It was Holy Thursday, just days before Easter, and I was heading to my OB appointment for a routine visit. I was filled with joy and excitement to see my growing baby on the ultrasound! This was my third child and I had already found out that it was going to be a baby girl! I sat daydreaming in the doctor’s office. All of a sudden the doctor walked in, and I instantly knew by the somber expression on her face...my heart sank...The first thing I asked her was if my test results were back. She nodded. My baby had Down syndrome! The doctor had been urging me weeks prior to have the Maternit21 test done. I had been reluctant to do any genetic testing as it wouldn’t change the outcome, but eventually agreed since subtle markers began appearing on my prior ultrasounds. Right then my world came crashing down. I was devastated, scared and angry! How could this be happening to me? To my family? This was not the path I had envisioned.
The beautiful Michigan summer day with bright blue skies had suddenly turned gray and darkness filled most days after. I was so sad and scared. My husband and I consoled each other as we cried grieving the child we were expecting. We tried to keep our sadness from our other two children but it was hard to hide. We truly didn’t know what to make of this. We had already received the ‘Welcome to Holland’ letter with our first child due to his multiple severe food allergies, and as most children seem to outgrow them, his were only getting worse! Now the idea of our third child having Down syndrome, something we knew nothing about, terrified us. I wanted nothing to do with it. Thankfully My husband and I both shared the same religious beliefs therefore without doubt I knew that I would be giving this child life. Those precious kicks, that beating heart and that little soul growing inside of me was still a little LIFE, Down Syndrome, or not! Luckily we were both on the same page when it came to that. Termination was not going to be an option. I told him at that point that I was going to do everything I could to research both avenues, parenting a child with DS and adoption, and pray that God would guide us as to which path was intended for us and our unborn child.
As I pushed through the tears and with months to go, I stumbled across the NDSAN. It was through the NDSAN that I met Stephanie. God bless that woman! A true saint! She had spent countless hours talking with me, a stranger, calming me, talking me down from the ledge and listening to me as I tearfully and very rawly expressed my feelings with her. Up until this point, all the doctors, genetic counselors and the internet painted a rather grim image of life with DS. Nonjudgmentally and lovingly, Stephanie shared with me her own experiences of raising her very own sweet son. She shared with me many wonderful aspects along with challenges. I was able to see DS in a different light. She also introduced me to other families who chose adoption for their path. I was able to talk to other birth moms and listen to their journey. She helped connect me with an adoption agency in my hometown, and she sent them profiles of several wonderful families from the NDSAN looking to adopt specifically a child with DS.
Meanwhile, I reached out to local DS support groups to meet families who chose to parent. As I searched for answers for my journey, Stephanie helped me to not be so hard on myself and to remember what a selfless loving gift adoption was. For after all, I loved my child SO much that I only wanted the best for her. I was afraid that with the demands of my other two children, I would not be able to give her all that she may need. While reviewing many profiles, we instantly connected and fell in love with a family! From that moment forward we started preparing for the future.
The day of my daughter’s birth was filled with mixed emotions. It was only 30 minutes of natural labor and my precious angel was born. Funny thing was, I had spent so much time and energy worrying about how I didn’t want and wouldn’t be able to handle a life with DS that I never even stopped to think about how I would ever be able to let her go! When I glanced down at her as they placed her on my chest, I saw the most beautiful slanted eyes looking up at me! I was finally holding my child, so precious and perfect! Down syndrome didn’t define her, it was just a small part of who she was. She was no different than any other baby born that day. Just a pure soul wanting warmth and shelter and LOVE! At that moment I knew God’s plan for us! For she was ours! There was no denying it!
Now a year later, I can’t even explain how thankful and lucky we are to be blessed with this angel. Every single day I thank God for choosing us to be her parents. She continues to surprise us and exceed all expectations, contrary to what we were told by doctors or statistics. I can now tell you firsthand about life with Down Syndrome, and it is BEAUTIFUL! Thank you NDSAN, and to Stephanie for holding my hand during those dark, dark days and helping me to push forward to see the light!