All the single ladies

June 25, 2014 in Diagnosis, Emotions, Future, Support


If you were a single mom during your pregnancy or after your baby with Down syndrome was born, we would love to hear from you here on this blog post. Some of our moms are single moms when they find out their babies have Down syndrome. A few part ways with their partners after a diagnosis. While this may not happen often, those moms would really benefit from hearing from experienced single moms. Will you share your story here?

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6 Responses

  1. Agnes says:

    I am a 20 year old single mommy of a 19 month old daughter with Down syndrome. A lot of people will think that my mom or dad help me because of my age but nope, I do it all alone. Every doctor appointment, every therapy, I go with her alone. It is hard but so worth it. I wouldn’t change anything about her. I love the fact that she has Down syndrome. I was 18 when I got pregnant with her. I’ve been doing this alone since day one. Yes, a lot of times it stinks and its hard, but it’s something all mommies can handle. Good luck to you and your little ones.

  2. Denise says:

    Hello, Hi! That’s what my son, Steven says to everyone he sees and meets, so I stole his opening line. My name is Denise and I am currently 42 years old. I am a very proud single mom of my almost 3 year old bundle of joy! Ah, where to begin? Perhaps at the beginning….

    I dated Steven’s father for one year before we became pregnant, I was 39 years old in my 1st trimester then I turned 40 years old prior to the 2nd trimester. I was also 1 month away from going on a 5 year IUD. Steve (dada daddy) has 2 daughters already so we decided together that we would leave things like that and not have any children together. We had plans to marry some day but nothing official. I had already met with my OB and had everything in place to call and have the prodecure done in January of 2008. I look back and I will be forever grateful that fate stepped in and stopped my plans! Having a child was never on the top of my list – if I had one, great and if not it would be okay but deep down inside I knew that I always wanted to have a child.

    I went to my OB on February 4th 2008 and received the news that “yes, you are pregnant!” I knew without a doubt that I was having a boy, and dada daddy kept saying we were having a girl. There were also a lot of mixed emotions tied in as well. Due to my age, the finances, where we lived, work, etc. And I also knew that due to my age that I was at a high risk of having a baby with Down syndrome.

    I went in for my blood work and there it was, my first “marker” of DS. I went home and told dada daddy and we discussed how we felt and we both agreed that no matter what we wanted to have this baby and we both agreed not to have the amnio testing done. I was strongly against it because I knew there were risks with the procedure and at my age I didn’t want to take a chance of losing the one thing I never knew I wanted so badly. My OB phoned me at work and asked me to have the amnio after he heard from his nurse that I declined. I asked him why, what will I gain from this test? He told me that I would know if my baby had DS. I didn’t want to know: I’m a worrier and have struggled with aniexty all of my life and I dont want to spend my pregnancy worrying. I want to enjoy it in every way. He asked me again and told me that I could terminate if the baby has DS. Why would I do that??? Steve and I had this discussion and we were having this baby and DS was not a reason to terminate a child. I told my doctor that I would be willing to do any other testing if he needed to know for delivery purposes but I did not want to know, period.

    So when the time came I went in for my level two ultrasound and learned that we had a few more “soft markers” for DS. We also learned the sex of our baby. Steve was still saying we were having a girl and I knew it was a boy. He and my mom where there during the ultrasound. During the first 30 minutes dad had seen something and said see I told you we were having a girl. Since Ive never been through this before I didnt know what to look for. My heart sunk a little thinking about having a Stevie Marie, and how will a braid her hair, I cant even do mine! Then another 30 minutes went by and they were done snapping photos of what they needed…time to learn the sex. They told me that a girl would have 3 lines and a boy would have a turtle head, ok?? And then there it was 100% without a doubt a BOY! I was in heaven, dad’s knees buckled and gave way..his upper body collapsed onto my chest and he cried. He was having a boy, a son, someone to carry on his family name. It was the most beautiful moment ever!

    After the test we were told about the “soft markers”…the femer, but dad’s legs are short too. The nape of the neck, and a few others that I can’t recall. But as we were being told we were also being told that these “soft markers” can be explained away. No one in my family, his family or at work would allow me to even entertain the “what if” scenerios. A month later I had a fetal echocardiogram done and there was nothing wrong with his heart. So from that day on I never gave it a second thought.

    Okay now for some relationship stuff. Steve has a great group of guy friends that we would tear it up with. Once I became pregnant these nights out became more frequent and he started drinking whiskey, whiskey that turned him into the ugliest of people. I tried to just let it go and turn my cheek so to speak. I did speak with him about things and he kept saying he needed “one last horrah,” I never got one but whatever. So we agreed that if he needed to have this type of evening with the boys then he needed to stay the night with the boys because I cannot handle it while being pregnant, so he did.

    We also had to find a new place to live. We were in a one bedroom apartment and some questionable people were moving in and it wasn’t a place where I wanted to raise our child. So I went and looked at one place and fell in love with it, we moved in June 2008. His family moved everything for us and unpacked everything for me while I was at work, so nice. The apartment is a 2 bedroom, 1st floor unit in a 4 family building. The living room window is 12ft long & 7ft wide, pretty much floor to ceiling and I love love love it. The view is of a beautiful courtyard with our city wildlife animals, birds and beautiful flowers. And the best part, it is completely fenced in! One side has a 6ft chain link fence and then there is a brick wall standing 5ft high around the rest of the courtyard. No nosey neighbors and our kid wont be escaping! How lucky am I to have found such a great apartment to raise a child in, it’s rare. Bonus, security pad entrance…no code no entrance.

    Two weeks after moving into our new apartment dad decided that he needed to have a night of with the boys and that they would be camping. Great, I need a night to myself for sleep. So around 4am dad came strolling into the bedroom, hit the bed and passed out. I woke up and got ready for work. Opened the apartment door to leave and saw a sight I never dreamt that I would see, ever! Our secured door into the building has been torn off the hinges, but how? I knew it had to have been Steve. I was shaking mad inside, I woke him up and made him tell me what happened, what did he do? He said he couldnt remember the code…so why didnt you call me? I left him to clean up the mess and off to work I went, embarrassed and humiliated. I received a phone call at noon from the leasing office to see if I was okay, I planned on calling them to let them know what happened during my lunch hour, I just couldnt deal with it. Well, the neighbors called and reported a possible break in and they were concerned for me. So I told them what Steve had told me. The police were on their way to file a report. I had to leave work immediately. When I got home the parts to the door were in our apartment and dad was gone. The management came and told me that we had to leave that they just cant have this behavior taking place in their buildings, and Steve was not to step foot on the property. Mortified! I found Steve at his parent’s house and told him what has happened. I was so ill and so mad at him, how could he do this to me, to us, to our baby? I knew it was going to be a long road from here on out and I also knew that I had to try to make it work because I couldn’t raise a baby on my own. I went into labor that night, brought on by the stress of what happened. I went to the hospital and they were able to stop the labor and they put me on bedrest for 3 days.

    My health during my pregnancy had been fine. I was drinking a ton of water and eating my weight in watermelon. My job had me on my feet all day, on concrete and outside for 6 days a week until the 3rd week of June and then we would work 5 days a week. I worked at a well known garden center and loved it, best company, best job ever! It was the hottest summer ever, I even wrote down how many days were in the 90′s so when our son was old enough I could pull the Bill Cosby humor out and use it as bribery, haha. So, my OB kept a close eye on me.

    My due date was September 17th 2008 and on August 25th I went in for my routine weekly check up. They hooked me up to the monitor to watch the baby’s levels then I was told that I needed to go to the hospital and do not eat or drink, it’s baby time. What? Why? My blood pressure had been running high. So I headed home to pack my bag and pick up dad…off we went. On August 27th they performed c-section at 8:58pm our son was born. He was perfect, he looked just like my Grandpa Charlie. After I had my looksee they took baby and dad to the nicu for weighing, bath, etc.. While my Ob was stitching me up he stated the following…”oh yeah, by the way, your son has Down Syndrome.” Tears streaming down my face.

    Tears not of fear, not of Down Syndrome (deep down I knew he would) but tears of how could you just tell me such news like that, so cold so heartless. I was returned to my room and surrounded by all of our family members, all of them gushing over the beauty we had created. I looked to my mom and told her that he had DS. “No he doesn’t, we just saw him and he is fine, you’re just under medication, it’s okay, he’s okay” so again I said it and told them what the OB had said. Dad stormed out of the room and found the doctor, to this day I do not know what was said. I do know that it took a team of doctors to get him to perform my son’s circumcision before we left the hospital. My OB had been my OB for many years, we could cut up and have conversations…now, he had no words for me, it was if he had delivered his worst nightmare, why? I was in love with my son, head over heels in love.

    Dad, well he needed to go camping to clear his head. My mom said let him go, let him process this in his way. So I did. My mom brought me home so that I could get some more things and stay with our/my son. I failed to mention this as well..dad was out golfing when I received the blood results confirming the DS diagnosis. Once again I was all alone and the bearer of such news. Dad was struggling with the news because it was his son, his namesake, etc.

    Dad returned to the hospital two days later with friends. He brought his friend’s wife and daughter into the NICU to meet Stevie Joe. And he tried to pass her daughter off as his (to get her into the NICU) since they had seen her medical/shot records. I was fuming and made him take her out of the NICU. What is he thinking, we are not the only ones in there. So, as I sat and talked to Shannon she opens her purse and shows me that she had to sneak beer in for her husband…????

    I took her to my room where I found her husband totally intoxicated and my mom was fuming – you could see the smoke coming out of her ears. I told Steve that they needed to leave! So they agreed and as they were leaving Steve said, “NO, I want my best friend to see my son.” I stood there with my arms spanned out, refusing to let him past me, there was no way in hell that he will be taking his intoxicated friend into the NICU. I was so enraged, furious, embarrassed, mortified and humiliated once again. They left and I won this battle.

    Steven Joe Michael is his name, aka Stevie Joe. My lilguy had to stay in the NICU for 4 weeks. Being a premie he didn’t know how to suck, swallow and breathe at the same time. The hospital was a godsend! They had an unused maternity wing that they let families stay in so that they can be closer to their little ones in the NICU. Decision was made, I will stay until he comes home, dad can go home and work. I need to be with my son and he needs me too. Since he was on a ng tube I had to pump my breast milk, he needed as much as I could give him, he needed to have the best start possible to a good life. It was hard – my milk wouldn’t flow. I became engorged…and then an aha moment by my lactation consultant – I needed to be with my son when I pumped. My milk was flowing.

    God, what is going to happen? How can I do this on my own? I have to try and make things work, I need to try and so I did. You could see it in the nurses eyes, they knew what was going on with dad. They were very supportive of me, we even kept in touch. Anyway, dad would come and go to the hospital. I went home on night for a break from the atmosphere of the hospital.

    On September 18th 2008 my/our son was released from the hospital. I felt like a single mom in every way. Dad did come to the doctor’s appointments in the beginning, until he picked a fight with them or with me over what was being said about his/our son. He was too good to seek out help for himself, a bottle had all the answers he needed in the bottom of it.

    Things went from bad to worse in no time flat. He would pick fights. He started self medicating and then the drinking on top of it. He wished death upon me countless times. I became numb to his words and grew stronger for my son. I had to find a way out of this. The rollercoaster ride went on for a year.

    In October of 2009 his best friend and his wife (from before) witnessed Steve’s behavior after a phone call with me and came to me and told me that if I need a safe place for my/our son I can take him to their house. OMG this has to stop and it has to stop now! I called my contact with Help Me Grow and shared everything, leaving no detail behind. I was then told that she would have to report this to the domestic courts since they are mandated by the courts. I went the next day and filed for a temporary protection order. That evening I had a police officer meet me at my apartment to have dad removed and served with the protection order. He violated several times within the first month. We went to court and he agreed and signed a 5 year no contact order that would allow him to have supervised visits with our son with a member of my family in our son’s house. That was 1 year and a half ago.

    Regrets, nope! I would not have this beautiful angel of mine if I hadnt been so attracted and gaga for his badboy dada daddy. Would dad and I be together if Steven didnt have Down Syndrome? Nope! I had a traumatic childhood and I learned that I didn’t want to repeat history anymore, ever!!!

    This experience has made me stronger, stronger than I ever thought I could be. I know alot of moms refer to themselves as mama bears but that day in the hospital blocking the path to my son I felt like an eagle with my arms spread open ready to peck anyone that got in my way. I’m glad that I’m on the road less traveled, its a wonderful life experience! I have meet people and have had some of the best conversations with strangers, and before I would never speak to strangers. My son has his own little celebrity status in town, its like being on an episode of Cheers everyday, because everyone knows his name!

    While I was pregnant I had dreams of my lilguys future. He would be my music man, play the drums and love to sing. Dada daddy wanted him to have his dancing skills because well, I can’t dance. He and I both dreamed of a soccer star, following dad’s footsteps in the world of soccer. How cute he would be with me as his mom and Steve as his dad. We would raise our son to be the best he could be and allow him to explore the world and create his own lifepath. After learning about the DS diagnosis I did wonder how he would be able to live out my dreams and that’s what I grieved the most, the life I had planned for him.

    So now that he is almost 3 years old… he is without a doubt heaven sent. He has a smile that can light up a room and command attention. He can even smile with his eyes, such beautiful baby blues. My Christmas cards last year had a picture that I took of his eyes and it said “seeing is believing, believing in the magic of Christmas.” Anyway, he is my music man. He loves to sing along with Usher, Kesha, Brunno Marrs, G Love, Jack Johnson, Lady Gaga, anything top 40 and he loves old school hip hop! He dance moves are hands down awesome, I have captured his moves on video dancing to Ludacris’ Low Low Low…hysterical! He plays the piano (even with his toes) he plays the drums, he plays the harmonica and the tamborine. He kicks the ball very well so soccer may be soon, we’ll see. His world is wide open and he can do whatever he wants to do. Does he need help, yeah until he learns to do it on his own. He is strong willed, stubborn, outgoing, curiuos, independent, humorious, compassionate, intelligent, and all of the things you would expect from an almost 3 year old boy. He is a ham, he is destined to go great places and do great things. The sky is the limit for my guy. We have a few mottos… breaking the mold and paving the way one day at a time, I may have Down Syndrome but Down Syndrome doesn’t have me!

    And my bedtime motto (that I rarely share) MommMomm loves you, MommMomm loves you very, very much. MommMomm will do whatever her can to protect you to keep you safe from harm. MommMomm will always, always be here for you. MommMomm will always, always be in your dreams, so you sleep tight, you have sweet dreams, you cal me if you need me. MommMomm loves you, MommMomm loves you very, very much!

    I have said this to him since day one, no excuses! My son deserves to have the chance to live the life he is meant to have and do it to the best of his abilities. What have I learned about myself….

    I have learned what it truely means to be loved and to give/show love. People stop us just to say how nice it is to see the love he has for his mom in his eyes. I have learned to advocate for him and those who have yet to walk this path. I have learned to live life in the moment. We live moment to moment and we make the most of each moment. I have learned that I was meant to be his mom and he was meant to be his son. He teaches me something about myself everyday. And when the right guy comes along for me, it will be when the time is right and he too will be heaven sent because no oridnary man will do, Steven will find him for us because if he cant handle Steven then he’s not for us! I have learned that I have family values that I never knew existed. Am I perfect, uh nope and I dont want to be!

    One last tidbit….we all have special needs, a friend taught me that. Such a profound statement for me to hear, it put things into pespective for me and made me feel like we belonged too.

    It has taken me almost 3 years to get to this place, to share every ounce of my life with total strangers, to open up, to be truely honest and have no fear of what others may think or say about me and my life choices. Everything happens for a reason and things happened to me that shaped who I was as an adult. There is no need to judge others – we have no idea what shoes they had to walk in. And it has taken me all day to write this for posting. But it has been awesome to finally let it all out and let my voice/story be heard. There is more but I think this was a great start. So thank you for giving me this chance to share my story. You can find me on the Baby Center Down syndrome board…I am MommMomm and you can see my lilguy on youtube dancing, talking, playing music, and checking out the ladies…such a ham. His channel is steviejoecool

    I hope I helped someone in someway!

  3. Judith says:

    I should start by saying that I am techincially married. Technically because we have not divorced but are living seperately and have been for over 1 1/2 years. He lives overseas and I have no family and very few friends in our current place. I have had to use state support like respite quite often. I have 3 young children, the youngest who is 4 yrs old happens to have Ds. I make sure all my kids participate in activities (sports, girl scouts, camps, etc) and stay busy. I also travel with them and try to get out and experience life as much as possible. I am currently planning a camping trip. I am also a full time college student. It’s definantly busy, stressful at times, and can be lonely, but I have 3 awesome kids who keep me going. I can’t imagine life without any one of them. And all the laughs and love make everything worth it.

  4. kathleen ferrara says:

    Single but far from Alone

    I am the luckiest mom in the world. I am a single mom with a child with Down syndrome and life is pretty wonderful. I get to have this beautiful angel all to myself, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Yes, raising a child by yourself can be challenging, and raising a child with different needs can have its own unique set of obstacles, but you get through these obstacles and keep going. Not just because you have to, but because you want to. That is what happens when you fall in love. Your own problems become miniscule and you find a way to make things work. Being a single parent gives you the freedom to come up with own solutions, and do you what feel is right for your child.

    My Background

    My daughter has never met her father. He left me when I was 2 months pregnant. When I called him after Kathryn was born, he simply said, “congratulations” as if I had conceived her by myself. I took him to
    court for child support and he actually offered not to see her if we decreased the amount of child support rewarded to me! So really, why would I even what this person near my daughter much less let him help
    me raise her?

    Being a single parent does not mean you are alone. The friends that I have made through the Down syndrome support groups are the most amazing, understanding people I have ever met. This “underground society” is like a second family. And they are everywhere! You will be in a store and someone will approach you that “belongs.” I urge a single parent to utilize these people for support and understanding, as well as using them to help with babysitting, transporting or for just an hour or two of respite. I promise, they won’t mind!

    Ok, I admit….

    Sure, there are things that are challenging about being a single parent; having only one income, finding sitters, arranging work schedules, never going to the bathroom again without the door open… but these things are managable. And there are some pretty major things that single parents with typical children don’t need to worry. Who is going to care for my care for my child if/when something happens to me? What if I can’t make a therapy appointment because of work? Who else can provide the special care I give to my child when I am unavailable? Scary stuff, I know. But you are not alone in these fears. Talk to someone about these worries:
    a parent, a best friend, a sibling, a therapist, or anyone you trust, Chances are most people that have met your child would do anything for him/her.

    There are times that I am angry, and sad, and frustrated. As we all know, being a parent is the most difficult job in he world. But when she looks at me and smiles and I melt. She doesn’t feel cheated by not having two parents, so why should I feel cheated? After all, she doesn’t see a single mom when she looks at me, she sees her family. So you just do it. You be the best parent possible and it pays off again and again.

    The greatest thing about being a single parent is the bond that grows between you and your child. There is an unbreakable connection that forms when you are both parents to your child. Don’t get me wrong, there are times I would love to have a partner to share my joy, but for right now, I am going to be a little bit selfish and keep her all to myself.

    To all the single ladies…

    Please feel free to contact me to talk, to scream, to cry or just to say “hello.” I have learned so much in the last two years about Down syndrome, being a parent, as well as things I never imagined about myself. Now, I would love to hear your story!
    Thanks,

    Kathleen Ferrara
    kfer621061@aol.com

  5. Shannon Kelley says:

    I am a single parent to a beautiful little girl who just turned 1 last week. She has never met her father. When he found out I was pregnant he told me that if I went through with it, he would never speak to me again. So I told him to take care and moved on with my life.
    His family does not know that he has a daughter so she has never met them either.

    I was 37 when I had Ashlyn and she is my only child. So we are a small family but I think that only makes us closer.

    It can be challenging being a single parent, but since her father has never been involved, I don’t know any other way. I suspect it is probably harder if you got used to counting on someone and then had to get used to doing things on your own. My family does not live in the same city as me but they help out whenever possible. My friends have also been amazing – They have been a constant source of support and love for both Ashlyn and myself. And we have a nanny who loves Ashlyn as if she were her own. I do not feel that Ashlyn lacks for anything in her life – she is surrounded by love.

    I think one of the bonuses of being a single parent is that people are more willing to offer to help. I think when you have a spouse, people assume that you get your support from him. I have learned to be a lot better about asking for help and accepting it when it is offered.

    Oh, about the Down syndrome – I almost forgot. I had no idea Ashlyn had Down syndrome until after she was born. There were no indicators on any of her ultrasounds. So it was a shock, and the news was not delivered well, and I went through a pretty emotional time for a few months. Now that a year has passed, I cannot imagine my life without her, and would not change one single chromosome.

    I think the best advice I can give you is to remember that you can do it. You are strong enough and your love is all that baby really needs.

    Shannon

  6. Tina Dyches says:

    These are important issues for single parents of children with Down syndrome to discuss. We are currently conducting research on some of these issues and would love to have more feedback from single mothers. Our survey can be accessed here: http://education.byu.edu/down_syndrome_study.html

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