June 22, 2010
The birthday(s) are over
17 years ago this week I was an emotional and physical mess. We had just welcomed our second daughter into the world. Alex was born with the cord wrapped around her neck and rushed to the neo natal intensive care unit at birth. We were told down syndrome was suspected and would need to wait three days for the karyotype type to confirm the chromosome count. I was discharged; Alex stayed at the hospital.
To be sent home without a baby is hard enough, but to have to wait for confirmation of something we feared is another. We knew nothing about down syndrome; in our ignorance we mourned. We cried with sorrow and sobbed with grief. We met with doctors, and social workers. We did our homework, researched down syndrome and tried to figure out how we would adjust to a different life than we had envisioned.
Although I cried for six weeks, the tears became less those of sorrow but more those of exhaustion. When Alex came home she was a beautiful six pound baby; just like her sister. My exhaustion had to do with childbirth recovery; emotionally and physically. Once we opened our eyes and saw our daughter we knew the new frontier we had entered was going to be okay.
17 years ago this week I did not realize that magic had entered our lives. I still have tears, but they are not of sorrow, rather of laughter. I am still exhausted, but not from childbirth, rather child rearing. Our new world has filled us with opportunities we never envisioned.
We have met the most amazing people; other families like us, and professionals who dedicate themselves to helping our exceptional community. My children are kind, caring and compassionate. John and I have become better people in learning about Alex. We look for and try to create to opportunities to improve Alex’s life and those of her special peers. I have found a passion for life, and a desire to better our world I never knew I had.
If only I knew 17 years ago what I know today, I could have saved myself from those first weeks of grief. Hindsight is a great thing, and I now know we needed to process before we could grow. I can unequivocally say, we have grown, as have our families and friends. We have touched those around us, and found a new community of families and friends.
Although I have said this many, many times we are lucky. We have a life we never anticipated; it has filled us with joy, compassion and love. I only hope that I can live up to the life we have been given. Perhaps it was accidental, perhaps not, but down syndrome is a present and a promise for us to live our lives to the fullest. I am thankful.