In my phone I have seven pictures. I was looking at them today and thinking about when they were taken. As I looked at the detailed information on them, I noticed they were taken at 5am exactly three months ago. October 6, 2011 – the morning after Sawyer was born. I took them while I lay awake in the hospital crying in the wee hours of the morning. I was hoping that they would not show the Downs Syndrome traits I could not help but see in my baby laying skin-to-skin on my chest. Every time I would take a picture, I’d look at it, cry… and wait another minute and take another one, praying that from a different angle I would not see the obvious. But every one of them showed me the slanted eyes of a newborn with Downs. After six of them, I just gave up and held him and cried.
No one had told me Sawyer had Downs. As a matter of fact, Jay asked the OB when she delivered him and she told him, “There is nothing wrong with this baby. It would be obvious if he had Downs. His ears would be lower and his tone would be obviously bad. You don’t have anything to worry about.” But by the time Ezra had come to visit a couple of hours later, I was sure she was wrong.
I kept telling myself that I was not a doctor. How could I diagnose Downs? My doctor had said the baby was fine and she knew how worried we were about Downs. I should just relax and enjoy this. Jay was thrilled. I didn’t want to be responsible for crushing his joy – and if I told him, I would have had to explain why I was so sure and that would make it real. It would be real if I said it out loud. And no one was saying it so, as long as no one said it, it was possible I was wrong.
But Jay took his mother and went back to our house for the night later after I’d gotten into a regular room. I was alone with the baby watching him sleep on my chest. I was on Percocet. I dozed and cried and hoped that I was wrong. At one point late in the night, I told my nurse I was worried about it. She just told me to get some rest. When she walked out I sobbed and started taking the pictures. I kept thinking, “she didn’t say I was wrong.” She didn’t confirm what the OB said when she delivered him, even though I told her about it. I knew she at least suspected. The more I thought about it, the more I cried.
By the time the sun came up I was positive. I waited as long as I could and then texted Jay and told him that the pediatrician was coming by and I needed him or his mother to be there with me for that. There was only one thing I knew for sure and it was that I could not be the one to tell them. I held on to the slim hope that I was wrong and that the pediatrician would come in and she would never say the words Downs Syndrome. But in my heart I knew that she would.
While I laid there and waited for Jay and his mother, my two best friends in the world texted me to check on us. Outside of our immediate families and these two friends, Jay and I had told no one that we had been told the baby could have Downs. I told them both by text message that I was sure the baby had it. One of my friends started asking about the markers I had seen. For some reason it was not the same texting about it as saying it out loud. And I cannot tell you how much I appreciated my friends’ reactions – not offering condolences or flipping out, but being matter of fact and helpful. The seventhpicture in my phone is of Sawyer’s palm. My friend and I were trying to figure out if there was a single palmar crease. I cannot tell you how helpful those matter-of-fact text conversations were. I don’t know if I will ever be able to tell them how much it meant to me.
Jay and his mother did get to the hospital before the pediatrician came. And I sat there and waited hoping we would get through the exam without her saying Downs Syndrome. She was kind and gentle, but she was blunt. He had enough markers that he needed to have genetic testing for Downs Syndrome.
It is amazing how time and acceptance works. Thinking back three months to the night I lay awake high as a kite on Percocet crying holding my new baby, I don’t feel the deep heart-wrenching sadness I did that night and the two days that followed. I have never cried like I did over those couple of days. There were periods of time where I could not imagine being at the point I am now. My heart ached. I felt such guilt and sorrow. I could not believe it. This had actually happened to us. I mourned the loss of the baby I hoped we would have. I felt such heartache that Jay had lost the baby he should have had because of me.
But today, just 90 days later, we are ok. There have been times over the last 3 months that I have cried some thinking and worrying about Sawyer’s future and what it will be like. I cannot tell you that I am not a little scared, some days more than others. But I feel normal. I have reached a point where I don’t “see Downs Syndrome” when I look at Sawyer, as bad as it may be to admit that I used to do just that.
I have come far enough to be able to write this without shedding a tear, not even getting a bit choked up as I write, even. I didn’t plan to write this post today, even though it has been exactly 3 months since we were told. As a matter of fact, I had not even realized it until I looked at those pictures I’d taken while I was bored during a meeting today. And then I saw this article. And that is what pushed me to write this.
I took seven pictures in tears 3 months ago hoping against hope that my baby was fine. And you know what I have learned in those 3 months? He is. He really is just fine. And Downs Syndrome or not he is the cutest little baby you will ever see!
I cannot wait to get home and spend the weekend with all my guys!
[Here is my first post about Sawyer and Downs]