The 21st is one of my favorite blogging days of the month. It's a day that I get to share the incredible stories and the beautiful faces that fill my social media feed!
I've had the chance to "meet" so many amazing moms through the DSDN, and Farah is one of them. A few months ago, I followed a link to one of her blog posts and I immediately knew that I wanted to feature her story in the Downright Blessed series. She just has a way with words!
Meet Farah and the adorable Frankie!
Two kids, two years apart. One boy, one girl. It was my dream, my perfection, my plan. But it wasn't until our son, Tristan, was 2.5 years old that we even felt ready to try again. And then we were met with another 2.5 years of nothing. So when I was finally pregnant again in May 2014, we were over the moon.
My pregnancy was uneventful. I was considered "Advanced Maternal Age" in medical terms, but women have healthy babies at 38 years old every day. So it really felt like a formality when we had our in-depth conversation with the doctor about the possibility of something being wrong. My projected risk of Down syndrome and other trisomies was high because of my age, but when our screening results came back, our assessed risk dropped way down to the same as a 25 year old mother would face. We discussed further testing including the Materniti21 and amniocentisis. "But those tests won't tell you anything about a child's brain function, will they?" I remember asking. "No," said the doctor. We decided to wait for our 20 week sonogram. Should any structural anomalies or markers turn up then, we might consider other testing. But they didn't, so we didn't.
In hindsight, it feels like fate. We had decided to be surprised gender-wise, so when the doctor announced "It's a girl!" it was the most magical moment, like my life was complete. "5lbs 12oz" a nurse called out. "Wow, what a peanut!" we mused as I impatiently waited to see my little girl. Francesca Catherine was handed to me and I looked into her eyes. My stomach dropped. "Does she..." I started to say, but I stopped myself not wanting anything to ruin my most perfect moment. But I knew. Her beautiful kaleidoscopic eyes were so telling.
Now, 14 months later, the rest of the details don't seem so important. We were told in the hospital that Down syndrome was suspected and the diagnosis was confirmed a week later. I was crushed. After 2.5 years of infertility and two miscarriages it seemed so incredibly unfair. I remember telling a friend it was like I had finally gotten everything I had ever wanted with one huge caveat. All I saw were limits, dead ends, unteachability, exclusion, slowness. Failure. I was scared, I was uneducated, I didn't know...
To say that my life changed in that instant is the understatement of the year. I just didn't realize how amazing and how magical this change would be. In just 14 short months, Frankie - as we call her - has displayed a strength that belies he tiny body. She is strong, she is smart and she is very sassy and I don't underestimate her for a second anymore. She possesses an inner beauty and a peace so profound, it moves strangers on the street, in the stores and on the subway so much they feel the need to tell us simply yet with a sincerity that catches my breath, "She made my day." What could be more beautiful than that? I know how crazy I sound when I say it but I have never encountered another person so enchanting and so spiritual and I'm so lucky she's mine.
Now, instead of failure, I see a pretty, determined little girl making her way from baby to toddler. Maybe a little slower than others, but fiercely nonetheless. She is educating all of us around her and changing hearts and minds, not only about Down syndrome, but about inclusion, prejudice and presumption. And she is loved and loved and loved. By many. Not because of her diagnosis, or even in spite of it, but simply because she is our Frankie Cat.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and your beautiful daughter, Farah!
If you would like to contribute to the Downright Blessed: Life with Down Syndrome series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.