Not one I EVER thought I would celebrate. But on this day, three years ago, we were told our baby has Down Syndrome. We found out from an amnio. Everyone knew we were having it. It wasn't a secret. So when the phone calls started coming - "how's the baby?", "did the doctor call yet?", etc., I lied. At first I just said something like "no news is good news!" and then I REALLY lied and told people that everything was fine. My dr called on a Friday so it was an ugly weekend. I thought "this really sucks" but I didn't allow myself to go into specifics about WHY it sucked. By Monday, I was ready to start learning about Down Syndrome. I got on the internet and searched and searched (only at night - we hadn't even told the kids yet). About 6 weeks later, we finally told the kids. They made me cry when immediately, they were protective. I thought they deserved that, to be told first. A week or so later, we told my parents, then Allan's. A short time after that, I wrote a BIG, long e-mail to everyone in our lived that I had an e-mail address for, to explain that we knew Jack had ds but it was okay, and we were ready to be his family and looked forward to enjoying him and seeing him grow and how much we loved him already. Mostly, the response was super supportive and it was not an issue the rest of the pregnancy.
The reason I'm thinking about this today is since having Jack, I have found out that almost 90% of women who find out their baby has ds prenatally, abort. I'm in a huge minority. And it breaks my heart. If I could talk to a mom who finds herself in that situation (prenatal diagnosis) this is what I would say.
1. Your baby is still your baby. You WILL find yourself thrilled by the little toes (and most babies with ds have the CUTEST toe gap, btw!), and ooo-ing and awww-ing over tiny yawns. You'll still need diapers, little sleepers, tiny socks. Your baby will fall asleep in your arms and you will let those arms fall completely numb before you put that precious bundle down. You will be sleep deprived, frustrated, and deliriously happy all at once. When that wee little sweet-heart smiles at you for the first time, you will MELT. (Sounds like any other baby, right? That's the point!)
2. You will still have fun, go places, and do things as a family. Your child can still participate in sports, go camping, love concerts, whatever your family likes to do. You may have to re-think the way some of these things are accomplished, but it can happen. Jack is learning to ride his little bike. He loves going to the pool. He goes camping, and loves boat rides, and will go to Six Flags again this year. He's a typical little brother 99% of the time - getting into his siblings' stuff, being noisy when they are on the phone, grabbing their sodas when they leave the can unattended. But he loves them so much and they totally love him back. When any one of them walks into the room Jack just lights up. All of them have grown so much because he's taught them patience, tolerance, and how to love someone just for the fact they exist. Your child will be an amazing, wonderful, IMPORTANT member of the family. (Sounds like any other baby too, right?!)
So here's a pic of new Jackson (not too scary, right? just a little oxygen):
And here's the whole gang (yeah, we really traumatized our other kids by having him, can't you tell?!):