We spend so much time chasing ‘perfect’. But ‘perfect’ and ‘normal’ are elusive and false ideals. Focusing on those things can make us miss what’s really important and be volatile to our peace of mind and happiness. If we let them.
When each of my kids was born I learned a bit more about letting go of my expectations and enjoying my reality for what it was. Since all three of my kids have had to be immediately taken to a NICU to be cared for and have had varying stays in the hospital before being able to come home those ‘perfect’ and ‘normal’ experiences are something we never had.
During this pregnancy I was terrified I would have another preemie or she wouldn’t make it at all. I was also worried that this time I wouldn’t make it and would leave my two little boys without their mother. At the same time I was elated and thrilled that we were completing our family and were surprised with having one more child when we thought we were done.
When I arrived at the hospital, in active and progressive labor for once, the doctor did an ultrasound to make sure if I could deliver normally or would need to go ahead with my planned c-section. She apologized, told me the baby was breech and I would still have to have surgery.
For almost an hour after the delivery they were still working on our baby. Finally they brought her over for me to see. She was bundled in so many blankets all I could see was a tiny, red and swollen face as the nurse held her up. She had an infection, wasn’t holding her body temperature and they needed to take her to the NICU due to other complications.
We were taken to a room for me where we had to wait for the epidural to wear off so I could be wheeled down to see our daughter in the NICU. When the pediatrician caring for her arrived to talk to us I had a moment of clarity just before she tipped my world over that everything was about to change dramatically. The doctor excused my nurse from the room and shut and door. She sat down with us and told us that our precious, perfect and prayed for daughter had Down syndrome.
The bottom dropped out of my world and time seemed to slow and almost stop. It wouldn’t have changed our decisions at all but we had no idea during the pregnancy. It was hard and unexpected news because of all the challenges we knew she would face and that all our expectations had just flown out the window for good.
Time, experience and adjustment to re-imagining my idea of perfection and letting go of some of the expectations I had tied myself up with have made all the difference in accepting and knowing that our daughter is the most perfect one of us all. Kayla has changed our entire perspective about the world over the last three years. Her limitations are only those that we put around her so we strive each day to let her grow and fly and teach us what a beautiful gift life is. Our family would not be complete without her being exactly who she is, Down syndrome baby and all.
She is the most precious gift and is proof that while we may not always get what we thought we wanted, sometimes what we get is much better and exactly what we need.