My name is Jessica. My husband, Jared and I were married in 2011. We decided to start having children right away and we now have four children, Raymie age five, Kyrie age three, Nora and Jack are twins and they are eight months old. My husband and I are originally from Idaho, but we currently live in Iowa. My husband is a mechanical engineer and I am a nurse, but currently a stay at home mother. We love the stage of life we are in right now. My husband is very fun and loves to get the kids all riled up (of course right before bedtime). Jared and I go well together, I am more of the nervous, cautious type, and he is a lot more fun and relaxed. At one point we had four children age four and younger. Sounds chaotic, and at times it is, but I am always told “wow, you have your hands full”, But there’s that saying…you should see our hearts.
I went to the doctor appointment alone, it was our third baby, we knew the routine and I would show the pictures to Jared later. During the ultrasound, I thought I saw two sacs, but I instantly put it out of my mind. There was NO WAY I would have twins. Well, the ultrasound Tech told me otherwise. I instantly started to cry. Ugly cry. I didn’t see this coming. We were thinking three MAYBE four children. But, God had a different plan for us. The Tech told me to go use the restroom so that she could get a better look at it all. As I was in there, I remember giving myself this pep talk that wasn’t so peppy in the mirror. It consisted of a lot of, “no way this is happening” and “is this really happening”. As soon as I was done with the doctor’s appointment I called Jared to tell him the news. He didn’t believe me, at all. In fact, his exact words were “yeah, well we’ll see”. You have to know my sarcastic and humorous husband to know that this was really funny that he didn’t believe me. I didn’t believe it myself. The rest of the pregnancy went really well. No complications, all ultrasounds (three or four of them) looked great. I was HUGE.
The delivery had gone so well. I was induced at about 6am. The babies came easily with no C- section. Nora was born at 11:29am and the first thing I said was “Awe, she’s beautiful”, as they whisked her away to be monitored and checked. Jack came six minutes later at 11:35am. The pediatrician came over to talk to me about the babies and said, “The boy looks good, but we have some concerns about your girl. We believe she has Down Syndrome.”
She handed Nora to me and said, “See her almond shaped eyes, her lower set ears, this line on her hand?” I remember the way I felt, but it’s hard to describe. We were still in the OR, (that’s where we had to deliver, just in case we needed an emergency C-section). I wasn’t mentally, let alone, physically stable to receive this type of information. You know that heart sinking feeling you get, I believe it was that. The look on Jared’s face as soon as they told us is burned into my memory, left there as a scar forever. It wasn’t a bad look, or a sad look. It was a look of shock that I can’t seem to get out of my mind. They then rolled me and Nora to our room, while Jared walked next to Jack. I believe we sat in our room for 30 minutes without talking because so many nurses were in and out checking/testing the babies. The nurses would duck in and out, quickly and quietly doing their work. The word was out. The girl that had the twins has one with Down Syndrome. As they would leave I would burst into tears and try to quickly recover as soon as they would come back, even though I knew they knew and my face was swollen and red from the tears and crying. I wasn’t trying to hide Nora’s diagnosis; I just didn’t know how to react yet. And the only way that came to me, was tears.
Jared texted family and close friends during this time and was looking up some information on Down Syndrome. The first thing he said, when we were alone, was “They live for an average of 60 years.” I know that sounds morbid and I’m sure he was looking up other information as well, but I proceeded to cry as he comforted and reassured me that this is something we can do. Jared is a lot stronger than I am. I had told people about the day I was getting induced. A good handful of people knew the babies were coming that day. I’m sure there were a few people wondering what was going on, they knew we had had the babies but had heard nothing. I felt like I had to give everyone answers and updates right away, but I couldn’t even do that for myself.
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The pediatrician came into the room a little later and said, “So, do you have any questions?”, as if she gave me a whole packet of educated information about it (which she did NOT). I said no. But I think about it now and I’m angry. I’m angry at that pediatrician for not telling me anything about Nora’s diagnosis or the resources to get Nora the help she needs. As soon as the pediatrician pointed out Nora’s Down Syndrome features, I couldn’t stop seeing them. I wanted to be able to see my little girl for who she is, not for her diagnosis.
That second that I got to see her and call her beautiful before I knew of her diagnosis; I will cherish forever because I loved her and saw her beauty before the diagnosis. My friend Jessica said it perfectly, “You’re mourning the loss of the child you thought you were going to have.” I imagined having two little bright blonde babies running around, causing trouble and I didn’t think I would have that. I feared not knowing how our lives would be from here. I didn’t know what to expect as far as what Nora would be able to do or not do.
We let the kids come to see the babies and it was adorable to see them love them instantly, without any knowledge of the situation. We were released from the hospital, and unfortunately, with NO information or informational packets about Down Syndrome. Days later we were back in the hospital with Nora because of a kidney infection/UTI. Later come to find, due to Hydronephrosis. Luckily, they let Jack and I stay too so that I could feed them both. A month later, we were in the hospital again, this time for RSV. Which, at the time was a blessing in disguise. Because of the RSV we went to The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital and there they made sure we were taken care of. Nora got all of the tests she was supposed to get immediately after birth and more. We are very blessed that Nora has not had any serious health issues and she has a healthy heart, but we didn’t know that until Nora was about two months old.
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At times, it’s hard not to compare Nora to her twin brother, Jack. But I believe Jack was sent here with her to be her protector. Nora is one tough little girl and is very easy going. She is currently sitting up and baby talking a lot. She loves to sit and watch her siblings be crazy and interact with everyone around her. Nora loves to be tickled and giggle. She loves diluted juice and eating baby food, maybe a little too much. We currently do physical and occupational therapy about three times a month and she doesn’t love it. She gets real mad when they try to make her move in a way that she doesn’t like. She has a bit of sass in her.
Nora has changed our lives for the better. She has been such a light and joy in our lives! When she looks at me, I feel as though she already knows me and my soul. Nora has brought out a side of my husband that I have never seen before and I love it! She brings a soft and gentle side to him that only she could have done. She has also helped me to reflect on the way I teach and parent my children. Everyone instantly loves Nora and she can make any one happy just by smiling at them. She is definitely a little social butterfly. We are so very blessed to have Nora in our lives and I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for letting Jared and I raise her. Life now, and forever, will be more beautiful because of our little Nora.
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Jessica and her husband live, love and laugh with their 4 beautiful children. The family resides in Iowa. Be sure to follow along their adventures on Instagram @Jessica_Hendrickx