Two years old. Grown-ups always said that the older one gets, the faster time flies. Well, now that I'm a grown-up with a 2-year-old, I'll add, once you have kids, time goes by in flashes. And it really feels like that. Mixed up with the murky, half-formed memories of everyday life, I've got vivid, larger-than-life images of memorable moments in my--our--life with Max. Like, the first moment we Max in ICU after his heart surgery. His bright red, screaming face the first moment we met him, two years ago. The smile that spread across his face the very first time he tasted a cupcake. That backwards glance he always gives just to make sure someone is behind him before he sets off up the stairs.
I think for each of his birthdays I'll have a moment or two of melancholy, or nostalgia--not sure which. It'd probably unavoidable. But before I get carried away, here are seen from the birthday party yesterday.
|Max's cousin Nicholas and his Auntie 'Cole.|
|Enjoying the snacks.|
|Max joined by Mommy and Daddy (and Caetano) for wish-making time.|
|Mad rush for candy after beating the pinata senseless.|
It really was a wonderful day. And I'm thankful that I didn't have to go to work today. One full day preparing for the party, and one full day having the party is enough to make a pregnant woman collapse. And collapse (figuratively) she did. Oh, and I'm referring to myself.
Yes, I am pregnant. Today was the first day of my 12th week. I was so hoping that, like they did with Max, my fatigue and nausea would disappear in a flash. Alas, they did not. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.
Big day tomorrow. I'm having the first of two sequential screening's and the ultrasound that measures the nuchal translucency.
Last time we went into this appointment without a care in the world. "Of course our baby is fine!" But a few days later our world came crashing down around us. My OB called on a Friday afternoon to tell me that our baby's chances of having Down syndrome were 1 in 10.
1 in 10. That meant that for every 10 women with the same measurements as mine, one of them had a baby with Down syndrome. That also meant that nine of them did not. Of course, these sorts of things only happen to other people, so the baby would be fine.
It turns out, we were those other people. I was the one.
We elected to have a CVS the following week. At the same time, they performed an ultrasound to measure the growth of the nasal bone. The specialist who did the ultrasound found the nasal bone, and perhaps, regretfully, gave us hope that the results would all come back "normal". We received Max's official diagnosis a few days later.
Unlike with Max, where I felt certain during the entire first trimester that something was amiss, I have felt at peace and confident about the health of this baby. Perhaps it is simply knowing now that a diagnosis of Down syndrome is not the end of all things. Or, perhaps it is a mother's intuition signalling that in fact, all is well in babyland.
That calm disappeared two days ago when I realized that I will be able to read the results of the nuchal translucency on the screen as it is performed even if the tech refuses to give me any information. Max's measured 2.9mm, which is at the high end of normal. What if this baby's is higher?
I'm not afraid of having another baby with Down syndrome. Max has improved my life by leaps and bounds. I'm afraid of the feelings I will have if the baby is diagnosed with Down syndrome. I don't want to feel the devastation that I felt 2.5 years ago. I don't want to experience the sense of loss and grief that overwhelmed me. I don't want to be on the phone with my sister-in-law, unable to ariculate a single word as she calls out, "Amy, breathe, breathe." I don't want to sit in my car in the driveway, screaming at God, in blood-curdling wails, for this diagnosis...this diagnosis that was ruining my baby, ruining my baby's face.
Now, this is how I felt months before I met Max, and realized that he is the perfect, most beautiful son. He is exactly who he is supposed to be. Down syndrome didn't ruin anything, it is a part of him. It has done nothing but enhance our experience as parents and I wouldn't change a single thing.
But the thing is, emotions come unbidden. They are difficult to control. When they are intense, they are difficult to experience. Even though I know Sean and I are strong enough to weather whatever these tests may reveal, I can't help but hope that they reveal nothing. Nothing at all. That they predict an uneventful pregnancy, and a healthy, typical baby that Max can help us care for. I'd like to have that experience.