I shared in my last post how several medical professionals all commented on my positive response to the possibility of our baby having Trisomy 21.
I value emotional honesty and I’ve asked myself a number of times in the last couple of weeks if I’m suppressing my true emotions about our baby’s diagnosis. After all, it seems most people cry and are upset about this before moving on to happiness or even acceptance – why didn’t I cry? Why am I not upset? It’s not because I’m on a high spiritual level, that’s for sure. But it’s also not because I’m in denial or shutting down emotionally. I think that Hashem (G-d) prepared me for this emotionally when I was still pregnant and that’s why I was able to so quickly come to terms with our baby having Down syndrome.
When the doctor told me that first night that they saw signs that made them suspect Down syndrome, I suddenly remembered the strong feeling I had repeatedly had in the middle of my pregnancy – that our baby would have Down syndrome. I kept pushing this thought to the side as being illogical and eventually forgot about it until that moment. As I thought about it, I also remembered the reading online I had done at that point – I don’t know what made me read about Down syndrome because this was certainly not relevant to my life at the time and I don’t make time to read about things that aren’t relevant or of interest to me; maybe you could say it was intuition.
Whatever you call it, I didn’t just passively follow a link that happened to be about Down syndrome. I actively did a google search – “inspiration about Down syndrome” – searching for something to allay the strong inner feeling I had. I did a lot of reading – I even read an e-book about how to homeschool a child with Down syndrome! – and shared with a couple of my children some of the pictures on the websites that I was reading. It was after that I did all of this reading that I stopped having thoughts about the baby having Down syndrome and totally forgot about my concerns until it came flooding back to me right after the doctor told us. And when she did speak to us, the feelings of appreciation and joy for their special children that parents expressed was all that I thought of.
I also remembered two key statements. One was from a friend (whose nine year old has DS) who told me several years ago, “If there’s something that’s got to be wrong, Down syndrome is the absolute best thing you can have.” She went on to tell me, “Down syndrome is just not that big a deal.”
The other statement was from a blog reader in my comments section - ”At his upsher my husband said that he cried when he realized that he had down syndrome…..and that is his only regret!!!! He said they should have been tears of joy!!!” I shared this with dh several months ago when it was posted, and then again that night. The perspectives of all of these parents gave us something to hold on to, a path to walk down without feeling afraid of the unknown.
When I had conversations in my head with my baby while pregnant (I don’t talk out loud, though many women do), I had two phrases I would always ‘say’ to him. I would tell him, “We love and accept you just as you are”, and “Don’t worry, it’s a good world.” The second phrase was my personal response to a true story I read many years ago by a mother who during labor that stalled ‘heard’ a message from her baby, saying she was afraid to be born because she had Down syndrome. And the mother basically reassured her baby that they would love her, her labor restarted, and the baby was indeed born with Down syndrome. Why was this the story that I repeatedly thought of when I was pregnant? I didn’t know then, but I had a very strong feeling of needing to reassure our baby that he was wanted and that this world would be a safe place for him. When he was born it became obvious to me why those were the messages that he needed to ‘hear’ throughout pregnancy.
Also, for the past few months I’ve been giving classes on the weekly Torah portion. And as much as I’ve been thanked for this, I can say with certainty that it’s been of more value to me than anyone attending. That’s because each and every week, I spend a significant amount of time learning and reading, looking for messages that resonate with me that I want to share with others of practical day to day wisdom from our Torah. Often, this message has been connected to how everything that happens to us is for our good and for our growth, even when it doesn’t seem that way at all – sometimes I wonder if I’m being too redundant about sharing thoughts on this! And when you think about something so much, and then share about it with others, it makes an impression on you.
Overall my feeling is one of being very fortunate and blessed! This baby is our tenth child and our seventh son. Both the numbers ten and seven have the spiritual qualities of completion in Judaism, and I feel certain that this baby is bringing some kind of spiritual completion to our family.