Tuesday, April 14, 2009

This is us!

Today is day one. My first post. It's pretty primitive compared to what's out there, but it is a start.Let me introduce ourselves,I'm Stephanie and my husbands name is Peter, then there is Aniela,22, Olivia,11, Sophia, 9, Bella,7, Andrew,5, and our daughter Emilia Faith who was born on October 22,2008,with Down Syndrome. That day turned out to be the happiest day of my life, but the months before her birth were far from happy. On May 21,2008 I went for a level 2 ultrasound, for no other reason than my "advanced" age (39). I just wanted to get in, get out and get on with my perfectly normal pregnancy. This was my fifth baby, and if there was one thing I could do it was have healthy babies. Well the technician came in and did her thing,now we had to wait for the doctor. We didn't wait long, great a quick acquittal and we're out of here.Wrong. Seems the baby had an echogenic bowel. That is when the bowels appear bright white on the ultrasound.The only part of the baby that is supposed to show up white is bone ,everything else is gray or black.It's not a huge issue the doctor assured me, but it is a soft marker. "A soft marker for what"? I asked. "Down Syndrome" the doctor replied. The feelings that immediately came over me were fear,I can't handle a special needs baby, our lives are basically over, doubt, how will we ever be happy again, guilt, what have I done! Were we greedy to want just one more baby? Anger, lots and lots of anger. Who is this guy? How can he sit there and tell me I could be having a baby with DS. Then of course came the mother of all questions from the doctor. "What do you want to do with this pregnancy"? Well, let me think about that,for starters how about I walk out of here the same way I walked in-PREGNANT ! To say I freaked out completely would be the understatement of the year, no the century. I even got the bright idea to take the AFP quad test. Bad idea, it came back positive. Within 2 days my odds of a healthy baby went from 1/75 to 1/2 . Things were not looking good.I took a crash DS course on the Internet to try to educate myself as much as possible. The good and the bad. We gathered the kids and told them as gently as possible that most likely our new baby would be born with DS. I had this beautiful image in my head that after we told them there would be a few tears , then immediate acceptance and a group hug. Wrong again. What there was, was loud wailing, fears of losing friends, fear of the baby looking different .Every one ran off crying and slamming doors. My husband Peter and I sat there with our mouths hanging open.Who were those kids, that's not how we are raising our children. Then my husband assured me, to give them time and they will come around . The first one on the scene was Bella, and what did this little sweet thing say? "we'll just love her".One by one they came around, and with the incredible support of friends and family we managed to get through the next 4 months of my pregnancy.It wasn't easy, I had at least one meltdown a day. There were days that I just wanted to walk away from it all. Doubt took over many times."I can't do this ",was how I began every prayer.Doctors visits, that in the past had always been something I looked forward to became stressful. Doctors were always too willing to remind me that 75% of "theses babies" die in utero, or (and this was one of my favorites) "the baby looks great, good heart, good measurements, but something catastrophic could still happen". Isn't that nice! But we went on, what else could we do.Finally it was October 21, my last doctors appointment, my due date was Oct 24, done with these stressful visits. Wrong yet again. My doctor suggested one last ultrasound since it had been a month since my last one. Fine, I'm 3 days away from due date, what could possibly go wrong. Well, after the ultrasound the doctor had a strange look on her face,"you have no amniotic fluid left, did your water break?" Ok, not to sound like a complete idiot but can your water break and you not realize it? Apparently so, I guess I had a slow leak. This was followed by, "we need to get you to the hospital and induced immediately". Since I had not had an ultrasound in a month and was unaware that my water broke, there was no way of knowing how long the baby was without the fluid.Great. The doctor didn't want me to go home at all, but what about the other kids in school, my husband, I couldn't just call him from the hospital. I got the OK to go home and take care of things but make it quick. I had my ultimate meltdown in the car on the way home. This time I started my prayer, not with the words "I can't do this", but with the words, "I am not losing this baby now, no way,You brought us this far we are going all the way"!!!!! On October 22, at exactly 5pm Emilia Faith arrived.The second she was placed in my arms I felt all the stress and fears and doubts just fall away, replaced with such complete happiness and pure joy and peace.
I have never felt the presence of God stronger than at that moment. This has been an extremely long post, but when I found out that Emilia most likely would be born with DS, I searched online for hope. I had no place else to turn. The doctors don't tell you things will be OK.They don't tell you, sure there is a very likely chance of some serious health issues and this is going to be the most challenging time of your life, but hang in there,have faith,whatever the out come, this is your baby,the one God picked especially for you.It's not a mistake,or a burden,it's a blessing. If I can be a comfort to someone ,who is where I was just a few months ago,that's great.I found a lot of comfort and support reading about families with children who have DS,and that life goes on and it goes on beautifully.

10 comments:

hogansmithfield said...

I Love you bud, I love you!! I am so proud of you and I pray daily for you and Peter and the children...Emilia is a blessing indeed and she is also blessed to be with the greatest family ever created! God blessed me with your friendship and I will always be here for you and Peter...and I will always be forever thankful for that! Love, Miss xo

hogansmithfield said...

Ok, can I eat her now! My God is she YUMMY!!! So darn beautiful!! (Yup, it's me again! haha) Have a beautiful day!

stephanie said...

hi mama!
olivia

Heather said...

Welcome to blogland.and ... you sell yourself short ... you have an awesome beginning.What a beautiful picture in the the header of sweet Emilia.She is so,so very darling.The connection I have made,the friends I have made through blogging,have been such an incredible blessing.Your family front and center in that.I look forward to checking in daily.Getting to know you all from afar.forging a lasting friendship that one day might culminate in an actual meeting!How great would that be?The National Down syndrome convention is here in California this year ... something to think about.Could be a mommy and Emilia get away.And of course you can add Zoey's button ... wish I could help with the posting instructions but my explanation could possibly more of a hindrance than a help.Till next time ... Heather

Kristen's mom said...

She is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

To my sweet emilia faith- and her mommy- a mother's inspiration....

I love you girls!
You are both so beautiful- so ooozing with love and heartfelt warmth..... you are both truely an inspiration to me, every time I see you.
emilia- you belong in movies my gorgeous little one!!!!
all my heart-
jamie

Pat Paolino Cruz said...

God knew that you were the right mommy and family for Emilia and that she was the right baby for you. She could never receive more love with anyone else. I can't even explain the feeling of admiration and love I have for all of you. You are all truly blessed to have each other and I wish you nothing but smiles every day!
Tell the kids I am on the lookout for some little piggies! Summer and sandles are coming!

scrappy quilter said...

She is just the cutest little peanut. I'll definitely enjoy reading about her life.

Michelle said...

Oh I loved this post...something that most of us mother's of children with Down Syndrome can completely relate to. The feelings, the fears, the realization of blessings. Emilia is beautiful...her smile is so infectious! I love it! Our babies are only about a month and 1/2 apart, so we seem to be venturing out together. This blogging world is a blessing to so many and I am grateful for the friends, the stories, the raw emotion that we all can relate to. Good to see you on here!

leeann said...

hey, stephanie it's leeann just wanted to stop by at this beautiful page and say that i love you and everyone so much and good luck with everything (: ♥ ILyy<3 xoxo