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What I Learned the Moment My Daughter With Down Syndrome Was Born

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Sweet Caroline,

I am writing this when you are just about 10 and a half months old, because I see you are closing in on 1 year old, and I am just bursting at the seams to tell you how much you
mean to me.

When I first learned about your diagnosis, I was heartbroken. I looked to your dad to tell me what we were going to do, but he didn’t know either. He was full of the same kind of worry I was. All those dreams we had for our child, for you, now seemed so far off. It didn’t help that when we got our official confirmation of your diagnosis, after genetic testing, the doctor told me I would need to drive out of state if I so chose to have an abortion. I think about that now. I was always pro-choice, but why would that be the first thing you say to a mother who just received this news? Why not offer support? Why not give me numbers and names of some of the wonderful people I have now met and know?

Later at one of my many ultrasounds, when I asked these same doctors for support, crying, saying I was having a hard time… still nothing. I guess they could not tell us then that you would prove them wrong and be the person who makes us smile simply by lighting up the room with her big smile, the one who shows us so much love.

Caroline, you are so much more than your diagnosis. I learned this from you the moment you were born. The moment I heard your first cry. Daddy went over to see you and came back to me and told me how beautiful you were. In that moment, after hearing your first cry, I just knew it truly was OK. You were alive, you were here and I loved you instantly. I knew, no matter what, you were going to be my beautiful and strong baby girl.

Even though it was hard for you to breathe in those first moments, and they rushed you away, you were off that oxygen the next day and breathing on your own. Even though it was hard for you to eat in those first couple of weeks, you were eating most of your bottle and at home in just 19 days. Next, you were rolling over at just 7 weeks. Then you were sitting by 7 months. At 10 and a half months, you are closing in on crawling. You talk to us all the time. Your dad swears you call him DaDa, and there have been a few times when I believe you have looked at me and called me MaMa, too… but it could just be my mind playing tricks on me. You love your toys and love to play. You love your sister and our cat, Willow.

Baby girl

Sweet Caroline, there might be hard times ahead, but you have taught me to slow down and live for today. My anxiety, which used to be through the roof, has calmed down tremendously. Sometimes I think about the years ahead and what your life will be like, but for the most part, I am focused on who you are right now and what you are doing right now because that is what is so important.

You have inspired me to be a better person. If I say I am going to do something, I do whatever I can to be there and do it to the best of my ability. I know in order to be the best mother to you, I need to be able to follow through with things. I need to be there, and most importantly, I need to be the best me I possibly can. I can never thank you enough for that.

Love always,

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!

Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

Originally published: March 9, 2016
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