After. A period of time referred to after a huge life change. Life was never the same after...
Big ones for me include after Mark boarded a plane to move to Russia for 7 months shortly after we first fell in love and I knew I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life. Or, our engagement after he proposed on Mount Sugarloaf.
Other afters include the first positive pregnancy test, then the second, then the third. After learning that Alexander was a boy, after learning Sophia was a girl, and our Level II ultrasound today.
Ultrasounds (USs) have been very traumatic for us. With Alexander, they were concerned about the size of his head. They thought it was too big and monitored him carefully. It is big. He was 9 lbs and was stuck in labor forever, coming out only after a suction cup on his noggin and the NICU doc giving me one last chance before a C-section (28 hours 40 minutes of labor - 4 hours 40 minutes hard labor and pushing). With Sophie, we were told she was a girl, then within moments that she most likely had Ds. We learned of soft markers, not the kind made by Crayola, (her heart, bowel, her duodenal atresia, nuchal fold measurement, fluid on her right kidney, limb length). We were taken to an empty room with a box of tissues. We were given grim statistics and an option to terminate. Subsequent ultrasounds with Soph (eventually weekly) measured my low amniotic fluid, which was weird given her duodenal atresia. USs were not joyous events that many other parents experience. They were hard, life altering ones, and they always led to a new - after.
Fear. As with Sophie, we will love and accept with open arms any child given to us. But, that does not take away the worry I've had. It's not necessarily fear of Ds, because we've become experts as all parents of kids with Ds must be. However, since every kid who has Ds is different, with different strengths and different challenges, having Sophie does not make us an expert on another child with Ds. See the dicotomy? Becoming parent to a child with special needs also opens your eyes to the many, many other (and scarier) things that can happen.
A bigger concern has been my own reactions and feelings about this new child. If this new baby has no special challenges, and I am happy, how does that effect Sophie or the many other families I've come to love who have kids with special needs? If this child does have challenges, how will I cope, how this child's needs effect Alexander and Sophie? Sometimes I think just too damn much.
Yesterday as I counted down the last hours of this period of time called "Before," or the last day before our level II US and Maybe getting some answers, I was a mess. Something changed in the night and I woke with such a feeling of calmness and peace, that everything would be ok, whatever may come. I've learned not to question when this happens, but to simply be grateful.
As with both kids, we skipped the quad screen and any other testing prior to the mid-pregnancy US. With my "history" I went straight to a level II and meeting with the perinatologist today. Mark was with me and the kids were having a blast at home with Cathy and the kids (THANK YOU)! Our tech, Miss J. was an angel and the doc was great.
Suffice it to say, there were limited statistics today. No discussions of our 'options.' No amnio. Just a repeat level II US in a few months and a congratulations. Kids with Ds can and have been born after USs that miss soft markers or even heart defects. This was a targeted US and I am confident in Miss J's skills and Dr. K's knowledge. Even if Maybe has Ds, or another challenge, so far we have no physical concerns. (I just hate the term birth defects).
And I am happy. And I am newly confident that this happiness takes NOTHING away from my love and acceptance of Sophia or our friends with special needs. I feel a bit like the Grinch who's heart grew three sizes that day. I'm learning. I'm growing. And the balance of males and females has officially tipped in our home. Of that, there is no doubt. As for Maybe's sex, well, I'm keeping that to our family for at least tonight. I've never been really good at keeping secrets this good and really, we've moved into our newest "After." Wanna come with? Maybe tomorrow...