As explained in my early post, Bryce's labor and delivery was a whirlwind. I was so ready to not be pregnant anymore. When he was born and they placed him on my chest, it was one of my happiest moments. The day your child is born is supposed to be that way. He was so nice and big for being a preemie, and he had that beautiful head full of dark hair. He was crying and healthy enough for them to let us hold him for a while and take some pictures before whisking him away to the nursery. During that time, I couldn't see him very well, because he was right under my chin. Everyone said he was beautiful, but I just remember noticing his dark hair and how little his hands were. I didn't think he looked anything like his brother. I just found out recently that Mike suspected something was wrong right away, and I feel bad that he never had those few moments of ignorant bliss that I had.
After a few minutes, they took him to the nursery and Mike was able to go along. I started looking through the pictures we had just taken on my camera. In a couple of the pictures, I noticed that it kind of looked like he had Down syndrome, but I shrugged it off, thinking that all newborns are kind of funny looking. It didn't seem to me like anyone had been concerned, and I had been monitored so closely....
When Mike came back into the room a little while later, he asked me if I thought it looked like he had Downs. I again dismissed it, but could tell Mike (who had seen him a lot more than me) was worried. Shortly thereafter, the NNP came in and told us that our son was healthy and beautiful (part of that sweet 5%)....and that she suspected he had Down syndrome (start the bitter 95%). My world stopped spinning. The whole high of bringing a child into this world came crashing down. I couldn't tell you what was said after that, but in my memory, it seemed like she dropped a bomb and then went running from the room to save herself, leaving Mike and I to "grieve" the child we thought we were going to have.
I also instantly and selfishly grieved the life I thought we would have. We had a "handicapped" child. He would live with us forever. There goes any dreams of having an empty nest and enjoying retirement. People will stare at us in public. Connor won't get to have a "normal" brother. Even though I now feel guilty for thinking these things instead of instantly loving my child unconditionally, they are legitimate fears and ones that may or may not actually happen. Our lives went from path A to path B without our knowledge or permission. How could we NOT grieve?
Much of the rest of that day is a blur. I know I cried a lot, but I also know I pretended everything was okay a lot too. When I went to hold my son in the nursery, I didn't recognize him as my son. All I saw was the face of someone with Down syndrome. I am so ashamed to say it, but it wasn't really love at first sight like it's supposed to be. He scared me. He didn't look like Connor. He didn't look like me or like Mike. He looked like a kid with Down syndrome. But, I continued to go into the nursery, hug him, kiss him, show him off to his grandparents, and pretended to be so happy and proud.
|He LOVES his baths!|
|How could I NOT be in love??|
Even though three weeks ago I was completely unaware of what my life was about to become, I already can't imagine it being any different. I can't imagine what life would be right now had Bryce been born without that extra 21st chromosome. Do I wish he would have been? Yes, of course I do. But that's who he is, and I love him--he is my son, the one I was meant to have.
In the days since the grief and shock have lessened (not disappeared...), I have even become excited to raise Bryce and see what he can do. I have been able to see some positives in the situation. There is a large community of people we will meet. Not a club we wanted to join, but one we are a part of nonetheless. I believe Connor will be a better person--more loving, patient, and accepting of others. I know that he will be such a good brother. I remember in the horrible, dark moments after we found out, I kept thinking about how Connor will just see him as his brother--he won't know there is anything wrong with him. Eventually, yes, we will have to explain it to him somehow, but I was envious of the fact that Connor would just look at him and see the baby brother we'd been talking about, not the face of Down syndrome that I saw.
I am so lucky to have a partner like I have. Things like this have to be exceptionally hard for men, but my man stepped up to the plate and accepted Bryce even before I did. He is so full of love, and me and these boys are blessed beyond belief to have him. The road ahead of us is bumpy, long, and will take many unexpected twists and turns. We don't know how 'severe' Bryce's Downs will be. We don't know what he will be capable of...but do we know that for any of our children when they are two weeks old? What we do know is that he appears to be healthy right NOW. We do know that we will do everything in our power for him to exceed expectations. We do know that he is a sweet, snuggly, adorable baby who needs us. When he gets home, our lives will be filled with appointments, assessments, meetings with OTs, PTs, speech therapists, doctors, etc. But it will also be filled with love.