Margret was born with Down syndrome and a heart defect in 1971. Our OB was on vacation because Marg arrived 18 days past her due date. I felt like I was going to be pregnant forever! I remember how, at delivery, as the doctor held her up for us to see, she looked around in wonder before she cried. I remember how her Dad said her hands were like little pink starfish.
The doctor who delivered her came into my room, and told me and dad that she had DS. He said to take her home and love her, that she would be like any child, just reaching her milestones a little slower. He comforted us by saying that there was a man with DS who lived near him, and was almost his age (he wouldn't say how old he was, but my guess is around 60), and this person was fine.
In the morning, the pediatrician came in to talk to us. He said Margret almost certainly had DS, but they would be doing a chromosome test to make sure. He said I should get her on a waiting list for a state institution right away, because the wait could be up to 6 years. He said she probably would not live to see her second birthday, and if she did, she almost certainly wouldn't live to see ten years of age. He said she would be slow to walk and talk, and she probably would never be able to read or do math. He did NOT want me to breast feed. He said I should not get too attached to her.
He was quite unhappy with me when I told him, "This is MY baby. I'm going to take her home and love her, and do the best I can." He told me I'd be sorry. He was wrong.
I remember how Margret stayed at the hospital for 8 days, and they released me on day two. I kept going back for all the feedings I was allowed. Walking up to the door, and into the maternity section was like walking through molasses, the fear I felt was so thick. The pediatrician was so negative I had to force myself to face the possibility each visit of the nurse intercepting me and saying, "I'm so sorry, dearie, but your baby died while you weren't here." I hated doing it, it felt so horrible each time. But I did it.
She finally got back to her birth weight, and the pediatrician allowed us to bring her home. She grew. There was another doctor who told us that Margret had a heart murmur, but he didn't think it would ever bother her.