Cause for Applause
Coming to terms with a harsh reality during pregnancy leads to unparalleled joy
Imagine loneliness so severe, so dark, so gloomy that the walls close in on you without respite. Such was my feeling the day I learned that our second daughter was destined to be born into this world facing major challenges.
Only moments before, I had been so excited, felt so complete and oh so amazed at life and the opportunity to bring another new baby into this world. Even though my husband and soulmate, Greg, and our first daughter, Ana Maria, were both with me at the appointment, an incredible feeling of isolation overcame me when the doctor broke the news. We had arrived at our highly anticipated second ultrasound, eager for another chance to look at our baby, to hear the drumming beauty of this precious little one’s heartbeat—and we couldn’t wait to see her sweet profile. But instead of experiencing the anticipated joy, I became mesmerized by the words spilling from my doctor’s mouth. Like puzzle pieces tossed into the air, I just couldn’t seem to catch them all and put them together in a meaningful way. The room was spinning, and I felt myself reaching for those tiny tidbits of information that would soon make up our new reality.
“Your baby has a heart defect,” broke through the growing haze in my mind, “which is most likely associated with Down syndrome.”
I immediately began to imagine the worst: Is the defect curable? How long will she survive? What will life be like for her? Will I lose the baby if I trip or fall? Should I be confined to bed? Will I even be able to raise a child with Down syndrome?”
I felt a responsibility so incredible it was almost unbearable. You know that feeling you get as a new parent— especially as a new mom—when you are handed your baby for the first time, and you’re overwhelmed by the understanding that you are responsible for the safety and upbring- ing of this helpless little new person? For me, that feeling was multiplied times infinity as I was told my baby had a broken heart and a then-to-me mysterious syndrome that would forever set her apart from others. How could I protect her, keep her safe and whole, and, most importantly, keep her alive and well?
The months that followed were filled with tears, fear and worry. Try as I might, each day seemed to bring negative feelings into my world; the fear of the unknown kept creeping up wherever I went, whatever I did. Most days I would call my mom from a dark place within my heart, looking for solace. My mom would remind me to trust in God. We would talk, sometimes pray, and I would plead for a healthy baby. When Greg would come home, I would invariably ask him, “Why?” but, of course, he didn’t have an answer. He too would tell me not to lose
hope, to have faith.
One day I stumbled upon an old friend on social media, and he told me about his daughter who was “living the beauty of Down syndrome.” This random connection with someone from my past, who was living through a similar experience, was exactly what I needed at that very moment. His amazing wife phoned me, and as we spoke, I began to fully realize that my family and I were not alone facing the unknown.
Throughout all of my personal anguish, my love for the sweet angel growing within me hadn’t diminished. In fact, it had grown tremendously, to the point where my heart was exploding with unending love for my soon-to-be-born child.
And so the tears began to dry up, and the loneliness turned into excitement and anticipation as the special day drew near. A couple of weeks before her due date, Jordan Grace decided to join us! Everything was indeed perfect— including our new baby girl. Though her heart would need mending, she was truly angelic and, to us, perfect!
Six months later, Jordan Grace’s heart was opened up and repaired by an amazing surgical team. Much to our relief, she came through with flying colours... and the rest of us survived the ordeal pretty well, too. And now here I am—the happiest, most proud mother to be found, with two marvellous daughters who have grown to be inseparable during the first three years of Jordan Grace’s life to date.
The truth is that I’ve never felt more complete, more thankful, more blessed, and more surrounded by love than I do at this very moment in time. Actually, throughout the entire experience, I was never alone: Jordan Grace was always with me, in me, carrying me through the pregnancy, guiding me with her very being. Our hearts beating in tandem, we were always together as one.
Above: Maria with her husband Greg, daughter Ana Maria—and yet-tobe-born Jordan Grace. At right, Ana Maria and Jordan Grace with the book they inspired.