I have to start this post by sharing Mitch’s and my immense gratitude for the love, kind words, hugs, and general support we’ve received since sharing our special news. There really is a need in the English language for a word that expresses more than just a simple “thank you”, but for now that’s what I’ll have to stick with. Just know that there truly aren’t enough words for me to convey how incredibly blessed we’ve felt over the past several months.
As you may have imagined, it’s taken us (me) a bit to reach an emotional level where I am truly at ease talking about our journey with this diagnosis with just about anyone who’s interested in listening. Up until now, we’d shared the news with the majority of just our family and friends (who, from herein I shall refer to as “family” since that’s a more accurate description for them). If there ever was a time that I witnessed Divine intervention first-hand, it was through the grace in the responses I received when I told our families about our baby’s extra chromosome.
Naturally, the first phone calls were to our Moms. Who better to empathize with our situation than our own mommas who understand exactly what it feels like to fear for your child and the wish you could take the pain yourself instead of having to watch your child suffer at all? I had been in touch with my mom all day, but I remember the exact moment on the phone with my mom after leaving the doctor’s office and telling her our baby would have Down syndrome. The tears instantly flowed on both ends of the phone, both of us searching for answers and understanding. I know in that moment my mom wished she could have her mom (my Mah) there with us.
If you knew my grandma and know my mom, you know that they share a certain mothering style of their own. They love their kids fiercely, but simultaneously have high expectations for each and every one of them (in my grandma’s case – all nine of her kids and all 30+ of her grandchildren). In times of trouble, there’s no one you’d rather have by your side. They are problem-solvers by nature, and they’ll hold your hand through every moment of heartache. As a child, there’s nothing more comforting than hearing your mom tell you that everything is going to be okay, but my mom had more to offer. At some point in our conversation, after working through the tears and the it’s-going-to-be-okays, my mom said with absolute assurance,
“someday we’re going to look back on this and wonder why we ever cried tears of sadness.”
That’s the blessing and wisdom she has as a mom – to know the unadulterated bliss that comes from motherhood that I’ve yet to experience. To know (and I’m stealing her words again here) that your children bring you the purest forms of all emotions: joys and sorrows unlike any other experience in life.
I wasn’t there when Kathy (Mitch’s mom) heard about our babe, but by the time I saw her, I could feel all of the love she has for Mitch and Michele out-poured for me. Kathy is the kind of mom that all of Mitch’s friends call “Mom” because there’s no better descriptor for her. She’s a social butterfly because she has a profound genuine interest with anyone who’s looking for an ear to bend; she’s an excellent listener and will share in all of your excitements and sorrows as though they are her own. In true mother form, she came over to our house and I took her through all of the facts we knew at the time.
She patiently let me explain from start to finish, and at the end of it all she said,
“Well, I just wanted to come over and check on you. I did talk to Mitch but I’m sorry all of this is harder on the mother.”
Kathy didn’t need to tell me that she would love her grandchild regardless of ability, growing and learning curves (although of course she did say all of those things) – I already knew that. She has proven her love as a mother ten times over and I have no doubt her love as a grandmother will be something spectacular. To have Kathy give me all of her concern in those raw moments was something that, as a mom herself, she knew I needed. God gives all of us a certain grace in times of vulnerability and sends us angels at exactly the right time with precisely the right words to give us peace, and that’s what Kathy did for me that day.
If there’s a “next in line” to love on our babe – it’s our sisters. I made several phone calls to my sister (Bridget, BB, Beebs, et al.) throughout the day after receiving the initial “high risk” phone call from my OB doctor. I am embarrassed to admit how much I abuse the fact that she’s a PA for inside medical knowledge. BB is the quintessential medical professional with exactly the right amount of empathy and compassion. She calmed me down and walked me through the next steps and reminded me that there are such things as false positives, so no need to overreact without knowing just what “high risk” for Trisomy 21 meant (I spent the ensuing hours scouring the internet for any article that would tell me my likelihood of a false positive).
Later in the afternoon, after confirming what could be considered “the worst”, I talked to BB who reiterated her unconditional love for our sweet babe, but also added a twinge of sisterly love (and Baringer competition) by saying
“but I was supposed to be the one to have a baby with special needs!”
In true BB form, she’d given me one of those laughs that make you shake from your belly and remind you that you probably should get back on a diet as SOON as the baby is born. We laughed and I reminded her that hope was not lost, after all God may grant her the same gift he’s given us. And lucky for her, she’ll have a front row seat and all the aunt snuggles she could ever want.
If there is another competition to be had, it will be between BB and Michele for love of our baby. Michele and BB both shared tears with me and I think for every single tear I cried, they’ve cried two. I didn’t see Michele (Mitch’s sister) for several days, and at that point there wasn’t much left to say, but instead of more words she gave me a big bear hug through her tears and promised me to shower our babe with all the hugs and kisses, to give her unique kind of love and attention that she gives to the special needs kids she works with every day (more on that later), and to teach my child the ins and outs of all hand-eye coordination sports. Thank God because Lord knows neither Mitch nor I are blessed in that realm.
I could honestly go on and on with all the uplifting words and thoughts we received in all the days since we’ve shared our special announcement, and not a single bit has been lost on me. God has a way of sending your guardian angel on missions just when you need is most. In my moments of despair, I’ve received simple words and acts of kindness from the ends of the earth (literally friends and acquaintances from all over the world), and in those moments I realize this baby is already changing my life for the better. I’ve seen God’s grace first-hand through the guardian angels sent on missions by everyone who’s reached out to me and Mitch since we began this uncharted path.
For that, a million thank yous. We are eternally grateful.