Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Lesson #3: Amanda really did us a favor

on October 3, 2014

Amanda is the Nurse Practitioner that delivered the preliminary diagnosis of Down syndrome to John and I.  For a long time, I really struggled with her decision on how to tell us about Tessa.  But in celebration of Down Syndrome Awareness month, we’re sending her a letter of thanks.  Here’s the letter:

October 3, 2014

Dear Amanda,

You may not remember my family, but I am writing today to thank you for an experience that we had with you that I will never forget.  In December of 2013, my daughter, Tessa, was born at your hospital.  You might remember her looking like this:

Her birth happened very quickly and as I vaguely recall, you were called to the delivery because her heart rate was dropping.  Within moments after her delivery, while I was still in the process of delivering the placenta, you told my husband, John, that she had strong markers for Down syndrome.  We did not undergo any prenatal testing, so this news completely blindsided us.  I was frozen in that moment for a long time.

I will be very honest with you, at first, I was very angry at the way you shared her suspected diagnosis with my family.  I felt, at the time, that it could have waited until I was at least done with my labor and had had the opportunity to hold my sweet girl.  But with time comes perspective, and I want you to know that the way you shared the news with us was quite possibly the best thing someone has ever done for my family.  I have never felt angry or devastated about my daughter’s genetic make-up and while there are many factors that play into my outlook on Tessa’s life, you were certainly key.

You see, I have joined a lot of communities for families with children with Down syndrome since Tessa’s birth and have consistently heard horror stories of (probably) well-meaning doctors delivering a diagnosis like a death sentence.  However, the way that you treated her extra chromosome… as a passing fact rather than a defining characteristic… set a precedent for the way we have approached Tessa and her life.  She is our daughter, a person first, more alike than different.

Tessa is nine months old now.  She is happy-go-lucky, quick with a smile, laid-back, and is totally thriving.  Her older sister absolutely adores her.  She is the favorite “toy” in her daycare.  We were in tears when we got to experience her first giggles.  She is almost crawling on all fours.  My whole family is smitten with Tessa.  She has truly changed our life in the most amazing way.

The team at CDH who took care of us during Tessa’s time in the NICU was absolutely stellar and we recommend everyone we know to this hospital.  In the spring, when Tessa was admitted to a different hospital in respiratory distress (she had pneumonia), we insisted on being transferred to CDH once she was stable because we knew that the care our family would receive is unmatched.  I sincerely thank you for not defining my daughter by her diagnosis and for not giving us a single reason to feel sorry for our beautiful little girl.

Most sincerely,

John, Maggie, Ellie, and Tessa

PS: For other resources for delivering a Down syndrome diagnosis, I highly recommend the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network.  They have great resources for physicians and familes alike:  http://www.dsdiagnosisnetwork.org/ 

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2 responses to “Lesson #3: Amanda really did us a favor

  1. […] Tessa was born, both the NICU nurse practitioner (Amanda) and the geneticist that we eventually talked to were sure that Tessa had Down syndrome.  I was […]

  2. […] nurse practitioner, Amanda, called me over and explained to me they saw many markers for Down syndrome.  She walked me […]

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