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Embracing My Daughter's Down Syndrome Diagnosis

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I was 42 years old when my daughter, Hazel, was born. In the two years prior to becoming pregnant with Hazel, I was pregnant three times. All ended in miscarriage at six, eight and 10 weeks, respectively. Shaken by three lost pregnancies, my husband and I were excited that our fourth pregnancy had made it out of the first trimester and was safely moving ahead. Then I received the call from the genetic counselor that the cell-free DNA test came back positive for Trisomy 21. An amniocentesis confirmed the diagnosis a week later. Shocked and, in many ways, devastated by this news, I cried. I continued to cry as my husband and I tried to determine our next step. We decided to move ahead with the pregnancy.

To be honest, it took several more weeks to process the news and regain any small part of the excitement we felt before the diagnosis. I read positive stories about children with Trisomy 21 as did my husband, but we did not search out any groups or support prior to Hazel’s birth. Instead, we focused on finding a house, figuring out a name, and making sure other things were in order before we had our baby girl. That is, in part, how we dealt with our anxiety and the reality that our life was going to be different than either of us had ever imagined.

Hazel’s arrival came two weeks earlier than we expected. What was supposed to be another non-stress test in a long series of twice-a-week non-stress tests turned into Hazel’s birthday. And for that day — and probably a few days following it — I forgot the years of struggle we endured to finally meet our daughter.

Hazel was born with Down syndrome and would need heart surgery within the first four months of her life. But she was here, and she was beautiful. And I felt nothing but love for her.

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Excerpt from, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

Three miscarriages and a Down syndrome diagnosis was a difficult road to travel — I won’t lie about that — but that road led us to our Hazel, and I wouldn’t trade that journey for anything in the world.

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Originally published: February 5, 2018
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