Love and feelings: Downs babies.


Two conversations led me to expand my perceptions about bringing a Downs baby into the world in the last couple of days.

When babies are born our feelings tumble through love, joy, opening and embracing and maybe fear, a sense of inadquacy and distress. These feelings happen whoever a perfect baby is.

When Maya lay on her bed at home yesterday, breathing her ninth baby into life, I remembered back to the eight births I had attended in the same room over the years. Maya is 44. She is an experienced and dedicated mother who has immersed herself in her role over the years. She has learned, gaining knowledge and confidence. As such a mother, she accepted the power of labor absolutely and she accepted what it was bringing her absolutely.

Maya’s breath almost inperceptibly more rapid, she sat up. “The baby is coming” she announced and stood to slide him between her legs and into her arms. I removed the membranes off his body as he took his initial gulp of the world’s air, safe with mother Maya.

Later, I told her that he looks like he might be a Downs baby. She cradled him in her arms, totally at peace. He is who he is, baby Jacob, loved in Maya’s family. Maya has the powerful emotional and economic support that she needs as well as the personal strength, to be totally accepting of her labor, her birth and her baby.

I talked on the phone with Beth. Beth’s baby has “markers” for Downs syndrome identified on an ultrasound. Beth’s pregnancy was accidentally conceived in a state of flux in her life. She has a new partner, new career plans and a return to college as well as the ongoing pain of a custody dispute. The thought of a new baby had rocked her unstable life but she and her partner were taking it in and finding solid ground. I chatted with her about what those markers could mean to her and her family. I Reassured her that the meaning of “markers” is not a at all a certain diagnosis. As I did so, she opened to me about the fear of facing a future with a Downs baby and how that could unbalance the lives that she and her family are struggling to build. Beth, in a different sea of life to Maya, loves this baby perfectly, knowing that perhaps it could all be too much.

As a midwife I aim to open and accept each client. We are all beautifully unique.