About 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to parents younger than 35 years old simply because younger people have more children. However, the likelihood of having a child with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother, especially after age 35.
Denial was a huge part of the beginning of the roller coaster ride that was our pregnancy. I️ kept telling myself that we are much too young and healthy for any genetic diagnosis for our children. And now as we are counting the days to meet Henry’s brother, I keep waiting for someone to call and tell us of a diagnosis for him too. My heart is braced and ready to accept. It’s hard for me to imagine not having the call or visit to tell us he is extra in some way too.
Our journey to our family and navigating our embracing acceptance may be different than your own. Not good, not bad, not better, not worse – just different. Everyone has a different journey – I️ have adopted that as part of my life truth every since we began our family. It is even more true when I️ speak of the road to acceptance and love for your own child despite any worldly pressures to be “perfect.” Perfection. Pinterest perfect. My dream for our family was a picture in my head worthy of a Pinterest board. I️ had wanted the catalog life: amazing professional career as a nurse practitioner, the spotless and tidy, organized home, and my handsome husband and genetically enhanced, all-star children by my side. The rigid, perfect expectations and dreams I️ held for my life and my family’s lives were the main source of my feelings of loss.
Maybe God’s perfect is different than the worldly, materialistic, “normal” expectations I️ held. The realization hit me that perfect is different than I️ thought. Normal is a dryer setting- nothing more. I️ do have a fulfilling career that allows me to give the most of myself to my own family, but not the career as I️ envisioned. I️ do have a lovely home that is perfect for our family, but it’s messy, well lived- in, is not fully decorated, has unfinished areas, and is not at all Pinterest-worthy. I️ DO have my handsome husband and genetically enhanced children, but not enhanced in the way I️ envisioned. Like the Stones say, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find that you get what you need.”
I️ used to sit in judgment of others- it is one of my traits I️ try to tame. My heart is quick to judge and judge harshly. Having our family has taught me to hold my judgement because everyone has a different journey. I never know if the parent in the grocery store is trying in desperation to calm a child stemming with sensory overload or having a sensory meltdown instead of my old knee-jerk impression of an unfit parent unwilling to discipline an “unruly” child. My thought process and attitude toward others has dramatically changed for the better because of Henry.
I️ had regarded myself as a pretty kind-hearted and empathetic person before Henry. I️ know now exactly how broken I️ was.