Beautiful in our eyes.

In the last few weeks of my nearly 42 week pregnancy with my last daughter, all I wanted to be was not pregnant.  Four pregnancies in as many years had worn me down, I had restless legs, and shocking carpal tunnel syndrome which left me banging my hands into hard surfaces in the wee hours to get some relief from the sensation.  I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

Then, my daughter Georgia was born, and I wanted nothing more than to be pregnant again.  I would have been happy to be pregnant forever, if it meant that I never had to face what it meant to raise a child with Down syndrome.

The first 24 hours after her birth could be described with one word – agony.  As the reality set in, we howled like we were wounded, punctuated with brief interludes of conversation that continued only long enough for one or both of us to start again.  We were plagued by fears that looking back, I can only describe as irrational, and born out of ignorance that comes from having very little exposure to the world of children with special needs.

In the first hours after she was born, I emerged from the bathroom to find Gaz cradling our baby.  “Put her back”, I said.  He looked at me bewildered.  “Back in the crib?”  I sobbed…”Inside me!  Put her back inside me!  I can’t un-know this, I can’t change it, I can never fix it!  I want her back inside me, I want the dream of her again!”  A few hours later, a midwife found me, baby in the middle of the bed, me sitting on the edge, with my hands grasping the sides of my head, and covering my ears.  She, concerned, asked if i had a headache.  No, I said.  I’m afraid she’ll hear the thoughts in my head, that they’ll touch her, that she’ll know I feel these negative things about her.  The midwife assured me that she would be totally oblivious, but the guilt was all consuming.

But, as we contemplated the ruin of our lives, we didn’t know that our girl had superpowers, and she had already gone to work on our hearts.  It soon became obvious that she had a serenity that we had never seen in the three children that had come before her.  All that she required was to be held, and she sank her whole body against whoever was holding her, and sighed, a sound I had never heard coming from a newborn.  Her eyes, sightless from cataracts, still managed to convey her comfort, her ease at knowing that you had her close, and all was right with her world.

And so we realised that everything WAS right in her world.  She knew nothing of the fact that the hot tears that sometimes fell on her face where ones of sheer terror.  That people were telling us they were sorry that she was, and that words like grief, loss of hopes and dreams, and even the word “tragedy” were used to describe her existence on this earth.  And we realised that we alone had the power to change all that.  Next time someone looked at me with tears in their eyes, and said “What can I say?”  I said  “Congratulations?”  And my eyes challenged them to DARE to think otherwise.  My need to protect her lit a new fire in me.  I was….fierce.

I will never deny the fact that grief has a place when you give birth to a child who brings a set of circumstances very different to what you imagined.  Because for nine months, I thought I knew my Georgie.  After all, she dwelled in me, our hearts beat next to each other.  I didn’t know what she would look like, but I imagined it would be pretty much like what the other three looked like, and I very much imagined the sisterly relationship I would watch develop.  Yes, I hadn’t met her, but I knew her.  Until she emerged with her almond shaped eyes and her floppy muscle tone, and I felt I had been carrying a stranger, and I did not know this child at all.

Then I took this stranger that was my baby home, and vowed to raise her exactly the same as I did every other baby I had.  And before long, it was…easy.  Because it might have taken a while for me to feel like I knew her, but she knew me.  She always knew me.  She’d heard me read her stories, and her daddy and sisters talk to her through my tummy.  We took her for a walk through the house, and told her which room was which, and even though she couldn’t see them, she could feel that she had walked through them before, and she was home.  And I realised that nothing could lay waste to my hopes and dreams but my own attitude.  When you realise there is nothing tragic about a situation, it simply ceases to be a tragedy.

And so, in Down syndrome awareness month, I give you Georgia.  If you want to see something sad, best you look away now.  If you want to see the joy that comes from opening your heart to someone you never knew you wanted or needed, feast your eyes :)

10152383_10152066247172901_8778224610814663245_n 10371477_10152173978752901_6311203065838275591_n 422822_10150585686462901_1095364172_n 298903_10150263551992901_1668988_n 482482_10151304660092901_1673616033_n 17831_236822382900_1009639_n 20940_311304152900_4337173_n

Does this look sad to you? :)

7 Comments on “Beautiful in our eyes.

    • What a treasure your beautiful Georgia is! It is obvious in these photos how much joy and love she has brought to your family.

  1. I love the picture of the girls on the swing. So much joy on all their faces.

  2. Oh, what beautiful fairy girls you have! I’d like to share an American blog with you – a family who were gifted by birth, a beautiful baby girl with Down syndrome called Nella. Her birth story is amazing and one I am sure you will relate to.
    On another note, I recently threw out a bowel screening kit sent to me by the Government. Pfftt, why should I do a bowel test?! You have changed my mind, I owe it to me and you to do that test! So I am writing to them to get a replacement test and I will DO IT!
    My best wishes to you as you fight this bitch of a disease – all strength to you! Here is the link to Nella’s story – the whole blog is gorgeous as Kelle (the mum) is a photographer and awesome crafty, creative mumma.

    http://www.kellehampton.com/2010/01/nella-cordelia-birth-story.html

    Cherrs – Joolz xx

  3. Brutal honesty and phenomenally REAL depiction. Thank you for bring brave enough to share your story. I LOVE the natural instinct you had–congratulations was the perfect enlightened response that likely shocked you at first I bet.

    Keep writing please!!!

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