What do you do when you find out the baby you are carrying has a birth defect? Choosing Naia: A Family's Journey follows the lives of a 30-something couple who discover that their child will be born with Down syndrome from their decision to continue the pregnancy through the baby's first years of life.
Exerpted from Choosing Naia, by Mitchell Zuckoff.
"Don't worry, mom. everything will be fine" Mom, did you have a baby shower?" "No, Tierney. But there was a reason."
Tierney Temple-Fairchild and her mother, Joan Temple, were passing time in Tierney's car, driving northeast on Interstate 84 outside Hartford. It was a late afternoon in early May. The sun was bright, the spring air was warm, and new leaves graced the trees lining the highway. Forsythia bushes were ablaze with yellow blossoms.
Mother and daughter had been talking about work, weather, and nothing terribly important. Then Tierney casually asked about the shower. The question brought to her mother's mind a memory, long buried in the place that stores unsent letters, unpaid debts, and unmade apologies. Joan could see no reason not to share it with her youngest child.
It was forty years ago, Joan began. She was a young married woman, around Tierney's age, pregnant with the first of her three children, Tierney's brother, George. As she neared the end of her pregnancy, one of her closest friends delivered a stillborn child. It came as a devastating shock; the friend had already painted the nursery, assembled a layette, and dreamed the dreams of all happy first-time mothers.
After her friend's loss, Joan told Tierney, she wouldn't allow anyone to throw her a baby shower. She didn't want to celebrate in the wake of her friend's tragedy, and she didn't want to tempt fate by acting immune to such pain. Lightning had struck someone standing next to her, Joan figured, and she wasn't about to wave an umbrella in the air. No one could persuade her otherwise, and Joan had dug in her heels right up to the moment her water broke. She had so refused to prepare for a baby that Tierney's father had missed the birth of his namesake son. He was out buying a crib.
Tierney listened quietly. Normally she loved hearing family stories. But as Joan spoke, Tierney gripped the steering wheel and kept her eyes trained on the road ahead. When Joan finished, Tierney quickly changed the subject.
Tierney had a secret she was keeping from her mother, and the last thing she wanted to talk about was a stillborn child. That could lead to thoughts about bad omens and a mother's intuition, and no good could come of that. The conversation moved on, and Joan let the memory drop.
What Joan couldn't possibly have known was that next to her on the front seat, tucked safely in Tierney's purse, were the first recorded images of her first grandchild.
One night several weeks earlier, Tierney had been at home with her husband, Greg Fairchild, in the book-filled one-bedroom apartment they shared in a convenient but unlovely part of downtown Hartford. They had just come home from dinner at a nearby restaurant, and they were alone except for their excitable black poodle, Onyx.