Today we get to meet sweet baby Charlie! Seriously, how adorable is he? And he has three big sisters. Can you imagine all the loving he gets from being the baby in their house? Charlie’s mom, Alissa, has graciously taken the time to share a few of her thoughts and experiences since welcoming Charlie just seven months ago. You can find Alissa on Instagram at @alissa512.
How did you find out Charlie had Down syndrome?
Charlie is our fourth child. We have 3 girls and wanted the sex of our (probably) last baby to be a surprise. We had a normal pregnancy and I went into labor 10 days before the due date. We had a successful VBAC and were overjoyed to hear the news, “It’s a BOY!” Everything seemed to be okay until Charlie saw the pediatrician at a few hours old. He seemed to be gone longer than normal. At that point the doctor came to talk to us and said that our baby showed characteristics of Trisomy 21. I held on to my husband and we both cried. We didn’t want it to be true and still had some hope that they were mistaken.
What were some of the emotions you had when you got the news?
The first emotions we had were of denial. Our little boy looked so perfect and so like his older sisters. We also felt grief and fear. It felt like all I had known was crashing down around me. We also felt thankful that Charlie was so healthy. His heart showed no sign of problems. We had many family members crowd into our hospital room minutes after we received the news. We were celebrating the birthday of one of our daughters at the hospital. Only my mom had been with us when we had heard the news. We decided not to tell our family that morning. We still didn’t want to believe it and wanted them to see Charlie just as a baby and not as a diagnosis.
How did Charlie’s sisters respond to the news of Down syndrome?
I was very concerned as to how my daughters would take the news. We have a 6 year old, 4 year old, and 2 year old. They were looking so forward to meeting the new baby and were so excited to know that it was a brother! They kissed and hugged him and couldn’t stop smiling. I wanted to be the one to tell our girls that there was something different about their brother but I didn’t know how and I didn’t want to scare them by crying around them. We received a book from our local Down syndrome support group called We’ll Paint the Octopus Red. It did a good job of saying that there is nothing wrong with your little brother but it will take him longer to do things. They took the news in stride and it did nothing to change how they saw Charlie. They continue to love and adore him. Having my girls has helped me to see Charlie as a normal baby and not to get so stuck in my sadness.
If I could go back to the days and weeks after first hearing the diagnosis of Down syndrome, I would tell myself…
Just enjoy him! He is a baby and needs your love just like any other baby. Don’t worry too much about the future. Yes, there will be additional challenges but none of us can know the future for any of our children. Allow other people to help you. For me bringing home my fourth baby in 6 years was a challenge anyway. I would take all of the help people offer. It’s okay to grieve the baby you thought you would have. But don’t get so stuck that you can’t accept and love the baby you’ve had all along.
The most wonderful part of knowing my little boy so far is just cuddling him. He is the cuddliest and sweetest baby. He is so happy and healthy and such a perfect part of our family!
Click below to read all the stories from Down Syndrome Awareness Month!
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