I found out I was pregnant with Ellie shortly after New Year’s in 2013. We had been wanting another baby so I had become obsessive regarding taking pregnancy tests, buying too many and taking them too soon. So when I saw a very faint line indicating pregnant it took some convincing to my husband that a faint line was still a line. I was immediately convinced I was having a boy as this pregnancy was completely different from Mya’s. I was terribly sick for the first few months. I discuss our choice not to do prenatal screening in a post called “prenatal screening.” At our 20 week ultrasound we realized we were having another girl and started planning for our new little baby. At 39 weeks Ellie was breach so the decision was made to try an external cephalic version in which they would flip her around in the correct position. A painful 8 minutes and Ellie was flipped. At that point, so she wouldn’t turn again, I was induced. I sat confined to a hospital bed for the next 13 hours waiting for Ellie. Mya was with her grandfather and Travis drifted in and out of sleep in the chair next to me. At 11:01pm Ellie made her debut. I held her close within my arms and aside from realizing how much I loved her, immediately noticed two things: Ellie sunk into my arms much more than Mya had and Ellie did not cry. I remember Travis asking the doctor why she wasn’t crying, but ignored the rarity of it to enjoy that first moment with my little girl. After holding Ellie perfectly within my arms for almost an hour the midwives took her to perform their newborn assessment. I watched them talking secretly and again chose to ignore, this moment was special and nothing was going to ruin it. Slowly our midwife approached me and I’ve tried numerous times to remember exactly what she said but I can’t, the words markers for Down Syndrome filled my brain and all I could do was stare at Ellie. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, I immediately wanted to protect her, wanted to hold her again, wanted her to be okay. They told me she had to go to the NICU and I asked if I could hold her again. I honestly believed she would only be in the NICU for a few hours, I didn’t know I would be going home without her, I didn’t know I would have to ask nurses if I could hold her for the next 2 days, I didn’t know that moment would be the last time I held her without wires and lines and IVs and an NG tube for 14 days. I think had I known, I wouldn’t have allowed them to take her. Although I know her time in the NICU was necessary, they were the hardest 14 days of my life, way worse than heart surgery, way worse than anything. That first night, Ellie’s birthday, I shared a hospital bed with Travis on the maternity floor while Ellie slept in an isolette in the NICU. The nurses told me I needed sleep but as I lay in that bed listening to a crying baby in the room next door, I felt I needed Ellie. I tip toed into the quiet of the NICU at 2am. Nurses were feeding babies, machines were beeping, a few tired parents sat staring at their babies in their beds. A room that would soon become very familiar to me felt like a secret place, that only certain people got to see. Ellie’s nurse for the night saw me enter the room and said congratulations. I had momentarily forgotten that new moms get congratulations and flowers and baby blankets and balloons. I had told my parents Ellie had been born but hadn’t sent a picture, hadn’t told my friends. I decided we needed to accept this moment in our lives and not let sadness ruin Ellie’s birthday. Although there were still sad days to come, Ellie deserved congratulations and so did Travis and I. The next two weeks were filled with information, doctors, and specialists. We learned a lot about Down Syndrome, a lot about heart defects, and a lot about our amazing Ellie and what she was already capable of. I believe Travis and I were given Ellie for many reasons one of which I saw on her second day of life. I was tired and confused, we had just been told she most likely had a heart defect that required surgery. I stood in the NICU and cried. I looked down at my angel, sleeping in her tiny isolette and saw a smile on her perfect face. My heart immediately felt warmth and I realized that as we learned how to fix her heart she would work her hardest throughout her life to nurture our hearts. Although Travis and I were scared and tired and overwhelmed and unprepared, we still knew how lucky we were to be parents to a miracle.
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