I started thinking about what I would say for this letter yesterday as I listened to the Rascal Flatts song Stand. I was on my way home, similar to the same time and place last year when I first heard this song in a completely different way. A year ago today I had gotten your diagnosis from my amnio. I was working at Java Jules at the time and on my lunch break with my good friend Amy VanLith. We were sitting there eating our paninis and talking about some Victorias Secret ad that was in a magazine.
This is when my phone lit up with the number from the hospital. I knew what the call was about and debated answering it. I had told Amy earlier I was going to be getting the call that day so if I had to run into the bathroom quick to answer that was why. Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring… Amy and I just started at each other. Finally I answered. “Hello?” Nicole responded “Hi Whitney.” Her voice was already low, comfortable and ready the soothe. I could tell right then what the news was going to be.
“Hi Whitney, your test came back positive for Trisomy 21.” Nicole said. I was ready for the news. I didn’t cry right away. I responded in a level voice, “OK. So what’s the next step… I mean what do I need to do now?” I was shocked at the first options she gave me. “Well if you want to terminate you will have to decide within the next couple of days.” I thought ‘you’re joking right? That is actually an option for some people?’ It makes me ill to think about it right now as I sit next to you while you sing your Da-da-das (you’ve moved on from Ma-ma-ma).
I retorted quickly with “Oh no! That is definitely not an option for us.” “Well, I also have a list of agencies that deal with special needs children.” I was again shocked at what she was saying. “No, I don’t think Ryan and I want to go that route either….I guess what I need to know is if I need any special care while I’m pregnant or for the delivery.” She advised us to start seeing Dr. Palmquist in Sioux Falls.
Our phone conversation was short. When I hung up I looked at Amy and I didn’t need to say anything for her to know but I was able to choke out the words, “He has Down syndrome.” Amy told me to go home even though I was the one scheduled to close that day. I got into my car and I called your grandma. She didn’t answer the first time so I tried again (she was in Hawaii at the time). She answered and I broke down for the first time that day. I repeated what I had said to Amy and your grandma said “Oh honey. It’s ok.” She then cursed herself for going to Hawaii knowing I would get the news while she was away. I told her everything would be fine and to just enjoy the rest of her vacation, there really wasn’t anything to be done at this point.
I don’t remember my drive home from there but I stopped in Milbank before going out to where we live now. Your aunt Caity and I had a conversation about fate while I folded laundry in my apartment. I told her that ever since I was little I had always envisioned people waiting in line to see God before they were born to pick certain aspects of their life. I pictured people bargaining where they would have their strengths and down falls. I could always picture myself saying “Ok, I’ll take the crappy hair and funny toes if I can have the nice complection and good legs.” Caitlyn said that an author she had become fond of wrote about the same thing (Slyvia Brown). We talked about why I would pick this and how both my family and your dad’s family would be a perfect match for you. Even though I agreed, it was still hard to believe that I could have possibly chosen the cards I had been dealt.
After stopping in Milbank I was off to the farm. Stand by Rascal Flatts came on when I was rounding the ‘S’ curve five miles from our house.
“Cause when push comes to shove you taste what you’re made of. You might bend till you break, cause it’s all you can take. On your knees you look up decide you’ve had enough. You get mad, you get strong, wipe your hands shake it off…then you stand.”
I cry as I write these words for you now. They mean something so new to me. Before they were words of sorrow and uncertainty. Now I cry because they are the opposite. I feel pride, love and acceptance. I know in my heart that we chose each other. And I am so proud to know that you chose me to be your mama, because we are perfect for each other.
I love you baby!