Melia was born on a Wednesday. It is now Friday. I get to hold her for the first time… and… I SEE IT! I see HER. A BEAUTIFUL baby girl with Down syndrome.
I did not know that Melia would be born with Down syndrome. Although I was 35 years young at the time, I did not have an amniocentesis. I did, however, have a level 2 ultrasound. It concluded that everything was “normal”. So, Melia was meant to be!
Nothing jumped out at me in the first few minutes of holding Melia for the first time. I was just so happy to finally have my sweet baby girl nestled in my arms. All I saw in those first few minutes was a gorgeous, pecan-toned, bright-eyed bundle of joy with the thickest blanket of hair I had ever seen on a baby! And those cheeks! So soft against my cheeks and so sweet to the kisses I planted on them with my lips. Then… It was the way she turned her head. It was something about the way she turned her head. I believe she needed me to see it!
“She has Down syndrome!” I remember crying out in surprise. A NICU nurse hurried over to me and said, “No! She’s beautiful. Why do you say that?” My heart and mind were racing against each other because I KNEW my life had instantly taken on new meaning. But I didn’t understand quite yet what that meant. I said, “I saw it. It was the way she turned her head. I just saw it.” That began the furious process of chromosomal testing, cardiology evaluations… and waiting.
On that Saturday, and almost immediately upon looking at Melia, the cardiologist informed my husband and me, with unwavering certainty, that Melia had Down syndrome. The initial chromosome results would prove that certainty the next day. I serve a mighty and AWESOME God! Strangely, amidst the whirls of confusion and questions, I knew in the instant of seeing the initial test results that HE had loaned me my very own angel. I never questioned Having Melia.
Many parents of special needs children, I found out quickly and understandably, have a difficult time accepting this life-changing phenomena. For them, often, a grieving process, much like the death of a loved one, has to run its course, even if it takes a lifetime. For me, though, overlooking – or just not having an inkling of – the persistent works in-progress to come with Melia, I felt a sense of Honor. Truly Blessed to be given the tireless task of caring for and nurturing this adorable and loving person who simply presented to the world differently. No shame. No blame. No guilt.
It’s all about perspective. If not me, then who? The journey of Having Melia has been/is fraught with unknown and unexpected challenges that pale miserably in comparison to the abundant Love. Joy. Love. Laughter. Love. Growth (in so many ways). Love. Patience… and more Love that Having Melia brings, not just to my life, but to the lives of EVERYONE she touches. Wow!
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