Back in October 2004, my husband and I were both unaware that our lives were about to change and never be the same. Since this was our third pregnancy we decided not to find out the sex of the baby. We already had one of each so this time we wanted to be surprised. We still had the ultrasound and everything looked perfect. We were so excited to welcome our new baby into the world, whatever the sex might be.
The night I went into labor was different than the other two I'd had. I went into labor at 36 weeks. This was a little early but nothing to worry about. To tell you the truth, I was glad. I was sick of being pregnant. This pregnancy was a little harder than the other ones. I was sick for about twelve weeks. My other pregnancies I was nauseated, but not quite as much. I had two little kids and let’s face it: I was done. I was very excited to be in labor.
We had our beautiful baby in the early morning hours on October 2, 2004. The doctor announced, “It's a Girl!” I was shocked. I had been certain that she was a he. I had called her Jacob for the past 8 1/2 months. This was going to take some getting used to. We named her Ellie Ann. We both wept tears of joy when we looked at her for the first time. My parents were there to welcome her. They got in some good snuggles and headed home for some much needed sleep. We immediately called all of our family and friends to let them know our beautiful little girl was here.
When the pediatrician came in I was on the phone with one of my dear friends. He was checking Ellie out so I told my friend I would see her soon and hung up. My brothers had come to see Ellie for the first time. They hadn't been there for long when the pediatrician asked them to leave the room. He asked to talk to my husband and me alone. I knew this wasn't a good sign. I grabbed my husband's hand and we both waited for what seemed like forever. The doctor then turned to us and said "I have checked out your little girl and want to let you know she has Down Syndrome." I don't think I heard a word after that. My world just stopped. It stopped dead in its tracks. I thought to myself, "I can't have a baby with Down Syndrome. There must be some mistake. Doesn't God know I can't do this?" Thoughts like this were flooding my mind. After that I cried more than I have ever cried. I was scared – scared for me, scared for my other kids, scared for my husband, scared for our family, and most of all scared that I wouldn't know how to take care of Ellie. My mind was a whirlwind of emotion. I was all over the place. I was placed in a situation that I thought I wasn't prepared for, but I knew I loved this baby. Down Syndrome was for other people—not for me!
Now, looking back on that day, I can see so clearly that this child did nothing but change my life for the good. I was scared, but didn't need to be. Ellie is an angel in every sense of the word. She is caring, giving, spunky, naughty, smart, fun, playful, but most of all she has a gift to love without condition. She is one of the most loving people I have ever met. There isn't a person Ellie doesn't love. In the four years that she has been in our family I have learned so many life lessons. She has made me a better person. I couldn't see my life any other way.
There are many hard things that come from raising a child with Down Syndrome. We have been through a lot with her. But all the bad is far outweighed by the good. Good isn't even the right word. There is something about her—it is like her love is tangible. You don't just feel it, her love encompasses you.
Before I knew I was going to be a parent of a Down Syndrome child I would have said, "I can't do that. It is too hard for me." I even thought when parents of Down syndrome children said it was wonderful they were painting a pretty picture of a rather bleak situation. I honestly thought they were saying that to make themselves feel better. With the increased knowledge and experience that I now have from being Ellie's mother, I want to share with you the joy you will have by raising one of these sweet children. I know now that YES! I can do this. Our lives have been blessed because of her. I am so glad that I am allowed the opportunity to raise Ellie, my sweet Angel. What a gift we have been given.