Monday, 12 July 2010
We had waited so long and lost so many that I think I even might have enjoyed all the uncomfortable parts of pregnancy too. The pain of SPD, hardly being able to walk, getting stuck on the loo and needing Simon to winch me off, all served as welcome reminders that we were there, we had got through and were having our baby. I didn't even mind giving up my chocolate and fruit juice to manage gestational diabetes, I knew it was worth it.
As soon as we got past those early scans, six weeks and a little flicker of a heart beat, 8 weeks a slightly bigger flicker but IT WAS STILL THERE AND FLICKERING, ten weeks, 12 weeks, each time having to travel to Paddington but floating home on the hope and lack of disappointment, I just relaxed and enjoyed every ache and pain every elbow in the ribs and every midnight wee.
Life was so busy what with work, keeping up with Molly's social life and school commitments and attempting to keep the house as hairless as is possible with a four legged carpet, I got bigger and bigger and the time just flew. I guess we had spent so many years wishing and hoping for a viable pregnancy that when it finally came it didn't seem long enough. Before we knew it there we were Si fixing punctures on his bike ready for and off road ride with a friend the next day, me sat on a towel on the sofa as I had just moisturised after a bath and didn't want to grease the furniture, chatting to a friend on the laptop making plans to meet for a coffee and more then likely a sausage sandwich while our fella's were off being ten years old again riding bikes in the woods when "POP" I heard it before I felt it, si even heard it in the other room! My waters went spectacularly! Thank goodness for that towel is all I can say even if that wasn't it's intended purpose.
"errrrr both gonna have to take a rain check on those plans tomorrow"
Well if I thought my pregnancy was over quickly then it was nothing to how I feel about my labour. My mum was summoned to be with Molly who was sleeping upstairs completely unaware of the life changing event unfolding beneath her. Mum arrived in no time and we made our way to the hospital. I won't bore you with all the details but it was another text book labour and delivery if a 'little' quicker!!
Roughly four hours after that monumental POP he was here, we had waited so long and he was here, pink and wailing and looking so much like his big sister. He was perfect, it felt so right, so meant to be and every thing I had said to Molly about new babies bringing their own love so that nobody had to share the love there already was or do with out what once was just for them was true. My heart instantly swelled and I loved him so very much.
It worked out perfectly as by the time Simon had seen Me and Max settled on the ward and got home he was able to be there when Molly woke up, she'd gone to bed an only child and woken up an adored big sister.
I spent that day on the ward waiting for my big girl while getting to know my little man and almost force feeding him in an attempt to get his blood sugars balanced so as to be allowed home. That wasn't to be and I missed the other parts of me so much that night but before that I had to wait until the afternoon to see moo as we had decided she had to go to school as usual for it was the day she was to meet her teacher for the next year for the first time and spend time with her class.
But oh I didn't think my heart could swell any more but it did seeing the pride and excitement in her eyes as she came round the corner and watching the bond between them happen in front of me as she held her brother for the first time. I swear they created their own light.
Earlier in the afternoon the Special Care Nurse had been round to see us to check Max's blood sugar because of my diabetes and thought she'd seen something else. We were taken to the family room for a Doctor to look him over, now here my memory is a little sketchy because I remember it as they saw what they thought could be features of Down's Syndrome but they were not sure and wanted to do a blood test to rule a Mosaic state out. I am not certain here whether they played it down because they didn't think he was or whether we did in our minds as either denial or self preservation I don't know. Whatever it was though I am glad because other then a scary six hours in special care because of worries about whether he was getting enough oxygen in his blood ( I really believe here it was so hot on the ward that it caused him to be blotchy and that's what worried them because he was absolutely fine) We didn't give the blood test more then a second thought. I am grateful because we didn't miss that precious first week our so longed for son/brother anxiously wondering . I am grateful that so many got a chance to meet him before any pre-conceptions could taint their gazes.
Six days on we wait anxiously to see a Doctor to check Max's heart as a result of the worrying time in SCBU the week before. All I can Liken this experience to is that ride at Alton Towers 'Rita' which goes from nought to super fast in a heartbeat and quite literally takes your breath away.
We sit down in the Doctor's office all nervous smiles, Max nestled sleeping in my arms having just had his fill of Mummy's milk, and our world was changed instantly with one sentence.
"Max has Down's Syndrome"
Fear....absolute terror, never for a second was it about our love or acceptance of him or that of our family and friends, he was ours and he was perfect and he was loved that was NEVER in doubt. But fear first for his health "tell me his heart is ok please just tell me he's healthy" Which thankfully we were quickly reassured that he was. Pure terror like I've never known to pure relief in a matter of minutes.
Then came the fear of the unknown. All we had at that point was pre-conceptions and stereotypes so with those came the fear of the world and how cruel people can be and what cruelty would we be unable to protect him an possibly even sooner Molly from?
These fears are still there somewhere but with education experience and wonderful support from both professionals: I quote the Doctor who gave us the diagnosis.
"Please remember prejudice comes from ignorance, don't be upset by it just know that person is living their lives in ignorance"
And Family : his uncle on hearing the news and kneeling to his nephew while holding his brothers hand and squeezing my knee so hard that it bruised.
"So...... He's our Max and we love him"
and a friend who said:
"I feel lucky to have him in my life because he is going to open my eyes to things I would never have known or had experience of before"
All those fears are cushioned.
Ultimately I feel very lucky that as a family we came to acceptance very quickly. I suppose the years of loss and fear before Max was born helped us with that. Re-enforcing my belief that all things happen for a reason and all that heartache was preparing me to be a better mum to both my babies.
Max is One now and this year has been wonderful. My heart and mind has been opened to so much from simply seeing a children's programme in new light. Something Special I once watched with mild irritation, I now well up at it's absolute fabulousness and simplistic beauty. To appreciating that yes Molly may at times face prejudice and teasing but how she deals with it and how much she loves her brother will teach her tolerance and understanding of others that are different then her, lessons that she might otherwise not have learned. Lastly of how un-important most of life's trivial worries are.
There may have been moments in the early days, not many and not long moments, where I wished it wasn't so. I quickly came to realise that wishing Max didn't have Down's Syndrome was like wishing he wasn't Max. It does not define him. It is a part of him as much as his blue eyes are. It just is what it is.
He is my Max-in-a-Million and I wouldn't have him any other way.
I am very lucky to have a wonderful husband who supports me and our children with nothing but Love and strength, the absolute belief to set no limitations on any of us.
I still in low times wonder if I am up to this, can I cope? But then I remind myself I don't know how I'm going to handle a teenage daughter and all the things that terrifyingly come with that like boys and make up and drink and drugs arghhh I'm scaring myself now. I just have to have faith that to Love is enough and I will xxx
I am grateful every day to have TWO beautiful healthy children who brighten my every day and are the reason for my every breath.