This is literally the 9th attempt at beginning this blog. For some reason I felt it necessary to recount every second of my sons' births. I have decided this is not necessary. Since this is all about my sons, I've decided there is no better or more fitting way to begin a blog like this than with a letter to Casey Edward and Connor Thomas.
Casey and Connor,
I have thought many times of writing you a letter to place in your baby books that one day you could look back on and cherish. I am sad, and more than a little embarrassed, to admit to the reason why that letter has not been written. I was afraid, deep down, that you would never be able to understand what I had written. I thought that you would never read. I was not afraid that you would lack the passion that I have for reading but really I was afraid that you would not have the ability to read at all. I was certain that the extra 21st chromosome would take that away from you. I was a fool.
The moment Dr. Rhee told me that I was "getting what I'd been wanting" and we were going to head to the hospital for your deliveries I was so nervous and excited and sad. Sad because my mother would not be there for your arrivals. I had been imagining the two of you for 30+ weeks. I had often wondered what you would look like, how big you would be, if you would have hair. I wondered if you'd like me or if I'd like YOU! I worried if I'd be a good mother. I hated my pregnancy. I was miserable and uncomfortable. I probably did too much throughout the pregnancy so my discomfort was undoubtedly caused by my need to prove I was no wussy pregnant woman. As much as I hated being pregnant I LOVED feeling the two of you in my belly. You each had your own way of moving. You had active periods and there were moments I was sure you were trying to get out on your own- through my ribs if it became necessary for your freedom. I always had a hand on my belly. I was always touching you two because despite all my many fears and worries I longed so much to hold you close and to kiss your heads.
I cried the entire way to the hospital. I made phone calls to family and to work and I cried so hard that it was difficult at times to catch my breath. I was crying out of fear. You two were coming at 36 weeks 2 days gestation and I was worried you wouldn't be ready, that I wasn't ready and I was sad I hadn't had a chance to say goodbye to our dog Bailey before heading to the hospital.
As your Daddy and I settled into our room in Labor and Delivery I realized my camera was at home. I instantly KNEW that I HAD to have my camera to document your first breaths. I HAD to have that camera because my mom wasn't going to be there and I needed every moment of your lives documented for her. I felt panicked, frantic. Grandma and Grandpa agreed to bring the camera when they came. I was hooked to machines and monitors. I signed 50 million papers and talked to so many nurses and doctors that my fears were erased because I simply did not have time for them. When I had a contraction the monitor over Connor showed a decrease in his heart rate and it was decided you were coming right then. Within minutes I was being wheeled to the operating room.
As I lay on that table I was shaking with cold. I was numb from the chest down and yet I felt alive and electrified because in moments I was going to meet the two of you, my sons, for the first time. When the doctor pulled Casey out at 11:58 am and announced that you had a cute butt I laughed. They told me you had hair. Then they took you away into the other room to get you cleaned up. Connor, you came at 12:01PM after putting up a fight. You liked it in the nook you had created for yourself under my ribs and you were not going to give it up without some effort on the doctor's part. They also took you away to the next room. I didn't get to see either of you except in two photos your dad took for me. All I cared about at that moment was knowing how much you weighed.
In the recovery room I waited to see you both. I was drugged up and groggy but I so wanted to see and nurse you both. It was in the recovery room that my dreams were shattered. Dr. Feick, a neonatologist at the hospital, came in to talk with me and dad. I will never in my life forget what she said to me. She told me that she suspected you both had Down Syndrome. She explained that your appearance made her think that was the case. I instantly cried and in my head I began praying that it was a mistake. To this day, when I think of those words I cry. Not because of your diagnosis but because I can still feel the physical weight of those words. I looked at the doctor and all I could say was OK. I smiled and said it didn't matter- that I loved you both and that you were my sons. Inside I was reeling and in such despair. I wondered how this could be happening. I was young, had no family history of anything like this and had had a healthy pregnancy.
It was while I was spiraling silently down into depression that the nurse brought you in to see me. I remember holding Connor first thinking you were so tiny and so beautiful. You looked perfect to me. You didn't look like you had Down Syndrome. The nurse helped me to bring you to my breast and in that moment I knew I would hurt and mourn and grieve but I also knew I loved you more than anything and that I would make sure you always had every chance in life I could give you. Next, I got to hold Casey. I lifted your little hat to look at your hair. You also looked perfect to me. I was so in love with the two of you that truthfully your diagnosis didn't matter. The first picture of the 3 of us shows a big smile on my red, tear stained face. I was hurting more deeply than I had ever hurt before because I knew that there would be things that would be hard for you two and I never wanted to think of you boys struggling with anything but my heart was filled with love.
When everyone finally left me alone after I assured your dad and grandparents I'd be ok while they went to eat I cried. I prayed there was a mistake but deep down I knew they were right. I also knew the words the doc had said would keep hitting me with a physical force but that eventually we'd be alright.
I didn't see you again until 8 pm that night. I had to walk first to show the epidural had worn off. I remember being wheeled into the Special Care Nursery and seeing Casey for the first time being weighed. Your tiny body had wires and tubes and the tiniest diaper I had ever seen. I fell madly in love with you all over. The nurse passed you to me and my heart exploded in my chest. Could it be possible to love both of you this much? When I saw Connor I knew it was.
You spent 12 days in special care. In that time I prayed and cried for you both in your isolets. I wanted you in my hospital room like the other mothers had their babies with them. I wanted to hold you whenever I wanted to, to feed you at will, and to kiss you without wires in my way.
The day we brought you home was the happiest I had been since your birth. Finally, I could spoil you both with reckless abandon and I have been doing so for the past 9 weeks.
It amazes me to this day that you are mine. I worry that I will be a good mother still but I know for a fact there is not another person on earth that loves you more or the same way that I do. I am honored to be your mother. Everyday I thank God for you both. I think back to that first day of your lives and how I worried secretly that I had "done something wrong" to cause your DS. I worried your dad would think I gave him "broken babies" even though he denied that he thought that. I was certain that I caused this. I realize now that you two may not be the sons I had planned on but you are the sons God meant for me to have. You are my 1 in a million babies. You steal my heart every time I look at you and there are moments I wonder if I could possibly love you more and then I find out that I can.
There are many things I want you both to know about the world and I will teach you what I can. The most important thing for you to know is that I love you with every breath I take. I believe in you endlessly and shamelessly. I will be your cheering squad, your biggest fan, your protector and your guardian for the rest of my life. I will attempt to do right by you both. I will advocate for you and make sure you are always given a fair shot. I will love you fully and unconditionally. There is nothing in this world that you can not accomplish. You will always be expected to try your hardest and to do your best. I will support you in anything you wish to try and I will pick you up any time you fall. You always have my heart even when you don't need to hold my hand any more. I would walk through fire for you, give you my last breath and hold you close to my heart. You can do anything you want. There is nothing that you can't do if you want it badly enough and try your best to accomplish it. You are my heart. You give me and my very existence meaning.
You are not your diagnosis' but miracles. You are not extra chromosomes but angels without wings.
Someday, when you read this letter, and you WILL read this letter, please find it your hearts to forgive my early fears. Please forgive the tears I cried and the grieving I did. I would not trade you two or change you two for anything in this world.
I love you. Forever and always.