The unstoppable Supernoah
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and Noah proves that there’s nothing down about it…
When Yami found out she was pregnant at 44, she was in shock. Not only because she was in her 40s and already a mom to three boys, but because she’d been told that she probably couldn’t have any more children.
“I’d had an ectopic pregnancy two years earlier,” she explains. “My fallopian tube ruptured and I was bleeding internally, so I had to have an emergency partial hysterectomy and I almost lost my life. After that, doctors told me that I had a 1 percent chance of getting pregnant again and it would have to be through treatment. I really thought I wasn’t having any more children and I was fine with that because I was already in my 40s. But two years, later I found out I was pregnant again. It was a huge surprise.”
At first, Yami went through a “depression stage” because she didn’t want to be pregnant at her age. But after a few weeks, she came around to the idea and started getting excited about it. “I was like, ‘OK, we’re going to have another baby!’” she says. That’s when she received the most shocking news of all: her baby had Down syndrome.
Coming to terms with the diagnosis
“Every night for months, I cried myself to sleep and I was like, ‘Why, why, why?’” says Yami. “Then one day, I started talking to God and I said, ‘I’m tired of hurting, I want the pain to go away. If you gave me a second chance at life after the last pregnancy because you wanted me to have this baby, I’ll do it. But you’ve got to make the pain go away. I’m going to trust that you’re going to help me through this.’ That was the last time I shed a tear. I finally started embracing my pregnancy when I was seven months pregnant.”
Yami’s husband had a harder time coming to terms with the diagnosis. “He wasn’t as strong emotionally as I was,” she says. “He didn’t take it well. At first, he kept saying we needed to terminate the pregnancy. Not having his support was the hardest thing for me.”
After countless fights over termination, Yami put her foot down. “I told him I was going to have this baby even if I had to become a single parent,” she says. “After one sonogram, he said, ‘This baby doesn’t look sick, he looks like he’s fighting for his life. Let’s have the baby, I’m sorry.’ But after Noah was born, he changed again. It was too much for him, so we separated when Noah was six months old.”
Fighting the medical community
Her husband wasn’t the only one Yami had to fight to keep her baby. “I got tons of pressure [from healthcare professionals] to terminate,” she says. “When they give you the news, it’s like it’s a death sentence. Then, they give you all the bad statistics about having a baby with Down syndrome. They make it seem like your child’s quality of life is going to be the worst. It becomes really scary.”
Even when Yami made it clear that she was keeping her baby, medical professionals kept pushing termination. “Every time I went for a prenatal visit, it was like, ‘You still have two more weeks to terminate, you have one week to terminate…’ They’re constantly reminding you. At one point, they even made an appointment for me without my consent.”
But Yami never bowed to the pressure and baby Noah came into the world in early 2018. “When he was born, they confirmed that he had Down syndrome, a multicystic kidney and a congenital heart defect,” says Yami. “They’d told me that it looked like he had all those things when I was pregnant, so I was expecting it.”
At first, Yami admits she was “a little afraid of him”. “Most babies with Down syndrome have small heads and look a little alien-like,” she explains. “They had him hooked up to all these machines, all these tubes, so I was scared at first to even hold him. But then I realized, ‘I’m his mother. If I’m afraid and I’m not protecting him, who is?’ I had to get out of that mindset.”
Supernoah proves everyone wrong
Once Yami got past her initial fears, she fell in love with Noah and became his fiercest defender. “At first, some family members said hurtful things like, ‘We don’t know why she kept that baby’ and ‘Does she want sympathy?’ I was so angry. I didn’t deal with a lot of my family members for a while because I didn’t know who to trust. I have a very large family, but at the time I felt like I had none. Now that he has become his own little individual, they see him differently.”
Thankfully, Yami’s three other sons embraced Noah wholeheartedly. Her eldest son, 28, quit his job and moved back in with them to help. He even wrote a beautiful book about his brother called Supernoah. “He told me he wrote it because he doesn’t want Noah to feel like he has special needs,” says Yami. “He just wants him to feel special.”
Her second son, 23, was away at college and didn’t get to meet Noah until the day of his first heart surgery. “Noah was four months old at the time and we didn’t know if he was going to make it, so I said, ‘You have to come home.’ It was a lot.”
And Yami’s nine-year-old is Noah’s protector who explains to everyone that Down syndrome is like Lego. “He says it’s like you have different colors of Lego – two blue, two red, two yellow – but Noah has three of one color. That’s what makes him different – because he has an additional one.”
Although Noah was born with several health issues, he’s doing very well now. “He’s had two heart surgeries and he still has a hole in his heart, but it’s very small, so it’s under control,” says Yami. “He also has pulmonary hypertension, which is lung disease, and obstructive sleep apnea. It was hard at first, but it’s gotten so much better. His specialists have told me they don’t need to see him for another six months.”
Yami says that her greatest wish for Noah, who turns three in January 2021, is “to be the best he can be”.
“I want him to be the best that he can be intellectually, and I want him to always be happy. I just hope that no one ever breaks his heart or makes him feel like he’s damaged goods. He has so much personality and you can’t help but love him.”
- When Alyse Biro started her Instagram account to document her journey as the mom of a child with Down syndrome, she never imagined she’d gain nearly 92,000 followers. Meet the inspiring star of Flicks on Fleek.