That it truly does take a village. Nine hours after Ellie was born Travis and I sat in a conference room at Royal Victoria Hospital with 8 members of the hospital medical staff. Travis and I fit together on a small leather love seat, I was wearing purple maternity pyjamas, pink slippers, and a hospital bracelet with Ellie’s name on it. They were there to tell me about Down Syndrome, to confirm what I’d heard in the wake of labor and to introduce themselves into our lives forever. I held back tears in the midst of professionals wearing suits and scrubs and nervously brushed back my hair. They were kind and informative and knew that at that moment in my life I needed someone to tell me what to do, where to go from here, and how to help my child. I’ve never experienced something that could be so scary and so comforting at the same time. I saw then that to help Ellie reach her full potential we would forever be making appointments on a calendar. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, cardiologists, RSV clinics, pediatricians. I was tired and worried, I hadn’t even told my entire family the news, but at 8am, our first day in the NICU, those people said to us, Ellie has Down Syndrome and we are here to help, life will still be scary, but we’ve done this before and we know what to do. While in the hospital they taught me how to feed her, how to hold her, how to look for signs of heart failure. And a week after we left the hospital they came to our home and started working with our family. Yesterday we saw our physical therapist and developmental specialist for the first time since surgery. The happiness in their faces at seeing Ellie, knowing she had made it unscathed, made me think of the village that is helping us raise our sweet girl. People I would have never met who saw me in my scariest moment. As we all sat on the floor in our playroom, celebrating Ellie as she rolled onto her stomach, I saw that they truly love our little girl and that an unknown path isn’t quite as scary when there are people there to guide you.
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