Knoxville family welcomes twin girls: One with Down syndrome, one without

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On May 7, the Frantz family expanded with the addition of two baby girls: Jaclyn Ruby and Josephine Pearl. Even though the girls are twins, they are considered unique, as “Josie” was born with Down syndrome and “Jackie” was not.

Nicholas and Rachael Frantz are not newbies when it comes to parenting as they already were raising two boys, 15-year-old Joshua and 3-year-old Oliver. However, Rachael says this pregnancy was unique from the start, as they were expecting twins.

That was not all, after having some blood work done, Rachael received a call from her doctor at work, telling her “there was a 70% likelihood that one or both the twins would have Down syndrome.”

Instead of receiving amniocentesis, in which a miscarriage was a risk, for more answers Rachael says they found a high-risk doctor and opted for ultrasounds to shed some light on what the potential future held for their family. At that point, Rachael recalled, their ultrasounds revealed to healthy looking babies.

On the day she received the call from her doctor about the chances of her babies having Down syndrome, she says she remembers starting to cry immediately, terrified for her little girls.

“I was really upset for about five minutes, then I felt really bad,” Racheal says, “At the time I thought of you know the little tiny baby and, when she’s older, what if she found out that I was sad about who she was, then I felt really upset for her.”

After that moment Rachael says they knew it would be fine no matter what happened.

Nick echoes Rachael’s feeling, recalling the initial news as shocking, but found comfort in their support system. Both Rachael and Nick have friends who have Down syndrome or family members who have it and “knew the love that people with Down syndrome have for everybody.”

On May 7th, the day Josie and Jackie were welcomed into the world, Nick and Rachael’s lives changed forever.

“We are crazy in love with Josie and Jaclyn,” Rachael says, “And Joshua and Oliver are just enchanted with them.”

Results determining if one or both of the newborns had Down syndrome did not come for a couple of days. Regardless of the blood work Rachael reminisces on that day saying, “We knew no matter what we would love this baby so much and she would be loved by so many people.”

The results came in confirming that Josie had Down syndrome, which is a rare case for twins when one has it and the other does not.

“She [the doctor] came in and said she’s only seen three cases where one twin had Down syndrome and one didn’t,” Rachael said.

The support and love for their new little girls was immediate: Close friends who have a child or other family members with special needs reached out offering support and resources. The parents joined a group on Facebook too, where the people have also been supportive and caring.

“I think from what we’ve learned, the Down syndrome community is very protective of one another and very supportive of each other,” says Nick, “So we are excited to meet some of those people and join that community.”

The Facebook group has been a great resource and outlet for the family, where they can receive advice and express their concerns in a safe space filled with people who have a child with special needs, “Having such a huge community of people that know what you’re going through is really nice,” Rachael said.

While they have concerns about the future for Josie, they also take comfort in knowing she will have Jackie right beside her, along with her two older brothers; helping guide and protect her as she grows up.

According to the parents, Josie, who is “very laid back,” and Jackie, who is more of a “drama queen,” have already showed their inseparable bond. Jackie knows when Josie is not in the bassinet that they share and is noticeably more awake when they’re together and are able to snuggle.

The two girls will undoubtedly lean on each other for support through life, including in their crucial developmental years. Rachael says she is hoping that Josie will be motivated by her twin sister to start walking and talking, and vice-versa.

The pair has already made a lasting impact on their family, especially Josie. Josh, the teen, is already passionate about helping kids with special needs at his school and he is thinking about pursuing a career in that field in the future.

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