This beautiful Sunday afternoon, I thought I’d take a stab at answering one of the questions that someone sent in. It is a very fitting question for our life circumstances at the present, since it is now something that we have wrestled through not once, but twice.
Were you afraid to conceive again?
The short answer to this is a resounding yes.
The long answer requires a more in-depth explanation.
First, a little clarification.
I, Karyn, was very afraid to conceive again after Jake. I remember thinking, while still in the hospital after having him, “can this really be it? Am I done having children already?”. I recall the mourning ~ mourning the loss of the child I was expecting, and to a lesser degree mourning the loss of future children. In those early days and weeks, I was convinced that we were done, because I was too scared to go through it all again.
My husband, Curtis, on the other hand, never felt the same way. He, in his wisdom, saw things through a different lens from the very beginning. He was the calm in the midst of the storm. He was absolutely convinced from the moment Jake was born that his diagnosis should in no way hinder us from having more children.
Second, a little explanation.
After living with our beautiful baby boy Jake for a few months, experiencing first-hand what it was like to begin the journey of raising a child with Down syndrome, and getting to know Jake, the fears of raising a child with a disability began to dispel. The cloud of uncertainty (although it still exists in part and always will) began to lift, and I started to realize that life was not only possible, but was also pretty fantastic. I had a baby boy who was my pride and joy, and although life seemed more ambiguous and possibly more challenging, we decided that the challenge was worth it.
In discussing our family, we also came to feel very strongly about wanting siblings. Siblings who will act like siblings in every sense of the word: who will love each other, dislike each other, play together, fight together, stand up for each other, annoy each other, respect each other, and ultimately value and cherish each other.
And so, although I still harbored many fears and uncertainties, we decided that they weren’t enough to stop us from pursuing the family we had hoped and dreamed about.
Third, a little conclusion.
We love Jake, and think he is the perfect fit to our family.
I have wrestled deeply with his diagnosis, but at the end of the day, I. Would. Not. Change. Him. We decided in our minds early on that we wanted a bigger family, so with a little fear and trepidation we went ahead, and trusted that we would be able to handle any outcome.
I would love to say that we made the decision and never looked back. That would not be entirely true however, at least on my part. Sitting in the ultrasound room as we did the pre-screening tests on both Cole and this new baby was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. As much as I would like to be able to say that I would be completely fine with another diagnosis of Down syndrome, the cold hard truth is that I would still struggle with it.
Despite the fears, however, I am confident that if we were to roll the genetic-lottery dice and come up with another extra chromosome, we would come to love that child just as much as any of our other children. And so we continue forward on our journey, not without fear, but despite it.