the United States will have Down syndrome or about 6,000 births a year. Each basket costs the Carrolls about $60 to make.
If you’d like to donate, go to Carissa’s blog.