Four years ago today, Payton entered the world looking a tid bit dusky.
Well, she actually was more than a tid bit dusky, but we'll keep it at that. The poor thing ... it breaks my heart to see this picture of her just after she was born. I remember saying, "I don't think she is supposed to be this color."
Seconds later, a NICU team came flying through the doors and whisked Payton over to the side of the room. They were giving her blow by oxygen, which was less than sufficient. They took her away and the next thing I remember is being wheeled into the NICU to see my baby girl. They rolled me up next to her isolette ... and there she lay under an oxy hood with cords everywhere.
Uh ... things were not supposed to happen this way.
A nurse removed Payton's oxy hood so that I could see her face and that is when it hit me. She has Down syndrome. Look at her eyes. It is so obvious.
I didn't say anything to anyone about my suspicions. Not even my husband. And nobody had said anything to me about their suspicions.
Not yet, anyway.
It turned out our baby girl had to stay in the NICU, as she could not breathe on her own. Her red blood cell count was also through the roof and she had two small heart defects ... among other things. The doctors finally let us in on their suspicions and that is when our world came crashing down.
I wasn't sure that I even wanted to see my baby. The hospital social worker had brought me some out dated information on Down syndrome ... one of which was titled How to Breastfeed the Down Syndrome Child.
I remember feeling so empty when I read that. I mean ... the Down Syndrome Child? Was my baby girl not even a person? My emotions were all over the place.
If only I knew then what I know now.
Thank God it did not take me long to realize that Down syndrome or not, this was my child. This was my gift from God and dangnabbit, I wanted to see her.
I would later come to find out that the exact feelings I initially had are very common. Is it hard for me to admit now? Sure it is. But I just didn't know. I was not educated and I had no idea what sort of gift had just fallen in my lap.
A gift that has taught me more things in her four years of life than I have learned my entire life. A gift that has allowed me to appreciate the small things in life. A gift that has given me more compassion than I know what to do with. A gift that I am so deeply in love with, that I am not sure I could live without.