Oakley Peterson is a beautiful mom of three darling kids. I met Oakley while we were both waiting in line at a food truck of all places.
We got to talking in line and introduced ourselves. I immediately complimented her name, thinking it was so different and beautiful. I didn’t know her story and she didn’t know mine. We were just moms meeting out and about.
We had a lot of fun and an instant connection talking for those few minutes in line. Later I found out that Oakley is a mom to a Down Syndrome baby boy and is on Instagram sharing her joys and her journey. This made me love her even more. My own brother Ryan is mentally handicapped. Growing up, many of his best friends were children with Down Syndrome. All special needs children and adults hold a special place in my heart. It’s a part of my soul and growing up.
I reached out to Oakley to get together and learn more about her story.
Oakley grew up in Sacramento, California. She went to college in Provo, Utah where she met her husband and fell in love. She had no intention of staying in Utah, but plans change. She ended up marrying her husband Scott and making Utah her home. They started their family and had a precious little girl.
Shortly after, they were excited and a little surprised to find out they would be expecting baby number two. They found out it was a little boy. For them, this was a dream!
Oakley came from a family of all girls, and her husband had only sisters as well. They were beyond excited and started planning like anxious parents do. He’ll play baseball like dad did and all the sports. They couldn’t wait for a son to join their family. The pregnancy all went great, and the big day came to welcome their baby boy to the world.
Let Life Surprise You
On a warm summer day, Oakley and Scott’s baby came into the world. The nurses took him and started to swaddle him and clean him up.
At one moment a nurse came up and said very straightforwardly, “Did you get all your tests during the pregnancy?”
Oakley replied, “Yes, I did.”
“What did they say?” The nurse quickly asked.
“They all were normal.”
“Well, we think your baby has Down Syndrome.”
At first, of course, Oakley was in disbelief. “I don’t think so” she thought, being annoyed at the notion.
So, the nursing staff arranged for the baby to go in for further testing. In an instant Oakley was all alone in a hospital bed. All the doctors and nurses, her husband, and her sweet new baby were gone. She laid in the hospital bed in silence. Her heart was racing. It felt like forever being there all alone thinking of all the possibilities, what ifs, and worries. A zillion thoughts raced through her head.
She finally convinced a nurse to put her in a wheel chair to meet up with her husband. As she wheeled out of the doorway, her eyes made contact with her husband Scott’s ,who was walking back down the hallway. Seeing the look on her husband’s face, she knew what it was. He had tears in his eyes but a strong brave half-smile.
As he got closer he said, “Yes, he has Down Syndrome.”
Any parent in that moment is experiencing a thousand emotions in one. They both cried and held their baby as closely as possible. They loved him with a new love, one that was pure and brave.
By the next day, Scott was OK and even excited for the future. He truly only needed 24 hours to come to terms with it and was ready for the fun they would have. He was already excited for the Special Olympics.
That wasn’t the case for Oakley.
She simply needed more time than 24 hours to mourn the baby boy she thought she was having. Everyone accepts this kind of life changing news differently.
They came home from the hospital and she decided she wanted a fresh start. Starting with his room, she changed the colors to a beautiful soft blue to welcome her angel boy. She continued to have the struggling moments with his diagnosis that any mom would have. Her brain would race, even thinking of how she’d never be an empty nester. All the what ifs would never leave her head. Will he ever get married, will he get picked on, and will he be healthy?
In spite of all of the questions, his spirit, Oakley said, was so pure and loving you could just feel it. She was in love with her sweet boy. She had her moments of saying goodbye to what was and embraced the truth and reality of her baby. Creating a new room was her way of welcoming the love and truth of her new baby.
A Hero’s Name
It was time to name him. They wanted a name that fit him. He was born during the September 11th weekend, and all of the 9/11 documentaries were on TV. One in particular caught Oakley’s eye. It was about a hero in a Red Bandanna.
On September 11, 2001, that young man led several people down the stairs to safety after a plane hit the south tower of the World Trade Center. The people he helped only knew him as “the man in the red bandanna.” He went into the burning twin towers and carried out a dozen people ultimately saving their lives.
Later his red bandanna was found in the rubble. He lost his life saving others. He truly was a Hero. His name was Welles Crowther.
They decided to name their September 11th baby, also a Hero in this life, Welles after such an amazing man. It was fitting for their hero who was born on September 11th. What a perfect name and story for their sweet boy. Truly a hero named after a hero.
There’s Nothing Down About it
As Oakley started to research Down Syndrome, she found all the websites were so literally that…down. All she found were the fears and the things that are scary or hard about having a child with Down Syndrome.
She came across a few accounts that were optimistic, but these were few and far between. A passion flooded within her. She felt that she needed to share the positive side of a child with Down Syndrome while not focusing on the down side.
That idea and passion burned within her. She was eager to share. She wanted to help other moms in similar situations know the beauty of a having a child with Down Syndrome. She wanted to encourage rather than discourage and uplift rather than depress.
Oakley explained, “I hope to shrug off the stigmas and help others embrace the goodness of these angels among us.”
Prior to this idea, she was always very private. Motivated by her idea she started a blog called “Nothing Down About It“, and an Instagram account. She joined other social media outlets as well.
Welles was asked to be a model for the baby moccasins from Freshly Picked. The brand and ad got notoriety, saying how they are a diverse brand featuring a baby with Down Syndrome as their model. He was off on a mission as well. It was a start of him sharing his darling light and touching so many lives in the process.
The Joys of Down Syndrome
At times she watches Welles and admires how he will sit and look at something and see the joy in everything. The world overlooks so much, and and he teaches her to stop and see. Children with Down Syndrome are some of the most positive and confident people I know. Oakley said they’ve done interesting surveys for children with Down Syndrome. When most children are asked whether they wish they could be Taylor Swift or a famous sports star, they say yes. Most Children with Down Syndrome say, no, I want to be me! How cute is that?
Oakley said “I see everyday how much more Welles knows than we do.” She can see it in his eyes. He is pure and appreciates everything. It’s a privilege to see that everyday and wake up to that. He teaches me and makes me a better person. All those around him see it too. He is a true hero.
Here is a message Oakley sent to Welles on his first Birthday. “You’ve changed our little family for the better. Thank you for all the lessons you’ve taught us. We look forward to the years ahead of learning so many more. Happy Birthday sweet Welles. You are so very LOVED!”
A Mother’s Love
Before becoming a mom she worked and majored in Political Science. She worked on the campaign trail and was Head Youth Coordinator campaigning for former President George W. Bush. She also worked on the campaign for Governor Schwarzenegger, Mitt Romney, and Senator Bennett.
She worked in a law firm, as becoming a lobbyist was her dream. The busy action of the campaign season was something she loved. She put her dream on hold, like many of us moms do, to start and raise a family. Now she plans to use her background and experience in lobbying for all children with special needs and, of course, Down Syndrome. She will be a voice to those that need it most.
I couldn’t help but feel the power and the mother’s love she has to fight and make a difference in the lives of these precious children. She truly has a mission and purpose in this life. Being with her and hearing her story you can see and feel the divine mission she has. What a beautiful light and example she is. I know she will make a great difference and use her work experience and life experience to make such a difference.
Favorite Quote & Favorite Things
I asked Oakley to share her favorite quote. It touched me so much and I know it will touch you too. I believe we can all relate to her story. We all have surprises in our lives that come with different challenges. It truly is up to us on how we handle it and how we let it help us.
“Just because your miracle doesn’t look like the miracle you were expecting, that doesn’t mean it isn’t the one you’ve been waiting for.”
Oakley is such an inspiring mom and so so sweet. She has a fierce passion and a meekness about her that is a powerful strong combination. I love her example, and we can apply it to our lives in so many ways.
She is beautiful and truly making a difference in many lives by being a mom to her babies. It proves to us that we all can make a difference. Here are some of her favorites:
Favorite Book: Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes
Favorite Cleaning Supply: Norwex Rags
Favorite Makeup: Bobbi Brown Foundation
Favorite Mommy perk: minivan, “It’s my Lamborghini; I love it!”
Favorite Splurge: Lu Lu Lemon leggings
Favorite Treat: Trader Joe’s Just Mango Slices
Favorite Hair Product: Detangler Spray
Where to Find Oakley Peterson
You can find Oakley’s website www.nothingdownaboutit.com and on instagram at nothingdownaboutit. Thank you Oakley for letting me interview you as my next inspiring mom. I loved hanging out and talking with you. I am so happy to call you friend and share your example with others.