“I met my now husband at 14 and by 16, I was pregnant. A statistic, as most saw it. I was young and clueless. I was scared and heartbroken. How would my life play out? What will people think of me? How will I give her the best life? So many thoughts run through your mind. Dreams turned into us figuring out how to take care of a little human, how to make it for her. I remember thinking, ‘I cannot do this, I’m not cut out for this.’ I remember thinking our life was over, but little did we know, it was just starting.
Our life was not and has not been easy, but God had a plan. At 18, we moved out and got our first apartment. We learned what real adulting was; we were on our own with a one-year-old. We struggled, but with God’s grace we pushed through some of the hardest times together. In 2013, we both stepped into corporate life, had good income, and started planning our life. In 2014, we got married and in 2017, we welcomed our 2nd baby girl. At this point, I knew exactly what my life would look like. I had the rest of it all planned in my mind. I knew I wanted 1-2 more kids, so we started planning our third baby.
Now that I have given a little bit of my background, I want to take you to my story of our beautiful girl Navy. I found out I was pregnant with our third baby in October of 2019. I was so excited! My other two children are far apart in age, so I was really excited to give my second baby a sibling closer to her age. At 10 weeks into my pregnancy, I was asked if I wanted to do genetic testing. The only reason I considered this was to find out the gender of the baby. I declined because I was confident nothing was wrong with my baby and I would just wait until the 20-week ultrasound to find out gender.
For 10 more weeks, I had my normal checkups, and as expected everything was always fine. I was a 27-year-old with a healthy body, no underlying conditions, so I had absolutely no concerns about my pregnancy, besides the dreadful morning sickness. UGH!
In February of 2020 I found out the sex. The ultrasound tech said I was having a healthy baby girl! I was so excited! I have two sisters, so I know a sister trio is unbreakable! When I broke the news to my husband he would be paying for 3 weddings, he cried. He told me he cannot wait to love another beautiful baby girl! We were so incredibly happy I thought nothing could stop us…again, this was mid February of 2020. No one knew we were about to enter a global pandemic. A couple weeks later, I found my plan being shattered. I was doing video checkups, going into doctor appointments alone, and quarantining myself in my bedroom in complete fear something would happen to me or my baby.
Being pregnant in a pandemic was so hard. I had plans for a baby shower, I had plans for her birth, for her coming home. And like everyone in this, all plans came to a halt. I suffered anxiety so bad it was crippling. The only comfort I had through this was feeling my girl kick or hearing her heartbeat at appointments. I felt scared of the world I was bringing my daughter into. But I knew I needed to be strong for my kids, I knew my daughter needed me to be healthy and stress-free. I did absolutely everything you can think of to try and protect my baby. I stayed home, I loaded UP on vitamins and teas, prayed – I mean EVERYTHING. I wanted nothing more than to protect her and my other kids also.
I know and remember what it feels like to be pregnant. I mean, this is my third pregnancy, how can you forget? But this time was different, and it was not just because of a worldwide pandemic. I kid you not, I felt something different from the inside. The kicks were the same, but something in my heart knew Navy was different than my other kids; the connection I felt to her was incredible. I feared I felt this way because I thought I would lose her. I thought I put too much pressure on myself and my anxiety was so bad that once it was time or close to time to give birth, Navy would not be here. So, I prayed and prayed this would not be a part of God’s plan. I prayed for protection over us during the pandemic. I prayed for our health. I prayed for my kids and my husband. I prayed for us harder than ever! I needed everything to go just as I planned it because I did not think I would be able to handle it another way! As her birth got closer and closer, the more fear I had.
COVID hit our household in May and I was due in June. My husband got sick and we kept him separate from the rest of us. Once my kids fell asleep, I had this unexplainable time with Navy in my belly. I would talk to her, sing to her, and pray to her. I created such a deep bond with her, and I had not even met her yet. I was scared to bring her into the world, but God knew I needed her. He knew she was my miracle. She calmed me through so many breakdowns. She made me keep going when I felt like giving up. In a world of complete chaos, she was my peace. I could feel God’s love through her, and she wasn’t even born yet. I knew His hand was on us. I knew He had a bigger plan. I still had no clue what was ahead of me, but I knew we would be okay.
My husband got better, and all of June was dedicated to getting ready for baby Navy! Although we still were afraid of the pandemic, we did the best we could to get ready to bring her home! On June 19th, I awoke from my sleep with contractions. My husband drove us to the hospital to find out I was only 1 cm dilated and sent home. They told me it would probably happen in the next couple of days. So annoying, right? I got to the elevator and BAM; a contraction much worse than any before. I pushed through because I thought the doctors would think I was crazy if I turned around right after being discharged to tell them they were wrong. So, at 1 a.m. we drove home. The whole time I was in pain, having stronger contractions closer and closer together. By 5 a.m. I woke up my husband and said I couldn’t take it anymore, and back to the hospital we went.
The staff was surprised to see me again, but once I got checked they said, ‘Chelsea, you’re having a baby today.’ I cried so hard when they said those words. I was scared, excited, relieved – so many emotions at once. All I wanted was to meet my baby girl! This birth was not what I envisioned. All my birth’s I have had my mom and sisters and husband by my side. But here we were, just me and my husband alone about to give birth to our 3rd baby in 2020, the year of so much negativity, sickness, and grief. The year of history, the year no one would have ever predicted or planned for. I was overwhelmed with joy. I was so excited amid all this because I was about to bring life into the world.
Navy was born at 11:07 a.m. on June 20, 2020. It wasn’t the easiest birth, but it was quick! I had plans to breastfeed her immediately after she was born, and I wanted to be skin-to-skin with her as long as possible. With 2-3 pushes, she was here! The moment I heard her beautiful cry, every inch of my body relaxed. Hearing her cry for the first time caused an overwhelming sense of peace. She was placed on my chest and I fell so, so in love.
Moments after she was given to me, the doctors took her away to check her out. I figured they were just clearing her airways and getting her weight and height and I would get her right back. Time was going slow, and what was supposed to be an after-birth checkup felt like forever. I knew something was wrong. They kept reassuring me everything was okay. My husband was walking back and forth from me to Navy. He was telling me how beautiful she is, and how much she weighed. I wanted to hold her again so bad. I lay there a little longer and with tears streaming down my face I yelled out, ‘Someone tell me what is wrong!’
A nurse and my husband came over together to hold my hand. My husband said he knew without being told anything. The nurse told me Navy’s oxygen levels were low, and they believed she was having some heart issues. They told me they had her on oxygen and they were going to stabilize her to get an ultrasound on her heart. They named a few other things and advised it would be best if she were transferred to a pediatric hospital. There I was, lying there hearing all this about my little girl, scared to death everything I feared was coming into reality. The room was spinning, my head felt like it was exploding, my heart sank to the bottom of my feet, and then they told me they suspected she had Down syndrome.
The next few seconds felt like I was in a movie. I could see the doctors talk, but there was no noise. I could see shadows, but no faces. Everything completely blurred out. I thought I needed to wake up any minute now. This was not what I planned or envisioned. What do they even mean Down syndrome? How is this possible? I am young. I am healthy. There is no way. I barely knew what Down syndrome was. I had all healthy pregnancies and babies. Surely, they aren’t talking to me.
After snapping back into reality, they took Navy out of the room and prepared her to be transferred to another hospital. My husband and I were alone. We were scared. Somehow Mama instincts kicked in, and I did the only thing I knew I could do – pray. My whole life I have always tried to control and plan everything. I have always thought I knew exactly how my life would play out. Here I was with so much uncertainty and unknown ahead of me, and the only thing I knew to do was surrender it all over to God.
That night was one the longest nights of my life. Once Navy was transferred to the pediatric hospital, my husband left to be with her and my mom came to my hospital until I was discharged. I am so grateful to the doctor and staff who made sure I was taken care of. Around 10 p.m. I was discharged, and my mom took me to go see Navy. Navy spent 6 days in the NICU. She was confirmed to have Down syndrome, a heart defect, an umbilical hernia, and other conditions that came along with the diagnosis. NICU life was hard, and NICU life during a pandemic was even harder. Day 7 I brought her home. Finally, I was able to be her mom.
Since then, I have learned so much about Down syndrome and Navy. From bonding in my belly, to now almost 7 months old, Navy has made me feel a type of love I did not even know existed. The stigma around people with Down syndrome is they will not be able to do the things you and I can do, which is not the case. Navy will take her own route, in her own time and this is what makes her so incredible. That extra chromosome truly makes Navy extra special! Her smile will melt your heart. All the milestones she hits they say she won’t motivate your soul. Her presence will calm you. Her love will open your heart so BIG!
I was scared hearing the words Down syndrome at her birth, but I would not trade Navy in for the world! To any parents with a similar diagnosis or situation, I hope you know these babies are worth it. They are valuable and they will change your life for so much good! Navy is only 6 months old and my world is so beautiful because of her. I do not know what our future will look like with Navy, but I do know she is going to give us the best life, she is going to be the best sister, the best friend, the best daughter, the best worker, the best wife, and no diagnosis can stop her!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Chelsea Davis of Fortville, IN. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.