05 February 2009
Sheridan's birth (in August '08) was nothing short of miraculous... I was able to have a completely natural labor and delivery (and if I was writing a blog about birthing it would be a great story - but that's for another lifetime)... Suffice to say that Sheridan's birth was beautiful. The best words Gary ever uttered to me were right after Sheridan's birth: "I didn't know it was possible to love you any more than I did, until I saw you give birth to our son."
The morning after Sheridan was born, he was wheeled upstairs for his first physical examination. Because I wasn't able to walk much at all (I had lost over half my blood after delivery - again, that's for a whole different blog), Gary followed Sheridan upstairs and watched as the pediatrician on call completed her examination of him. Gary and Sheridan came back to my room a while later...
Later that same morning, the pediatrician came into the room and said, "I did my evaluation of Sheridan and confirmed that he does have Down syndrome."
Her lips kept moving, but we didn't hear anything.
My immediate response was, "Okay," but I admittedly had tears in my eyes.
The doctor left, Gary and I looked at each other in shock. We looked at Sheridan in love. We didn't really say much except, "I love you" to each other and "We love you" to Sheridan.
We tried to make sense of the information the pediatrician told us (the information we didn't really hear - all we heard was "wah wa wa wah")... looking at Sheridan's ears. What about his ears? Looking at his eyes. What about his eyes? We didn't see what it was that made the pediatrician diagnose Sheridan with Down syndrome.
We immediately pushed the button for the nurse, and asked that the pediatrician come back into our room. She did and listened to our question (which really just centered around "what exactly makes you think he has Down syndrome?"). We listened to her short list of "markers" Sheridan exhibited: low ears (his ears still look just fine to us), his eyes (to this day everyone says Sheridan has my eyes), the gap between Sheridan's big toe and second toe (Gary swears Sheridan got this trait from him). We just looked at her and said, "thank you."
We studied Sheridan over the next few days... he's cute, he has Gary's cheeks (and what big cheeks they were!), he had a TON of hair, he has my eyes, Gary's nose, my lips... what exactly about this beautiful, perfect little boy did doctors and nurses think was "wrong"?
A social worker eventually visited our room that afternoon. She handed us a small, photo-copied pamphlet about "special needs" and told me she didn't know much about Down syndrome, but that she would ask a colleague for me. Thanks for that. Real helpful.
Stuck in the hospital, we couldn't search for information on our own, so we had no idea what this all meant. All we knew was that we loved Sheridan, but we were a bit scared... what did this diagnosis mean for our brand new little guy?
Fast forward a few days after leaving the hospital... after doing too much research (it's in my nature, what can I say?) - I say too much because most sites with information about DS don't discuss LIFE, they only list physical characteristics, provide a definition of Trisomy21, and talk about all the limitations by which our new baby would be hindered - I realized that I was grief stricken not over my son's extra chromosome, but over potential complications that might (or might not!) happen 25 years down the road... who needs that? Not me, not Gary, and especially not Sheridan!
We made the best decision we could have made... we simply focused on being a brand new family, and enjoying our newborn for just being a baby (and, I must admit, I especially cherished having him so close to me in the wrap - I wore that boy morning, noon, and night! - I still use the wrap, and he still loves it!).
Sheridan is more us than he is the extra chromosome - but I'll tell ya... we're just beginning to understand how amazing that extra chromosome can be!