Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Today is an Anniversary

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?!):


Monica Crumley said...

Saw your blog over at the forum. You have a beautiful family! Cap'n Jack is adorable as can be and your blog design is so cute. I loved your post. It's a tragedy that you're in the minority, so thank you for sharing. Yes, our kids are pretty typical in most ways. Such a blessing.

Julie said...

Thanks! I'll be checking out your blog as well!

I literally thank God for our Jackson every day. Yes, such a blessing!

My blog design is courtesy of RK on the forum - she did it for my b-day! She even took the pic of Jack!

AngieW said...

Awesome post. We also got a prenatal diagnosis, and were reminded by many Dr's and nurses that we could terminate. Am so sad for the families who choose to terminate, as they are missing out on so much love.

Ria said...

Great post!
Found your blog through Monica's blog (Monkey Musings). Jack is adorable!! I saw in your profile that you live in MO. I'm in MO too!! I'm going to add you to my blogroll. I hope that's ok.
my blog: Bill and Ria

heidi marie said...

well...way to go...now i'm all choked up. lol. great post. and if only people who know prenatally could see someone like jack they would know it was going to be okay. he is an absolute doll!

Maggie said...

I've been meaning to write to you for a few days. Our story is so similar. We did an amnio b/c we didn't know what was going on and then found out 24 hrs later (FISH test results -- our big date is 8/16/06) that it was DS. I, too, put people off...hey they were expecting 2 weeks to know anyway...Brian and I needed to deal with it and wanted to be positive when we shared the news. I am also grateful EVERY DAY for Emlyn - just as she is. My goodness who wouldn't love this kid? She is amazing in every way. We are not traumatized. Far from it :)
oh and I LOVE that pic of Jack in the blog header. Oh my gosh he is the cutest!!

Julie said...

You girls are THE BEST!

Some day, I'm going to hang out with you Maggie! And you too Heidi Marie (really, let me know when you're in town - I gotta squeeze that yummy Henry!).