Gigi helped me plant flowers yesterday in our front yard flower beds. She took her shovel and swept the dirt around imitating my every move. Then I gave her a small watering can filled with water where instead of letting the water sprinkle gently on the flowers she dumped it. After she drenched all the flowers we moved to the back deck so I could do more planting in decorative flower pots. I filled up her water table to occupy her so that I could finish my project. She splashed and sang and got soaked as expected. Typical of three-year-olds, I guess.
When I finished my planting and cleaned up I suggested that it was time for her to take a bath. Gigi loves baths so she dropped everything and marched inside leading the way upstairs.
“Hold on, hold on,” I say. “I need to get your towel and clothes.”
“Okay!” she responds.
I started the water in the tub and and knelt down next to her to help her get undressed. Sometimes with these little everyday tasks I wonder, could she undress herself if she didn’t have Down syndrome? I don’t even know anymore what’s ‘normal’. But it really doesn’t matter. Life has adjusted around every ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ at this point and it’s our normal.
Standing there in her diaper with her bare belly sticking out she began to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star getting almost every word right. Is that normal for a typical three-year-old? Again, why does it matter?
Then I had a flashback to a little more than four years ago of the moment we told her sisters that they were going to be big sisters. They were taking a bath and we decided to show them a printed copy of our ultrasound. Having just had our 10 week ‘first-look’ appointment earlier that day, everything appeared great. The nuchal fold was within normal range. Other measurements on the ultrasound looked good too. Because I was over the age of 35 they recommended that we see a genetic counselor, so we did and she told us all seemed fine. She said that our odds were 1 in 100 of having any anomalies. It was suggested that I get a blood test to confirm, but I said I’d think about it and I walked out relieved. So based on all of that we excitedly told the girls that evening that we were having a baby. We were thankful that they were thrilled. “Is it a girl? I hope it’s a girl,” they said.
I smiled as I thought of that memory, then I quickly wondered, when was that? A week after that first-look ultrasound I did decide to take the blood test, just to confirm all the good news. Only days later I found out it was in fact a girl, a girl with Down syndrome. It was on a Thursday when we received that phone call, I remember that. But the date? It won’t stick in my head. It never has. All I can remember is that it was the end of May.
I had to go to my calendar to figure it out… May 22. Four years ago. An anniversary that would have come and gone today if I didn’t have that little memory in the bathroom yesterday. An anniversary that passed me right by last year.
None of what I felt or was worried about that day four years ago matters today. The experience was invaluable in that it taught me that no matter how prepared I try to be, I can’t prepare for everything but it is still okay. I wasn’t prepared for this diagnosis, yet we are fine, so fine that evidently I easily forget about that day. It also taught me that hard times don’t last forever and oftentimes things aren’t as bad as they seem. This is an anniversary that isn’t worth remembering. An occasion that I easily forget because just like Gigi’s milestones and where she is compared to other three-year-olds, it doesn’t matter.