I smile the entire time I format these guest posts. The love, the joy, and the beauty is so evident in all the words and pictures!
When you are faced with a life-changing diagnosis, it's crucial to find a support system. Although I'm lucky enough to live in an area that has an active Down syndrome group, I also rely on my internet friends! I interact with them daily, and my Facebook and Instagram feed is filled with the most beautiful faces! I say it often, but the Down syndrome community is amazing!
Autumn is one of the people I connected with through Instagram. (You can find her Instagram feed HERE.) Autumn is here today to share her story and introduce you to her gorgeous daughter, Sutherlynn Joy!
My name is Autumn. I am a SAHM to 3 wonderful children (a boy and 2 younger girls) and wife to my husband, Greg. My hubby is a police officer who works his bum off so I am able to be home. I wouldn’t have it any other way for now. I am so honored and grateful that you are allowing me to share “Our Story”. I have become very active on IG in trying to connect with other families like ours with a child with that “special extra chromosome". It has been a huge outlet for me too reach out, learn, and connect. So, again I’m honored that I am able to share our story of our Daughter, Sutherlynn Joy.
My husband and I decided we wanted to add to our family of four in the summer of 2013, and it didn’t take us long to get our third (+) pregnancy test!! We were truly thrilled. At the time our oldest was 7 and our middle was 2. I had some complications (on my end) with both of my previous pregnancies, therefore, I was considered “high risk” and watched very closely. All ultrasounds, exams, etc came back normal and healthy throughout my pregnancy. When we were offered to find out the gender at 21 weeks, we accepted. We had the tech put our baby gender in an envelope and came home to our close family & friends waiting for us for the “big reveal”. It’s a GIRL!! <3 blessed="" e="" nbsp="" p="" were="">
My pregnancy continued to go very routine. Any ultrasound, exam, etc showed a healthy baby girl. Nothing to cause suspicion about or any concern. Finally, at 34 weeks gestation my BP was too elevated and I needed to be induced. So off we went. After 3 days of induction I gave birth to our baby girl Sutherlynn Joy Baker, 7 lbs, 19 inches!! It was the third best moment of our lives.
It turned scary fast. Sutherlynn was placed on my chest after having her naturally. She whimpered one small cry and began to turn blue. I knew something was wrong. My instincts felt off and I didn’t know what was wrong; I just knew this wasn’t feeling “right”. She was rushed too the NICU where the team of doctors and nurses got her to begin breathing on her own. She was in the NICU on oxygen for a few days and then was able to breathe on her own. We were there everyday, every second we could be. She had a dome over her little head for the first few days so I was unable to hold her. She also had an eye mask on as she had jaundice. That being said, we were not able to really interact and bond yet. I couldn’t even tell who she looked like. All I knew was she was perfect and being cared for, and that my time with her would come once she was stable.
It was a Tuesday morning that we got to the NICU and the Doc came in, shut our curtain, and sat down. Sutherlynn had now been under care for about 4 days. My heart sank. I had no idea what was wrong, but I knew this was different. “Have you heard of Trisomy 21? Your daughter has characteristics that lead us to believe she may have Down Syndrome." The room went blank. I can’t tell you what I said as I don’t think I said anything. My mind went blank and my body numb. "He couldn’t be talking to me. I’m the mom; moms know everything about their babies. I’ve been in here for days with her. I haven’t sensed or noticed anything different. She’s perfect. My daughter was in here for jaundice and coming home soon just as we pictured it. This was a dream, a nightmare. It's not happening.”
My mind went back to every ultra sound, every heartbeat we heard, every kick and movement I felt. My eyes welled up with tears and I broke down. I cried like a baby. I was truly in shock. My husband held me, and we sobbed. The doctor gave us some time and came back after a bit. I took a deep breath and began asking questions. I wanted to know how this had not been detected on an ultrasound. I assumed any chromosomal abnormality would be picked up. This was my third baby. I’m a natural, but this somehow got by me. Mind you, these are all of my PURE, RAW, and HONEST emotions THAT specific day. “THAT" day that has changed our world for the better, and greater of God. BUT, I didn’t know that then. I couldn’t see past tomorrow on ‘THAT” day. We went home that night to be with our other children. They ran too me with no idea that I was lost and scared. I sobbed hugging them. I couldn’t stop myself. I had all of these thoughts “How will they change from this?" “How will I change from this?" “Will things ever be the same?" “Can I do this?" “Can we do this?"……
I NOT ONCE doubted my love I had for my daughter that I felt the moment I laid eyes on her. BUT, it was all so new, raw, and uncharted. I was so caught off guard. I was shocked. I had to change my focus. She needed me, she needed us, and we were going to embrace this with all we had. We have to; this is our gift from God. It didn’t matter that I was not prepared or educated. I still had time to become educated and dive into whatever she may need. We will grow and learn with her and for her.
Sutherlynn has opened my eyes and heart in a bigger way. She has changed our family, changed my outlook, and made me become more driven in a way I have never felt. I want to show her to the world, and show how awesome she is. I want the world to know that she is not Down Syndrome. Down syndrome is just a tiny spec of who she is. She’s silly, she’s beautiful, she’s my angel. She lights up the room when she smiles, and takes me to a special place when I hold her. She generates a light within my soul that I have never felt. She’s changed me. I have vowed to be her advocate for the rest of her life. I will fight for her rights and chances at being whatever she may want to be.
Love is so powerful. It is the most powerful feeling in this world. If it's true and genuine it can and will conquer all. She has taught us this. I hope anyone reading this knows that different is beautiful. The world needs variety, and acceptance of that variety. We need to educate and advocate for all families and children with any type of disability. God would want us to spread the love for all of them. It can be beautiful, and create a dynamic that enhances the joy that should be shared in our world. Life is for the living, and I plan to do just that with a little extra because we have been blessed. We truly adore our beautiful girl, who just happens to have Down Syndrome.
Sutherlynn Joy is now 16 months old. She loves playing with her older “bubby” and “sissy”. She follows them around the house doing her little belly crawl just wanting to be with them. She truly loves being among us and being put in the middle of whatever is going on. She is a snuggler and loves too eat, play, and laugh. Her heart is healthy and her body is strong. She is truly “More alike than different." Thank you God for giving us this precious spirit. Please feel free too share and spread awareness! Thank you all for taking the time to read “Our Story.” I pray that you all got just a little something “extra” from me sharing our story with you. God Bless <3 br="">
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story, Autumn! I'm thankful we connected on Instagram. Sutherlynn is absolutely perfect and gorgeous, and that smile could melt anyone's heart!
Head on over to Autumn's Instagram feed and show her some love!
If you would like to contribute to the Downright Blessed: Life with Down Syndrome series, please send an email to email@example.com.