"I have bad news and I have worse news," the man on the telephone said.
It was the furniture store calling to tell me that the dresser I'd bought for Thing 2 was on backorder until August. The worse news, he said, was the bookshelf I'd ordered for Ittybit was discontinued and it wouldn't be coming at all.
"That's it? That's not a big deal," I said calmly. It was the morning of the day Thing 2 would be born, and I was trying to rest. With all the angst and worry over last-minute potential health issues for the new baby -- a enlarged kidney discovered in a 36-week ultrasound, and a forewarning that such anomalies are considered markers for Down syndrome -- it was obvious to me, the lack of furniture doesn't rise to the level of "bad" anything. (Unless of course the dresser or bookcase falls on you, and then THAT WOULD be bad.)
I was nervous -- that was true -- but I was also ready. After opening up and telling people about our worries, I got a crash course in kindness. People from all over sent word that they were praying for us and thinking about us and about Thing 2.
Then there was something I didn't expect to happen: A reader sent me an article from the New York Times that looked into the change in our communities since the medicine has made leaps and bounds in prenatal detection of chromosomal abnormalities such as Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome.
The article claimed that roughly 90 percent of mothers who are given this information early on abort the fetus. It makes sense, but it also does something else. It changes the face of our society. With fewer children born with Down syndrome, there will likely be implications such as fewer services available to those individuals as well as a shrinking social circle.
I'm not sure which made me more melancholy: that we could have a special needs child in a few hours or that this child's circle of support would be shrinking from year to year.
It's not that I'd want my child to have difficulties, no parent does. But I know that none of us gets through this life without disappointments, situations we can't control and hardships. Down syndrome, after all, isn't the worst diagnosis one could have. There are hardships, for sure, but ultimately it just means a different kind of life.
We all make decisions for ourselves and our families based on so many different little bits of information. So yes, I was nervous. I was worried. I wanted the best possible outcome, like all parents do.
In the childbirth center, my doctor prepared me for everything that could happen: The kidlet could be perfectly fine and join us directly in the recovery room or he might have some problems that would require him to be sent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; there was also the possibility that we still wouldn't have all the answers we wanted to have when he was born, but that no one would keep any information from me.
The important thing was that no matter what happened, he was going to be getting the best care and that ultimately he would be happy and he would be loved.
I took a deep breath and let it out. No turning back now.
And when the good doctors brought him screaming and kicking into the world, the high-risk pediatrician checked him over and pronounced him healthy and definitely "NOT" a Down syndrome baby.
We had all the assurances we needed.
And then our red-faced boy peed on the doc's stethoscope. His father was so proud.
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