On the link with my daughter with Down’s syndrome
When my daughter was born, I wondered why I didn’t feel this bond so strong as we were lying next to each other in the hospital.
We received a postnatal diagnosis of Down syndrome when Síofra was born. I wondered if that was why I wasn’t connecting with her. I felt really guilty about it.
My husband and I had desperately wanted to have our own child. We had IVF unsuccessfully. We were delighted to be pregnant. So I really wondered why I wasn’t in love. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to see past her diagnosis. I judged myself very harshly for thinking like that.
I didn’t realize that because I had a Cesarean, I didn’t feel the burst of oxytocin, the natural love hormone, that mothers feel when they give birth vaginally. It creates that feeling of bonding.
I came to understand that it was more likely that the lack of oxytocin in my body and the fact that it had to be removed from my body was the reason I was having trouble bonding with it. . And that it had nothing to do with his extra chromosome.
Like many first-time moms, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a certain way and feel a certain way.
Becoming a mom is a big change in life. I didn’t know how different life was going to be… or how affected I would be.
For me, I had another layer of pressure as I also had to deal with my daughter’s diagnosis. Visits by doctors, nurses, lactation counselors, pediatricians, social workers.
My daughter had to undergo a battery of tests to check her stomach, heart, eyesight, and standard hearing tests. I was given good advice, nice looks, bad advice. I didn’t know how to feel.
In all this, I forget myself. And the fact that I had had major surgery.
For my birthday, two weeks after Síofra arrived in the world, we had our first cardiac appointment. We had to park very far. I walked the best I could to the hospital from the car, only two weeks after the operation. Looking back, I was crazy to do this. I should have been dropped off at the door. In fairness to my husband, that was what he suggested. But I was trying to act normal, whatever it was supposed to be.
That day, I paid as much attention as possible to the news that she had a little heart defect. To be honest, it was all blurry. We didn’t know anyone with Down syndrome and had no information about possible health complications that can arise as a result of their extra chromosome, Down’s syndrome.
So I went through all of this while shedding my skin as a childless independent woman and becoming a mom. Can you imagine
My attitude was just to face what was in front of me. This is a tip I share with many moms who come to my classes now. I wish I could have given myself that advice.
Video: this adorable toddler with Down’s syndrome stands up for the first time! (Buzz60)
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Some people thought we were in denial. Maybe we were. But we had waited a long time for our daughter. So other than the health issues, we were thrilled that she had finally arrived.
At the time, I thought that if we could have stayed in our bubble, we would have been happy. But everyone wanted to talk about Down syndrome, how we felt about my daughter’s diagnosis and health.
To be honest, the questions about her health before the usual questions a mom asks another drove me crazy. I really regretted being asked how his heart was doing. What a strange question of openness. I would have preferred to be asked how she slept.
We have had so many dates. Being a new parent, neither I nor my husband had developed our NO confidence at this point!
Obviously, I knew on so many levels that Síofra had Down syndrome. I told people I didn’t even know about it. Anyone who peeked into the pram has been warned. People at the supermarket checkout. The postman, whoever’s been around to fix something in the house.
But I had a hard time meeting other moms whose kids had the same diagnosis as mine.
Of course, I faced my daughter’s diagnosis every day. I have had to deal with hospital appointments, public health nurse appointments, early intervention visits from social workers and physiotherapists. But on some level, I didn’t want to connect with Down syndrome. I was afraid of what this would mean for her and her future and what it might mean for me.
My mother wanted me to go to a support center and participate in a baby massage class with Síofra. She knew the instructor and she felt it would be good for me. Of course she was right. But don’t tell him that! I will never live it.
Going somewhere with other babies or children with the same diagnosis, I knew I would have to face the reality of what life could be like for Síofra.
All I heard was that there were so many issues that we had to face. I didn’t want to deal with it.
I also had plans for my motherhood. I had things I wanted to do with my little lady. I wanted to go to swimming lessons and do yoga mom and baby. So I did.
Finally, when I was ready, I signed up for a baby massage class at the Down Syndrome Center. It was lovely. We were all in the same boat. First-time moms, second-time moms, all needing to discuss what we had in common, breastfeeding, breastfeeding, sleep, in our case hospital appointments. I have since realized that the same is true for typical mothers of children.
You want to tell your story, you want to hear the stories of other women. You need support. You need empathy. You have to talk everything.
The baby massage happened to be fabulous. It was easy to learn. My daughter loved it. The songs were fun. And it was great chatting with other moms. Síofra liked it and I didn’t feel pressured. I felt supported by Bridget, the instructor. Every week I got to know other moms. Some of them attended the same early intervention service as I did, which was great.
This created a connection with the community of friends of Síofra with Down syndrome. And my connection with their moms.
Often I think back to those first two weeks my daughter was born and we had to deal with the news of her diagnosis. Sometimes I have judged myself harshly in these reruns. I love my daughter. I’m still struggling with his diagnosis. But I wouldn’t change a thing.
I have changed my life since the birth of Síofra. I gave up working in advertising to make sure it could reach its potential. And I switched back to being a prenatal yoga teacher and baby massage instructor. Most recently I created a yoga membership to support parents of children with Down syndrome because I know how difficult it is to commit to a yoga class or any other type of weather for me. . I record the lessons so that parents can review them. I created what I need for others. It changed my life.
I wouldn’t have done this without Síofra’s diagnosis. She opened my eyes and made me more in touch with others. Our experience made me more open to struggles that others might go through.
So if you are having trouble as a first-time mom, that’s okay. This is completely normal. If your child has a diagnosis and you can’t see beyond, don’t worry, you’ll see beyond once you have the information you need.
Take one step at a time and be gentle with yourself. You deserve it.