Thursday, January 15, 2009

The First Days

Honestly, the first few days after Brennan's birth were somewhat of a blur. When we were wheeled out to a recovery room, the pediatrician came to talk to us to explain what led him to believe our son may have Down syndrome. He had told Eric in the operating room that there was a 50% chance he did have Ds. Upon further questioning, he said that he would personally say there was closer to a 98% chance based on the physical traits that were present (single crease across the palm of his hand, small, low set ears, a large gap between the big toe and other toes, upward slanted eyes, flat bridge of nose, and low muscle tone). Brennan had come into the room with us for only a couple of minutes, then was taken down to the NICU. It was so hard to hear these things about a son that I couldn't even hold in my arms. I wish he could have been with me, that I could have started to get to know him while we were processing this information. I asked Eric to go with our baby and then keep me updated. So, alone I sat, worrying about my newborn son and hoping that the pediatrician would be proven wrong in his suspicions. During this time, Eric called my Mom (who was at our house with our other three kids) to tell her the baby had arrived and also of his suspected diagnosis. I believe he called his family at this time, too. A couple of hours later, I was wheeled up to my room. It would be a while more until I could get out of bed and be wheeled down to see my baby in the NICU.

Eric came back to the room and said they had taken Brennan to run some tests. Then Eric got his computer out and started searching online to find out what exactly Down syndrome was. Our hearts were aching as we prepared ourselves for what the doctor's were pretty sure the blood test would confirm. Eric was truly amazing. He was sad at the very beginning, but the sadness was so quickly replaced with the love every new parent has for their child. Within hours, after learning the basics about Down syndrome and what it would mean for our son, he felt the same love for Brennan that he had for our other kids and reassured me that we would find the same joy in him that we do with the older three. He talked about what we love about our kids....their unique personalities, the hugs, smiles and laughter, their excitement when they learn to do new things - and he knew that we would love all of the same things about Brennan. Although my heart was still heavy with worry - I knew that he was right.

After going to check on Brennan again, Eric came back to our room and said that Brennan was having trouble keeping his temperature up and also having trouble keeping his oxygen saturation levels where they should be. So, he would be in the NICU until he was able to maintain his body temperature and oxygen levels on his own. They were also sending him for an EKG and echocardiogram to check his heart as approximately 30-45% of babies with Down syndrome are born with a heart defect which requires surgery to repair during the first year of life.

I didn't call anyone from the hospital. I didn't quite know what to say and knew for sure I wouldn't be able to say it without tears. My Mom came early the next morning to see me and meet Brennan. She cried a few tears with me, but they were for my pain and not at all for Brennan. She has always embraced and celebrated him and continues to have the most special relationship with him. It was her words, a couple of weeks after Brennan was born, that helped to ease my worry and sadness. She said "I think we all need to focus on all of the things he will be able to do, instead of thinking or worrying about the things he may or may not be able to do."

My sister, Shauna, was planning on coming to meet Brennan a couple of weeks after he was born. But, upon hearing of his possible diagnosis, she, her husband and their daughter packed up their car and headed to Boston to see us. Having them come up to see us in the hospital meant the world to me and I will be forever grateful to them for coming to see me when I needed them the most. When she walked my room, we hugged for what seemed like hours, tears flowing freely. She came bearing gifts for my new, clothes, and the most amazing book for me called "Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives." It had the sweetest picture of a baby with Down syndrome on the cover and my tears continued to flow, knowing this was my baby.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

Great to see you blogging again. :) The hospital story brings back so many memories. If only I knew then what I know now. Your son is gorgeous!