I thought I would catch anyone new to my blog up on Em's beginning. This month is an appropriate time to re- post my first post.
This Is Us, written on April 14, 2009
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, and doubt, how will we ever be happy again, and, 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
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.