Let’s do this better. Speaking at the hospital.

September 8th.  I’ve had this date starred on the calendar for over six months. *Speaking at the hospital*

I had the unique opportunity to go back to the hospital where I delivered Jack (and Luke).  I got a chance to give a family’s perspective on what it’s like to get a diagnosis of Down syndrome at birth.  This came about during a conversation I was having with a contact in the maternity ward.  Thank you friend, for listening and answering my countless questions.  You are helping change families’ stories and I am grateful for the work you put in to make this happen.

As I drove to the hospital I could feel the butterflies in my stomach.  I even rehearsed what I was going to say and then the tears came.  They streamed down my face as I recalled how the


went.  How I still imagine Chris sitting in the room (alone) as the nurse practitioner came in and handed Jack to Chris and said, “Are you aware of Trisomy 21?”  Then proceeded to share her suspicions and before departing the room, “Well, just enjoy your baby.”

The tears do not come because Jack has Down syndrome.  The tears come because of how the diagnosis was delivered and how the story of our lives with Jack starts.  Over the past 17 months, I have met many, many, many families that also have been told the unexpected news in such a heartbreaking way.

I shared our experience to a room filled with nurses.  Introducing myself and our family, showing pictures of the precious moments we have had.  I acknowledged that I know they are not the ones that deliver the diagnosis, but they have a huge impact on the first interactions that families have after they hear the unexpected news.  Including our own birth story, I shared examples of how the diagnosis was delivered to give them background of what families are experiencing.  Here is one of the birth stories I shared…

“After the final push and my daughter entered the world, she was carried to the warmer and the nurse practitioner yelled, “This baby has Down syndrome, get her to the NICU immediately.” 

That is how she found out the news.  She later explained to me that they were treated like they had the plague for the remainder of their stay in the hospital.

 Unfortunately, this is all too common among families and we find we bond over the experience.  Can you imagine this being your birth story?  What emotional state would you be in?  How much of this experience affects the ability to accept their child and this new journey?

I continued sharing that even though the diagnosis was delivered to us in such a traumatic way, we had a few significant people that came in shortly after Jack’s birth and helped us take our first few steps on this new path.  Because of these nurses, the love and prayers from our family and friends, along with the deep longing to change families’ experiences, I accepted the opportunity to share our story at a staff meeting at the hospital.

Two nurses played a huge impact in our story.

A nurse came in and said, “Look at your beautiful baby!”  That moment CHANGED MY LIFE.  Her comment helped me believe, that yes, he is a beautiful baby.  She helped me remember what I prayed for each day of my pregnancy, a fearfully and wonderfully made child.  Jack, you are an answer to prayer, my beautiful baby.  I will never forget that day when she came in and doted over our son.