Marley's Birth Story
Bailey and I have been good friends for quite a long time now and I am so happy to have little Marley Mae in my life! 💙
Bailey had a really emotional labor with big news that would be hard for any new parent to take in all at once. She (of course) handled the situation gracefully. Bailey started a blog shortly after Marley's birth to share her birth story and experiences moving forward. She not only shares these intimate details as a form of therapy but as a way to provide encouragement for other parents possibly dealing with similar concerns.
Undoubtedly the happiest day of my life with one very big surprise. I was 38 weeks pregnant and more than ready to meet Marley, and Logan was too, as he headed out the door at 5:45am the last thing he said was, “don’t have that baby until I get home.” WHOOPS! She couldn’t wait. My water broke at 6:45am and I went into panic mode, I was ready but I wasn’t ready ready, my bag wasn’t packed, the house was a mess, and I still hadn’t fully prepared myself mentally for child birth, but none of that mattered because instantly my contractions were only a couple of minutes apart and I could tell it was progressing quickly when my “oh my gods” turned to “HOLY SHITS.” Originally I had told Logan to stay at work for another hour or so while I showered and got the bags ready but it only took 20 minutes or so before I had called him back telling him to leave immediately.
We arrived at the hospital right around 9am where we were admitted instantly and things were getting put in motion to receive my epidural, and as you can imagine I was extremely grateful. It was only after they had injected me with that miracle drug that things started to take a turn, Marley’s heart rate kept falling when I would switch to my left side to keep the drugs flowing evenly. The nurse was calm as she taught Logan all about the machines (because he of course was so curious as to how it all worked) he was keeping an eye on Marley’s heart rate and my contractions when the nurse returned with my Doctor, Marley hadn’t dropped and was still up above my pelvic bone and it was clear the umbilical chord was caught up somewhere around her neck so talks of a c-section began. I was devastated, I wanted to deliver naturally so bad, it was the only way I had imagined it and quickly I realized the seriousness of the issue as I was hooked up to oxygen I could just feel it, something wasn’t right. Sometime around 1:15pm the doctor returned to my room and said we were up next for the O.R. and we would be delivering shortly, my nerves started racing I was emotional and excited but still, I just knew something wasn’t right, I had no idea then what I was in for.
2:35pm Marley was born. “Congratulations, it’s a girl!” but there was no cry, it was quiet and then I heard a nurse say, “she’s holding her breath.” I couldn’t see anything, I couldn’t hear her, my heart felt like it was breaking and immediately I started to cry. Logan had a look of concern all of over his face as he looked over the sheet towards our daughter, I asked repeatedly if she was okay and he would not turn my direction he just stared at her, I could feel it, something was wrong with my daughter but what I didn’t know. A nurse carried her over to me and said, “make it quick, Mom.” and before I knew it Logan and Marley were gone and I was still on the operating table unable to do anything but sit and wonder what in the world was going on. They wheeled me to recovery where I waited on Logan and this is where my journey begins…
Nothing a doctor could have said early on would have prepared me for the news I received in the hours following giving birth to my daughter. Laying on the operating table unable to see my newborn child but overhearing the nurse say she was holding her breath I had already begun to worry about Marley’s health, and it only made sense that I assumed the worst when my doctor and Logan approached me in the recovery room with tears in their eyes, I thought I had lost her, I thought my daughter was dead. My heart was in my stomach until I heard the words “Down syndrome” I felt my heart begin to beat again, I could feel the air in my lungs, I was relieved because the worst had not happened, I still had a living breathing child to call my own and the words Down syndrome had not quite sunk in yet. I just laid there and watched Logan cry, I think I was partly still numb from the drugs, I didn’t have much of a reaction at all until I finally squeezed out the words, “it’s okay, we’re still going to love her” and with that the tears began to fall and the doctor left us alone. Our new life began right then and there. Marley was officially diagnosed a day later after receiving her blood work back from Children’s Hospital where it was confirmed, Marley was born with Trisomy 21.
I’m still so proud of my response and my reaction, I believe I handled that life changing moment with the kind of composure I could have only dreamt about. And that’s just it, I never could have imagined this would be my story in all of my wildest dreams, but this is my story now, I am the mother of a child with special needs. Every day from here on out is about finding the good in the bad and the possible in the impossible. We are not confined to a label, this condition will not dictate my daughter’s life but it will drive Logan and I to work hard as a team to provide her with every single thing she needs to succeed in this world. This developmental issue will not say what she can’t do but will keep us proud of every accomplishment she makes and every goal she reaches. We’re proud to be parents of our daughter with Trisomy 21 and we wouldn’t change it for the world.
There isn’t much alone time in the days following child birth, you’re bombarded with doctors, nurses, family and friends, and although the company can be quite enjoyable at times, it can also feel like a burden when you’re suffering with a gut wrenching feeling of “did I do this to my child?” Everyone wants to congratulate you and wish you well, and you greet those people with a smile and a brave face, but in those days after delivering Marley I wanted to crawl up in a ball and cry until my eyes were dry, and at times I did. When Logan and I were left alone in our room I would look at him with swollen red eyes and apologize.
I’m so sorry I did this to you.
This is all my fault.
I knew I wasn’t meant to have children.
These were just a few of the words pouring from my mouth, I felt completely to blame. Our doctors reassured me that this wasn’t something I could be blamed for, that this is just something that happens at conception. Down syndrome occurs in one out of 800 births each year, it is the most common genetic disorder… but those facts do not comfort me, or at least they did not at first. I was filled with rage and disappointment, not with Marley, but with myself. Could I have been healthier? Should I have stopped drinking coffee? Why didn’t I do more prenatal yoga? But the truth is none of that would have changed a thing because the minute the sperm met the egg something special occurred, an extra chromosome stuck and that’s it, there’s no changing that no matter how well you handle pregnancy, it is what it is. I had all of the tests done and I passed with flying colors, we had multiple ultrasounds and not once did the doctors or nurses detect Marley’s condition. It’s no surprise that I was upset with my doctor at first, it was his job to find these kinds of things so that I could be prepared for what would come after delivery, but it wasn’t his fault, pregnancy is a tricky business and I applaud those doctors who work day in and day out to help bring each and every special child into this world daily. But I was still upset and who could blame me?
I had dreams for my child. I had dreams for myself. I had a plan and that all went to shit (or so I thought) when that doctor walked into my room and told us the results of Marley’s genetic test. My world came crashing down and I’m almost embarrassed to admit that now, but like I said, writing this is my therapy and I don’t feel right in holding back about my feelings. I was crushed. I was the girl who couldn’t even get pregnancy right, the most natural and normal thing a woman can do and I did it wrong. I hated myself for weeks after Marley was born. I cried insistently, I could not stop. I was a failure and I could not see any other way around it. I loved my daughter unconditionally from the moment I knew I was pregnant and nothing after birth could change that, but I could hate myself, I could blame myself for her pain, and I did. I wasn’t able to see Marley for hours after she born, I don’t mean a couple, I mean it was a very long time, it was sometime around 11pm (I delivered at 2:35pm) before someone wheeled me to the NICU so that I could hold her, and I had to beg the nurses to do this for me. I had been carrying this incredible gift inside of me for nearly 10 months and yet after she was born I barely knew what she looked like. In fact I would not have known which child was mine when I was wheeled into the NICU if it wasn’t for Logan taking me to her. No mother should ever have to feel that pain, no one deserves that. When they handed her to me she looked foreign, not like a newborn baby but more like an alien. She was hooked up to monitors with tubes coming out of everywhere and in that moment I felt like the worst mother in the entire world, I felt as though I put those tubes there myself. My head fell down over her’s as I wept. A few minutes later our visit was over and I was once again back in my hospital room where I was left to think, and my god thinking was the worst thing I could do at a time like that. My thoughts were only those of failure and wrongdoing, but lucky for me I had the support and encouragement of the greatest man I’ve ever known, Logan.
Logan since the beginning of our relationship has shown me more love and respect than I ever knew possible. He’s the funny guy, the sweet guy, the guy who would do anything for me, and if it weren’t for him I’m not sure I’d be here now writing this blog with my head held high and a positive outlook on mine and Marley’s future. He’s my best friend and the love of my life and everyday I wake up thankful to know someone like him. Marley’s diagnosis wasn’t easy on him, it was just as hard if not harder on him emotionally. I know he felt helpless like there was nothing he could do to make his two girls feel better, and I wonder if at times he felt like an outsider? It was all about me and Marley and if we were doing okay, doctors don’t always think to turn and ask the father how he’s holding up after the kind of experience we had. It’s always about mom and baby and I wish that were different. He deserves/d all the praise in the world for turning my baby blues around, for reminding me that I am capable and that I am strong enough to overcome any and every obstacle thrown my way, he really is amazing. We went back and forth in those weeks following Marley’s birth, I was busy looking up facts on Down syndrome and why it occurs and the statistics on man and woman and blah blah blah, I should have never done that, it wasn’t healthy for me but I did it anyways because I’m a f*cking human. We’d always try to tell the other, “no it’s my fault,” but we both know now neither one of us are to blame and honestly, we’re completely okay with this new life we have and this perfect amazing adorable little girl we created out of love.
I no longer look at our experience as a devastation but more as a learning curve. When I look at Marley I see perfection, I see an opportunity to become more than just a mother but an advocate for her developmental disorder, and a chance to crush stereotypes given to children like her. I see this as an opportunity to have the greatest love of my life, not only for Marley but her father who has helped me crawl out of the darkness and back into the light.
Read more from Bailey on her blog here
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October is Down Syndrome Awareness month! 💙 Please check out Marley's Little Movers for the 2016 Inclusion Walk. Our goal as a team is to raise $250 for Down Syndrome Connection of Northwest Arkansas. It's such a worthy cause and so dear to our hearts!
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