The numbness trickled thru every cell in my body. This wasn’t happening. Surreal probably described it best. In one second our entire life changed forever. Our naïve selves believed the vision of our “perfect” family was utterly shattered… Down syndrome. AVSD.

The drive home from the doctor’s office was silent and filled with tears. Lying in bed that night was mostly silent and filled with tears. So many thoughts running thru the brain, feeling overwhelmed and speechless. Why us? Why me? Why our baby? What does this mean? What is Down Syndrome? What will be her quality of life? Countless questions and not enough answers.

Then in the fog of emotions that infamous night I felt something. At first, I was too distracted in my thoughts to notice. But then there it was again, in the midst of our sorrow and grief, Brooke Renee’s first kick in my belly. At that defined moment there was sudden peace and comfort. There we were, mourning the loss of the baby we thought we were supposed to have when Brooke taught us everything will not only be ok, but will be great. That moment is forever imprinted in me.

That is what Brooke does, she is constantly teaching us and everyone around her. Brooke has taught us what is truly valuable in life. She has taught us love, compassion, acceptance, perseverance, flexibility, selflessness, and patience. She has introduced us to the beautiful down syndrome community where we have met the most incredibly people. If it was not for Brooke, the many friendships we have cultivated in the down syndrome community would have never come to fruition.

No longer do we selfishly questions why us, because why not us? No longer do we  believe our ‘perfect’ family is shattered, because our family is more perfectly imperfect now than ever. No longer do we shed tears of sadness, the tears now are filled with the purest form of joy. Are we still overwhelmed and speechless? Absolutely! Because words simply cannot fully describe what Brooke has done for us. We are better people because of her. Our life is better because of her.

Everyone in my life knows I am a planner. I cannot help but needing everything planned and scheduled. I am certain my husband think’s it is both a blessing and curse! When we received the diagnosis from the doctor, we received a care package from the local Down syndrome support group called DSIA. Within the care package was an outdated calendar. I used to carry this around everywhere. It was filled with beautiful children with Down syndrome. For some unexplainable reason it brought comfort to see all the precious faces. On these pictures had quotes and that is when I came across the quote from John Campbell. This literally changed my life and brought me to tears. It taught me that I needed to simply let go. I cannot control every aspect of my life and I am better for it.

The unknown is absolutely terrifying. Especially when a family receives the initial diagnosis, the parents can feel so utterly alone and helpless. Nevertheless, our local down syndrome community has transformed our journey with Brooke. They have been nothing by supportive, knowledgeable, experienced, and everything in-between. I want nothing more than to share my knowledge and experiences to new families, to pay it forward. The DSIA care package we received and subsequent support literally made all the difference. I want nothing more to help expand on that support to include a physical place that new parents can find comfort. Furthermore, one of my husband’s initial fears was Brooke’s future. What does it mean to have down syndrome as an adult? This is another reason why we are so excited for GiGi’s Playhouse because it serves all ages. We are absolutely thrilled to be as part of GiGi’s Playhouse and everything it has to offer to the Down syndrome community.




  1. Deanna Marsh on January 11, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    Beautifully expressed by an extraordinary mother. Ashley & Joey’s decision to bring Brooke into this world has not only expanded their lives with love and happiness but has given their family and friends a great amount of joy. Brooke has taught us all how to smile 😊

  2. Kyla on January 11, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    Brooke has been such a blessing to everyone in our family. She’s changed my outlook on Down syndrome (which I didn’t even realize I needed my eyes opened to what DS truly means) Brooke is the sweetest little lady with such a full loving heart and added so much love to our family. I admire you for sharing your story so openly and hopefully this will help other parents-to-be

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