Love: Because We Need It

birth story, comfort from a stranger, down syndrome, embrace, love, normalizing Down syndrome, nurse, perspective

If you are reading this, you are venturing into an emotion laden hole in my heart – albeit one that is healing with time and absolute love and adoration for my son and who he is.  This post is two things to me: 1) a shortened birth story of my son (born unexpectedly with Down syndrome) and 2) an enormous thank you to the nurse who had the wherewithal and the courage to comfort me in the way only she and I knew I needed to be comforted.

The birth was at 11:30pm.  At 1:30am, we still hadn’t sent out an announcement to our families.  Tears had been shed, fears were brought to the surface and life had taken an unexpected turn.  We were shocked, we were sad, and above all else, we were working under a limited, and therefore, dangerous take on perspective.  At some point during the night I started desperately and anxiously texting those who I knew were sleeping, “I know my baby has Down syndrome, but no one will tell me.” No responses came.  Just silence.

As the night grew older and my tear-stained cheeks failed to hold a smile upright, I continued to yearn for something – an explanation, a suddenly clear perspective, something.  Unable to pinpoint what that was, yet also unable to accept the gift of embrace and comfort from my husband, I somehow allowed myself to drift off into a restless slumber.  One that shared visions of my newly born son the way I expected him to be and nightmares of my then reality.

The light of the new day filtered into the sterile uncomfortable hospital room, yet the light did not make its way to my soul.  The light, the hope, the acceptance of my son was out of my grasp and somehow, even out of my sight.  The minutes were hours and the hours were days.  Suffering through the news that I was unable to accept was perhaps the worst form of torture I’d ever experienced.

I eventually rose from my hospital bed and peered into the mirror – the reflection was something I had never seen before.  The reflection: a puffy-faced stranger with bags under her eyes the color of storm clouds.  Bags that showed the world that her soul was homeless and that her mind was lost.  Whoever the woman in the mirror was, I never wanted to meet her.  Let alone be her. 

As I sat back down on my hospital bed, the tears turned to sobs.  I didn’t understand what was happening and why I felt so out of control with my world.  Why did I look so foreign?  Where was my positivity?  Why was I kissing, hugging, feeding this baby all while pretending he wasn’t really mine?  And then there she was.

I don’t remember seeing her walk in – she must have approached my side with the same gentleness that came in the minutes to follow.  But suddenly I found myself brought to the chest of a middle-aged nurse who was not assigned to me, yet was embracing me like I was her very own daughter.  As I wept into her shoulder and she kissed the top of my head too many times to count, layers of grief and pain were shed.  She held me tighter than I can ever remember being held.  She kissed me and through her own tears, she whispered in my ear, “I know you’re hurting.  I am so sorry.  It’s going to get better, honey.”  Over and over again.  She felt my grief and she truly – truly – tried to take it from me.  She did not rush our embrace and she did not minimize or invalidate my experience.  She held and rocked me until she knew her job was complete.

And then she was gone. 

At this point, I knew I would think of her often and always. She was truly the light at the end of my tunnel.  She was a nurse who used nothing but her instincts to help a stranger through a storm by showing love.  In one simple and caring gesture, she took from me what I had been unable – yet desperate – to conquer: my pain. 

I am so grateful that I have the ability to look back on that painful time in my life and reminisce about that loving embrace.  I am also grateful that this experience serves as a constant reminder that when my instinct tells me someone is in need, that I follow what I know.  To think outside of oneself is not always easy, but is so fundamentally important and spiritually rewarding.  Call it “paying it forward” or simply “lending a helping hand.” Whatever it is, the work is meaningful.  The work is crucial.  The work may just turn someone’s life around.

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6 Responses to Love: Because We Need It

  1. Louise September 14, 2017 at 7:03 am #

    Beautiful, God bless, you have touched my heart! May I never be too busy or hesitant to reach out to hurting hearts! ❤️🙏❤️

    • Casie
      Casie October 17, 2017 at 9:25 pm #

      Thank you and thank you for reading. xoxo.

  2. Brenda September 14, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

    I, too, have a special needs child. His special need did not become obvious until he was 6+ months old and wasn’t officially diagnosed until he was 2y6m old. I remember knowing something was wrong but having no one to comfort me. It broke my heart into a million pieces to know my perfect little boy was not as perfect as we thought. Once my emotions recovered and I could think clearly outside of myself, I realized two things: One, it did not change who he was nor did it change his future. This special needs battle makes him strong. Instead of fearing his future, I am excited to see the man he will become because of, and at the same time in spite of, his disability. Two, in recovering my emotions and picking up the pieces of my heart, I had changed. I had become a fearless momma bear who would take on the world and any challenge to get him the help he needed. I am an emotionally and mentally stronger person because of him. And that helps him be strong and will shape who he becomes; hopefully a man who will know how to take on the world.

    • Casie
      Casie October 17, 2017 at 9:24 pm #

      Thank you for commenting, Brenda. We have fierce love for our children and I think even more fierce for those with special needs. Much love to you. – Casie

  3. Maggie September 16, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

    This blog post appeared in my FB feed this morning. When I realized (at the end of the post) that you were the author I was overcome with a feeling of deep appreciation and understanding of your message. You wrote “when my instinct tells me someone is in need, that I follow what I know. To think outside of oneself is not always easy, but is so fundamentally important and spiritually rewarding. Call it “paying it forward” or simply “lending a helping hand.” Whatever it is, the work is meaningful. The work is crucial. The work may just turn someone’s life around.” I can attest to your living by these beautiful words. Your ability for understanding and empathy are what made your office the soft place for my loved one to fall during times of stress and self doubt in his final years of high school. We were so blessed to have you there to help him through that journey. Your kindness and understanding will not be forgotten. Thank you!

    • Casie
      Casie October 17, 2017 at 9:23 pm #

      Maggie – This comment really touched my heart. Thank you so much for your sentiments. Take care and hope to see you soon. – Casie