In a very real story of shock, faith, and changed hearts, LDS mom Cydney Barno tells about her experience giving birth to a daughter with Down syndrome.
Down syndrome. We didn’t even really know what it meant, and we’d just found out that our unborn baby—a girl, our surprise fourth child—had Down syndrome. We were still in shock that we were even going to have another baby, and everything about the future we’d expected was changed.
Looking back, the word my husband, Phil, and I think best describes this moment is devastation. Neither of us had any experience with anyone with this genetic disorder, and we were completely in the dark about what it meant. Almost immediately we were given the option to abort the pregnancy, so we quickly grasped the gravity of the situation. The doctor’s offer told us there was no value in this baby’s life, so how could I possibly see her worth?
I spent the remainder of the pregnancy in a complete stupor. I felt dead inside. People would ask about the pregnancy, but I didn’t know what to say because this baby’s life was a terrifying unknown. I didn’t feel attached to her at all. Would she be sick? Would she be happy? Would my other kids be neglected because of her needs? Would we ever be able to travel again? I thought our lives were ruined.
I didn’t feel close to God. How could He possibly understand me? Didn’t He know I wasn’t the type of person that could handle this? I couldn’t see it at the time, but He kept reaching out to me through other people. Everyone kept telling me it would be okay, and all I thought was, “You don’t know that! It might not be!”
Through a chance encounter, I met Babette, who had a son with Down syndrome. She taught me so much. When she heard I didn’t care about the baby, she said with a gleam in her eye, “Just wait until you see her. Just believe me when I say you will fall head over heels in love with her.” I thought, “No way.”