When the genetic counselor called a few days later on December 26th, I'll never forget that moment: my cell phone rang and I had to step out into the garage because the girls were happily (although loudly) playing with their new toys. I held my breath, just praying that she would say "everything came back normal" even though in my heart I knew. But she didn't. Instead she said "I'm sorry, but the amniocentesis came back positive for Trisomy 21". I can barely type this without sobbing. I don't know why it is still so hard to think back to that moment. I think I'm sad for the girl that answered that call. But I don't feel like the same girl today.
After some very sad weeks, the saddest I have ever been, I decided to send out an email to let all of our family (that didn't know) and friends know about our son. I'm a realist. And while I was very sad, I knew I had to snap out of it and try to move on. No matter how hard I cried it still was not going to change the diagnosis so this email was my way I saying: I've accepted it.
Here's what I sent:
January 6, 2008
Happy New Year to all!! We hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday this year as we have with our girls! Can’t believe it’s January, 2009! This should be an exciting year for Mike and I as we are planning on welcoming our third child into the world, a boy, in May. Many of you are aware of the recent diagnosis we have received for this baby- Down syndrome. For some of you this may be the first time you are finding out about this. Of course this came as a shock to us and was very difficult to even comprehend. We have had some time to accept this diagnosis and truly believe God will turn this into good. Mike and I want our family and friends to be aware of this now so when our baby does arrive there are no surprises or sadness just joy that a new life has entered the world. We know that many of you may not know what to say to us or how to act around us and we want you to all know that we are coming to peace with this and do not want you to feel sorry for us or awkward around us. All we ask is for your love and support just as you would if he did not have Down syndrome. The last thing we would want is for anyone to stop calling or asking us how things are going in fear that we may break down or not want to talk about it. We want you to be interested in how the pregnancy is going and once he arrives how he is doing. We know there will be challenges but we feel God sometimes leads us down different paths in life, although some paths are not where we planned or where we want to go, we know He will not lead us down this path alone. Mike and I are prepared to love and care for this baby just as we do our girls and ask that you do the same. I strongly feel after doing some research and talking to parents that have children with Down syndrome that it is a life worth living not something to throw away. And we will do everything in our power to help this child reach his full potential in life and know that we will learn so much from it.
In February we will be seeing a pediatric cardiologist to access the baby’s heart defect that was detected on an ultrasound. Heart defects in babies with Down syndrome are very common and can almost always be corrected with surgery- some not requiring any surgery at all. Of course we are hoping and praying to hear some good news at this appointment. We will not know the severity of his condition (Down syndrome) until he grows. Just as with any child, we will not know his capabilities or when he will reach milestones, be able to talk, read or write until he develops. We do know that the more early intervention the child receives the higher the potential and success. Again we will do everything we can to help our son succeed in life. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as raising three children without disabilities would be hard enough! We will keep you posted as we find out more. 2009 is sure to be full of surprises for us and I just know in my heart we are going to be pleasantly surprised. Please stay in touch!
Mike and Adrienne
When I hit the send button I had no idea what kind of response I would get. I had no idea that I would get an overwhelming amount of love and support from so many people. Sending that email was my first step to acceptance of the diagnosis and it was also my first view of how people would accept my son. I'm so glad I sent that. And I'm so thankful for the family and friends we have. And wow, Mike and I have been pleasantly surprised, beyond belief.
You've heard the saying "If I only knew then what I know now" - for me, that saying couldn't be more true. If I only knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have wasted so many tears, I wouldn't have spent sleepless nights worrying, I wouldn't have spent days and weeks being angry, I wouldn't have spent days and weeks being jealous. Man, If I only knew then what I know now....but if I did know then what I know now I don't think I would have become the person I am today. I went through a learning process about myself and sometimes I don't think God wants us to know it all because otherwise we wouldn't have a chance to grow.
No, I'll never forget the feeling I had when I rode down the elevator to see Mike after that appointment with the doctor on December 22, 2008. Oh, it was awful. When I saw him waiting he was sitting in the car with the girls just smiling and laughing (he didn't know yet) and then he noticed me through the window, still smiling but he could see I was not. There I was feeling like the world was crashing in around me. His smile went away when he saw my face. To think back at how very sad I was and then to look at Bennett now, it almost seems foolish. But I know it wasn't and that it was a learning process.
It almost makes Bennett's existence that much sweeter.