July 26th is a big day for me. July 26, 2017 is the day my little boy turns six months old. He is truly the light of my life. He makes me happy every single day. When he smiles, I feel like my heart is going to explode out of my chest with love for him. I don’t see Down syndrome when I look at him. I see my son. I see his beautiful blue eyes, and his perfectly soft hair. I see his sweet toothless smile, his kissable cheeks, and his sweet, happy demeanor. I see his future; and let me just say- it’s a bright one! I can’t wait to watch him succeed in life. I can’t wait to see how much he accomplishes, and how many lives he changes along the way. God knew exactly what He was doing when He gave me the honor of being this little boy’s mama.
July 26, 2016 is a completely different story. It’s the day that changed my life’s path forever. It’s the day that my world was rocked. This day one year ago, I was brought to my knees in fear, pain, sadness, anger, disappointment, and shame. It’s the month that was the start to the rest of my life. The day that started me on this crazy roller coaster of a journey called motherhood. It’s also the day that brought me closer to God.
One year ago today, is the day that I got the phone call. The call that would change life as I knew it. I heard the genetic counselor (whom I had NEVER met before this) say, “Unfortunately, it looks like your Nuchal Translucency test came back with a very high risk of Down syndrome.” “What does that mean?”, I said quickly in shock and disbelief. “Your scan of the fetus looked fine, but the blood work came back with a 1 in 126 chance of the baby having Down syndrome. We need to pursue further testing to find out more.”
To simply say that I was in shock would be an understatement. I couldn’t wrap my head around this concept. Down syndrome? My baby could have Down syndrome? There is no way. That is impossible. Stuff like this doesn’t happen to me. 1 in 126 doesn’t seem like very high risk. That’s still less than 1% chance. -I tried everything to talk myself out of it, but at the same time, I already knew.
I was out of town at a funeral for a family member of my husband when I received this phone call. I remember feeling so many emotions at once. Waves of them just washing over me, all while I was trying to smile and seem like everything was okay. I longed to be anywhere else- anywhere that I had some privacy so I could grieve and process what I had just heard over the phone.
As soon as I heard the genetic counselor say there was a chance, I knew immediately. Looking back at my life, God has been preparing me for Easton for years. He knew my life plan before I was even born. He knew He was going to give this child to me. He knew I would be able to handle it. He also knew that I would need some preparation before hand, which He gave me.
I have had this feeling/fear my entire life that I was going to have a hard time getting pregnant. I don’t know why. All my family members would tell me I was crazy. My mom and sisters have never had a problem with fertility, so they said I would have no problem. Still, I just had this feeling that I was going to be different. I would talk to family members about being my surrogate (jokingly, kind of) if I needed it.
So when Drew and I made the decision to start trying to have a baby, I was terrified. I was so worried it was going to be so difficult. I have seen so many of my friends have difficulties. When I took that first pregnancy test, and it showed positive, I lost it. I couldn’t believe it! I honestly kinda blacked out in those moments after. I was in shock but so overwhelmed with excitement. I couldn’t believe I was actually pregnant, and on the first try. I remember thinking how lucky we were. I knew how hard it could be to get pregnant. I definitely did not take it for granted. I remember thinking, this is too good to be true. I was blissfully and ridiculously happy the next 9 weeks, until that day, July 26, 2016.
Once I learned of Easton’s prenatal diagnosis, the grieving process was hard. There was denial, anger, shame, and then so much sadness. One day I fought off the grief enough to reach out to the people closest to me. Once I stopped keeping this secret to myself, and started sharing it with very close friends and family members, I started to feel so much better. With each person I told, it was like a little piece of weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was so worried about what other people were going to think. Were they going to love him? Were they going to think something is wrong with me, or this is my fault in some way? Were they going to make fun of him? Were they still going to be excited about my pregnancy and his arrival?
When I started sharing this news with my close family and friends, that’s when I realized God had started preparing me for this. Each and every person I told met the news with grace, encouragement, support, and love. They assured me that they would love Easton with everything they have, his life was something to be celebrated, and that he would make a meaningful impact in this world. I started to realize that God had purposely put these people in my life. He had led me each place the past 15 years for a reason. He put Drew in my life because He knew that THIS was THE person that was going to be strong enough to stand next to me through all this. He gave me an amazing family, friends, nurses, and doctors. As I am sitting here typing this, I am truly realizing that He has been walking alongside me through this entire journey. Even though His actual footprints aren’t present- the proof of His presence is everywhere.
I know Easton is going to make a meaningful impact and difference in this world we live in. I just pray that I am also. I hope that a mom who has had a Down syndrome diagnosis reads this and realizes that there IS a light at the end of the dark, lonely tunnel that she is in. So to that mother: Your baby will be AMAZING. Your baby is worth it. It’s okay to feel all the emotions that you are feeling. Feel them. Embrace them. But just know, that once you have your sweet babe in your arms, you will feel so silly for feeling the way you did. You will feel as though those tears you shed were for nothing because this IS the child that you always wanted- you just might not have known it yet. Be joyful and take pride. You are on a journey you never knew you wanted to be on. But trust me, you will love it.
Krista lives in Fredericksburg, VA with her husband of three years, Drew. They are parents to Easton, who was prenatally diagnosed with DS, and two fur babies, Savannah (a cat) and Macho (a rambunctious pug). Krista is a third grade teacher in Stafford, VA. When she isn’t working she loves to spend time with her family and friends, and sharing their story on Instagram and Facebook.