I have a feeling that this blog will see a lot more action in the coming weeks, as writing is so incredibly therapeutic for me. The past few days have been a roller coaster of emotions in which Brian and I will go from sobbing uncontrollably to suddenly reaching a moment of acceptance and back again. I assume this will be the norm for us as the weeks progress.
Yesterday I found a box of baby toys in Atticus’ closet that had not been unpacked from the move. As I lifted the cardboard flap, I was overwhelmed with the most soul-crushing sadness I have ever felt. You see, the two years following Atticus’ birth were the happiest of my life, and seeing those toys transported me back to our humble Austin home with the big backyard and owl-themed nursery, where we were surrounded by friends who were always just a phone call away. It left me with a feeling of homesickness and a worry that I would never be that happy again. So I cried in mourning for the life I knew, until Atticus looked at me quizzically and said, “Mommy’s crying” and gave me a huge bear hug, which immediately snapped me out of my self-pity. And in that moment I knew that the grief would end someday and that just because my second child will face more challenges than most kids, it didn’t mean that we would be any less happy. In fact, my obsessive research into the subject suggests that children with Down syndrome serve to bring more happiness into the home than parents and siblings ever thought possible. Divorce rates are lower, feelings of empathy are stronger, and the sense of "family" takes on a whole new meaning. And that thought gives me peace.
So I’m taking the next few months one day at a time, knowing that some will be better than others. I’m making a vow that I will be prepared and excited for the birth of my son and that I am going to raise a child, not a diagnosis. There will be challenges, the most terrifying being the possible health issues he could face following delivery. Nearly half of all babies born with Down syndrome suffer from some sort of heart defect and require surgery. We need to be emotionally and physically prepared for that possibility and therefore educate ourselves sooner rather than later. So we’re off to the bookstore for some good old fashioned education. And we’re taking strides to find support from other families in the area. We have also been so overwhelmingly blessed by the kind words of love and support from our friends and family. We’ve been receiving phone calls, emails, texts, and Facebook messages galore, all of which speak volumes about the people we love and who love us. We are truly blessed.
I feel like most people face at least one big challenge in their lives. Sometimes this takes the form of illness or the loss of someone close. Sometimes it’s poverty, unemployment, or addiction. We all have a moment that tests our strength and willpower as human beings and, until now, I’ve never really experienced something this life-altering. So if I’m due for a challenge, I feel so fortunate that mine is also the blessing of a child. He will be loved.
Oh, and we’ve decided to name him Quinton. Quinn for short.