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“I knew the second I saw her that she had Down syndrome”

Last year, Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care joined together to create Advocate Aurora Health, the 10th largest not-for-profit health system in the country. Your generosity will continue to make health care more accessible and compassionate for each person we serve. Here, we’re sharing stories about people, just like you, who are making a difference.

For a lawyer, the day you pass the bar exam is one of the biggest and most rewarding days in your career. The day Amanda Sullivan passed the bar, it was even more emotional, because she also found out she was pregnant with her second child.

Caroline Sullivan (L) with her big sister, Amanda

Caroline Sullivan (L) with her big sister, Amanda.

Amanda had her first ultrasound at 18 weeks, which revealed the baby girl was underweight. A nasal bone was also absent, so she met with maternal and fetal medicine specialist Ricardo Mastrolia, MD.

“I had so many questions. I had no idea what he was talking about with the anatomy of a fetus,” Amanda shared. “But Dr. Mastrolia gave me all the facts. He told me there was a 1 in 13 chance that my baby had a chromosomal disorder, such as Down syndrome.”

Dr. Mastrolia monitored Amanda’s baby closely and had her come back in a week later. “He knew there was also an increased risk of a heart issue.”

A complicated pregnancy

Things progressed normally up until 28 weeks, which was when Dr. Mastrolia noticed Amanda was having issues with her placenta. “He had me come in twice a week right up until she was born,” Amanda shared. “I would do an ultrasound at the beginning of the week, and then a non-stress test at the end of the week.”

Throughout all of Amanda’s appointments, she had the option to confirm if her baby had Down syndrome, but she chose not to find out. “Dr. Mastrolia held my hand through that process,” she said. “He made me feel that, together, my baby would survive, and it would be okay either way.”

At 36 weeks, Amanda’s daughter, Caroline, was born at Aurora Medical Center Grafton.

“I knew the second I saw her that she had Down syndrome, but I didn’t care – she was mine.” Amanda said. “There wasn’t any whispering; everyone was on the same page; everyone was matter-of-fact.”

Caroline was able to stay in the room with Amanda for the first 24 hours. Then her blood sugar started to drop, and she was sent to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

“It was the most painful experience. It was so hard leaving her every day, but I knew she was in good hands,” Amanda shared. Caroline was in the NICU for two days before she was able to go home.

Grateful for great care

Both of Amanda’s daughters see pediatrician Katherine Kormanik, MD. “Dr. Kormanik is awesome,” Amanda said. “Before Caroline was born, I told her about the possibility of her having Down syndrome. She told me ‘Of course, I will stay with her. I will come to the hospital to see her when she’s born,’ and sure enough, she was there that very same day.”

Today, Caroline is a happy and healthy 15-month-old who loves playing with her big sister, Evelyn. “Caroline has such a personality. They pull each other’s hair – they’re normal sisters,” Amanda said. “When I look at her, I don’t see anything different. To me, she’s like any other baby. She’s just a little slower. It takes more time with her, but it makes me appreciate every milestone so much more.”

Amanda is thankful to her care team for all their support throughout her pregnancy. “The team at Grafton really treats you as if they are a part of your family for this journey,” she shared. “I don’t know if I would have had the strength to give birth to a baby with Down syndrome – and raise her with the confidence I have – if it wasn’t for their constant and compassionate support.”

How you can help

People like Caroline, both young and old alike, deserve to achieve their goals, be a part of a team – and fulfill their dreams. You’ll help more than you know when you give to the Adult Down Syndrome Center in Park Ridge, IL. Email or call Hayley Anderson at 847.823.2327, or donate online today.