Friday, July 9, 2010

How to Survive

A good friend welcomed a beautiful, healthy baby boy a few days ago, and I didn't go to visit them at the hospital. At first, I thought it was simply because I couldn't go when John suddenly had to go in to work, but then I realized I felt relieved. I am beyond overjoyed for my friend and her family. This little baby is a miracle for them and I cannot wait to meet him. But my heart was suddenly heavy. Same hospital, same delivering midwife... but not the same outcome. She is there with her baby. In her arms. And with friends coming to see her and wish her well. She is going home with him, and they are content.

And I realized that my experience, in the same hospital, with the same midwife, was too different for me to walk in the doors again without tinges of sadness. I was alone, with no baby next to me, processing the shock of a diagnosis in fight-mode. I still think I'm in that mode - brave face, strong heart, positive outlook. I am not jealous of a healthy baby or wistful that my baby has Down syndrome and hers doesn't. Mirabel is a joyful-jolly-jubilant addition to my life and I am head over heels about her. But I do think there are some unprocessed emotions that got shoved in the nether regions of my gut the very second I heard the words "Down syndrome."

Survive. Make it through. Go. We can do this. Look at her! She's amaaaazing.

So. That day I started feeling a little blue and I couldn't shake it. I didn't join my friends when they went to meet the new little guy. Instead, the girls and I got out of the house and went down to the restaurant where their daddy was bartending. Once we got there, Luciya had to go to the bathroom, so I left Mirabel in her car seat at the table and took Luciya into the stall.

"You go first, mama - "
"Okay, " I said,
" - so I can dance."

And Luciya danced in the stall while I went pee, with her quirky little twirls and wrist rolls, her squats and flounces. When it was her turn to use the toilet she instructed me, "Now you dance, Mama." And so I did. And then we washed our hands, still bopping, and Luciya said, "Mama, dance back to the table, that will be fun." And I did.

The two of us shimmied and bobbed back to the table, sideways diner glances be damned, and when we returned to the table I felt so much lighter. And it didn't escape me that the song that was playing through the restaurant speakers was "Crazy" by Seal (which is, in my opinion, one of the best songs ever in the history of everything). The chorus of the song goes

"We're never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy."

Dance. Shimmy. Enjoy.

Here goes. I feel better already.

We all do.

{And many, many, sweet congratulations to Christina and family. We love you.}


Tara said...

What a sweet post! We all get down about Down syndrome, sometimes. I think some of the emotion stuffing I did was to protect Eon. I didn't want anyone pitying us or feeling sorry for him, so we plastered smiles on our faces and tackled the world. Sometimes the tears come, but I've found, like you, that dancing is way better than crying!

TUC said...

Emily, I honestly think it is a bit of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that gets triggered by returning to the scene. It happens to me now and then because we live fairly close to the hospitals my daughter was in. When I drive by them, I feel the knot in my stomach.

Oh but you are so right, the way to shake that knot loose is to dance and to enjoy those smiles.

Elaine said...

I read this several times and felt new emotions each time. There is profound grace in acceptance - but it's also cathartic to acknowledge that you miss what could have been - and to cherish what Mirabel brings to our lives. I join many who want to dance with you.

Ashley said...

I'm so glad you are acknowledging your feelings and allowing yourself to feel them! I give you HUGE credit for admitting them to yourself and all of us (especially Christina!). We love you guys, and I wish I could have danced with you two that night when I drove around looking for you :).

Christina Babin said...

Love you my friend.