There are so many thoughts that run through your head when you first learn that your child has Down syndrome.
I felt so alone. I couldn't help but think of all the people having babies that were all typical. All normal. It was so unfair. "Why did this have to happen to me?" I silently wailed.
One of my biggest stresses was deciding how to introduce her to the world. I was so embarrassed for everyone to see how I had failed. I was ashamed to show off a baby with "defects."
I didn't announce or post about her birth right away at all. I told my mom and sister a few hours after Cora was born, but told them not to tell anyone outside the immediate family. I needed to feel that I was ready. I didn't post photos on Facebook or send out an announcement e-mail. I sat in my bed, in a daze. Exhausted. In shock. I felt that it was both the happiest and saddest day of my life.
A few days after she was born and we'd been dealing with the stresses of life in the NICU, I was ready to announce her arrival to my friends and family. I asked my family to start telling people, knowing that the word would spread. We sent out a message to friends and family, introducing Cora, explaining her diagnosis, heart defect and NICU stay, and told the world how much we loved her. And we did.
Later, I posted pictures on Facebook to rave reviews. At one month old, I posted my very first blog post on Our Cora Bean.
But still I worried about what the rest of the world would think. Would they look at our girl and know? Would they pity us? I remember taking her on her first real outing to get bagels. She was in her carrier, draped with a cotton blanket to try and keep the worst germs at bay. It was her debut, in a sense. I can't say that I didn't still feel a little lingering worry, but on that day as I took out my tiny girl, I felt pride.
I was a proud new mom, finally able to take my new daughter out into the world (not just to the hospital or the doctor.)
As time passed and I grew to know her and love her more each day, that pride grew. I would push her around in her stroller and smile a proud mama's smile. People would praise her, of course. I was the mother to the most beautiful girl in the world.
I still am. And if anything, my pride just continues to grow. Instead of wondering if people can tell that she has DS, I pretty much assume that people know. But instead of being nervous about it, I just think that everyone should be so lucky. Everyone should know this kind of love. Everyone should be as blessed as I am.
Every once in a while, I do catch some lingering looks, a few pointed stares, and quite a bit of people who just look away. And less often than that, I find myself wondering what people are thinking, wondering if they are pitying us. Sometimes it stings a little, but not for very long.
Really, I am just trying to love my girl in the best way I can, and to let the world see her and see my love.
When others see how proud I am, they must know that I have something to be proud about.
Because, really, I do.