Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS) is a very rare genetic disorder present from birth, but not always diagnosed at birth. It causes a range of physical, cognitive, and medical challenges and affects both sexes equally. The syndrome is named after Dutch pediatrician Cornelia Catharina de Lange, who described it.
It is often termed Bushy Syndrome and is also known as Amsterdam dwarfism. It is a genetic disorder that can lead to severe developmental anomalies. It affects the physical and intellectual development of a child. Exact incidence is unknown, but it is estimated at 1 in 10,000 to 30,000. Retrieved from Wikipedia.
I am jumping forward, I will go back and explain more about Darcy’s stay in SCN but for now all I can think about lately is Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, CdLS. Bushy syndrome, my hairy little guy! Amsterdam dwarfism, my nearly 4 month old that is still in new born clothes and only weighs 4kgs and is 53cm in length. My one in 10,000 to 30,000 rare little baby boy.
Had you ever heard of this before Darcy came along? no, neither did I. Darcy had be born into the world and for 6 weeks no one, not even the specialists in the neonatal unit knew what they were looking at.
I remember one day walking into the hospital, confused already for all the tests wondering why are they looking, do they just want something wrong with him to explain why he was so delayed! And out the front was a severely retarded young man, he was wheel chair bound, he was all contorted and drooling making grunting sounds.
That was it! I was a mess, I walked into SCN beside myself. A college that I had the pleasure of working with was in charge that day, that day I got some answers, after 3 weeks I got some insight as to what I may be looking at. I cried to him, I told him what I had seen down stairs and I asked him “is that what we are looking at Mark? Is my child severely retarded, its the unknown Mark! I dont care if he is but I just want to know. Is my baby boy different? What is my life going to be like? I knew it was going to change when I had a baby, but this Mark, this I dont know!” And I cried, I sat there will all my dignity down finally and just cried.
His response, ” Kel, Yes he may very well be or he may not be, but no one can know the outcome. All you can do is keep loving him the way you are.”
A week later Darcy was discharged from SCN, 2 weeks later we had a Paedriatric appointment, honestly I walked out of SCN thinking nothing was wrong with Darcy, his cry was different and he was small but I honestly still just blamed that he must of been very premature, not a syndrome, just premmie.
I sat in the waiting room, I had Darcy in his pram next to me. Krista was with me but she had to go. In the waiting room was a range of children, they all had some form of special needs. Oh I thought what am I doing here, they think some thing is wrong with my Darcy. The longer I sat there I thought well he doesn’t look like these guys. Im out of the woods.
Darcy Thompson please, then Frisch looks at me and smiles, go in Kelly ill be in soon, ill have the Register look over him first, I wont be long.
It felt like forever, The Dr was with a medical student and they were going over Darcy, noting his slow reflexes, his muscle tone, his facial features that were not “normal” then I was given him back. Frisch then came into the room and sat across from me.
Kelly you look great considering. How are you coping? “Oh Frisch I m good, I am so happy he is finally home” That was my answer as he sat across from me while I held Darcy in my arms.
He looked at him intensely, he smiled at Darcy, he had compassion in his eyes. He analysed Darcy in the most warm way, he didn’t touch him, he just looked.
Cornelia de Lange, please Dr Josh look that up. I have never gotten out of my chair fast enough. I was standing behind the Dr reading what had come up on the computer.
Darcy ticked all the boxes!!!! Long eyelashes, low set ears, mono-brow, muscle tone, the mow-hawk, the upturned nose, the big philtrum, thin down-turned lips, his fifth finger is curved, his toe is weird, his skin is mottled and he has a blue tinge around his eyes and mouth, small head and low birth weight. Now that was just what you could see. Medically he also ticks all the boxes, cardiac issues, undescended testes, reflux, high cleft palate, slow development.
His bloods needed to be resent for genetic conformation, Frisch looked at me. I broke down! My world fell apart in that room that day. I looked at Frisch and he said “oh Kelly, you had no idea did you?’ “Oh I am so so sorry,” he hugged me as tears ran down my face. My baby, my little baby has a syndrome, cant I just have a normal baby! Im probably only going to have him and Im given a child that I have no idea how to look after?
I could barely walk out of that room, I hit the door trying to get out several times. I put my sunnies on as the tears ran down my face and I prayed I didn’t run into anyone, I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to disappear. So much went through my head, firstly once again I faced it on my own. I finally realized it will always be me facing all the bad news on my own. I am going to be the one to face all the medical challenges by myself, be spending hospital visits in the future alone with Darcy.
When I got home I went to my room, I cried, I didn’t leave my room for three days. I expressed for Darcy feed him via a bottle in a sideline position I was taught so he wouldn’t choke then Krista would come in and take Darcy from me. She would burp him, comfort him and once he fell back asleep she brought him back to me. Adam also did the same, for three days I was in a dark space, I was trying to come to terms with it all. I didn’t reject Darcy, god I loved him with all my heart. I was grieving, like a mother who had lost her child I was morning for a baby that Darcy would never be, I was grieving.
Grief is awful, it has no time limit, I could of stayed in that state for a very long time believe me I easily could have but what good is that? Adam and Krista didn’t interfere, they just let me. They made sure Darcy was being looked after still, which he was. They knew deep down I hadn’t given up, they gave me time. Time was all I needed. They needed time too, it affects everyone.
The hardest thing was telling people, how do you explain something you dont know anything about yourself? I added myself to CdLS pages on facebook, I researched for days while I was in my room. I embraced it all. When I first started to see the other children on the site it all hit home, they all look similar. Darcy’s little CdLS brothers and sisters. A lady from Melbourne reached out to me Emma, she will forever be in my life, she has a beautiful little boy named Tommy who has CdLS. She took time to talk to me, she made it all ok.
When I first posted on Facebook about Darcy a weight lifted. My world didn’t seem so bad, it was going to be ok. Darcy is amazing, he has something about him. His eyes are deep and tell a million words. He draws people to him. The love I have for him is something I never thought I would have to give. And everyone fell in love with him.
The truth is I do not know what the future holds, I do not know if he will walk or talk, but I will put 150% into Darcy to give him every opportunity that he will. Darcy may not have a long life but it will be one that is filled with love, laughter and great new experiences.
The amount of support that we have received has blown me away! Just today I had a stranger go out of her way, while I was putting Darcy in the car, and came up to us. She said she just had to meet him for some reason. I used to think that it was weird that strangers would come up to us, but now that happens at least once a week! People are drawn to this special little guy, he is here for a reason.
The last time I saw Frisch I said I was excited for Darcy, he said why would you be. Im excited for all the milestones he is going to meet, Im excited to prove that if you put your whole heart into something that miracles do happen!
I dont have a normal boy, but I have Darcy and thats more than I could ever ask for! I’ve waited a long time for him to come along, I never thought I would be a mummy! Syndrome or not he is human, he is a little person, he has a soul.
Thats when Frisch turned to me and said ” One thing I will tell you Kelly, if anything Darcy is extremely lucky that he has you as him mum. You are a great mother”
You know what Frisch, its hard not to be, he is so easy to love.