Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Meet Eli

Here's another guest post, this time from my friend, Ashley. When I received Quinn's diagnosis, I immediately turned to the internet to read stories from parents who were going through similar situations. In the process, I came across Ashley's blog and quickly realized that she lived just a few miles north of Houston. I sent her an email and she responded immediately, both of us excited to have found one another. I continued to talk with Ashley throughout my pregnancy while also keeping myself updated on her adorable son, Eli, who was born in April of 2012. Since we met last fall, Ashley and her husband Barry adopted beautiful baby Ruby and are (surprise!) expecting another son this spring! Here is their story:

I remember the day we confirmed our pregnancy with Eli. I was standing in the middle of my kindergarten classroom when the phone rang. I had been waiting all day to hear that sweet sound. Our reproductive endocrinologist was on the other end and I could hear the smile in his voice. "Mrs. Newman, you are pregnant!" He went on to give me some lab instructions and tell me my odds of a full term delivery (we had already beat the odds, using IVF to get pregnant). I just stood there in the middle of my kindergarten class with tears rolling down my face. This was what we had waited two years for. Finally a baby.

Our pregnancy was complicated: bed rest, bleeding, doubt and fear. But our little miracle stayed strong with us and soon we began to believe we would bring home a baby in May 2012. During my first trimester, all testing and ultrasounds looked good. I was released to my regular OB at 12 weeks. During my second trimester, some routine thyroid bloodwork was accidentally run as AFP testing instead. The day before our winter break, my doctor called to let me know that our son had screened positive for Down syndrome. To say that I laid on the floor and cried would be giving myself too much credit. I did not react well and looked for reassurance from my doctors immediately.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Meet Mara B

In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I've decided to share with you a series of guest entries by some of the amazing people we've met along our journey with Quinn. These posts are intended to help share the positivity that our kids bring us each and every day, while also eliminating some of the stereotypes attached to the chromosomally-enhanced. Each of our stories is as different as our individual children, yet the incredible joy they bring to our families is the same.

The first post is by my friend, Catie. Soon after receiving Quinn's diagnosis, we were given Catie's contact information. She was teaching music at Atticus's preschool and her daughter, Mara, was born with Down syndrome the previous year. It wasn't long before I learned that her job was a new one; just the year before she was an English teacher at Stratford High School, which is coincidentally MY job. When her husband passed the bar exam, she was able to take on part-time work and devote more of her schedule to her amazing kids, thus opening up a position in my current department. Whether I was hired to replace her position or not, we'll never know, as I was one of four new teachers in the English department last year. But I am certain that she and her family will be our lasting friends, as we have far more in common than the extra chromosome that Mara and Quinn possess, though that last commonality will connect us forever. She has been a priceless source of support and information, and meeting Mara for the first time instilled in me a new, positive outlook on what Down syndrome would be like for our family.

Here's Catie's story:

This is my Mara, affectionately known as Mara B (for Broussard, her middle name) or simply, the diva.  She's my second child and my only daughter.  She came screaming into the world on the afternoon of May 27, 2011, with a thick mop of black hair and surprise!  An extra chromosome--the 21st one.  Not exactly the Showcase Showdown, but I was assured it was the "Cadillac of chromosomal disorders," which I can assure you meant next to nothing to this gal, almost immediately post-partum.  There had been no indication during my pregnancy that she might have Down syndrome, so we were pretty shell-shocked.  My husband and I both had outdated ideas of what it meant to have Down syndrome, so a series of worst-case scenarios ran through our heads--everything from worrying about day care to kissing our carefree days of empty nesting retirement goodbye.  Instead of simply rejoicing over the birth of our much-awaited-for baby girl, we were thrown into a panic after being given a diagnosis and leaving the hospital with a list of imperative appointments with various specialists ranging from cardiologists to hematologists, geneticists, and ophthalmologists.  Those first heart-wrenching moments and