Emily and Isla

Emily and Isla

Our 20 week ultrasound was on my 29th birthday. It felt like the best present in the world to find out the gender of our first child on my birthday! However, about 15 minutes into the ultrasound something felt off. The doctor came in and we learned we were having a girl (I KNEW it!) and that there were several markers indicating she could have Down syndrome. We opted to complete a simple blood test that day called a NIPT to learn more definitively if Isla had Ds. 
Fast forward a few days and I got a phone call about 5 minutes after my students left for the day letting me know that our baby did, in fact, have trisomy 21. That moment was tough. My mind went blank. I sank to the floor and crawled under my desk sobbing. I was shocked and scared. I was only 29. Having a child with special needs never crossed my mind as even a possibility. My parents picked me up and drove me home where I met my husband to tell him. I would not want to go back to that day or feel those feelings for a million dollars. It was heart wrenching and the kind of pain that you never really forget. 
We grieved, as you often hear, the loss of what we expected. Our vision for the future was altered and that takes some time to adjust too. We didn’t have Isla to hold, to look at and know it would be alright, that was the tough part. But, slowly, we realized that it would be okay.  And then Isla was born, and it was more than okay, it was magical. She was the most perfect human I had ever seen!  I just knew the moment I met her that this was the future that I had been waiting for. I knew she would change my life!
We found Ruby’s Rainbow on instagram. It was like looking into a crystal ball and seeing the possibilities for Isla. Hearing about how empowered and successful the students felt after just a year of college was amazing. Ruby’s Rainbow changed the way I felt about Isla’s future. I used to think Isla may live with us forever (which of course I would love), but now I realize that more likely than not, she won’t. Now I know that is she wants to spread her wings, she will have the chance. Ruby’s Rainbow fills me with hope that Isla can have any future she imagines! 
So, what have we learned so far on this journey? The biggest thing I have learned is that being a mom is HARD! Isla is a full time job, but not because she has Down syndrome, mostly because she is a baby that sometimes refuses naps, teeths like crazy, and loves to throw her sippy cup off her tray. So I guess what I have learned is that sure, Down syndrome adds some special therapists into your already crazy schedule, but other than that Isla is just like any other one year old. She is so much more alike than different. I thought Down syndrome would mean our life was going to flip upside down, and it has, but that has everything to do with being a first time mom and absolutely nothing to do with Down syndrome!
By | 2017-03-18T19:19:51+00:00 March 18th, 2017|Blog|6 Comments


  1. Nikki Wingert March 20, 2017 at 12:40 am - Reply

    Emily, this is so beautifully written and your positive, compassionate, and strong spirit is so special and something I admire about you. I feel blessed to call you a friend and cannot wait to see Isla continue to grow. That smile of hers just melts my heart! ❤️ Love your family and your future to come!

  2. Jessica Caloviras March 20, 2017 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    Emily…the joy you have in being Isla’s mom is so evident in your smile & the love all over your face. What an amazing gift you have. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Jim Garber March 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Emily, thank you and your husband for giving Isla a chance at life and making a difference in our world!

  4. Kris Buege March 21, 2017 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Beautifully written! Isla is precious! She is a blessing!

  5. Pat Dorenkamp-Reese March 21, 2017 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    Just lovely! And the best part is that you have all been resilient & will persevere with whatever your beautiful, precious Isla brings your way

  6. Rüdiger Rückmann March 22, 2017 at 3:13 am - Reply

    Isla is beautiful! Thank you for sharing her story. Your family has so much to look forward to. I know. I was so scared when I found out my daughter would be born with trisomy 21. Now I feel like I’m the luckiest father around.

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