21 Days In After the Birth of My Daughter With Down Syndrome
Why have I put off writing this? “I am pretty busy,” I tell myself as I scroll through Facebook yet another time. “I am trying to nap while she naps,” I repeat as I busy myself with washing the toilets…yet again. Perhaps I have set this aside because in my mind, at 21 days out of the womb, I would already fit back into my size 4 Lulu lemon pants and my healthy, hearty, brand new baby and I would be walking around the neighborhood wishing our friends a wonderful day!
However, I think the real reason I had set this aside is because in my mind, my baby would not have been born with the diagnosis of Down syndrome. In my mind, that would not be part of my story.
You see, I am no stranger to the world of disability. For the past seven years, I have had the joy and privilege of teaching high school students with moderate to severe cognitive and physical disabilities. I have had my fair share of laughter, joy, stubbornness, hugs and unwarranted kisses from kiddos who have Down syndrome. When in the classroom, I had often thought, what if this is why God made me? What if this is the reason He put me in this role as a special education teacher? What if He wanted me to have a kiddo or adopt a kiddo who would one day fill the classroom with laughter and joy? These questions were just meant to be hypothetical! I never thought in my wildest dreams that they would become my reality.
When Chloe was in my tummy, I had a dream that she had Down syndrome. She was beautiful! So full of smiles and so free. I told my husband about this dream and we discussed the “what if’s” but again, we didn’t think it would be us who God would chose. When I held her for the first time, I didn’t look to see if she had Down syndrome.
Surprisingly, that is a question a lot of people ask me. Did you know when she came out? What mother, especially a new mother, looks for those signs? I did notice she was breathtakingly gorgeous. I also noticed her beautiful little button nose, her cute eyes, and the fact that she looks so much like my husband I have to remind myself I did carry her for nine months.
The next few hours were a total blur. I remember my midwife kneeling next to my bed and saying she believed Chloe had Down syndrome. She told me Chloe’s heart sounded great and that over the next few days people would be coming in and out of our room to talk to us about her diagnosis and the next steps. What she said next I will never forget — she told me Chloe was beautiful and we were going to be amazing parents to that little child.
She’s right. Chloe is beautiful and though we often feel like we aren’t doing things just right, we love her as fiercely as any parent would! Over the last three weeks I have cried more than I have ever cried in my entire life. They are tears of joy, disappointment, gratitude and grief. Part of me wants to completely blame the hormones for these feelings, but there is a small part of me that acknowledges the dreams I had for my child and the grief of potentially having to give a few of those up.
I think it’s OK to cry these tears and to speak our truth about the hard things in life. I think it’s OK to feel these emotions, but at the end of the day recognize we really only have today with our little ones.
My husband continually reminds me her life is still going to be an adventure. She will still dance, still be a cheerleader and still fall in love (dreams I’ve always had for my daughter). Maybe it will look a little bit different than what we planned, but it will still be an adventure.
I feel so honored to go along for the ride.
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