Sometimes I need to be reminded that I’ve done some hard things. I have survived. I am brave. I am brave because….
I hung up the phone, the news of a Down Syndrome diagnosis for my baby still ringing fresh in my ears. I took a deep breath, basked in a moment of acceptance and relief, and then continued on my day, keeping my personal life and professional life separate. I continued seeing my patients that day, all pregnant with healthy babies, all while holding my news secret.
I said yes. Yes to a baby with special needs.
I walked into the CT Down Syndrome Congress annual conference, scared but trying to keep an open mind to learn all I could about what life is like parenting a child with Down Syndrome.
I left the hospital with a likely life limiting diagnosis for my baby, choosing minimal fetal monitoring until the baby had any hope of survival, knowing that I was choosing to preserve my fertility over heroic measures for a baby that would likely die, knowing that I might forever struggle with guilt if she was stillborn before the set date we were willing to intervene.
I told the doctors to take out the vent and held my baby as she died.
I held my lifeless baby.
I handed my baby to the nurse, never to hold her again.
I left the hospital empty handed.
I continued to live life.
I went to my first support group, though I cried tears of fear in the hallway before going in.
I went back to work and told hundreds of people, “my baby died,” and continued to care for them with a smile.
I chose a new career path.
I talk about my baby to strangers, to try to break the silence.
I try to ask for what I need.
I had had another baby despite crippling anxiety that I might lose him too.
I’ve been to baby showers.
I’ve held babies.
I write about my feelings here, for all to see.
Why are you brave?