This morning I had a moment as I was holding Ellie and feeding her a bottle. It was a perfect feed, which doesn’t always happen. She was drinking the bottle quickly and efficiently, she wasn’t spilling or crying, she was eating perfectly. And although I was really tired, I looked down at my sweet little girl who was holding my pinkie and drifitng off into sleep and made a vow to try my best to always find the good, even though it has been a very long winter.
When Ellie was born, 5 months ago today, as the midwives were performing their initial assessment of her, I saw a look in their eyes. A glance they made to each other, a little sadness, a sense of urgency, and in the elation of just giving birth I momentarily ignored it, until I couldn’t. “Catherine, there’s something we need to tell you.” Pregnant mothers fear those words, something scary always follows those words. “We have found some markers for Down Syndrome and we need to take Ellie to the NICU to determine if she has Down Syndrome.” Maybe it was the hormones from having just met my amazing girl or the relief from the pain of labor, but I wasn’t shocked or sad. I accepted the news and asked to hold my girl again before they took her. Looking back on that moment I know I hadn’t totally processed the information yet, I know I hadn’t realized what it meant for our family and for Ellie. But in my vow to relish in the goodness of life I am grateful that before I was told the words Down Syndrome, I held my special girl for almost an hour. For Ellie’s first hour of life I didn’t associate her with Down Syndrome. I didn’t know fully even what Down Syndrome meant. I looked at her eyes and met Ellie only knowing the extreme love I had for her. For that moment, I am truly grateful.
The months leading up to now seem like snapshots looking back on them. The time before I knew Ellie feels like a different lifetime, for in the past 5 months I have learned an entirely new language, I have met people I would have never met, and I have started to envision my life, my family’s life, differently than I had imagined. I still don’t know what things will look like in five years, but I’m realizing I never really did. So my new goal and if I believed in New Year’s resolutions would be to listen to Ellie, who I am discovering is my guardian angel. I will work to not focus on why these difficult moments are happening but to learn what she’s trying to show me.