Whether you find out during a blood test, an ultrasound, or at birth, a Down Syndrome diagnosis likely will… or has rocked your world. To say it is shocking, scary, numbing and lonely are all understatements compared to the hurricane of emotions that you may be feeling. To top it all off, there is the need to share the news that your baby has a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, yet the intense desire not to. Here are a few things that helped me, and will likely help you also when you need to share the news about your new babe or babe-to-be.
Give yourself time
Really you don’t have to shout it from the rooftops until you are ready. Each of us has a different timetable for what feels right. For some, it might be a few days, for others a few weeks. It doesn’t matter, take your time and figure out some of your own feelings before you share. The likelihood is that others will not see it right away, even if you share pictures, you can decide when you are ready to make your announcement. If you are pregnant, you have time as well, decide when and don’t feel rushed.
Test the waters
Sometimes it is our fears of how others will respond to a Down Syndrome diagnosis that cripples us. I found out that it was easier to tell those closest to us first, parents, best friends, our pastor. Once my fears of how people would respond were not realized, it became easier to slowly tell others. You don’t have to shout it on social media, you can get comfortable with telling first and you can do it slowly.
This goes along with #1. First, you give yourself time, and then you get yourself into the right headspace so you can be positive in your sharing the news. Others really do take their cues for how to act from you. For me, this was the hardest part because I didn’t want to tell anyone while I was still in the state of endless tears. I so feared that people would mistaken my tears for regret when really they were from fear. I did not want anyone to say the dreaded, “I’m sorry.” I took it slow, telling only my mom, giving myself a few days while my husband told his parents, the circle slowly widened from there. There is a sense of empowerment with each person you tell, you get a bit stronger.
Tell others to share
There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking grandparents to share the news with other relatives or friends to share with other friends if you don’t feel up to the task. Just simply allow a few trusted individuals to share with very specific people and let them know you will be in touch when you are ready to chat. Just be specific about who you do or do not want the information shared with.
Convince yourself of the truth
The truth is there is nothing shameful or embarrassing about this diagnosis. You did nothing to cause it, your baby is not broken, and the truth is it is all going to be beautiful in the end; you just have to let yourself get to that place. For some there is the desire to hide the diagnosis, honestly, this doesn’t help anything. Don’t be ashamed of your little one, he or she is going to be amazing and is going to teach you so much, you really will get to the place that you can smile again, and smile often.
Write it out
You can write a letter, a blog post, a note, an email, it doesn’t matter how you say it but you can say it in writing. This is how I shared the news to our extended circles when I was ready. I actually wrote the post and put it on my face book wall. I was scared before I hit that “publish” button but the amount of amazing positive affirmations I received from that one post was empowering. No longer do I have to worry if in 6 months someone sees me out and notices something unique about my child’s appearance, they already know and now I was able to relieve the stress of letting those not in my intimate circle know.
There are some amazing groups of moms out there FB has this one: Instagram has loads: ask how others shared the news. You will likely find so much camaraderie just in putting your question, “How did you share the news?” out there that you will feel a sense of empowerment knowing you are not alone.
No matter how you do it, or when you share it, you will be surprised how supportive people will be about your new baby’s Down Syndrome diagnosis. There will be ignorant questions, there will be stupid statements, but give grace and know that for the most part people just need to be educated about Down Syndrome and who better to do that then a beautiful, amazing little one like yours.