Life is seldom what is portrayed in magazines, in TV shows or on social media even. Pregnancy is not always a quick push and then boom!—seven hours later you look like you're ready for a romantic date night with your partner. Yet we are surrounded by this disillusion everywhere we turn—in both pregnancy and motherhood.
With my first child, I let the sex of my baby be a mystery which turned out to be the greatest surprise of my life. Yes, it drove everyone around us bonkers, but I didn't care. I had a well thought out birth plan all typed up. I was going to be a tough mama and power through and have my baby the "normal" way.
That was all until I heard the words, "Heart rate dropping, C-section NOW. Dad get suited up and scrubbed in, we're taking this baby out stat." Wait—that was not typed on my plan. Did they grab another mom's printed out birth plan?
That was my official introduction to what would be my new "normal," which was very far from what I had planned.
It was time to birth baby number two, and again, the sex of my baby was a mystery. My pregnancy had gone beautifully—no issues other than a few more aches and pains, and the intense exhaustion—after all, my first little boy was very busy being a 2-year-old, running around and testing limits and boundaries.
I was able to choose when I wanted to schedule my second C-section, which was one of the few things I was able to plan for. I chose a time that was convenient for someone to look after my firstborn. The day arrived to have our second (and last) baby, and the stress level was much lower this time around. The blue tarp went up and I held my husband's hand and stared into his eyes as we anxiously waited for the sound of the first cry and for the doctor to announce the sex of our baby.
Yes, I was secretly hoping for a girl. One of each is the "normal" thing—right? Our names were ready—Oliver was our boy and Adyson was our girl. All the doctor had to do was just say the words…
Our baby's first cry was heard; Oliver had arrived. And according to my plan of only having two kids, I realized I would never be a girl mom. But Oliver was healthy, and while our emotions were all over and adrenaline was high—that was what mattered.
In the first moment that we held Oliver, we could tell something was different. There was a strange vibe in the air among the medical staff. We fell in love instantly, but we also felt something unexplainable.
While in recovery, holding my second beautiful, healthy, strong boy that a crew of white coats came in led by my OB-GYN. This was not feeling "normal." My OB sat down and confirmed that our baby was healthy, he needed a few extra labs done and at that moment she asked me if I was familiar with Down Syndrome? My answer was "no." I was then told that she believed that our son was born with Down Syndrome and that they were going to confirm with tests. She later confirmed that yes, Oliver had Down Syndrome. And we knew that, yes, we were chosen to be his parents.
Regardless of these tests, this was my son and nothing else mattered. I loved him. He was breastfeeding, we were bonding with skin-to-skin and we were a proud family of four now.
Down Syndrome was now in our lives. Sure, we were going to need to learn a few things and our journey was a little different and yes we were scared—but he was our son and our hearts were wide open.
I left the hospital and within weeks knew that I wanted to have more than two children. I didn't want my oldest to one day be the only person to look out for and make decisions on behalf of his younger brother with special needs.
I wanted to build a squad of siblings for my children to look out for and take care of each other. This time—boy or girl—it didn't matter. All visions of "normal" planning were completely in the rear view mirror.
Almost two years to the day, we went in for my third planned C-section. We walked by the exact room that we were told our son had Down Syndrome in. My husband and I stared into the room, held each other and with tears in our eyes said, "We were chosen. Thank goodness we were chosen."
It was because of that day May 14, 2013, when we welcomed Oliver that we were back in the hospital on May 29th, two years later, welcoming Adyson Maeve to this world.
My family was complete and perfect, and very far from what we first considered "normal."
Sometimes it's the unplanned things that get thrown our way and take us down a new and foreign path that make us stronger. They make us believe we can conquer things we never knew imaginable. They make us realize that the only "normal" that exists is the new normal you create with your family.