Being a Mom has been one of the greatest joys of my life, though I didn’t always feel that way…My dream of what motherhood would be like prior to my son, Brian’s arrival into the world and the actual reality when he came, were two entirely different things. Taking on the role of motherhood was nothing like I imagined it would be, especially in the beginning of the journey. I was quite frankly very overwhelmed and afraid. Brian had been born with Down syndrome and those moments immediately following his birth were anything but celebratory.
The atmosphere in the delivery room was very somber, with undertones of sadness, overshadowed by a sense of urgency. Suddenly, Brian was whisked away by a group of neonatologists just moments after my husband, Jim, had held Brian for the first time. These specialists were quietly gathered in the corner, speaking in hushed tones while examining our son. I knew something wasn’t quite right, but what was it? I felt so helpless and devastated as I lay on the operating table post C-section, trying to wrap my brain around what was happening in real time..Tears were copiously flowing, while I silently mouthed a prayer to God, begging Him to spare our little boy from any complications or disabilities.
My obstetrician ultimately confirmed my worst fears by informing us that Brian had Down syndrome and was not going to be a typical baby. He would indeed have special needs, as well as medical challenges. I was already aware of the hole in the center of Brian’s heart at 18 weeks in utero, but I had hoped that this was all he would have to endure. I remember asking God, “ why, Lord?” as I was brought back to my hospital room after the delivery. I kept thinking how exactly would Jim and I rise to the occasion of being Brian’s parents? What kind of life is he going to have?
Numerous scenarios kept playing out in my head, fueled by fear and grief. I had never been so scared in all of my life. It seemed like raising Brian was going to be an impossible task and this was just the beginning of the journey! Yet, I kept going back to those first initial moments when Brian was literally pulled out of my womb, and the first cries of his arrival were loud and clear. Once he was cleaned up and handed over to Jim, I saw the most beautiful baby, wide-eyed, lovely rose bud lips, looking intently at his Dad. Their sacred bond was already established in those initial moments of Brian’s arrival into the world. I was petrified of what the future held, but knew deep in my heart that somehow God would work everything out in Brian’s life ( and ours) for good, despite my fears and disbelief. I chose to believe that God would always be at the helm of Brian’s life, providing for all of his needs. He only asked for Jim and I to trust Him, especially in our knee deep fear of the unknowns in Brian’s life, as well as in those difficult things we knew would inevitably happen as a result of Down syndrome.
Over time, we constantly saw evidence of just how faithful God was and continues to be in Brian’s life, even to this day. Jim, myself, and Brian have been richly blessed, more than we could have ever imagined, by resources and individuals who have helped us to help Brian lead a good life. The Lord has also been our refuge in very difficult times with Brian, carrying us through some tumultuous challenges that we could not have faced without Him. It is God’s grace and and never-ending love that has given us the courage and resolve to face our difficulties both in Brian’s life, as well as in our own lives. Throughout it all, I have been able to experience a very loving bond with Brian, the very thing I feared would never happen due to his disabilities, but God answered that prayer as well.
Fast forward to almost 19 years later and so much has changed, yet lots of things have also remained exactly the same. There have certainly been and continue to be many difficult mountains for Brian to climb, especially with a secondary diagnosis of autism. But our brave son faces each one of his challenges with the most incredible persistence and grace that I have ever seen. Brian is a wonderful and loving young man who is beloved by all who know him. His hugs are legendary and his pureness of heart is always apparent. At school, Brian is known as Mayor McDonnell and with our beloved church family, Brian is the Joy Ambassador, the unofficial greeter at most Saturday Masses. Jim and I are so proud of Brian, he is a wonderful example of God’s perfect love that endures all things, never judges, and is totally accepting. I have become a better person because of my son and continue to learn a great deal about virtues, such as compassion and goodness, through his daily examples.
As I reflect on all of these truths as Brian’s Mom, I have certainly come a long way from that late August night in 2003. God gave me the most precious gift in the hospital that fateful evening. It was hard for me to initially see, but in His time and through Brian, I have experienced the greatest love and have met some of the most amazing people. Life has truly been extraordinary! I have also learned through both my failures and successes how to be the Mom that Brian needs me to be for him. It is definitely not easy, as the multiple challenges of raising a disabled son can be quite difficult, but it is always worth the effort.
I still wish Brian didn’t have to go through so much, but I try to remember how faithful God has been and will continue to be for the rest of Brian’s life, especially when I experience those dark moments of doubt. I have been given the privilege of being Brian’s Mom and the honor of raising him to the best of my ability, a role that means the world to me. It is a gift that continues to grow with time and love and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything in the world! Thank you, Son, for making me a Mom, I love you with all of my heart! 😘❤️😘❤️😘❤️