1 Woman Found Out Her Baby Had Down Syndrome While Her Husband Was in the Army, and Her Story Is Powerful
Mother of two Hannah Lorain Seadschlag, 26, knew that because her husband, Brian, was in the Army reserves, there would probably be points when she was raising their children while he was away in training. What she wasn't prepared for while pregnant with their first child, however, was finding out that their unborn baby had Down syndrome shortly after Brian left for basic training for eight and a half months.
Unfortunately, Hannah had a high-risk pregnancy from the very beginning. "I bled for about 10 weeks and had placenta issues," said Hannah. "I did genetic testing around 13 weeks to find out the baby's sex before Brian left, because we wouldn't have any communication for a few months. With the results came the genetic test and we tested positive for the Down syndrome screening. I was told there was a chance the test was a false positive because of my compromised placenta, and if I wanted to be sure I would need an amnio."
"I was told if she had Down syndrome the chances of me carrying her to full term were slim."
At the time, Hannah forwent the amnio and opted to wait until her 20-week anatomy scan the day after her husband left for his post. It was then that doctors found issues with the baby's heart and sent her to a specialist.
"We learned she had a hole in her heart and one of the ventricles was not developing," explained Hannah. "I was told if she had Down syndrome, the chances of me carrying her to full term were slim, and if I could the chances of her surviving birth or not needing a heart transplant were slimmer. I was encouraged to end my pregnancy because of the unknowns and possible health conditions. A week later, we received the results that she did, in fact, have Down syndrome."
Hannah shared the news with Brian when he was home on leave for Christmas.
"I told him of everything that had happened since the day he left from her heart issues to the amnio and all the things in-between," she said. "When I told him she would have Down syndrome his response was so sweet. He said: 'OK' very nonchalantly. I told him that she wouldn't be 'normal.' At the point, he laughed and said, 'Well, of course she won't be normal. Neither one of us are normal. Normal is boring anyways.'"
"I told him that she wouldn't be 'normal.' At the point, he laughed and said, 'Well, of course she won't be normal. Neither one of us is normal. Normal is boring anyways.'"
Fast-forward a few months, and Hannah welcomed their new daughter Adaline into the world. "Her heart healed itself in utero, and other than some minor issues at birth, we have been blessed with a healthy little girl," said Hannah. "We were only in the NICU for a week."
But it was a difficult few days, regardless: "My advice to any mothers in a similar situation would be to allow yourself to feel all the feels," she said. "Cry when you need it. Ask for help when you need it. If you have to get angry, then get angry. Motherhood cracks open your soul and makes you feel things you didn't know you could. Don't suppress your feelings. Feel them, acknowledge what they are, and move on. Don't let fear rob you of your joy."
After months of waiting, Brian was finally able to meet his 4-month-old daughter in the airport. "It was honestly surreal," said Hannah. "That moment will be something I never forget. I can still remember the way the air felt in the morning. The way the sun shined through the airport. But I also remember feeling so scared."
"It had been 8 months since we had been together, and in those 8 months we both became two different people," she confessed. "We both experienced some of the toughest things we had ever gone through, and we did it apart. Both of us could never begin to understand what the other went through. And now we had this perfect daughter, who was half of us. Half of two people who didn't really know each other anymore."
Although the following months were magical for the new parents, getting into the swing of things had its challenges. "Having your husband away for so long changes you," she said. "And it takes a lot of work, patience, and determination to redate and get to know your spouse while also being a new parent."
Today, 3-year-old Adaline is in preschool and officially loving her new role in the family. She's a big sister!
"She is the most soft, gentle, kind, loving big sister. She nurtures her sister so much," said Hannah. "She responds to her cries and always makes sure she's OK. She's also in preschool now, and while we had a rough start with her leaving me, she is doing so well."
Hannah says that she owes all her success to the supportive Down syndrome community she's quickly become a part of. "This community is unlike any other," she said. "Tons of families from all over the country, even the world, who instantly have this connection and can relate to each other because of our special kiddos. Being Adeline's mom has motivated me and challenged me to advocate for people and families of all abilities."
Now, Hannah runs a YouTube channel, The Ups and Downs, with other parents who have children with Down syndrome, where she works to create a space where people from all walks of life can relate or even learn about the diagnosis. "Meeting families going through their diagnosis and being told that Adaline's life gives them hope makes all the bad days worth it, and all the good days better," said Hannah.