Jamie Bradford and her husband, Les, were thrilled to discover they were expecting their second child. Their firstborn, a cheerful, fun-loving boy, had already brought them so much joy — and now he would have a sibling! Whether it was a boy or a girl, Jamie and Les didn’t really care. Like most parents, they simply wished for a healthy, happy child.
Then came the ultrasound. It was a girl! But wait. Something was off. They needed blood work done, and then there was her pinky — that tiny curved pinky, such a small detail that provided a clue to such a large diagnosis.
The baby had Down syndrome, and this had not been in the plan — but it this new plan turned out to be better than the one Jamie expected.
Read on to learn more about Jamie’s experience as a mother to Gracie!
How did you and your husband feel when you found out that Gracie had Down syndrome?
I had a hard time with Gracie’s diagnosis. I didn’t know much about Down syndrome, and if you Google it, the results are old and not accurate. The high-risk doctor we had was also not very encouraging and tended to give us the worst-case scenarios. We decided not to see him again!
My husband had a very different response from me when I told him the results. He just looked at me and said, “Okay. This is our new normal. We are going to be fine. Let’s rock this.” I will always be grateful for how strong and positive he was at the beginning. It took me a few weeks before I got to where he was, and I am amazed at how he didn’t even flinch.
How was this pregnancy different from your pregnancy with your son?
I spent a lot of time thinking about Down syndrome, and then a lot of time worrying about Gracie’s heart defect, and not a lot of time just being excited that I was pregnant and welcoming a baby girl! That all changed the moment she got here. I was simply enamored with my precious, perfect baby girl.
During my pregnancy, I met several families who had children with Down syndrome and I saw how amazing their children were and how “normal” their families were. This helped me make that shift from fear to excitement.
What have been some of your challenges with Gracie?
One thing that I always have to remind myself of is that Gracie will get there when she gets there. Sitting up? Crawling? Walking? It won’t happen like it did with my son, but she will get there in her own time and that’s okay. She doesn’t have to do it like the charts say. We just keep working with her and give her every tool we can to succeed and she will accomplish the goals when she is ready.
How have you prepared, or how will you prepare, for Gracie’s future? Have you set up a special needs trust for her?
Preparing for the future is one of the things I thought a lot about when we found out Gracie would be born with Down syndrome. What if something happens to my husband or me? Will she work? What do we do? Although we don’t have all the answers now, we do know that a special needs trust needs to be a priority.
How is your life as a mom different because of Gracie?
Gracie has changed me in the best ways. I have learned to celebrate everything. We work so hard toward her developmental goals and when she finally meets a goal, we have a party! She helps me slow down and realize that life doesn’t always have to be so fast-paced. Enjoy what’s around you and enjoy the little things.
She has also motivated me to be more outspoken about how precious her life is. I have a desire to do whatever I can do to shout how worthy her life is and how perfect God’s plan is.
Connect with Jamie, and Connect with AFT!
If you’d like to follow along with Jamie and Gracie, you can find them on Jamie’s blog at Normal As We Know It.
Additionally, if you have questions about preparing for children with disabilities, contact AFT today. We are always here to help!