Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Photo by Shon Taylor

The weeks leading up to this big deal of a birthday have been fairly emotional for me. 

Recently, while talking with my sisters about my reflections on my entrance into motherhood, I realized how much sadness and grief I still have about it.  But not necessarily the grief you might think I mean.  Yes, I did grieve when I learned that Cora has Down syndrome.  But that grief was swiftly eclipsed by all the medical commotion that happened afterward and happily by my growing and all-consuming love.

I've discovered that the grief that I still hold onto is for all the fear and sadness surrounding those first several weeks:  the fear of losing her mingled with sadness at not having been being able to appreciate her infancy without the risk of medical emergencies.  As her first birthday draws near, I've been reliving my worst memories:  the terror that we wouldn't make it to the hospital in time as she repeatedly turned blue, or watching as the cardiologist reviewed her tests and showed me a drawing of her heart defect.  My own heart felt like it had stopped as I asked the doctor whether it could be fixed.  I had to ask him to repeat his response, because my heart had decided to start pounding again right when he answered, and in my terror I could have sworn he had told me no.

I think back to that fear, to that moment of not knowing whether my baby would live or die, and all the doubts I'd had when she was born the day before:  doubts about my ability to be her parent, to be proud of her, to love her with all my soul and to share her with the world, all of them seemed to vanish.

I guess I still mourn the loss of my imagined introduction to my daughter, sad that I bonded with her through her NICU bassinet and force-fed her through a syringe.  Sad that I listened to the nurses who told me that I shouldn't hold her too much if I wanted her to grow enough to come home.  I've been coming to terms with the fact that my first experience with the true unconditional and powerful love of a parent was also mingled with those fears and the resentment that I had to prove my ability to care for my child.

Maybe it's time to listen to my sisters and to let myself feel all the emotions that were swept under the rug in my effort to just get by and to take care of my girl.  So I'm working on letting myself feel that pain and accepting this as part of who I am as a mother.  I'm trying to let myself grieve without guilt, so I can continue to love without restraint.  Happily, just acknowledging this is helping work out the kinks.  And I imagine that time will continue to fade those scars.


  1. Happy birthday baby girl! And tell your mama that it's okay to still be dealing with that emotional craziness of the NICU.

  2. I know how easy it is to sweep those emotions and feelings under the rug and "deal with them later". I've used that tactic over the past few months. It makes it easier to get through some days or events but I'm afraid it will be harder on us later on or hit us when we don't expect it. Those emotions were all so raw and intense. They will fade just like the beauty (survival) marks our daughters carry on their chest. Happy Happy birthday Cora!

  3. Thank you for your honesty. It is so easy to shove all of those feelings and fears aside, but like lovemy3 said, it will eventually hit us when we least expect it. It is okay to mourn and to feel that pain. {{{HUGS}}} Happy Birthday to Miss Cora Bean!

  4. Aw, I really feel for you. I understand what you are going through. I dealt with many difficult emotions around Russell's first Birthday. Russell's NICU stay devastated me...We did not go through anything as scary as what you described with Cora, but it was a really rough time for me. I never really forgave myself for how I reacted when I found out Russell had Ds either. I carried guilt and sadness around with me the entire first year...But during his first Birthday I allowed my self to grieve, to come to terms with it all, and finally let those feelings go. I think I blogged for three weeks straight during that time! lol
    So take your sisters advice...Give yourself this time to deal with those emotions and finally release them.
    Even though Cora's Birth came with many difficult events and feelings, and it wasn't the way you had envisioned it being...It's the story you and your daughter share and it's beautiful.

  5. Oh Leah! Thank you for sharing your heart. This journey we are on is not at all easy. I too have my own sadness, although because I knew before Ben was born that he would be disabled, it doesn't center on his birth. It has to do with some family members. Ahhh . . . I'm so glad we have each other to walk this path. I know Cora's birthday is going to be so happy. Take lots of pictures. I can't wait to read all about it!

  6. Hi Leah- You're such a good writer and have such an ability to convey these complex feelings so well. I know very much those feelings of sadness, and fear, and re-living those scary times, all mixed in with such love and happiness that our little miracle is here. We're so looking forward to seeing you guys tomorrow- including the BIRTHDAY GIRL.

  7. I felt so guilty over how Kamdyn was welcomed into the world. I still do, although it's not as raw. I think you're sister's gave good advice. I cried a lot around Kamdyn's birthday, not because I was sad about her having Ds, but because we talked a lot about what things had been like and all the fears and emotions we had. It was a lot of happy crying for how far we had come. Loved the honesty in your words.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!