When Down Syndrome Became the Least of Our Concerns

It was a very exciting ultrasound. We were hoping to find out the sex of our baby. My husband and I knew this doctor from our previous pregnancies. He looked at the images very carefully and quietly. The more he looked, the more we worried.

We couldn’t stand the scary silence anymore. We both knew there was something wrong with our baby. He turned to us and said she had a cystic hygroma, a growth that could indicate a chromosome problem. Without thinking,  I had only one question: “Down syndrome is the least of our concerns. All I want to know is if she going to survive?” And with a very kind voice filled with empathy, our doctor touched my hand and told me, “I can’t tell you yes or no. All I can say is to enjoy the time you have together the same way you enjoyed with Nicolas.”

My world collapsed right there. Was there a possibility of her being taken away from us? Why would life take away another one of my children? A new journey began, a journey of trying to make sense of what was going on.

The following months were tough. I hit bottom. Some people saw me as being strong, even though I didn’t feel that way. And I couldn’t deal with the others who felt sorry for me.

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Somewhere along the way, I got myself back together and managed to smile again. I told my husband, “I’ll leave the tears for when that time comes, if it ever comes. With Nicolas everything was perfect, and he didn’t stay.” The next ultrasounds weren’t easy. The growth just got bigger, but we had faith and resignation.

After six months, we went for another ultrasound. As soon as the doctor started the exam, he called attention to her profile. I couldn’t believe my eyes — our daughter had a profile. The growth was simply gone, she was going to make it.

We found peace again. Our baby was going to be born, and that’s all we cared about. We knew what it was like not to have a child. We knew what it was like not being able to change a situation that broke our family’s heart, including our daughter, who was 4 years old at the time. All we hoped for was a person who could be happy.

Three months later we received a gift of life: Zoe, which means “life” in Greek.

Three years later — after a few diagnoses and a heart surgery — Zoe’s full of life and making our lives more enjoyable each day. She taught us small problems should always be treated as such. She taught us we can always do more than others might believe we can. She taught us love goes beyond unconditional, and she taught us to enjoy the simple things in life and to make the best of it.

Things might not have gone the way we planned, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you are able to look at things from another angle. We learned from our son, Nicolas, who taught us the most important thing in life is life itself.


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