I glance around the ER for her son. Curly, jet black hair peeks up just above a chair. He giggles. He runs. He climbs. He reaches up to his mom to hold him, and she bats his hand away. She hangs up the phone and begins to play on her cell phone. He crawls. He plays. He shouts. He tries to climb on her lap, but she sets him back on the floor.
Eventually, he exits the ER headed towards the road, and the security guard has to stop him. She never once looks up from her phone. She does not acknowledge the security guard when he returns her son. For the next twenty minutes, while I continue to wait for a blood draw, I watch as she continues to ignore her son.
And I am angry and judgmental and not the understanding person I was three hours ago. Why her? Why does someone like HER get the healthy kid? I despised her for complaining about needing a note saying her kid was healthy, while I had been waiting over three hours to test for Down Syndrome. And I hated myself for thinking these awful things, but at the same time, I was finally being honest with myself about my feelings, and I liked that.
When thinking became too much for me, I cried.
I stood in that crowded ER and bawled my eyes out. I held my baby tight and kissed every inch of her and cried. I did not care who saw me or what they thought of me. And if I could have refrained from crying, I would not have, because for the first time in a long time, I was okay with being open and vulnerable.
And when our name was finally called for the blood draw, I was the one who had to hold down Ceci's tiny body as they searched for a vein, and although I did not think I could do it, I did. And when she cried out in pain with each stick of the needle, I cried too. One stick. Two sticks. I cried. Three sticks. Four sticks. I cried some more. But I never let go, even though that would have been easier.
More than anything, I wanted to take my sweet, swaddled baby and run off with her. I wanted to leave the hospital and never return. I wanted to never see another needle ever again. I wanted to never hear the words Down Syndrome. I wanted to escape what was slowly but surely becoming my reality. But I did not, because I knew I had to face this head on.
And when we drove back home from the hospital that night, I could not help but think about that woman I spotted from across the ER floor. I was not angry with her anymore. Instead, I felt for her. True, she has the healthy kid, but I was becoming a better version of myself because of my kid. I was becoming the mom my child needed: honest, open, and strong.