Hello again! Today I begin my participation in the "31 for 21" campaign to raise awareness of Down syndrome. The "31" stands for the 31 days of October, which is Down syndrome awareness month. The "21" stands for the 3 copies of the 21st chromosome, which results in a child having Down syndrome.
Please bear with me if this is a repeat for those of you that have listened to my endless praises and explanations of our youngest daughter. For those of you who are new, here's some background info to get you started.
I will do my best to be brutally honest, and gently uplifting. Abigail has been nothing but a blessing to us in every way. It just took a bit of time to realize this :)
I think I'll start each post with a little "Abbie story" of what she's been up to. She is, after all, 4 years old and endlessly inventive with what she can get into. Every day has a smile in it with Abigail. Today at lunch, she decided to imitate her sister's silliness and eat her pretzels with a fork. She's such a little copy cat and a total goofy girl. She loves tickles and asks for them on a daily basis. After lunch, she and the twins were playing with a balloon. She was on the floor and the balloon bounced off her bottom. She looked down at her behind, patted with her hand, and stated "ouch!". Yeah, right, silly girl. You're wearing a diaper! No ouchies there :)
We have 4 children, and our youngest daughter has Down syndrome. She will be turning 5 in December (already?)! Abigail was born on my 41st birthday; undeniably my BEST birthday gift EVER! She was not diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome. We were informed that we were in the high-risk group primarily due to my age. I had several ultrasounds during my pregnancy which were all perfectly normal, with no soft signs of DS. My blood tests just squeaked into the abnormal range by the barest minimum.
When Abigail was born, my obstetrician offered the observation that "I'm certainly no expert, but she looks just fine to me!". Our Pastor pretty much said the same thing. Our pediatrician, upon her first examination of Abigail said "I'm just not seeing it". Personally, in my heart, I believed she did have DS, even though I was praying that she did not. Hearing all of these comments from 'experts' was a huge comfort, and I thought my gut feeling must just have been my fears catching up with me.
At 4 1/2 weeks of age, we received the diagnosis of Down syndrome from the (multiple) karyotypes [karyotype=blood tests that are taken and used to view genetic material to determine if there are any abnormalities] that were done at the hospital.
I have to say, that was one the the LONGEST months of our lives, waiting; wondering; praying; crying; begging for answers. When we received the official diagnosis, I didn't cry. I just asked "so what do we do now? How do we move forward with this?". We were put in touch with Early Intervention services and life went on and we were good with everything... right?
Well, sort of. I remember people telling me "it could be worse!", or "I'm so sorry! (sorry that my child was born?! WT*?!) or my personal favorite "it's not the end of the world, you know", and and in my head my reply was "No, just the end of mine". I cried in the shower every day for weeks, wondering why.
I eventually found my answer, but you'll have to keep reading my daily posts to find out what it was :)