In those first few days after I gave birth, I cried oceans of tears. I was devasted. I felt lost. I didn’t know where to put myself in my motherhood, and the special baby that I was given challenged my beliefs, my ideals, and brought me to my knees in my faith.
I look back on that time now and feel a tremendous amount of guilt. I look back on that time now and realize I wasted so much time and energy worrying about things that didn’t even matter.
I thought about my last post for Down Syndrome Consciousness Month for a long time and while many of my co-parents in our organization ended the month with a prayer of thanksgiving and with gratitude for the DSAPI for bringing us all together, I felt that I wanted to end the month long celebration with a letter to myself.
I would give this letter to myself on that very first morning after Gelli was born. It was the morning that Nino and I decided to name our daughter Evangelina.
Evangeline means God’s Gift.
Dry your eyes. Take a breath. Your daughter will be fine. In fact, in three years time, you will be amazed at just how far she has come. Do me a favor? Hug your husband. He’s holding it all together for you and for the kids. When you got married, you knew there might be challenging times in your marriage. This is one of those times. While you question your faith, he is staying the course and towing the line. He will give you the time you need to adjust to the diagnosis of Down Syndrome and the idea of what that will entail for your family. Just remember, to give him some time and space too. There might be times when he will need you to be strong for him as well. That’s what your marriage has always been about because together, you make a great team.
I can see that you are overwhelmed. Your mind is racing, your eyes are swollen, and you are all over the place. Stop thinking about Gia’s future wedding and how her sister will stand as her maid of honor. For now, take it one day at a time. You’ll like it much better this way. Actually, one of the gifts your new daughter will give you is the ability to be absolutely present and “in the moment.” This is something you have been working on with your yoga and your reiki, but you have yet to master it…you will master being in the moment and when you do, you will realize it is because of that extra chromosome that you are so worried about, right now.
It’s time to find your breath and go back to your center. Take a step back and try to see the big picture. The big picture includes a beautiful new baby girl who is actually, the perfect fit for your family. In the beginning you will worry a lot. It’s in your nature. I know. You come from a long line of worriers…but, what I want you to see is the beauty in the gift you have been given. They say that parents of children with special needs experience a huge shift in perspective…if you are ready for that shift, then STOP what you are doing right now, AND LISTEN.
You are wasting your time and your tears. Don’t over indulge, and don’t overthink. Trust that He had a plan when He allowed your daughter chose you. Trust that He will provide ways and means for you to grow through this experience and become the mother you never knew you could be. It will be an adjustment, but what you will see is that you will meet other parents just like you. You will learn from them. You will share laughter, tears, joys, and triumphs for small milestones that you took for granted before. You will pray with these very same parents for the continued health of their own angels. You will walk with them…side by side…because you already know that there is strength in numbers.
Your daughter will teach you things. She will open your eyes to see how strong your own mother is. Your mother will support you silently. She will be a source of strength for you, and you will love her even more, for how she will support you and how she will love her new granddaughter. Your baby will also show you the depth of love your sister can have for her very special god child. And your friends? You’ll figure out who your true friends are…because your daughter will show you. You will finally understand that you only need a few TRUE friends to be happy and to feel supported.
You absolutely must listen to your friend, Dale. Remember her words when you called her from your hospital bed, just hours after you gave birth.
“Honey, look at the tremendous gift you have been given. She is perfect. She is pure. You must only look at her soul, and you will know that God has given you the most wonderful gift of life through her.”
Go out and buy the book that she told you about. The one written by Dale Evans Rogers…
It will change you. You will see things clearly after you read this book. You won’t worry as much, and you will realize that although you feel you have been brought to your knees in your faith, it’s because of all of your questions, that God gave you exactly what you needed to strengthen your faith more than you ever thought previously possible.
You will find your way in all of this. Your daughter will help you. She will make you a better person…just like each of your other children before her…
But don’t wait too long to settle into your new motherhood…because it will fit you perfectly.