To my former self:
To the one with a fresh bundle of pink loveliness in her arms and a fresh diagnosis. The one who is standing on a ledge, ready to jump to any and every bad conclusion. The one who’s face clearly reads that this birth is more devastation than joy….it is okay. You are going to be better than fine, so for goodness sake- stop with all the future predicting. Even when you are right, it’s useless. Like dad told you: worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere….and you are going to have a lot to do… so, stop all that rockin!! Also, try and remember that saying you tucked away into your inspirational Pinterest board:
Worrying is literally betting against yourself.
Why am I telling you to stop? I know you. You stay up late. Your pillow gets pummeled as you ponder all of life’s little pieces. The option weighing is all so much more intense than actual life silly girl, when will you learn?
To the new mommy of a child with special needs. To the one who saw her son for the first time face to face and immediately knew. To that mommy who’s scariest prediction became her reality. To the one who’s sadness rocked her so hard that her body shook, her appetite went missing, and her thoughts consumed her with darkness. I am so sorry you went through that. It was awful for you and because of it, every nurse, doctor and anything “baby” was diluted. It all defeated you… so you thought. But it didn’t. You came back. You were enveloped in your grief and your vision was narrowed and negative. You did this for a solid week. Then you returned with vengeance. Don’t feel guilty about your thoughts. Don’t feel bad about staring at that clear crib in the hospital and wondering how you could love your baby. It didn’t take you long. I still don’t know how you did it. Your strong support system? Your familiarity with trauma? Your high school title of “Most Optimistic?” Either way, you nailed it. You came back in hot. You researched, reached out and started writing. Now you love your baby so much. You see his beauty as one that soars above all other things beautiful put together. Something else,… you needed to be sad. You had to embrace the debilitation in your soul. Everyone fought for you because of it. They deflated your biggest fears . And you became stronger and smarter. As tears fell right on your baby’s cheek, you pushed through to acceptance and you let go of judgement and prejudice. You are a better because of it.
You were right, amazingly, when you predicted your baby would have Down Syndrome . But wait, before your heart starts sinking and you start wailing about how you knew your life would be ruined, it isn’t that way. What ever that thing was that you feared isn’t here in the future anywhere. I’m not even sure what it was? I mean , you didn’t even know about possible heart defects or thyroid problems or neurological scares. You knew nothing of hearing loss, vision issues or a higher risk for cancer. I think maybe you were afraid no one would love you or your baby…that people would make fun of you both; lessen your worth.
You couldn’t have been more wrong by the way. Maybe that is why even though you prayed and you prayed to have your baby be healthy, God (the jokester that he is) handed you a healthy baby with Down Syndrome. Because there is nothing to fear my dear. Your baby is so loved it impossible for me to explain the enormity of it…but, after a short bout of self pitying and despair, you’ll see. And a short while after that, you will barely recognize the shallow pregnant woman hoping people wouldn’t think her baby was going to be unloveable.
Your Judah is just about a year now and your life is dripping and oozing with more nourishment than all your days before him combined. The way you look at life has completely morphed into a clearer vision of what is really important. You and your husband have the most incredible bond now. You share tears when a mom comes up to you at Target and tells you that your son is like her son and an incredible gift. You trade stories that beam with pride from a successful therapy session and you two know how to take care of yourselves and your relationship so that you can be the best for your babies.
Your relationship with social media is so much more that posting pictures of your well crafted dinner or a funny quip. You have “met” some pretty spectacular people. Ones who are trying to send people with Down syndrome to college, ones setting up a foundation to get those littles with Down syndrome adopted. Countless warriors making contributions in the name of Down syndrome. You are part of a community where good feelies wrap around you like a blanket. Remember in hospital when Judah had to wait to be held as you took to researching families who had a child with Down syndrome? You couldn’t bear to comprehend how people kept saying their life was extraordinary. You doubted, oh how you doubted…but you also kept saying how you just wanted to get there. You thought it possible, but had no clue how, to depart from the gut wrenching and arrive where acceptance and elation reigned.
Well you’re here. You made it. It is full of all the magnificence you have read about. You want to advocate, love harder, abandon your old inept ways, and be worthier. You are all in all a more valuable person because of your journey.
And, thank goodness it was always innate for you to persevere. Thank goodness it was never in your DNA to lose hope. Instead, you let God give you a piggy back ride and you loved…..Judah is your reward for that. Your life is your reward for that… And you are living the very most magnificent existence right now!!