I had the blessing and the curse of experiencing my first pregnancy alongside many good friends.

We compared notes all the way through.

How big is your bump next to mine?

What kinds of foods can’t you eat?

Where did you buy your crib?

What are you doing in the nursery?

 

One by one, all the babies came.

I’d tell my little bump about all the friends that were waiting for her

I’d daydream about my girl with the curly brown hair, swept up in pigtails

eventually pretty grown up, with soccer cleats and socks up to her knees.

A face full of dirt

and a soccer jersey with the number 7 on her back.

(No dance class. Not one dance class.)

College scholarship?  Maybe.

That was going to be my girl.

 

Then she was born.

And in one conversation with a doctor and a nurse

…and a few days to wait for the karotype…

Down syndrome.

 

Those dreams were gone.

Replaced with nightmaresof therapies and delays,

Visions of fighting a school system for 18+ years.

Grad school replaced with group home?

And that retirement I’d already saved so well for?

Better increase those contributions

cause now you’re retiring with two.

 

Welcome to motherhood.

 

The nurse came in to check on me and found my husband and I

curled up on the little bed in which I’d given birth just a few hours earlier

exhausted. In and out of sleep. Tear stains all over both our faces.

 

Through Abby’s first year, I was so intently focused

on everything she didn’t do.

 

Eventually, I just threw away all the books.

I unsubscribed to the monthly baby website emails.

I didn’t want to know what she was supposed to be doing.

 

I shut out everyone else’s kids.

I found zero joy in them.

(If it looked like I did, I was faking it.)

 

I hated everyone who told me we were special

A gift from god?

This was not a big deal?

They got to go back to their normal children.

 

*  *  *

 

And then I began a year-long career of taking offense.

 

It seemed that everyone’s kid held their own head up

practically on the way out of the womb.

This was the start.

And then every kid rolled by 3, maybe 4 months.

Screw Facebook.

Not only pictures, but videos.

Each one posted not by proud mamas

but by mamas trying to rub their normal kids in my face,

forcing me to relive my daughter’s diagnosis over and over again.

 

Ripping my heart apart

…without anesthesia.

 

And then my kid sat up on her own!

 

But that one didn’t seem brag-worthy among everyone else

because they were already on to crawling.

And then, for the love of Christ,

their kids were on to running and somersaults

before mine got up on her two feet.

 

HOW could they be bragging?

HOW could they not see they were torturing me?

 

Sometimes I made comments.

There would be new pregnancies

with moms-to-be just gleaming over their

“normal” ultrasounds for their healthy babies-to-be.

The tears felt hot on my cheeks.

 

Those closer to me with babies running circles around my girl –

they HAD to know, right?

 

I didn’t talk about it

because I just couldn’t.

(I wrote, though, oh I wrote…)

But common sense, right?

How is it nobody acknowledged my struggles?

 

You’re saving for college?

…oh.

 

*   *   *

 

And then, I had a normal kid.

(Yep, I say normal.)

And for nearly a year now, I’ve watched him hit all the milestones.

I post pictures and videos

I joke about wishing he would slow down

 

The me of three years ago would HATE me

 

on the surface.

 

But underneath…

I still don’t read any child development books.

I don’t know how many words he should be saying,

how many steps he should be taking

or if he rolled on time.

I still don’t pay attention to the other kids.

 

Early intervention came (long story)

and when they said he didn’t qualify,

I said, “of course he didn’t.”

and didn’t even bother to look at their write-up.

 

Perhaps one of the greatest gifts my girl has given me

is that ability to see both my children

for who they are.

 

Not who they aren’t.

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