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When the Doctor Gave My Unborn Baby a Diagnosis I Couldn't Believe

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What does that mean?

That was my response to the doctor who just delivered some of the most confusing, unexpected news I have ever received on July 6, 2015.

“Your baby tested positive for trisomy 21, which means you have a 99.9 percent chance of having a baby with Down syndrome.”

Surely this cannot be true. What are you talking about? This would never happen to me.

“We can discuss your options.” Options? I have options? Then do whatever you have to do to make this not true. I want that option.

I stumbled out of the doctor’s office that day knowing my world had been changed forever.

I told my husband that night about the news I received, and together the shock rocked our souls. We laid in bed that night staring at the ceiling, holding hands, sometimes crying, sometimes talking but definitely not sleeping. We just wanted out of this nightmare and for the sun to come up with this all gone.

He went to work the next day. I don’t know how. I headed to a friend’s house and paced around her kitchen without stopping. I was rocking in the fetal position standing up for the entire day. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I was not going to do this. I was not going to be a mom to a child with Down syndrome. I couldn’t. My life was perfect and this child was going to be imperfect. I envisioned myself hostage to this child and that my life was over. I can’t do this, I can’t do this! That’s all I knew and felt right then.

Trauma. That’s what we were experiencing. An emergency visit to our counselor and pastoral friend confirmed that. I don’t think of trauma like this, but he was right. That first 24 hours was complete mental chaos; we were traumatized by this news. Looking back I cannot believe how much I lost control of my emotions and mental stability in those first days after hearing the news.

As the days went by, the reality sunk in and the emotions settled down. As the diagnosis was confirmed, the research began. I realized how uneducated I was on the subject and how much there was out there to learn. A lot of times the Internet can be a bad place to search for answers, but in this case, the Internet was such a blessing to my new reality. I learned the stories of so many other mothers who received the news as I did or found out their news in the hours after their baby’s birth. They felt the same fear and frustration and confusion I did. But they all, every last one of them, said that they wish they could’ve seen into the future and known then what they know now. It’s going to be OK. More than OK.

It’s going to be OK, it’s going to be OK. That’s what they all say. That’s what I keep telling myself. Sometimes I believe it, but most of the time I’m still convincing myself this is what’s true.

Three months later, I don’t believe anymore that I’m going to be held hostage by this child or that my life is over. I’m also fully aware that my life is far from perfect and that every child is imperfect. But I’m scared and restless as I wait for the unknown. I definitely don’t feel prepared or qualified to be the mom of a child with special needs.

But what I do know is that I’m going to love this child with every ounce of my being. And I’m going to hug him and kiss him every chance I get. And I’m going to help him pursue his dreams and watch him go places and experience things just like I’ll do for my other children. I’m going to encourage him and give him any wisdom I can. And most importantly I’m going to teach him that God loves him. I will be the best mom I know how to be.

But most of all, I’m going to be brave. I’m going to be brave for him. I’m going to be brave for him because he needs me to be brave for him. All our kids need their moms to be brave for them so they can be brave in this ugly and scary world.

My son, Cody, is going to make his celebrated arrival soon, and all I know is I’m ready to be his brave mama.

Follow this journey on Growing With Cody.

Originally published: October 12, 2015
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