The Day We Met Our Little Girl

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The Day We Met Our Little Girl

Four weeks ago, my life changed forever.  My husband Charlie and I tried for two years to get pregnant, and last April, we finally saw that thin pink line. We couldn’t be more excited!  The baby we longed for would be here before Christmas.  We found out she was a little girl, and started planning right away, pink nursery and all. Because of our infertility issues, we had almost a dozen ultrasounds, none of which signaled a problem. I loved being pregnant and couldn’t have been happier. We decided to name her Lila.  Four letters that were very close to the way my husband signs his emails to me…LILY (Latricia I Love You) but with a little more sass 🙂
Our little Miss Lila was breech so we scheduled a c-section for December 12th. Her room was ready, my parents were in town, everything was perfect. At 2 am that day, just three hours before we had to be at the hospital, I wrote this to my little girl…

Dear Lila,

Today we will meet you after more of than two years of praying that you would find us. From the moment I found out you were growing in my belly, I knew you were special and would change our lives forever. You are already so blessed with so many people who love you, especially a Daddy who will support, protect and encourage you every day of your life. If I could give you one piece of advice on this day before your birth, it would be to trust that everything happens for a reason. It’s something your perfectionist Momma struggles with, but I am still learning every day. And always look for the best in people. Besides, I already know you are the best of me and we haven’t even met yet. Thank you for already changing our lives sweet little girl.

Love,
Your Momma

Little did I know, how true those words would become in just a few hours.


The c-section went great! When I saw Lila for the first time, my first thought was “She is beautiful!” but she didn’t look like how I’d imagined.  I figured that no baby really ever did. But the nurses could tell something, I could feel it. We all celebrated with family and friends packed into the hospital room waiting for their first glimpse of this anticipated little lady.  But 3 hours later my world came to a stop. A nurse came into the room and told us Lila showed some soft signs of Downs Syndrome and they wanted to test to be sure. I felt everyone staring at me.  I zoned in and out because of the drugs I was on following the surgery. I couldn’t concentrate on what they were telling me. We would know for sure in 24 hours.

That time is a blur. People stopped taking pictures, tears were everywhere.  My first words to my husband… ” she is still ours, we will love her no matter what,” but inside I was numb. We grasped on to the hope that maybe they were wrong, but in my heart I knew better.
When the results came back positive about 24 hours later, I asked everyone to leave the room, I couldn’t handle their grief on top of my own, the weight was crushing. My husband and I laid on the hospital bed with our little girl between us, holding each other and not saying anything for an hour. We were trying to wrap our heads around the news. Our lives would never be the same, many of our plans…out the window.

For two days, I didn’t shed a tear. I think I felt like, if I did, it would mean I wasn’t grateful for my little girl. As we told the rest of our family and friends, many offered comforting words of advice and support, but my eyes stayed dry. Charlie kept telling me how strong I was, but really I was a coward, refusing to let it sink in.  Until our last night in the hospital, when the nurses encouraged me to walk around the hallways of the hospital to help release some the air trapped in my stomach from the surgery. All of a sudden, I saw people pouring in and out of these other rooms with Congratulations balloons and stuffed animals. I lost it, and “ugly-face” cried in the middle of the hallway.  My room was filled with gifts and family too, but each was tiptoeing around Lila’s diagnosis, not sure what to say, often with sad smiles of an uncertain future. I couldn’t blame them, I was acting the same way.  These other visitors were jubilant, with bright but exhausted smiles, full of plans and goals. I felt like they had stolen my joy. I feared that Lila’s birthday would forever be in my head as the best and scariest day of my life. A nurse we met at a prenatal class rushed up to ask if I was in pain. In fact,  my heart was in so much pain I couldn’t speak. All I could manage to say was, “jealous.” I wanted that excitement back from the hour before her birth, from the previous 9 months. I wanted to start over, to have it all go as I planned, I wanted life to be fair. I longed to be pregnant again to have that unfiltered joy.  My mind told me that I was being punished for all of the times when the road might have been too easy. I will feel guilty for these feelings probably for the rest of my life.

That night a friend sent the poem “Welcome to Holland.” It told of an unexpected trip, when your heart was full and your bags packed for another destination. It spoke of the grief for your perfect plans and the story already written in your mind for the child you didn’t have. It was the first time I felt understood and not alone. It was my permission slip to feel, to shed the numbness of the previous days, to accept the challenge ahead and to love my little girl that I spent years praying to meet. That night we sent an email to coworkers and posted on Facebook about Lila’s Downs. We told everyone not to tell us they were sorry, because we weren’t.

I still wonder if she could sense the sadness that sometimes still grips me when we go to another doctor, hear news of a friends perfect new arrival, or get a glimpse of something she probably won’t ever do. And then I remember the words a dear friend said to me in the hospital. She said, “Lila is not just your gift, she was sent here to teach us all.” My little Lila, an example of faith and hope and love before she was even a few hours old. A blessing I pray for the patience to appreciate every single day. My child. A gift most apparent when I can hear my husband talking to her from the other room, with so much pure connection that I fall more in love with him more everyday. I know she will be the bond that will define our family.

And ever since, we are learning.  Finding out the successes of other children and adults with Downs.  The barriers they are breaking.  The paths my little girl will one day follow.  She is a gift that, I pray, I am lucky enough to receive to its fullest.  She is what my life was meant to be. I am forever reminded of the words I wrote to her, in the hours before her birth…”Always look for the best in people. Besides, I already know you are the best of me and we haven’t even met yet. Thank you for already changing our lives sweet little girl.”

Latricia

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39 responses »

    • Latricia and Charlie~As I sat reading this in front of my computer, I absolutely thought my heart would explode in my chest with the emotions I am feeling. God is so good. He certainly knows what he is doing in your life and in all of ours. What a blessing to read these words and see your beautiful creation in sweet Lila! I cannot wait to meet her in person and to watch her throughout the years growing and placing special blessings on everyone, even those she has yet to meet. Thank you for the honesty and candor and love with which you wrote this. I feel honored to have you all as friends. Love and Blessings~ Sheri O’Neal

  1. I found this, and had to send it along. I’ve renamed it:

    A LETTER FROM LILA –

    Dear Mommy and Daddy, Please keep this letter from me in a place where you can read it and re-read it when things are rough and you are feeling down.

    1. Please don’t expect too much from me as a newborn baby, or too much from yourselves as parents. Give us both six weeks as a birthday present, six weeks for me to grow, develop, mature, and become more stable and predictable – six weeks for you to rest and relax and allow your body to get back to normal.

    2. Please feed me when I am hungry, I never knew hunger in your womb, and clocks and time mean little to me.

    3. Please hold, cuddle, kiss, touch, stroke, and croon to me. I was always held closely in your womb and have never been alone before.

    4. Please forgive me if I cry a lot. I am not a tyrant who was sent to make your life miserable, the only way I can tell you I am not happy is with my cry, bear with me and in a short time, as I mature, I will spend less time crying and more time socializing.

    5. Please take the time to find out who I am, how I differ from you and how much I can bring you. Watch me carefully and I’ll tell things which sooth, console and please me.

    6. Please remember that I am resilient and can withstand the many natural mistakes you’ll make with me. As long as you make them with love, I cannot be harmed.

    7. Please don’t be disappointed when I am not the perfect baby you expected nor be disappointed with yourselves when you are not the perfect parents.

    8. Please take care yourself; eat a balanced diet, rest, and exercise so that when we are together you have the patience and energy to take care of me. The cure for a fussy baby is more rest for Mom.

    9. Please take care of your relationship with each other. What good is family bonding if there is no family left for me to bond with….

    10. Keep the “big picture” in mind. I’ll be like this for a very short time, though is seems like forever to you now. Although I may have turned your life upside down, please remind yourselves that things will be back to normal before long.

    ……….Enjoy me – I’ll never be this little again!

    TEARS ARE OPTIONAL.
    CALVIN

  2. Latricia, these words are beautiful and so moving. You already show the passion and live that only a mother can possess. How lovely.

  3. A friend of mine just directed me to your post. Just beautiful! The words you write and your daughter! I am a mother of 4. My oldest, Bailey has Down syndrome. She is just amazing and wonderful and fabulous. She is in 4th grade and has been in a typical classroom all through school. She is reading on grade level, has a close group of friends and is the BEST big sister ever. I know you will have hard days. I still do, but the good days are blessings beyond words! Feel free to write if you have questions. I have tons of resources I’d love to share, but don’t want to seem weird and creepy 🙂

    This is just the beginning of a fabulous journey for you! Soak it in!

    Jessica
    Arlington Heights, IL
    thankfuljess@yahoo.com

  4. I found your blog through a friend’s link and just wanted to write you. Your words touched my heart. I have a one year old little boy & everyday I am so thankful that he is healthy & happy. I can’t imagine all that you have gone through. I wish all of God’s blessings on you & your family. Thank you for sharing your story. Your post inspired me.

  5. You are an excellent writer! What a beautiful gift your daughter is :0) just a few hours ago a friend and I were speaking about kids with special needs, and I was sharing a story about a little girl with Downs who touched my heart so much that she changed it forever. She was the youngest in a family with whom my family was very close, so we all got to grown up together. The impression that she made on all of us helped our hearts grow with great affection toward all people who were “different”. In my life I have gravitated several times toward jobs and volunteer programs where I have had the pleasure of working with people with Downs. They are angels on earth. Pure spirits so full of genuine love and joy. A blessing for sure. A gift. She is lovely and so lucky to have you, and you her. Blessings on you all… (there is a great book- spiritual fiction- written by a man who is a national expert on the topic of “heaven” in the Bible. In his story he writes about “lectures” given in heaven by certain spirits who were most like God during their time on earth-all the souls in heaven want to hear the amazing, profound things they have to share about life and love- they were people with Downs :0)

  6. Latricia – such a beautiful note and Lila is lucky to have both you and Charlie. Can’t wait to meet baby Lila! (hopefully soon!)

  7. How beautiful Latricia! Your beautiful little blessing is going to make a difference to many people in her life. Thankyou for sharing your journey.

  8. Wow! A friend directed me to your blog and what a beautiful writer you are! Your post makes me tear up. You have a beautiful family and your story is incredible. Miss Lila is a lucky little girl to have such amazing parents! 🙂

  9. Beautifully said Latricia! I have always loved you and always will! I look forward to seeing your Beautiful Lila, Your mother is GLOWING with pride of a new Nonna!! It is excitting to know I can watch her grow up by your beautiful words of truth and love! I look forward to hearing more about Lila! Love to all 3 of you!!! love carolyn shular

  10. Latricia,

    This is such a self-less, so real and such a touching post. I wish you and your family all the best. Thank you so much for your honesty. You, your husband and Lila both are truly blessed to have each other.

    Meredith Hudson Priest

  11. Latricia,

    All I can say is wow. You are the most loving person and mother that Lila could have. God chose you and Charlie to be her parents for a reason. Thanks for sharing your story. I no longer have dry eyes.

    Love you,

  12. Sweet Latricia … I want you to know that the very first time I met you, I just felt in my heart that you were a very unique and special young lady. You radiated joy and happiness. This was at the Tennessee Junior Miss (Distinguished Young Women) program in Cleveland, TN a couple of years ago. You were the emcee and did an outstanding job. At the time my husband and I were very involved with the program. Sometime after the state program, I contacted you about serving as the emcee for our local program. You confided in me that you and your husband were really trying to have a baby … and that if you were successful in becoming pregnant …. you weren’t sure if you could emcee the program. So … we agreed to just “wait and see”. At the same time, I agreed to pray for you and Charlie and your quest to become parents. It was something that was very much on my heart …. that “special” feeling always surfaced when I talked to you or emailed you. I couldn’t really identify it or explain it …. I just knew it was there!

    I recall praying for your Dad regarding his physical problems and reading updates on his health.

    I remember reading the email you sent to me, telling me that you and Charlie were going to have a baby ….. the longings of your hearts had become a reality. I always looked for postings from you about little Lila. i remember well the first time you announced her name on Face Book, and I loved your choice of name for your precious little girl.

    I watched, with interest and excitement, as you posted pictures of Lila’s room and how feminine and precious it looked. I loved reading your posts that dealt strictly with Lila, you and Charlie. I just sensed in my spirit that this was going to be one happy, precious little family!

    I was elated with the announcement of Lila’s arrival …. and could hardly wait until pictures were posted. What a beautiful baby ….. my thoughts! I added my “Congratulations” to the many who were excited for you and Charlie. Then a few days later …. you posted the news about Lila having a mild case of Downs Syndrone. My heart ached, but I knew you and Charlie were going to be fine from the words you wrote. I know that even more today. You love that little Lila more than anything … just as all new parents do.

    If you are ever inclined to ask “WHY?” …. Just remember that God never makes mistakes, and He has a reason for everything. I believe that in a Christian’s life nothing ever “just happens”! There is a plan. When things occur in our lives that are temporarily devastating, we can be certain that nothing ever takes our Lord by surprise. He knew about little Lila before the beginning of time. His plan is perfect! I pray that, as you and Charlie enjoy sweet little Lila, you will be able to know that God chose you to be Lila’s parents for lots of reasons. He knew that you had prayed for her and that because you and Charlie wanted to become parents so badly … that you would love her with all of your hearts and attend to her every need in very special ways! He must be pleased and happy that you are holding Lila as a treasure gifted to you by our heavenly Father.

    May God bless you every day, as you care for little Lila. This is a journey, and God went before you to prepare the way. He will walk every step with you …. when the path seems rocky, When you are weary and tired, He will carry you. “His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.”

    My prayers are with your little family! I look forward to reading your experiences along the way.

    Wishing you love and blessings ………

    Betty Parks

  13. Latricia,
    My name is Brian Drake. I’ve never met you but I know a lot of your co-workers because I worked at Ch.9 for 31 years and retired in 2007. My dear friend Erica Green gave me your blog address but when I went there the only thing I saw was the “Welcome to Holland” poem. I read it years ago myself when our son Danny was born with Downs Sydrome.
    We had lunch with Alice White and Barbara Murnan yesterday and Alice sent your blog again but this time I saw your wonderful letter to Lila. Thank you for posted it and starting your blog.

  14. Oh my goodness, the photos of your daughter took my breath away. She is so beautiful. We don’t know each, but my sister is very close to Andrea Smith who passed on your blog to me. My fifteen month old Ruby was recently tested positive for Williams Syndrome which is a genetic disorder like Downs. I feel such a connection to your story and identify so much with the state of shock you felt. Like you, my sister sent Welcome to Holland to me and it helped bring so much peace to my husband and me. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts to the public. It makes people in our boat feel like we’re not alone.

  15. A friend’s blog sent me here. 🙂 Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl! I love the name Lila.

    My son Ben has Down syndrome. He’s 6 months old now. Life is different than what I expected, but very, very good. Thanks for writing!

  16. Latricia,
    My niece just delivered her first baby by ceasarian about 4 weeks ago. Her pregnancy was uneventful very much like yours. Everything progressed as normal until she got the same news that devastated you and your family.. Thank you for sharing your emotional story. I have a renewed sense of hope because of it.

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  18. I watch you on ch 9 news all the time and really like you and your sweet kind spirit. I just read about your precious blessing, Little Lila. She is a gift from GOD and HE chose Special Parents for little Lila so that means you and your husband are very special. I think she is just beautiful and did not realize she was born with Downs until I heard it on T.V. one day. She is a very special little girl sent from GOD to some very special parents. GOD Bless you and your family, always.

  19. I just read your story about your beautiful daughter. My brother is 33 years old and we have always had a very close relationship . My mother went through a lot of what you talked about. Ben went to Siskin and Orange Grove here in town. I remember we used to go to what was the UPs For Down’s meeting. I think the group has changed their name now but I believe they are a good support group. There are lots of great schools and different things for children and adults with Down’s. My mother was told that my brother would never do anything. Let me tell you that doctor found out differently. May God bless you and your husband. Thank you for sharing your story.

  20. I just read your letter to the Manhattan moms and decided to read Lila’s birth story. Wow, you have a very precious baby girl and you and your husband sound like awesome parents. Thanks for sharing your story, I loved reading it and had a good cry ❤

  21. As a sibling to a brother with Down’s I can say enjoy Holland…it is the most curiosity filled, amazing place EVER. My brother is three years younger than me and is the fourth of seven children. He will be 36 in June, is employed full time and is the best uncle the 20 grandkids could ask for.

  22. She is beautiful, and as a family you will grow togehter, acceptance is hard but Lila will enrich both of your lives, hope is a word that will often be used, and hope is what you need to focus on, each child is an individual and Lila will make her own paths with your direction, I said a the begining she is beautiful, but you are a beautiful family, thank you for sharing this with us.

  23. A beautiful post. Im so pleased i discovered it. I wish you all the very best and love the line, she was sent to teach us. Too true. Lila sounds like a remarkable lady as do you.

  24. Dear Latricia and Charlie,

    I´m very pleased to get to know this piece of your story and Lila´s.
    A child moves our world and every single one is special, being more or less healthy. But for sure, we become more special too when something new and unexpected fullfill our days.
    I see myself in your story and I know that even more strenght, will and a never ending love is your present and future with Lila, side by side you. Our children came to change our world and ourselves to the best we can get.

    http://beyondachondroplasia.org/clara/the-begining-story/
    I would like to keep following you and I invite you to read Clara´s story and the blog I write

  25. That was so incredible and powerful (im sitting here crying at my desk at work). You have incredible strength. Your daughter is so beautiful and I love how you said- …”Always look for the best in people. Besides, I already know you are the best of me and we haven’t even met yet. Thank you for already changing our lives sweet little girl.”
    The is the best lesson to teach. As with all children they tend to teach us so much more than we can teach them!

  26. Thank you for sharing such an intimate and beautiful story of your Lila. As a pediatric RN, its often difficult to actually hear and feel a story such as yours, from the perspective of the parent. Lila is such a precious gift.

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  28. As I read your letter to your daughter I was amazed at how close our birth stories are. I too had an uneventful first pregnancy 24 years ago only to be filled with the shock of having a child born, not with Down’s but with a condition called Larsen syndrome. When my beautiful Darci was born she had a cleft palate, both feet were clubbed, she was dislocated in all her joints, she has acute kypho-scoliosis, hearing loss and eye problems. I had no idea that anything was wrong with her beforehand. I had the same reaction that you describe, I was numb and I too asked everyone to leave the room so I could just breathe and share this moment with my husband. I felt the grief of death and I felt guilty for that, but I knew it was the grief of losing the perfect experience and child that I expected. I was told everything negative from the Dr’s in that first 24 hours that could possibly be thought of including that she would never walk. I just told them that “God doesn’t make mistakes and that Darci was perfect and I felt her moving in my belly and I knew it was going to be ok.

    Darci is now 24 years old, she started walking when she was 4 years old, she has had multiple back surgeries including a complete spinal fusion at the age of 6. Darci graduated high school…she is very intelligent, she sings in the choir at church, even doing solos from time to time..Physically, she struggles, but she is the greatest BLESSING that any mother could ever ask for and I would have her all over again….it has been an AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL ride. Oh, yes! I carried around in my wallet the poem “Welcome to Holland” for years and I would take it out and read it and it helped me to remember how incredibly Blessed I have been to be taken on this journey with such and exceptional you woman!
    Blessings ,
    Terri Womac

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