A mother’s perspective: Changing the face of beauty

Chelsea and Reagan Molanick (submitted photo)

Three-year-old Reagan, born with the most common type of Down syndrome, Trisomy 21 (nondisjunction), has undergone two heart surgeries and is now growing, exploring and learning like all of her friends, her mother Chelsea Molanick says.

“She is in daycare and in preschool and does so well,” Ms. Molanick said. “She has two best friends in day care and preschool that look out for her and just adore her. You have no idea how comforting that was to hear and see in pictures.”

Ms. Molanick found out that her daughter would have Down syndrome prenatally at 26 weeks.

Reagan, also affectionately nicknamed Reags, was born with a heart defect called Tetralogy Fallot and AV Canal Defect.

According to the National Down Syndrome Society, people with the syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions. NDSS.org notes that many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.

“Reags is a major trooper and we were able to push her first surgery to 11 months in order to have her body grow before fixing her little heart,” she said. “When she was 11 months old they patched most of the holes but had to leave a moderate-sized hole in her heart.”

Ms. Molanick says after the first surgery, Reagan was able to start sitting up, eating and thriving, but they knew eventually she would need a second surgery.

When Reagan was almost 2 years old, she came down with an infection and a virus that caused her second heart surgery to be moved up to April 2017. Ms. Molanick says the second surgery at Phoenix Children’s Hospital was amazing and Reagan is now growing and exploring.

“Reags loves anything to do with music. One of her favorite artists is Taylor Swift,” Ms. Molanick said. “Every time ‘Look what you made me do’ comes on, man oh man, that girl won’t stop dancing. And she even tries to sing it. She loves art and writing, I can’t tell you how many notebook she has taken over.”

Reagan’s mom says since giving birth, she rejoices in the little things.

“Like the first time she signed ‘more’ or the first time she held her cup herself, or how she imitates me when I fix my hair in the mirror,” Ms. Molanick explained.

“These little things we tend to take for granted or we forget but I live for these moments. She has taught me patience, kindness, motivation, resilience and unconditional love.”

Ms. Molanick uses her personal Instagram page to promote Down syndrome awareness, and regularly shares pictures and videos of the toddler documenting her surgeries, her first steps and her dance moves.

“I want people to see Reags as the amazing little girl that I know she is. Before having her all I knew about Down syndrome were the negatives, but really it’s the most amazing thing that could have ever happened to our lives,” Ms. Molanick said of her motivation to promote awareness on social media.

“I want people to see what I see in these amazing individuals.”

Reagan has an infectious laugh, Ms. Molanick says, noting that she loves to show off for people.

“I would never ant to change her, but I sure do want to change the world for her. I want everyone to see her as any other child,” Ms. Molanick says. “I want everyone to see the light in her eyes, the motivation to talk, lean and grow, the kindness behind every tough and the silliness in every laugh.”

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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