On February 16, 2012, I went to my regular prenatal appointment. It was my first pregnancy and I was 35 weeks and 4 days along. Out of all of my pregnancies, I can say that this was my easiest one. I also was my healthiest and at my most cautious. I started receiving prenatal care at 5 weeks; took my prenatal vitamins every single day; ate tons of fruits and veggies; and I avoided harmful foods such as lunch meats, raw fish, etc. I can truly say that I was one of the most responsible and caring moms already.
Anyway, back to that day on February 16, 2012, I had a slight fever and was not feeling well at all; I was concerned because the baby was not moving much. I had watched tons of YouTube videos and read stories relating to pregnancies and going into labor. I knew that I could very well go to my appointment and have to deliver that day. Therefore, I washed my hair and showered and put a few things together before my appointment. Because I was under the weather, my Daddy took me to my appointment (and yes, I still refer to my parents as Mama and Daddy).
So, I went to the back and told my doctor all that was going on. She sent me to another room to get an ultrasound. I remember the technician behaving very strangely. Her demeanor alone frightened me. Nevertheless, she assured me that I was fine. She mentioned that the muscle tone of the baby was somewhat low. I had absolutely no clue what that meant. I was sent back to the initial examination room where my doctor told me the same thing. Then she told me that she wanted to deliver my baby. I will be honest; I cannot even remember her explanation. All I can remember was the feeling of not being ready. It was too early. I still had a month of being pregnant left. Luckily, my doctor’s office was inside of the hospital where I would deliver. I came out and told my Daddy that it was time to have the baby.
I remember us walking down the halls and soon entering Labor and Delivery. Someone actually thought that my Daddy was the dad. I called or texted Marcus (I cannot specifically remember which) and my Daddy called my Mama. It seemed like Marcus was there in no time!
Before I knew it, I had delivered my beautiful baby boy by way of cesarean. He cried immediately after the doctors pulled him out. And then, some random older man in the delivery room said “Down Syndrome.” I felt what I thought was my heart shattering. I could not believe it. My doctor was sobbing as I looked down towards her. I could not understand how no one could have known. Especially after all of the prenatal care and the genetic testing was done.
I cried, and cried, and cried some more. All that I could think about was the life that I had planned out for my baby boy. All of the dreams that I had for him were suddenly crushed. I still held on to the hope that the speculations may not hold truth and that the testing would prove otherwise, but days after his birth, my fears were confirmed. My son was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
So, what got me through all of the emotions that I was feeling? Well, it was not a what, but a who. It was my husband, Marcus. It is hard to put into words, but I will try my best to do so. After I was released from the hospital, Marcus and I were driving somewhere. It was dark outside and we were either on our way home or on our way to visit MJ in the hospital (He stayed in the NICU for eight days). Anyway, as I was expressing all of my fears and disappointments, Marcus spoke wisdom into me. He let me know that MJ can still be great and that he can still accomplish his dreams. He also asked me how many typical people I know actually follow their dreams. MJ may very well be more inclined to do so than the average person. It was then that I realized that the dreams I had for MJ were just that. They were my dreams, not his. I am forever grateful to Marcus for his insight.
With all of my heart, I believe in MJ. He is the son that I never knew I always wanted. This child of mine has blessed me with something that many people will never possess in their lives. I am compassionate and understanding. I am aware of so much more in this world! I am a better person because of him. He has taught me the meaning of parenthood. Being a parent means accepting your child for who they are and loving them unconditionally. Not all people are capable of love like that.
I am not scared for MJ’s future. My main concern is my ability to fulfill my duty as his parent. There will be tremendous obstacles, hurt, heartache, pain, etc. These are things that most people experience. Through it all, I have to be able to teach my children how to push through and continue to focus and work on being the best version of themselves.
My son has Down Syndrome. He is a part of me. He is mine, and I love him with everything within me!
To see more of our family, visit our vlogging channel at Just the Albrights on YouTube!
MJ loves tearing up paper.
Trying to teach my boy how to write his alphabets.