Thursday, January 21, 2016

Downright Blessed: Life With Down Syndrome ~ Jessica's Story

Happy Thursday, friends!  I hope 2016 is off to a great start for all of you!

We are in the midst of a cold spell in Pittsburgh, and I'm struggling to stay warm.  Thankfully, it's time to share another story in the Downright Blessed: Life with Down Syndrome series.  Nothing warms my heart more than seeing these beautiful faces and sharing these stories!

Downright Blessed Life With Down Syndrome

Sometimes these stories are difficult to read.  I often find myself crying as I prepare the posts, because it takes me back to the moment when I found out Liam had Down syndrome.  Those feelings are so raw and intense. But these stories always have a good ending.  These stories go from grief and sadness to pure joy!  And that's why I love sharing them.

I love the Down syndrome community.  Not only do we have an incredible local community, but I'm thankful to be able to connect with so many other families through Facebook and Instagram, too!

I met Jessica on Instagram, and we later became friends on Facebook.  I love seeing her gorgeous daughter's smiling face in my feed every single day!  I'm certain her smile will capture your hearts! 

Jessica is going to share her story today, but I just wanted to share a little fact that many people don't know.  It is a common misconception that only older mothers give birth to babies who have Down syndrome. The chance of having a child with Down syndrome DOES increase with age, BUT 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to mothers UNDER the age of 35!
80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age. - See more at: http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/Down-Syndrome-Facts/#sthash.d81zn07c.dpuf
80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age. - See more at: http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/Down-Syndrome-Facts/#sthash.d81zn07c.dpuf

Without further ado, meet Jessica and Ashland!!!
{JESSICA'S STORY}

I got pregnant when I was 27 years old.  This was my only pregnancy. I would say it was a normal pregnancy. I had morning sickness that made me miserable until the second trimester but that was the worst of it!

All testing that we had done had come back normal so we saw no need to do further testing. At 35 weeks my doctor became concerned of my size. He said I was all belly and that Ashland seemed to be measuring small for being 35 weeks. He sent me for an ultra sound during my next visit. At 36 weeks I had an ultra sound and what he thought was going on was indeed happening. I was losing fluid, so he put me on bed rest and told me to drink tons of water. I went back at 37 weeks and there was no improvement. I was sent for an induction. 

Everything became insanely real when we checked into the hospital. I knew I wasn't leaving without my baby. Everything was going smoothly. We checked in on Tuesday night and by 2:31 PM, on Wednesday October 22nd, 2014, Ashland Grace Webster was here! 

Labor and delivery was pretty easy. It was the moment I had been waiting for when they handed Ashland to me. I looked at my beautiful 5lb 10oz baby girl and I knew, in that moment, that my daughter had Down syndrome.

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I waited for everyone to leave the room. It was just Ashland, her father and myself. I looked at Jeff (her dad) and asked him if he thought her eyes looked different. I just kept asking him over and over. He told me she looked fine and was swollen. Why did I keep asking about her eyes? I said her eyes looked like a baby with Down syndrome. He told me I was crazy. 

We got into our room and all I wanted was for everyone to go away. My best friend, who happens to be a NICU nurse and was also was in the delivery room, came back with her husband to see us.  I knew this was my chance to see if I was really crazy. I asked Hannah if she thought her eyes looked different. Hannah holds nothing back and doesn't sugar coat anything. Her response to me was "Oh, I don't know. If you have a concern just ask the pediatrician."  She never looked at me while answering this question. That confirmed what I already knew.

While Jeff and Ashland were sleeping I was like a crazy lady on Google. I read everything. Does she have small ears? Yes! Does she have a fold in her ears? Yes! Does she have a crease in the palm of her hands? Yes! Does her tongue stick out? Yes!  All I could do was pray. Pray that I was wrong.

Thursday was a pretty easy morning. Nothing exciting. Jeff's brother came and brought breakfast. They took Ashland for the normal testing they do at the hospital. They brought her back and the pediatrician came in. She told us about the tests she had done and how they all came back normal.

I was thinking to myself "Well, she hasn't said it, so I'm wrong. I'm totally wrong."  She ended the conversation with "We would like to draw blood and have it tested. She shows characteristics of Down syndrome."

In that moment I knew what it felt like to be punched in the gut and slapped across the face. She kept talking but I went numb and didn't hear a word she said. I just wanted her to leave. 
She asked if we had any questions. I was quick to yell "No! We are good."  I just needed her out of the room so I could just lose it.

And that's what I did. I cried and just said "Why her? Why my daughter?" Jeff was pretty numb and he didn't really react. He just sat there in silence, I called my dad and cried some more. He told me everything was going to be okay. So I said "Okay then."

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We went home late Friday and I knew I had to take her to get blood drawn Saturday morning. Hannah took us to the appointment and dropped us off and Jeff came and picked us back up. Everyone wanted to come over but I just didn't want to deal with anyone. But when I got home everyone was already there. 

Jeff has a son from a previous relationship. We weren't going to tell him anything because we just weren't ready or sure about how to explain it to him. Our very good friends came over. Trele took Ashland and was just smiling and staring at her, holding her, and telling her how much she loves her. At that point Hannah was the only one I told about her diagnosis. 
I knew I had to tell Trele and her husband, Alex. I was afraid when I told her she wouldn't see Ashland the same way anymore. Ace went outside and I asked Alex to sit down. I just told them that Ashland had Down syndrome and we had no idea. Of course I cried some more. Trele held my hand and told me she was a beautiful, prefect little girl. It didn't matter. She had a close family friend whose son had Down syndrome and she would get us together so we could talk. 

That's what I did. I went and talked to this family and I knew I wasn't alone anymore. She put me in contact with amazing people and I will forever be grateful for that. Friends that I hadn't been as close to stepped up and have been there. Not just for me, but for Ashland. 

It has been such a beautiful, humbling experience. It's an honor really to be her mother. Ashland has brought a lot of us together. These people in our lives see her as we do: A wild, sassy, sweet and loving 1 year old. They see her as Ashland, not as a kid with Down syndrome. 

It's amazing what such a little person can do to you!

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Jessica lives in Atlanta with her husband and daughter.  Ashland is currently almost 15 months and has a half brother who is 7 years old.  You can find Jessica on Instagram! Show her some love!

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Jessica! Ashland IS perfect and beautiful, and she has the most contagious smile! 

If you're interested in contributing to the Downright Blessed: Life with Down Syndrome series, please send an email to lexieloolilyboodylantoo@yahoo.com.

2 comments:

  1. I really like this series and hope it continues! God bless! <3

    ReplyDelete

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