‘It won’t happen right away, but at some point, your perspective will do a 180.’ Our nurse was spot on.’: Mom shares journey accepting daughter’s Down Syndrome diagnosis

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“I was completely surprised when I found out I was pregnant with Poppy. Exactly one year before, I had miscarried our second child. And after a year of trying for another, we decided to stop. But there I was, pregnant again.

Because of the miscarriage, pregnancy came with increased worry. If something was even a little bit off, I was fearful the worst was happening. Through all the doctor visits and an emergency trip to triage four months into the pregnancy, Poppy let us know she was going to be unique.

We never got a good ultrasound of her face. She would take her little head and bury it in my pelvis. That’s what the emergency trip was all about – the little girl was already pushing to get out the exit door.

Because of the preceding months, we should have known Poppy’s delivery was going to be on her own terms. Call it a mother’s intuition, I suppose, but the plan was hers, not ours. In a rush, we left our house at 11:35 p.m. for the hospital, and she was born at 12:02 a.m. I was huffing through heavy contractions at the birthing hospital triage desk. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more challenging time reciting my social security number. I’m not even sure how we made it into the hospital, but when she was ready, Poppy came fast and furious.

mom holding her new born daughter after she gave birth
Courtesy of Missy Miller

I didn’t even have time to process what was happening during delivery, it happened so quickly – 12 minutes total. But as soon as she was born, I knew. I waited for a doctor or nurse to say something, but nobody did. I thought, maybe since she has the biggest cheeks I’ve ever seen, it’s causing her eyes to look like she has Down Syndrome. But deep down, I knew.

I pushed away that gut feeling since no one said anything. I thought, surely by now someone would’ve told me. The following day, my husband left to go check on our son. While he was on his way back, the pediatrician came to check on Poppy. He asked me all these questions, specifically about my pregnancy, which I thought was odd since he was there to see my baby. Then he said, ‘Well, I believe your baby has Down Syndrome.’ I immediately said, ‘Stop talking.’ I knew I couldn’t handle the news if my husband wasn’t there with me.

And in true Brian fashion, with perfect timing, he walked in the door 30 seconds later. The pediatrician said it again and started informing us of the risks, tests, and everything they would be doing over the next few days. At least I think that’s what happened – I’m pretty sure I just blacked out.

After the doctor left, I looked at Brian, and all I could muster out was an incredulous, ‘What?!’ But my husband reacted exactly how I knew he would, and he just said, ‘So what? She’s perfect.’

new born daughter sleeping
Courtesy of Missy Miller

The week and a half until her diagnosis was confirmed was a complete blur, yet so clear. The hospital still had a no-visitor policy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all I wanted to do was hold my son. All I could think about was how this was going to affect him. Would we be able to give him as much attention? And what about Brian and me, would we ever be empty nesters? Would Poppy ever be able to have children? All these emotions and fears came flooding in at a time post-birth where I was already vulnerable and emotional.

I cried, a lot. My whole life changed – the daughter I thought I was going to have was no more, but here I had this beautiful baby in my arms. And it’s a strange feeling, to be in complete awe of this human, yet grieve the baby you thought you were going to have.

There were some serendipitous or providential moments, such as one of our nurses being a young mother with a young daughter with Down Syndrome. She knew exactly what I was feeling, and she said, ‘It won’t happen right away, but at some point, your perspective will do a 180.’

mom kissing her new born daughter on the forehead
Courtesy of Missy Miller

After receiving her diagnosis, I did what any millennial mom would do – Google ‘Down Syndrome.’ After realizing that was a terrible mistake, I took to Instagram. I searched hashtags and found other moms who were on the same journey I was. I quickly realized there was this whole community out there I was unaware of, and now I was a part of it. Slowly but surely, I started to see the beauty and joy of this journey I was on. And a feeling overcame me that I didn’t think I would feel since receiving her diagnosis – I was excited. Our nurse was spot on. I felt lucky and eager about the future, of what was to come. And I wanted to add to that beauty.

Poppy is our daughter, and she is perfect. Her huge smiles and big, blue eyes melt my husband and I. Our son loves his baby sister, and we can see already how much she is taken by all of us.

Sure, the future is uncertain, and we’re headed into uncharted territory. But she is ours. Our hopes and expectations for her don’t change because she has Down Syndrome. Poppy is deeply loved, wanted, and capable of such a great impact on this Earth.

So I write this to the mama who just received a diagnosis they weren’t expecting. To the mama who is holding their baby, loving and grieving at the same time. To the mama in this tough season, I promise it gets better. I know it’s hard, but it’s so beautiful on the other side.”

mama taking a selfie with baby girl with bright blue eyes making a funny face
Courtesy of Missy Miller

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Missy Miller from Tallahassee, FL. You can follow their journey on Instagram. 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.

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