Today your life changed forever. At 21 weeks pregnant, a simple phone call just broke your heart. The diagnosis: your unborn child is going to be born with Down syndrome.
I know this is the deepest hurt and fear you have ever known. You do not feel like you could possibly be enough. Right now, you don’t want someone to tell you it will be ok (even though it will). You want someone to sit with you in your pain, to hear the fear and recognize how sharp the grief is. I am here to sit with you. Your pain is not wrong and it is real. But, so is the hope buried so deep in your chest that you aren’t quite sure if you can recognize it.
First off, your dream for your life will look a little different now, and it is ok to grieve the loss of that dream. Yes, a new dream will form, but now you need to deal with this pain. Let the tears come. There is no guilt in your grief.
When you are ready to step out of your pain, the first step to healing is acceptance.
This child was not given to you by mistake. You may not have any super powers to be a special needs mom, but he is completely and wholly yours. You will be the best mother for him, and honestly he will probably teach you more than you ever could teach him.
You are not pregnant with Down syndrome. You are pregnant with a baby who will change your life for the better. Focus on that baby, not the diagnosis. When intimidating statistics and uncertainty of the future overwhelm you, set that all aside and remember that you are going to have a sweet little squishy baby.
You have yet to experience one of your greatest joys in life: watching your big boys turn into better people. Grant, Mason, and Rhys will learn compassion on a new level. They will learn how to fight for the underdog and to value every life. They will understand that disability shouldn’t change how we treat others, we are all different and differences are a good thing, we have much to learn from one another.
Your perspective will shift. You will start to recognize that people living with a disability are just as valuable and integral to our community as those without. Your child was knit together by the creator of the earth to be exactly who he is. He is not a mistake. He is perfect. We all have a lot to learn from those living with a disability, and now you get a front row seat.
Today, I sit with your son, Bodie, on my lap and I need to tell you that you have no idea how much joy this boy will bring you. Yes, the diagnosis left some gaping, painful wounds, but your love for your son will fill those wounds in ways you never could have imagined. Bodie will inspire you to be stronger. You will become a protecter, a fighter, and you will be filled with more hope for your son and humanity than you had ever experienced before. You will learn how to recognize those who are on the outskirts, and how to be a voice shouting their worth. You will join with your husband and big boys in finding deeper joy than you had ever expected all because Bodie is a part of your family.
One day you will be incredibly thankful that you have your child sitting on your lap. While these kiddos are strong, they also face intimidating obstacles. You will hold Bodie close to your heart and weep at the privilege of getting to be his mother. You will realize how precious and rare this sweet boy is, and you will become very, very thankful to have him.
In the years to come, you will walk with other women who are facing the same diagnosis that brought you to your knees. You will help them find their hope. You will show them that Down syndrome is, in fact, not scary at all when you shift your focus onto your new child.
You are beginning a journey that has not been traveled by many, and sometimes it will be lonely. It is a path that may be harder than you had hoped, but you will become stronger, more resilient, and able to see the positive no matter the circumstances. And, my dear, your will have deep, abundant joy by getting the opportunity to be the mom of four perfect little boys.
One day you will forget he has Down Syndrome. He will just become Bodie, your youngest son, the boy who is adored by his family and community alike.
Your son will be hilarious. His dance moves will be awesome and he will have a strong affection for chips, his big brothers, Elmo, and every single older man he sees (anyone who comes close to resembling a grandpa -a “Boppa”- will be his new BFF).
Your son will be sweet and silly and stubborn and kind and adorable and will melt the heart of anyone who gives him a chance. Do not underestimate him. He will be every bit amazing as your other three boys. Keep the hope alive for this boy. He is so very precious.
Bio: Hello! I am Samantha Bender. My family and I live in the middle of corn fields in Eastern Iowa. My husband, Stephen, and I have four little boys: Grant, Mason, Rhys, and Bodie (who has a little something extra :). I share quite about about our DS journey on my IG account: @samanthajob.
This letter is part of DSDN's October Down Syndrome Awareness Month campaign. We asked our members to write a letter to themselves during the time they received the diagnosis. Do you know a parent with a child under the age of 4 who needs connections and support? Let DSDN help and get started here.