My husband and I wanted a second child. We already had a beautiful 7-year-old girl, but we never felt complete. We were over the moon at the news of having another child and our daughter, Christina was excited to get a new sibling.
Because of my advanced age, my gynecologist suggested visiting a high-risk OB/Gyn just to check things out. At five months pregnant, our entire family trooped into the doctor’s office for a routine checkup and most importantly, to find out the sex of the newest member of our family.
Never for a second was I worried that something could be wrong. So, when the doctor said, “Hmm folks, there’s something wrong with the heart,” I wasn’t phased. Even when he went on to explain that because of the heart defect and my age, my daughter (yes, we were having another girl) may have Down syndrome and would need surgery, I didn’t panic. We left thinking about the ring bearer from our wedding that underwent a heart surgery shortly after birth and survived. We did not approach Down syndrome in our minds…not just yet.
Our next doctor’s visit was to the pediatric cardiologist and this one was much more difficult. She pulled out two identical sheets of paper with a sketch of a heart and laid down the first sheet and said, “This is a normal baby’s heart,” and on the second sheet started to make adjustments to show our baby’s heart defect. She said, “Your daughter has a heart defect and there is a 50/50 chance she has Down syndrome. I can recommend two surgeons to perform the surgery she will need a few months after birth.” We made it to a nearby parking lot before we were overwhelmed with emotion.
My husband and I wondered about her life and he said to me “If she has Down syndrome, do you know that people are going to tease her?” His emotions were raw. “You know people are not going to be nice to her.” I called his father so they could talk and drove home. I never shed a tear…until I went into my room and called my mom. I cried and cried and cried. Christina was confused and I remember her asking me, “Why are you crying and talking to Grandma?” I told her, “Even at my age, sometimes you need your mommy. And I need mine right now.” Truer words have never been spoken.
My mother was my rock. She flew in the next day and took care of me for the next several days. Then she sat me down and told me, “Ok, I’m gonna need you to dry this up. You are strong. You know what the Lord can do for you. I need you to move forward.” And with that I dried my tears, got up and began to prepare for the arrival of our very special baby girl.