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To My Daughter With Down Syndrome on Her 10th Birthday

Dear Little One,

It was 4:00 a.m. on a chilly and oddly windy Wednesday morning. I hadn’t slept much the night before, partly because I was a bit overly tired but mostly because I was ready to see your face. Your grandmothers and I had spent the whole day before getting ready for you after leaving the doctor’s office.

I thought I had another week, but she said, “Go to the hospital and register. You’re having this baby tomorrow.”

No one really brought essentials to your shower the week before. I didn’t have diapers. I didn’t have a car seat carrier. I didn’t know that I would need so much more than just those basic things. What I did have was a lot of cute outfits and wipes…lots of wipes. I didn’t know I would need more items than what the people around me could understand the use for.

I thought I had another week.

I got to the hospital at dark o’clock and checked in. I wore a navy blue swing dress with gold buttons on the back. The receptionist commented on how pretty it was. I thought it was pretty myself. I needed something pretty to calm my nerves. I didn’t know that my uneasy familiarity with hospitals would start on this day. The grandmas sat in those waiting room chairs with the wooden arms and nervously smiled as I walked through those double doors. I don’t know who was more afraid, me or them. The nurses smiled and I was silently terrified. You were oblivious and oddly still. This was usually party time for you in there.

I thought I had another week…I would be calmer in another week.

Two epidurals, a warm blanket and a chatty nurse later I was wheeled into surgery. Through my extreme near-sighted astigmatism laden blur I listened to the metal clink symphony of sterilized tools and the shuffle of shoe covers on a tile floor. I glanced the incandescent red glow of a digital wall clock through a squint as I heard, “We’ll have a baby in about five minutes.” I was happy, scared, excited, terrified, anxious and nervous and wanted to tell them to wait because I wasn’t ready.

I thought I had another week.

It was 7:53 a.m. I met a little punkin of a baby girl swaddled tightly like a tiny burrito. I looked at her and said, “Hi Cairo. I’m your mommy. It’s nice to meet you.” I was so happy to see that little face. You were that little face. I noticed a dimple on your chin.

I was glad that I didn’t have another week.

Then the shuffling got more intense, and you were gone. There was no light banter from the nurses. I didn’t know that I was having a crisis of my own. I just knew that I couldn’t wait to see you again and kiss that little face and check for that little dimple and be thankful that I didn’t have another week.

It was Jan. 20, 2010. One decade ago. Happy Birthday Cairo.  Welcome to double digits.

Love, MiMi.



A version of this story originally appeared on Countdown To K.

Photo submitted my contributor.