For as long as I can remember, I’ve used writing as a form of therapy. Furthermore, I’ve always enjoyed looking back at my happiest and darkest moments…seeing how much I’ve grown and changed....High school, college, girl meets boy, they fall in love, get married...
You see, my life seemed pretty typical until that September day in 2009. My heart sank and I suddenly felt like my body was numb. At 16 weeks pregnant, I learned that my blood work (quad screen) came back high risk for Down syndrome. I remember telling the nurse, “This must be a mistake.” She replied, “You’re young…only 25. We’ve never had a Down’s baby based on a positive quad test. You will be fine.” The specialist that I was referred to only found one soft marker for Down syndrome on my level 2 ultrasound- A thick nuchal fold. “Maybe he’ll be a big football player?” I thought. With that, the Specialist gave me a 2% chance for Down syndrome and said to come back in a month.
There was only one way to find out for sure if the child I was carrying had Down syndrome. Amniocentesis. It’s a relatively “safe” procedure, but there is a slight risk for miscarriage. The specialist and ultrasound tech strongly encouraged me to go through with the amnio and stressed how important it was to “weigh out my options.” I left my second (and final) appointment with the specialist in tears. I remember crying out to God, even yelling at him…telling him that there was absolutely no way he could give me a child with Down syndrome. “You know my heart better than anyone. You know my soul like no other. You know I can’t do this. And I know you won’t do this to me. I know you’re testing me- and I wish I understood why?” Looking back, I was being incredibly selfish. I loved the sweet little baby growing inside of me. I opted out of the amniocentesis because the results wouldn’t change that love. For the love of all that is holy, I could feel Austin kicking me. He wasn’t just a few cells. He was alive. He had a beating heart. Down syndrome or not, HE WAS MINE. And I loved him.
Austin was born on February 24, 2010 via emergency C-Section. It might seem like Down syndrome is a diagnosis that is recognized by medical professionals immediately after birth. This is the case for a lot of people, but it wasn’t the case for us. To make a long story short, we found out that Austin had a rare form of Down syndrome when he was 2 ½ weeks old via karyotype. To be honest, I knew as soon as Austin opened his soulful eyes and looked into mine. And then I noticed the extra skin on his neck. I tried to convince myself that he didn’t. I even asked God to “take the Down syndrome away” before we knew for sure.Why did I start this blog? I started it to chronicle our life and this “journey.” Speaking of this journey, it’s nothing like I thought it would be. Yes, we have rough days. For those most part, our life is filled with books, hugs, toys, messes, love, learning, patience, kisses and very little sleep for Mommy. We are grateful. We are happy. We are blessed.
Go ahead, dig into my blog to get all the juicy details. I promise you will find a wide range of emotions. Most of all, this is real. I don’t sugar coat the hard times. And I may go overboard when things are good. Most of all, I hope this blog opens your heart and hopefully changes your preconceived ideas about people with disabilities.
It’s a wild ride, but we wouldn’t change it for the world!