Welcome to Our House - The Analogy ©

Having a baby is special. For some, it’s a lifelong dream, for others, a wonderful surprise. Either way, many of us have thought about taking this journey and whether it’s planned or a pleasant surprise, we all have preconceived ideas about what our child will look and be like. But what if it isn’t what we planned or expected? This is a short story I have written for parents who have or are expecting an exceptionally special child.

Welcome to our House – An analogy

After many months of dreaming, you finally decide it’s time. You are going to build that perfect house of your dreams. You have saved and saved, and now it’s time to put your plan into action. You find a wonderful, perfect piece of land in the city. It’s exactly what you are looking for – because it’s the plan that everyone talks about. You envision the all brick house sitting on luscious green grass, surrounded by a white picket fence. Inside is a marble foyer leading into a family room with beautiful oak hardwood floors. Granite lines the kitchen counter tops and there is an island sink in the middle. Upstairs has four perfect bedrooms and the master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and an enormous walk-in closet, of course. It’s truly a dream come true, and it’s only a matter of time. You purchase the land and think to yourself, in nine short months, you will have it all.

But suddenly your agent calls to tell you, the land is not properly zoned, and the city has not approved it for building your perfect home. They have instead, given you land in the country, where an old country home sits. You are absolutely devastated, your dreams vanishing right before your eyes. You know you can’t back out now, you need a place to live, and despite it not being what you wanted, you know that somehow you will manage and that you can continue on.

You tell everyone what has happened, and everyone is disappointed, some even offering their condolences. You know that everyone else has a nice city home, and that was what you had planned, but you have to come to terms with the fact that you must learn to live in the country.

You go to see the property every month until closing and something funny happens. You start to fall in love with the place. The air is fresh, it’s peaceful and serene. There’s a pond on the land, and the house, though not a new all brick home, is quaint, and has lots of hidden potential. You soon realize it’s not a awful place, it’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than the city, less noisy and flamboyant, but it’s beautiful none the less. And in the process, you soon realize you may even get to meet some new and wonderful neighbours.

Its closing day and you suddenly find yourself full of anticipation, but you are still a little worried. After all, it isn’t what you had originally hoped for, and the house may need some repairs. But you are determined to accept it, and tackle everything one step at a time. You open the front door, and suddenly you are thrilled with what you see. The house is lovely, and has lots of character. The rooms are smaller but it’s decorated with beautiful attention and detail. The kitchen has marble instead of granite, and the bathroom has a soaker tub instead of a Jacuzzi. There isn’t a walk-in closet in sight, but the rooms all come with an indescribable view. Somehow, you just know that it was always meant to be and that this is now home.

This is my analogy of what it will be like for people who discover that they will be caring for a baby with Down syndrome. For us, it is not a terrible place to be, it is a journey full of surprises, milestones and discovery like any other child. And as the story suggests, sometimes it’s only a matter of ‘point of view’, and surprisingly, once you have been there, you don’t want to be anywhere else. The journey, like all others doesn’t come without some bumps in the road, but once you find your way, it’s all about the place you discovered, in most cases - quite by random chance
Author: Sandi Graham-McWade, Copyright

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Journal - Pregnancy Week 16 (20Mar09)

This post is going to be moved to the beginning of my blog sometime later, (so that the order will make sense to others in future) but for now, I will leave the post marked with today's date.

This is an excerpt from my book "Welcome to Our House".  It is Chapter 7 - The results.  I am posting this chapter so that people can have an idea of what we went through when we found out, and also to give you all a sneak peak of my book.  (I suppose this would be the chapter I would choose to read when I have a reading.)  Please remember the work is copyrighted material and not to be reproduced anywhere without my direct consent.

Chapter 7 – The results.

The next week following the amniocentesis was long and uneventful.  I had spent the first few days after the procedure, relaxing and trying to take it easy as recommended by the hospital.  I was ordered not to lift or do anything strenuous, and knowing this, I took the opportunity to get some bed rest.  The next Monday was the 16th of March, and I was starting a functional rehabilitation program for my back.  The program was scheduled for six weeks, Monday to Friday.  I was happy for some distraction but I was not pleased that I would be doing this program while I was pregnant.  The program was mandatory because I had been off work on injury compensation.  I had little choice about the attendance, so I went as ordered.  During the first week of the program I had missed three of the five days due to a prenatal appointment and two prior court appointments left over from when I was working on the road.  The only days I had been able to attend in the first week was Monday and Friday.  Since my week was so busy, I was relieved when Friday came.

I arrived home at 4:00 pm, and just got settled when the phone rang.  It was 4:15 pm.  “Hello Sandi?  It’s Ines from the Genetics Clinic.  Do you have a moment to talk?  I have the results from your Amniocentesis.”  I was kind of surprised to hear from the counsellor, since we were told at the hospital after the test, the results usually take three to four weeks, unless there was a problem.  I suddenly had a nagging sinking feeling in my stomach.  I had taken the phone call in my office where John was already sitting using his computer.  I told Ines that I could take her call.  “Sandi, the results of the amniocentesis is that the baby has Down syndrome.”

The next few moments seemed like an eternity.  It was probably only a matter of seconds, and in those seconds I started to cry.  I still had the phone against my ear, and I had to remember I had Ines on the other end of the phone.  “Sandi, is there someone there with you?  Do you need me to call anyone for you?”  She asked, clearly not wanting to distress me any further.  I told her that I was already with my family and that no further phone calls would be necessary.  I asked her one last question before I hung up the phone.  “Do I need to come in to see anyone?”  She gave me an appointment date and time to speak with the head Geneticist, Doctor Velsher.

I hung up the phone and immediately collapsed into John’s lap.  I cried so hard, I don’t believe I had ever cried that hard in my life.  John was going crazy.  He didn’t even know what happened.  He would later tell me he thought someone in my family had died.  At that point in time a part of my heart seemed to break.  The first thing I thought was: this couldn’t be happening to me.  The next thing I thought was: yes, it was happening to me, but why?  Why me?  “What’s happened Sandi, What’s wrong?”  John was extremely worried.  “The baby has Down syndrome.”  My words were so black and white and so very sad, filled with sobs and tears.  John didn’t say a word.  He just held me and stroked my hair.  What I didn’t know at that moment was that he was actually relieved.  There was no tragic death, nothing terribly wrong with the baby or pregnancy, just Down syndrome.  I was so consumed with sadness, that I had no idea at the time what John was thinking about.  I would later learn John had a very different outlook about the result at the time.  I cried in John’s arms for about an hour.  I needed to get it all out, all the anger, all the sadness, everything.  I would deal with the questions and reasoning later.  For that moment, it was all about me and my little dark world.  I remember thinking in that darkness, 1 in 385.  Yes, I was that 1 in 385.  How sad was that?  When I finally let go of John, I looked him square in the eye and asked him if he still wanted us to keep the baby.  I was so fearful that he would have changed his mind, but at that point I was ready for anything.  Nothing could be worse than what I had just heard.  “Of course” he told me.  “I told you, we can deal with it.  It will be no big deal.”  Although I needed to hear John say that, I was still lost, I knew it couldn’t be that simple, and I was hoping that if the future was to be difficult, he would always remember that he was willing to endure it.  Several things ran in and out of my mind.  Terrible things like that John would blame me for the diagnosis.  That, if something should go wrong between John and I for some reason, he would leave me alone in this situation to raise our baby alone.  But, John never faltered.  “I need to tell my mother.” I told John.  He nodded and let go of me.  I knew one of the reasons I was so sad was because I couldn’t bear to think about an abortion.  I was so caught in between what I thought was a rock and a hard place.  I knew I couldn’t terminate, yet I was so stunned by the diagnosis.  I knew nothing specific about Down syndrome at that point.  I had spent a little time with some special needs children years ago and I had the vaguest ideas about what Down syndrome was about.  I had hoped my mother could be the support I was looking for.

My mother was sitting at her computer, and it appeared she had some idea that I had received a very distressing phone call.  It would have been nearly impossible for her not to have heard me bawling my eyes out a floor beneath her.  “The baby has Down syndrome.” I told her.  “Oh Sandi, I am so sorry.”  She gathered me up in her arms, and held onto me while I cried my heart out for a second time.  She stroked my back and didn’t let go.  Sometimes, a mother’s touch is all you need to put things into perspective.  I started to think, instead of react - until she said her next statement.  “You can always try again soon.”  I let go of my mother and gave her a questioning look.  What did she mean by that?  I was sure I had made it quite clear to everyone before the amniocentesis that I was no longer able to consider termination as an option.  Something inside of me snapped.  “I am not having an abortion Mom.”  My mother tried to be sensitive but I wasn’t hearing the words she had to say.  In between my boiling rage, I heard her point out certain thoughts to me like: what kind of life would the child have, our life would be extremely difficult and so on.  My mother wasn’t trying to be negative; she was only trying to point out things that she thought she understood.  Unfortunately, her ideas and thoughts were very out of date.  My mother’s world at that point was very black and white.  For her it was or it wasn’t, in most cases there was no in between.  Before I could take anymore, I turned to look at her and said, “I came up to tell you about the baby, not to ask you what I should do.  I realize that what I need from you is your support.  I will probably need your help going forward, and I need to know if I can count on you.”  The words just flew out of my mouth, but I meant them.  I looked at my mother who looked as dumbfounded as I felt.  “I support whatever you want to do Sandi.” She finally said.  I hugged my mother again, and this time it felt right.  In that moment, I realized that I had endured a dark moment, as horrible as it was, I was entitled.  I also realized that I was not going to allow myself anymore tears.  This baby needed me and now was the time.  I needed to do what I did best.  Research.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this little part of my book.  So far I have completed approximately 51 pages of my manuscript but there is still much more to do.  Feel free to leave a comment below in the blog.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Sandi..I finally sat down to read some of your blog. words cannot even describe how beautiful it is. the set up, the photos, the heartfelt mementos like the valentine and the little narrations below hunter's pix. but i just read your excerpt about when you found out the news from genetics. I don't know what to say....other than a piece of my heart changed, for the better, reading that. Thank you for sharing such an intimate, raw, personal experience.


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