After years of struggling to have a baby, my husband and I found out we were pregnant – with TWINS! We already had a son that we loved more than life itself, but wanted to give him a brother or sister, and he was getting two! We were overjoyed with the news and couldn’t wait to share our news with everyone we knew!!!
We decided to find out the gender of the babies so we could prepare for two. Believing we were having boys, it came a quite a shock when the ultrasound tech announced, “Baby A is a girl. Baby B is a girl.” We were surprised, but excited as well. Sex doesn’t matter as long as the babies were healthy, right? Well, a few months later, the “healthy” aspect of our babies came into question: Baby B may have Down Syndrome.
It was like a bomb had dropped. Shock, fear, anger, more emotions than I can explain hit me, and then I just felt numb.
Are you sure? What makes you believe this?
Unfortunately, the doctor at the ultrasound office didn’t have a very good bedside manner, she told me in a very monotone voice, was cold and unfeeling when I started to cry, and really showed no emotion in delivering this life-altering news. She only told me that our chances were about 10% that she would have Down Syndrome and then left the room.
Numb and unsure of what to do, how to think or feel, I somehow made it to my car to call my husband. His emotions exploded as well. We cried together, fearing the worst. I think any parent in this situation would probably feel the same.
As time progressed we began to deal with the possibility. We researched all we could about Down syndrome, finding unbelievable statistics about abortion rates of fetuses with positive Down syndrome prenatal testing.
How could people do this? These babies are still children. They have the right to life and to be loved.
These statistics anger us and made it even clearer that our daughter was a precious gift that we would cherish, no matter her diagnosis.
The time finally came for delivery. Although neither one of us wanted to admit it, we were pretty sure our daughter had DS. At delivery, it was obvious that Baby B did indeed have Down Syndrome. Numb. That’s all we felt. But then again, she was crying, she wasn’t rushed to the NICU. Those were all good things.
Because they were twins, the girls were taken to be examined and I was sent to recovery. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a room available so I had to stay in that uncomfortable bed for over 4 hours. At one point my husband left and went to visit family and the girls. I awoke to my OB/GYN sitting at my bedside with tears in his eyes. He felt bad that he didn’t know 100% the B had DS, he didn’t understand how I could take this all so well. He wasn’t being rude, he was being real. Although he is a doctor, he has feelings, he was disappointed and had wanted everything to work out just like we did.
I guess it was at that time that I realized that this did work out, maybe not the way we had intended or hoped or prayed for, but in the way it was supposed to. Hollie (Baby B) was a gift that we were blessed with.
Hollie remained in the hospital for two weeks to learn how to eat properly and to keep her temp up, but her heart, lungs, kidneys, etc
were all good. What a blessing!
Hollie has been in the hospital twice since then – once for RSV when she was about 4 months old and once for dehydration after the stomach flu when she was about 4. We are lucky!
Hollie has been going to school since she was about 4 months old. She began with an early intervention program, transitioned to preschool at 3, and will begin kindergarten in the fall. We have been fortunate to have wonderful and amazing teachers, aides, and therapists so far and I expect her regular school to be the same. I am also a teacher at the school she will attend, so I get to keep an eye on herJ I also know all of the teachers, so I will be able to be in constant contact with them to make sure she is growing and learning. She will have a 1 on 1 aide to begin the year. This is part time as the preschool teachers and we felt she could do some of the classroom activities without an aide, but we will revisit this should it be an issue. (Remember, an IEP is an ever changing document!!!)
So as we prepare for kindergarten for Hollie and her sister, I am excited and nervous. I am very determined to make the regular public school work for her, and so are her teachers. I do not plan to send her to a unit unless absolutely necessary! She has so many kids that know her, love her, and help her, that I truly believe she can do this!!!
The future is unknown, but I really believe her life is going to be amazing! Down syndrome will NOT keep her down or from doing anything she wants! We will make sure of that!
Robyn and her husband Brian live in a very small town in Ohio with their three children, Carson and twins Addison and Hollie. Robyn is fortunate enough to teach in the school district where her children attend school which she feels probably helps (and maybe hurts a little) when it comes to dealing with special ed needs.
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