Dear Fellow Mom

Dear Fellow Mom,

I feel compelled to write to you.  I know nothing about you except that we share one common thread.  We both received a Down syndrome diagnosis while pregnant.  Mine came in the Spring of 2008 when I was 11 weeks pregnant with my fourth child.  I can tell you two absolute truths.  Number one is that Adam (now 16 months) and my three other children are the lights of my life.  Number two is that if anyone had told me I would feel that way about him while I was still pregnant, I would never have believed them.
 
I have no idea how you are handling the news of your unborn baby's diagnosis, but I can tell you that I did not take the news well, to say the least.  I thought my life was over.  I did not want this baby.  I was trapped.  I hated everything about the diagnosis.  I was so angry and afraid.  
 
Then more devastating news.  My baby had a heart defect which would require corrective surgery shortly after his birth.  How did this happen to me?!  What if my baby died as a result of his heart defect or his surgery?  Did I want to put myself or my family through that?  Did I want to put this baby through that?  Was it fair to anyone?  So many questions tormented my mind.  
 
Even though I am a practicing Catholic, part of me wanted to have an abortion and "get my life back", but I new I could never go through with it.  So, I clung to the belief that somehow God would help me get through this.  I tried to have faith.  But still, I did not want to be here.  I was screaming it from the inside out.  Finally one night I found some peace and told God that I was on board with whatever His plan was, even though I really didn't think I had what it would take.  
 
Then came Adam Christian Borders on November 3rd 2008.  He, like his three siblings before him, unlocked a place in my heart that I never knew existed.  I now had my little boy to hold and to love instead of just some abstract and frightening diagnosis.  Instead of wondering how I would live with Adam, I began to wonder how I had ever lived without him.  
 
Just six short weeks after his birth, Adam powered through open heart surgery and came home a few days before Christmas.  God had given him strength enough for both of us.  What Adam needed most from me was the chance to let him prove it.  In hindsight, I think Adam gave me part of his strength to get me through my fears and doubts during my pregnancy.  This kid has extra of everything to spare.
 
There is just no way I can adequately express in written words what Adam means to my husband and I and our children.  I am just so grateful that God chose me to be his mom.  Finding our way through the Down syndrome stuff is just no big deal.
 
My advice to you is to have faith in God, have faith in yourself and have faith in your baby.  You are all stronger than you know.  Once you hold this child in your arms your fears and doubts will be washed away and you will be on with the task of being his or her mom. Everything else will be secondary and your focus will be making sure you are doing what is best for your precious baby. 
 
Please know I am praying for you and your precious baby.  Support is available if it would help to talk.
 
Your Sister in Christ,
 
Marianne
Peer Minister
Be Not Afraid, Charlotte, NC (a support service for parents carrying to term following an  prenatal diagnosis serving the Diocese of Charlotte)