Friday, January 13, 2012

birth story: part deux

i felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. but it wasn't in the joyous-love-at-first-sight kind of way that i had expected. instead there was fear. fear of the what-ifs. fear of the unknown. this was suppose to be one of the happiest moments of my life and i felt totally numb. my eyes scanned the room, hoping for a sign of reassurance on somebody's face. wishing that someone would tell me i was wrong.
but i already knew.
in my heart i knew.
my baby was born with Down syndrome.

her little button nose was adorable. her tiny rosebud lips were perfect. but all i saw were her eyes and i knew they were different. they were not like ours. "why are her eyes so puffy?", the only words i could muster up. even though i knew, i simply could not bring myself to say it. they told me it was from the labor and carried on with their weighing and measuring.
i looked at my husband and i knew that he knew.
my heart broke.
...for some reason i felt like i had let him down.
i heard my mom on the phone sharing the news that our sweet baby had arrived. i was totally overwhelmed. i felt like i didn't want to tell anyone that she had arrived because i knew that they would be excited and happy and all i felt was fear and despair. the nurses and midwife left the room and we were quiet. finally i broke the silence, "i just don't know about her eyes, something is different." the three of us agreed on this and when my midwife came back in the room i asked her again. finally the words came out, "your baby has some characteristics of Down syndrome, but we need to wait for your pediatrician to confirm that."
i couldn't believe this was happening.
i felt like i was looking in on someone else's story.
she said something along the lines of God has given you a beautiful baby girl. my head was spinning. i tried to nurse fabienne, but she was not having it. then they whisked my baby away saying something about needing to warm her up.
that was the last time i would hold my baby that day.
the next few hours are a bit of a blur. the pediatrician came and confirmed that she had characteristics of Down syndrome, which would be confirmed within a couple days with blood work. she was kind and encouraging, i was so glad my midwife had called her [we had planned on just using the pediatrician on call]. she was on the phone with doctors from strong hospital and mentioned things to us about echocardiograms and other things we had never heard of. we kept asking when they would bring our baby back to the room and they kept saying she just needed to warm up a little more. this was extremely frustrating.
i just wanted to hold my baby girl.

we would walk down the long hallway to the nursery, she was the only baby in there. she jumped every time the big metal door to the nursery closed. completely exhausted, i stood next to the warming bed, stroking her soft skin and leaning over for kisses. this was not how it was suppose to be. all i wanted was to be in my bed, holding a healthy baby girl. back in our room i could hear a baby crying across the hall. i wondered if the parents knew how blessed they were, to have their baby in the room with them.
and then our pediatrician came and delivered devastating news.
they wanted to transfer fabienne to the NICU at strong hospital that night and they were recommending i stay in batavia to rest and recover.
my head was spinning. could i let them just take my baby?
i felt completely helpless. my body was sore. i was exhausted.
we talked things over and decided it was best to get fabienne to the NICU as soon as possible. my heart ached. more than anything, i just wanted to hold my baby and know that everything was going to be okay. very reluctantly, i agreed to spend the night in the batavia hospital. my mom and dad offered to ride to strong to make sure fabienne got settled in, which was a huge relief for me.
the neonatal transport team arrived from strong. finally they brought my tiny baby to my room. but it was only so we could say goodbye.

the worst moment of my life.
i kissed her soft cheek and handed her away.
(to be continued...i'll try to finish it in less than 3 months.) ;)

some of these words are hard for me to see on the screen. but this is real. it was an emotional day and we were scared. scared about the unknown. scared about the health of our baby. scared about the future of our baby. it is difficult emotionally to relive this day because i still feel some guilt about my initial reactions and feelings. i wish there was some way i could go back and tell myself about the tremendous joy this little girl would bring to our family. how her smile and sweet dimples would melt my heart. how she may not be the baby i expected but she is perfect in her own way. how she would teach us to be more compassionate and accepting of others. but there was a grieving process we had to go through. it was heart wrenching. it was raw. it was confusing because we had a precious baby girl and yet we were fighting an overwhelming sense of loss. we are entirely grateful for the support of family and friends in these first days as we worked through all this. a year later i can honestly say we love this little girl with everything we have.
just the way she is.

part one here


  1. so sweet and honest.
    so thankful for miss fabienne.

  2. i wanted to come all the way from Pittsburgh and demand that you get to have snuggle time with her...
    i appreciate your vulnerability in this post Mar - and I agree, Faba-lou is such a beautiful bundle of joy!

  3. thanks for sharing this, mar. i appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. praise God for little fabienne and what a joy she is to so many. xoxo

  4. Thank you for sharing your heart and your beautiful story.

  5. This was very humbling to read. Very real and very honest. Thank you.

  6. I don't know why I'm crying. I'm at work so it's really not the time for tears while reading a blog post! :) I guess I'm just so moved and refreshed by your honesty. Life doesn't always happen the way we had dreamed and planned. In the Christian community, I find there's often little tolerance for brutal honesty. I think that's why I'm crying. I know your post and life story has the potential to set so many people free. Free from faking. Free from pushing down the raw emotions. Free from guilt. Thank you for sharing and I pray that your honesty brings freedom and encouragement to many!!

  7. not having your baby with you after birth is the hardest thing in the goes against ever mothering instinct we have. your story is touching. thanks for sharing. :')

  8. Mar, I love looking at your blog and Facebook and seeing your beautiful family. You and Justin are an inspiration in your marriage, and being parents to so many... I don't think God could have blessed her with anyone better. She is so beautiful and I wish I could see her and know her. You are amazing!!!!!!

  9. this is beautiful. thank you for sharing your story. praising God for your little sweet gift!

  10. been there... it IS hard ad it's hard to re-live... i wish I could've told the person I was on my daughter's birthday how amazing and NORMAL life would be.

    When my girl was born, the drs said she would have to go to a different hospital (I don't even remember why) but she ended up staying with us. I can't imagine having to say good bye to her at that point like you did!!


  11. seriously beautiful. thank you for sharing, thank you for being open enough for that kind of honesty. so worth repeating: you guys are so inspiring. much love!

  12. oh marsie - this post just makes me want to hug you. i just love you. and i love that you are sharing this. and i love our daughter so much. :)

    what a little peanut fabs was - i can't get over that seeing these pictures. and i love that marrk logann was in a picture. {i hope that craig reads this comment}

  13. She is beautiful, congratulations! You are an awesome mama.

  14. I think I've come back to your post about 10 times, wanting to leave a comment, but trying to think of what I could say that would measure up to the eloquent and honest way you share your story. Thanks for being you, and thanks for letting us share in the joy that Fabienne brings to so many people!

  15. i totally agree with rachel-- this story has some serious power in it... some serious truth of redemption and the heart of God... and your honesty is bringing it all to the light.

  16. Marla, your blog is beautiful. Your little girl is beautiful. Your family is beautiful. I've gathered from just a few minuts browsing around tonight that you're feeling a little down. Weary maybe? Moving messing with my head. I get all excited and then wham! down, down, down. I just wanted you to know that I'm really blessed by what you've shared here... the honesty and the grace. God is with you. Eyes to Him.