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First Birthday Tribute

By: Lauren Cowin

I didn’t buy in to the whole “lucky” thing at first.

Sure, I accepted my 95% NIPT screen as fact. I worked hard at maintaining a positive outlook. When I chose to share the “extra” aspect of my pregnancy with friends, I did so in the most unaffected, matter-of-fact way possible. I did all the things I thought I was supposed to do as an informed, inclusivity-focused soon-to-be parent of a child with Down syndrome.

I recall saying that it felt like our lives would never be the same, but nothing had actually

happened yet. As my pregnancy entered its last few weeks, and our already busy lives with two kids slowed down for just a second before the new school year started, I admitted to my husband I wasn’t ready for the pregnancy to end. I’d allowed myself to enjoy it, and not get wrapped up in my fears for the future, but the closer we got to my due date, I wasn’t ready to face the music.

Being pregnant with a baby with a disability was one thing. Actually becoming her parent,

though, was something I wanted to put off as long as possible. Like her sister before her, my daughter had other plans. In the early morning hours of August 23, exactly 23 days before my due date, my contractions were decidedly not of the practice variety.

After transferring our older two children to a friend’s car in the hospital parking garage

just shy of 6:00am, we were settling in to greet our third and final baby. At 36 weeks, 5 days. A rainbow baby. A baby with Down syndrome.

As we sat in a triage room, I complained that it was too hot (my warm-natured husband assured me it was actually quite cool), and then declared between contractions, “I think I’m having a panic attack.” I was plenty scared that nobody was moving with enough urgency to get me an epidural before go-time, but I was also grappling with every fear I’d suppressed throughout the pregnancy. And now she was coming early. Too early, in my mind.

It’s now been a year since the day our sweet Faith joined us. A year since I felt the greatest

relief of my life when I heard her cry, and then another when the NICU team looked her over

and handed her back to us. I can remember one night in those first harried weeks at home, singing Faith Hill’s “You Can’t Lose Me” in the dark before I put her down for “the night” (aka – 3 hours before her next feeding.) I couldn’t get through the song without tearing up. This teeny little bundle of perfection had already brought me more joy than I ever thought possible.

Throughout the last year, my

husband and I have often joked, “remember when we thought

our lives were over because of Down syndrome?”

The past year may have been frenetic and our to-do list unsustainable at times, but it was not defined or upended by Down syndrome. If anything, Faith has forced me to not go 30,000 feet with every scenario, and focus instead on the now. For 12 months, the now has been hours and hours of those extra snuggly low-tone baby snuggles. It’s been a once super sleepy late pre-term baby who has slowly become more aware of the world around her, especially her adoring siblings, and flashes an addicting smile.

Maybe it’s knowing she’s our last, but even during her weeks-long 5:00am wake-up phase, during which time we called her “the rooster” due to the hour and the sound she made upon waking, we couldn’t help but laugh.

It’s been a full year of realizing that almost every intrusive thought and negative emotion I

experienced when we first learned her diagnosis has vanished. Happy birthday, my sweet Faith. I am, indeed, lucky that you’re you, and even luckier to be your mom.

You can follow along with Lauren & Faith below.

Instagram: @lpcows

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