Eyes Like Sapphires

Life with Down Syndrome

Tag: birth diagnosis

My Most Perfect Moment: Happy Mother’s Day!

I was going to give the sappy posts a rest for a while, but suddenly, it’s Mother’s Day and seems sort of required…

So there’s this moment that just so happens to be the best one of my entire life. And I’m so lucky to have a picture of it. This is it. The exact moment my babies met for the first time.


Though I had dreamt of it for so long, I was nervous and anxious. We have a big gap between our two. It wasn’t what we wanted, it wasn’t what we planned, but if we’ve learned nothing else we know that we have little, if any, control. We had wanted Frankie with all of our hearts and souls, but during my pregnancy I kept thinking What 5.5 year old wants a baby sibling? The consolation was we were *sure* it was a boy!


I called my parents in the morning to tell Tristan the news. “Mommy had the baby! You have a little sister.” A sister? He seemed unfazed, but he’s not good on the phone. He gets that from his dad.

So with the doom and gloom of a Down syndrome diagnosis already hanging thick in the air – by this time the hospital pediatrician had visited us and had told us it was suspected – I was now anxiously waiting for my parents to bring Tristan up to the hospital to meet his baby sister. A moment that I was sure would bring indifference, uncertainty and at worst, disappointment.

But then this happened. He came over to my bed side, I held her out to him and he – unprompted – bent over and kissed her forehead so sweetly and so tenderly. My heart nearly burst.

In just one gesture my little boy showed me the very definition of love and acceptance. He welcomed her into our little family without the slightest hesitation, like he had known her his entire life. He knew in an instant what we were struggling with since she arrived early that morning – she belonged with us.

You know I’d be lying if I said that this meeting of these two beautiful souls put ALL of my fears about Francesca’s future to rest. But, at that moment, I was sure she had a brother, a friend and a protector like no other for all of her life. And I felt a sense of peace enter my heart.

In case I haven’t said it my children are pretty amazing. But yours are, too.

Happy Mother’s Day!




We’ve just crossed the 1 year threshold and it’s almost entirely gone – the uncertainty, the fear and the sadness.  In fact, there’s only one time that sadness comes back to knock the wind out of me and sting my eyes with tears – and it’s not when I think of my baby girl.  It’s only when I think of myself.  See, I don’t feel sorry for Frankie at all, or me, or Seb, or our family and friends.  I only feel sorry for the “before” me –  the me that didn’t know that she was about to have her world changed the instant she looked into her baby’s gorgeous kaleidoscopic sapphire eyes.


I guess I’ve never dealt well with my own naivete. Always embarrassed after the fact at the things I didn’t know, before I knew them. I think of myself planning for the baby I thought I was going to have. Trying not to act excited as I bought a new robe and PJs for the hospital. As I packed travel sized shampoos and toiletries for my stay. Trying to be nonchalant as I bought just one more gender neutral onesie – “It’s definitely a boy, but, you know, just in case…” In the aftermath of Frankie’s birth these things seemed so trivial and inconsequential and I felt like such a silly naive girl preoccupied with it all. I remember feeling angry, thinking to myself how could I have cared about that stuff? How did I think I was just going to walk in there and walk out with a perfectly fine, healthy baby.

And then there was the cringe-worthy “hopeful” phase – nervously googling, taking it to heart when the hospital pediatrician said “It’s probably nothing.” The me that thought “She can’t possibly have it, LOOK at her.” But those eyes were so telling…I knew. And I knew I knew.

And then finally there was acceptance. Maybe I’m not SO embarrassed by this final phase of me. But I still feel stabs in my heart when I think of myself handing my beautiful girl over to each new admirer and simultaneously blurting out “She has Down syndrome.” Each time was cathartic and freeing and met with the most sincere words of love and encouragement, but pierced right through me nonetheless.

There were weeks that followed when I repeatedly crumpled into my husband or my parents still hoping to wake up to find it all a dream. When I muffled my cries so my older son wouldn’t wonder what was wrong. Where I sat on the steps in my robe long after everyone had left for school or work for the day, ugly crying my way through nap time. When my baby girl’s face was wet with my own tears as I pledged to give her the very best in me with Natalie Merchant’s Wonder on repeat in the background.

Somewhere in there it all changed for me. I’ve come to accept that it was – it is! – a process and I try not to be too harsh on myself about the way I’ve dealt with it all. I am still sad for that woman who didn’t know the pain that she was about to encounter on the eve of an occasion when she expected nothing but joy. But now, I feel so lucky to be the woman who gets to experience such joy when she expected such pain.

I guess life is funny like that sometimes…


A Love Story

It’s taken me much longer than I thought to decide to write about our experiences with Frankie’s diagnosis of Down syndrome. It surprised me – writing is usually my go-to form of expression, but there was something about putting it all out there that kept stopping me.  Ultimately, I think the reason was that I didn’t want my little girl to ever know that I felt anything but utter joy at her arrival.  I knew it would take time to work through the fear and to unravel the tangle of emotions and I couldn’t bear the thought of her one day stumbling across my untempered thoughts.

But I realize now – at nearly a year in – that that’s not what this story is about.  It’s not about overcoming hurdles and struggles.  It’s a love story.  One that started differently than I had expected, but has blossomed into something so much greater.


Our girl was not what we had expected and, at the time, that felt devastating. But I understand now that no child is ever what you truly expect or without his or her challenges. And truthfully, she’s so much more than I ever could have imagined!

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