Nella had her four month appointment yesterday.
And, amid most of the time where I honestly forget she’s different, I am reminded every once and awhile. Like getting ready to go to the doctor and feeling a little flutter inside. Like what if they tell me something. Like what if they rock my world again. Like what if one of those “increased likelihoods” that happen to attach themselves to that sweet little chromosome comes true.
But, here’s the thing. Once you become a parent…once you start feeling a little funny and you buy that pregnancy test…once you see a pink plus sign…once you know it’s not just you anymore…well, you automatically carry around, for the rest of your life, an increased likelihood. To have your heart broken. And it’s a constant fear that we struggle to put to rest.
And we can choose to be afraid or we can choose to live.
And I choose to live.
Because an “increased likelihood of having your heart broken” also carries with it an increased likelihood to find yourself the happiest you’ve ever been in life.
And so we walked into that exam room, as a family, and everything was just as it should be. Nella is doing great–a robust eleven-and-some pounds–and happy to play patient to Dr. Foley and her assistant, the big sister.
And I am reminded, once again, of my gratitude for having the most caring amazing pediatrician…
…who has this incredible ability to compress all the scary things I might have to think about for the next three years into a few lines of chicken scratch on a small square of prescription paper…and then she takes all my freakish motherness with its dumb questions and silly comparisons and melts them into relief when she laughs with her warm, motherly grin and says things like, “well, of course she’s perfect!” or “she IS normal, Kelle…with just a little something extra.”
I made an appointment for her six month eye exam after our doctor visit yesterday. And I rattled off insurance information and birth date and spelled out her name to the kind woman on the phone, and then something happened. For the first time, I spit “it” out without the slightest of pain.
“Reason for visit,” she asked.
“She has Down syndrome” I answered.
She has Down syndrome. How many times I’ve said this these past four months and felt that pain. That sting that surges deep inside. Nella Cordelia has Down syndrome and, for once, it doesn’t sound like a statement from an obituary. I rattled it off to Karen the receptionist like I was announcing something as simple as a rash, a cold, a fever. I hesitated for just a moment after I said it, waiting for that sting, but it didn’t come. My shoulders rested and I smiled.
“Okee-doke, we’ll see in you July,” she finished. I could sense the smile in her voice. She didn’t flinch. She didn’t speak with apology like so many that obviously feel so sorry for us do. We were just two women on the phone, throwing around the D.S. term like it was no big deal and whether or not Karen the receptionist knew, she was part of a bigger deal for me. Another step along the journey of acceptance.
Oh, it feels so good to settle into this. It feels so good to know that we’ve transformed deep discomfort into a comfortable place of knowing that this is just a part of parenthood. Parenthood that comes with the increased likelihood of facing trials and coming out stronger, wiser, better.
I’ve already been on that journey…
…and this one’s not much different.
We spent the rest of the day as a family, grabbing a burger and fries late in the afternoon at a local cafe, watching Lainey dip her fries, lick the ketchep off and proclaim, “Me lub kep-kep.”
Me lub a lot of things. Like weekends and coffee and knowing that tomorrow is going to be a beautiful day. Isle of Capri, Baby. With a huge crew of our friends…some old, some new.
Me lub Life.