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What Doctors Said vs What I Wish They'd Said When Delivering a Down Syndrome Diagnosis

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When delivering a diagnosis of Down syndrome, this is what it feels like most doctors say:

I am so sorry to tell you this, but unfortunately, I suspect your child has Down syndrome. I know this is supposed to be a happy day and now it is not. Because she has Down syndrome, your child will do some things you envisioned for her, but not others. The things that she does, she will take a long time to learn. She will be very delayed. Your older daughter will miss out on having a typical sibling relationship. Your marriage will suffer because of this added stress. A lot of your time will be spent taking your daughter with Down syndrome to appointments and therapies. She will likely live with you forever. She will be dependent on you for almost everything. She will look different than you and the rest of your family because of all the features associated with Down syndrome. I am so sorry… but you are going to have a life of hardship because of your daughter with Down syndrome.

Oops, doc. I think you meant to say this:

Congratulations! I am so excited to tell you that we think your daughter has Down syndrome. I know this comes as a shock to you, but things will be OK. They will be more than OK. They will be awesome. Your daughter will do everything you envisioned for her. In some things she might be a little delayed, but it’s not a big deal. She will always get where she wants to go. Your older daughter is going to learn so much from your new baby with Down syndrome. She will learn compassion, patience and empathy in a way she can only learn this way. Your marriage is going to thrive. The divorce rate is actually much lower in couples who have a child with Down syndrome. You will see your spouse in a whole new light, and you will fall in love all over again. You might have some extra appointments or therapies for your new baby, but they don’t have to be as time-consuming or money-consuming like you might have previously thought. And every ounce of “extra” you put into your new baby will make her stronger and keep her right on track with her peers. She may not live with you forever… but by the time she’s 18, you’ll be so in love with her that you may be begging her to stay. She might have some features of Down syndrome — like these beautiful almond-shaped eyes — but she will look so much like you, your husband and your older daughter, too. She is absolutely beautiful. You will experience love like you have never known before. I am so incredibly excited for you, for you are going to have a life of indescribable joy because of your daughter with Down syndrome.

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Originally published: August 20, 2019
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