Photo by Jacqueline Robbins Photography
When my Addie Girlfriend, my snuggle chunk, my sweet pink little angel baby was born, it wasn't rainbows and butterflies like it truly feels like now. Sadly, the joy of Adeline's arrival was overshadowed by a completely unexpected Down Syndrome birth diagnosis. I spent the first few days in denial of her diagnosis, which once determined to be absolutely true, was followed by a phase of mourning. That seems a bit dramatic, but you see, I had been expecting a perfectly healthy little girl. I used to daydream about her like she was a character in a storybook. I'd imagine my oldest daughter Charlee with Adeline as lifelong friends sharing everything together. In my dreams, they had what my sister and I have. They'd be sister soulmates.
When Adeline was born, the dream I had made up in my head popped like a pin to a balloon. I was consumed with fear-based thoughts. I imagined myself as a haggard, grey haired old lady caring for my child with special needs. Well, it's only been 7 months since Adeline entered our world and let me tell you, I don't have grey hair just yet ;). I had a natural negative reaction to a surprise diagnosis, but as I spent time with my baby, I realized she was just that, a baby! Adeline Blake Manna Quarello went from being my down syndrome baby, to being who she always was...a baby who has down syndrome. As I started to heal from my birth trauma (thank you therapy!) and spend more time with my daughter, I realized that her down syndrome was just a small part of who she is as a human being. Will Adeline require more intervention than my older, typical daughter? Yes. So far, it's been manageable and I've learned to "celebrate big, the small."
As my dear friend Taryn likes to say. What's pretty nuts is that I rarely think about Adeline's diagnosis anymore. We take one day at a time and try to stay as present as possible. Adeline is the most joyful person you will ever meet. She loves everyone, and if you want to snuggle she is absolutely up for it. I am never going to sit here and diminish the fact that being a Mother to a child with special needs is hard. but what I've realized is the life narrative that I had so selfishly given my daughter before she even stepped on this earth may be different, but it is still worthy of dreaming about. Charlee and Adeline WILL be lifelong friends, I see their incredible bond formed already. Their friendship will teach both of them traits that perhaps a typical sibling relationship couldn't touch. I have been given the gift of a new life shift. The birth of this child was the birth of the rest of my life. Your life doesn't have to be over when you have a Down Syndrome diagnosis. In my experience, my new life has just begun.
Jessica Quarello of @letsjessup