It's called Ella's story and yet I realized today that all I have done is talk about me. And I am ashamed….
He managed to turn the baby and with a push and a pull, we finally met our sweet squishy Ella Freda on June 8th at 11:29pm. I didn't hear crying right away but it came soon enough and they passed me my precious baby girl. Words cannot explain the emotions I felt in that moment- the complete elation that we had a baby girl and the complete horror, alarm, consternation, distress, surpass, fear, panic that I felt as I gazed into her eyes, saw her flattened bridge, her tiny folded ears and funnel chest.
It's true I saw Down Syndrome before anyone else, but not before I saw my daughter. Her face was puffy, a little mis-shapened and blotchy from getting stuck but she managed to open her eyes and gaze up at me, her momma and there was no crying, no hurt or tears, no fear or hesitation. She was mine, the one I carried as God formed her little body and I was hers. Her little cone head was covered in fine brown hair and she had the most kissably little lips. As I studied all 7 pounds of her, I thought, if she doesn't have Down Syndrome, then I really did get my asian baby after all. Because here is the thing - I thought she looked just like me. Sure, she has an extra fold of skin on her slightly slanted almond eyes, but so do I - one eye more than the other…just like Ella. I have an asian button nose just like Ella and I also have a bridged Palmer Crease, meaning if I bend my fingers forward slightly, it looks just like a single palmer crease which Ella also has but only on one hand, her right hand…just. like. me.
The halls were quiet as we were taken down to the Palliative care room. There was a another baby born in the small rural hospital that night and the room normally given to new parents was taken. This was quite nice for us, as the Palliative care room was well equipped with a coffee maker, my own bathroom with a shower a murphy bed, and a serene view of the prairie's vastness.
Like most mother's who have just met the little one they carried with anticipation for 9 months, I slept very little that night, if at all. The awe doesn't wear off the second time round and I was enamoured with this tiny body that grew inside me for all that time, intimately sharing everything with me from my waking to my sleeping, what I ate, the baths I took, the laughter of her older brother and the everydayness of this One Beautiful Life.
She was so content all night. Every three hours I would lift her out of the plastic bed and unwrap her fragile body and try to stir her from her sleep. She was difficult to wake and when I could finally get her to be interested in eating she would often latch for not even a moment before she would begin to suck vigorously on her lower lip, something she does to this day when she sleeps. I credit only the grace of God that I didn't get frustrated. It took Ella three full days to learn how to nurse, but once she did, she was a pro and it became something which I savoured. Jakob, while he latched quickly, he ate even quicker causing much discomfort for both him and I. He would cry and then I would cry and nursing was something I dreaded. Not with Ella. She was calm and relaxed. She enjoyed it and because of this so did I.
We remained in hospital for her jaundice for the week that followed. And while I was eager to have my family complete in the comfort of our own home, it was nice to have the one-on-one time with with the newest member of our family.Time lay skin on skin, without nagging dishes or a competing two year old, time to nurse without the telephone ringing and time to know perfectly, my little girl from the brushfield spots in her eyes to her tiny little toes. Her skin tone evened and her little cone head became perfectly round. She was perfect and there were many times I thought about how much she looked like Jakob when he was first born. It was at these times I doubted my diagnosis.
...I want to go on and on, but this is getting long already so I will continue another day. All I know is that I don't want to forget. I don't want to get so consumed with how I dealt with "it " that I forget how beautiful and perfect she was. Because to be honest she was the calm that got me through the storm. I became a person I never thought I could be not only because of her.