I will never forget the day our entire world was changed. I had been planning this day for weeks! It was exactly 5 days before my due date. I couldn't decide if we should call anyone. I was so afraid it was a false alarm. Our little girl didn't give us much time to think about that though, my contractions were a minute apart. My sister rushed over to watch Noah. We then took what felt like a ten hour trip to the hospital. I was finally admitted and put in my own room, where they tried to stop my labor due to complications with Ella's heart rate. My doctor was not on call that weekend..nothing was going as planned. After what seemed like an eternity, they took me for a c-section. I was shaking uncontrollably....in just a few minutes I was going to meet my baby girl. My husband held my hand and I heard it....that first cry @ 10:43pm. We were so ecstatic! I could not wait to hold her. She was so beautiful!
The next thing I remember is being in my room with my mom and Blake. It must have been very late. We were all so exhausted. My husband started to mention things looking "different" with Ella. I was in such denial and told him he was crazy. He started explaining the signs of Down syndrome and how Ella had so many. I then questioned the nurse and told her to tell my husband he was wrong. That is when she told me that she did have some of the features but the pediatrician would look at her in the morning. It couldn't be true. It was just late and no one knew what they were talking about. She looked perfect to me. What would cause this? I did everything right.
When the doctor walked in the following morning, I just knew... I could tell by the look on her face. All I remember hearing is "Congratulations, you have a beautiful daughter. Something about signs of something , something about test......then DOWN SYNDROME" I felt like someone had punched me in my gut. Literally. How did this happen? Why us? Why her? Why Noah's sister? I kept playing out my entire pregnancy. Wondering what I did wrong. I did not know much about Down syndrome at the time. But I knew it was my fault. We both try to do everything honestly and live a good life. We have already been through so much. Blake and I held each other and cried like we never have before. We were hurt, angry, broken. This perfect family we had both envisioned had disappeared right in front of us. I felt as if I had just lost my daughter. The daughter that I carried for so long...the one I imagined. She was gone.
Her pediatrician stayed with us for a while answering any questions we had, she checked on us throughout the day and came back again later that night (she was truly an angel. I don't know how we would have gotten through everything without her). That evening was very long. I did not want to see anyone. I did not want to speak to anyone. Everyone was waiting with anticipation for Ella's exciting arrival and pictures to flood their Facebook news feed. Nothing. I secluded myself in the hospital room. Trying to avoid seeing anyone. Trying to avoid having to say the sentence " Ella has Down syndrome". The thought of saying those four words killed me. It meant that it was real. Something that would never, EVER change. Something that couldn't "be fixed".
The night we came home from the hospital was scary but comforting at the same time. It meant we were starting our new life together. A life that we did not expect the last time we stepped through those doors. When we pulled in to our driveway I saw a flood of vehicles. Vehicles that belonged to our sweet, sweet family and friends. They welcomed us home with gifts and food galore. The thing that I remember most from that night is that we had so much love and support from friends and family. We will never forget any of that.
The rest of the week seemed like a blur as the Genetics Specialist confirmed that Ella has Down syndrome. I began to feel so guilty for how everything had played out. Life is supposed to be celebrated. Those few days in the hospital...we will never get those back. I felt so guilty for feeling so sad and angry and for crying with Ella. Did she know why I was crying? Could she feel my hurt? Ella was here and so beautiful and perfect. It wasn't fair to her to feel this way. I prayed so many times that God would change this... would fix her. Little did I know, God was just changing me. Ella is just perfect the way she is. My outlook on things was what was wrong and needed some fixing. This is all part of God's plan...
So much has changed since that week we were out of the hospital. Ella has had heart surgery and recovered terrifically. She is in Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Occupational Therapy. She has the best therapists who we feel are just part of the family now! She is doing so awesome! Noah has grown to love Ella so much. He is so protective over her and I know he is going to make such a great big brother.
Ella has changed all of our lives so much but only for the better. I wish I could go back and shake that woman in the hospital bed and tell her how truly blessed she is. Ella is going to make her a much better person in life. Blake and I were chosen to be her parents. We are so incredibly lucky!
One of the things I was afraid of when we found out Ella's diagnosis was that she would be treated different from Noah. I was fearful she would be "shunned". Boy was I wrong about sweet Ella. I believe the saying " she leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes" was truly meant for her. We seriously can not go anywhere without Ella making new friends. She is like a magnet. She has the biggest, cheesiest, one toothed smile that she wins everyone over with. She is also pretty famous for being nosy. She wants to know everything that is going on around her. That silly girl will almost break her neck to listen to someone's conversation.
Ella is the happiest baby you will ever meet. You are a happier person just from being in the same room with her. She brightens everyone's day.She allows you to view the world in a whole new perspective. She makes you want to become a better person in life. Relationships have been minded, families brought closer together, new friends have been made...all because of my little girl! She is changing the world and not even a year old yet! So many people strive to be that person that Ella already is in such a short period of time.
Life is a journey, one with many twists and turns, potholes and bumps, fast lanes and stop signs. Ella has taken our lives down a path we have never traveled before. Time has shown us that this road that looked so scary, has only beautiful scenery to watch. Ella's presence is now like the fourth tire on our vehicle - it's what makes us complete and keeps us trucking forward. We look forward to the journey ahead!