Ok, fine, so I ripped that post title off of C.S. Lewis. But I think it’s appropriate.
My friends Jess and Paul were blessed this past spring with a beautiful baby girl they’d been waiting for for years. They were surprised to learn moments after her birth that she has Down syndrome. Joy and her amazing parents and big brother Jay became the inspiration for me to raise funds this year for their Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome team, “Peace, Love, & Joy”. I’ve asked Jess to tell you in her own words about giving birth to Joy, who is now a sweet, smiley 6-month old. Oh – and since Jess references ASL in her story, I should also tell you that Jess is an Instructor of American Sign Language and her husband Paul is an American Sign Language Interpreter.
Our story really begins about six years ago when our doctor told us that it would be almost impossible for me to get pregnant, but six months later we were expecting a little boy. Motherhood was ‘it’ for me. I was so happy with that sweet little boy, that I often caught myself dreaming of my next baby. I wished for a baby girl! One wonderful day when our son was four, I took a pregnancy test and saw two little lines! We were so freaked out and excited at the same time! But by early evening I began to start cramping and Paul and I went to the ER. They didn’t see any heartbeat in the ultrasound, and my stomach sank. The next day we visited my OB for an ultrasound and like a miracle we saw that little heartbeat going nice and strong. I was so happy, I thought for sure my heart was going to bust open!
At twenty weeks we found out we were expecting a baby girl! And the shopping began! Bows, shoes, dolls, tutus and everything pink I could find. My pregnancy was tough, I got gestational diabetes and had to have weekly ultrasounds and non-stress tests. Finally, on April 2 it was time. She was ready to be born. I went in for my repeat c-section and we were so excited!!! In the OR my surgery began, and she was born quickly. Before she even began to cry my doctor took the separation screen down and told us that our baby girl had Down Syndrome. My entire world froze, my mind went 100 different ways, but Paul was cutting the cord, taking pictures and ohhhing and ahhing like a proud daddy. I felt like I was falling through the floor.
Acceptance took time. It took nurses who just rubbed our hands and stroked our hair. It took unwavering family support. It took grandmas and grandfathers who lavished our baby with love. It took friends that listened and didn’t judge. It took our sisters and brothers holding us up. It took random strangers sending gifts and cards. It took a friend who photographed her and showed us her sweet face. It took entire classes of students sending their love. It took loving each other as a couple for better or worse. But most of all, it took seeing our baby through the eyes of her big brother. She was perfect, she was just the way she was meant to be and she was beautiful.
We named her Joy. And she is beautiful! She is strong and sweet. She is now 6 months old! There are so many things she can do! She can roll over, she signs four ASL signs (milk, eat, mom and dad), she is now saying Momma. We are proud and we love her just the way she is!
Thanks Jess for sharing your story and your beautiful family with my readers! I am so proud to be your friend and thrilled that I get to bear witness to Joy & Jay and their awesomeness!
Did you learn anything about Down syndrome in this post? If so, please share it with someone today!