The initial ultrasound is one of the most exciting experiences for new parents. For the first time ever, they will finally be able to meet their unborn child, finding out its gender and even facial features.
This is, generally, a heartwarming moment for any parent—the baby is real.
But ultrasounds are not always happy occasions. For one woman, her hopes were dashed when doctors told her the difficult reality facing her unborn baby.
Instead of giving up, though, she believed her child was precious—and the result of the family’s perseverance was magical.
Jessica and Frank Capitani’s first ultrasound did not go as planned.
In 2006, Pennsylvania resident Jessica Capitani, her husband Frank and her mother were very excited. Jessica and Frank were at the hospital about to get an ultrasound for their first child—it was the day where they would finally meet the newest member of their family.
Jessica’s mother was so happy she recorded the session, wanting to capture the entire moment on video.
And the moment, initially, was magical. When the first images popped up, they were ecstatic. It was going to be a boy.
“When we saw the male anatomy up there on the ultrasound screen, we couldn’t wait to broadcast it to everyone in the family,” Jessica said in a video by Penn State Hershey.
But amidst their joy, the doctor remained somber and eventually asked the family to turn off the video camera.
“That was a tough, tough meeting.”
“I thought the ultrasound that day was just to find out the sex of my baby,” Jessica said. “I was so naïve and I didn’t think about all the other things that ultrasounds are actually done for.”
The doctor said they noticed severe health issues in their unborn child; he would have Down syndrome, hydrocephalus (excess fluid around the brain), as well as heart and intestinal problems.
Given such health problems, another couple might have moved to terminate the pregnancy. But Frank and Jessica would never even consider it.
“Every baby is a blessing…”
“Every baby is a blessing and just because a child has Down syndrome doesn’t change that,” Jessica said.
They were going to have the baby and love and nurture him; no matter the problems, they would get through it as a family.
In recognition of the child’s difficult start in life, they named this little boy Caden, which, in Gaelic means fighting spirit.
“He certainly has been a fighter, that’s for sure,” Frank said.
Indeed he was, because, despite the myriad health and developmental issues, Caden has become a thriving, active, playful, and charming little boy.
“He’s been a miracle in so many ways.”
“Caden is my little bundle of boy,” Jessica said.
But he’s no ordinary baby, and his struggle and story have been used to inspire others. Along the way, he’s also done some pretty cool things for a pre-teen kid.
For instance, two years ago he met Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and even represented Penn State Children’s hospital at The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for the 2016 Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day.
For Jessica and Frank, these things are just icing on the cake. To them, even without being an inspiration to others, Caden is the apple of their eyes.
“Caden was loved since the moment I found out I was pregnant,” Jessica said.
“He’s been a miracle in so many ways,” Frank said.