How Can I Help My Friend Get Through This?

Updated on June 05, 2007
J.H. asks from Burlington, VT
11 answers

I just got a call from my best friend and she tearfully told me that her baby had been born this morning, a girl with down syndrome. The baby has to go in for heart surgery right away. My friend is having a hard time feeling affection for her daughter. I told her that is normal and it will get better over time. I told her she can handle this, ect. I really didn't feel like I was much help. I don't know what to say. I don't want to be cheesy over-positive or too pessimistic. How can I best help her through this? Not just now but in the coming months and years. I don't know much about downs syndrome. She is a wonderful, strong woman who is married to a man the same and they have a 5 year old boy. Right now she is going thru a "why me?" phase and I can't blame her. She's been thru so much hardship with her first child...this time was supposed to be the picture-perfect round. I feel so badly for her. I also find myself feeling guilty because I have a perfect 6 month old girl and I don't want to talk to my friend about her now in case that will make her feel worse! Any advice on how to best handle this delicate situation would be very appreciated.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Buffalo on

I have a mentally handicapped stepdaughter and I just recently came across this article. Maybe you could write it out and send it in a "Thinking of You" card. It made me see the whole big picture. Here it is:

by Emily Pearl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this:

When your're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans... the Coliseum, Michaelangelo's David, the gondolas of Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!", you say. "what do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life, I've dreamed of going to Italy!"

The stewardess replies, "There's been a change in the flight plan. We've landed in Holland and it is here you must stay."

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It is just a different place. So, you must go and buy new guidebooks. You must learn a whole new language. You will meet a whole new group of people you would never had met. It is just a different place. It is slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy, but after you have been there while and you catch your breath, you look around and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrants. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That is what I had planned."

The pain of that will never, ever, ever go away because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

It's a very emapthetic and accurate portrayal of raising a special needs child. It is also beautifully written and brings peace to many. I hope she finds that in her new baby: Peace and beauty! Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Utica on

no answer is going to be right. Just be available to her when she wants to talk, and don't try to downplay her situation too much. Like any major disappointment in life, she will adjust in time, and find some good and some beauty in her baby girl. Being a good friend doesn't mean you can cure all that ills your pals, but remaining constant and loving to her is the heart of genuine friends.



answers from New London on

Honestly all she can do is love her special child as I do my downs 10 y.o. little boy



answers from Utica on

I know its tough right now but the best thing for you to do is be there for them. Maybe make some dinners they can freeze and listen. Listening is so important. Your friend needs to know this isn't her fault or anyone's it just happened.



answers from Scranton on

Maybe she should seek couciling, or try a support group for parents of children with down syndrome. Remind her that she has a beautiful baby, that needs her. It sounds like she is either feeling sorry for herself too much, or has some kind of depression. Just keep an eye on her for any unusual or strange behavior. Turn your attention to the babies, don't focus on her negative talk. The babies need the attention, and to know that they are special, and loved. If she is feeling sorry for herself, you will just feed on it, if you reward her behavior with attention. If she sees someone else treating her child like normal, she will get over it. Unless of course, there is another problem, that has nothing to do with the baby, like postpartum depression. In a case like that you need to watch them carefully. So, like I said, just keep an eye on her, that her behavior isn't abnormal for her.



answers from Binghamton on

the best thing you can do is recomend a counselor. and asap. the sooner she gets help the sooner she can start to deal with what has happened.

there are many many many different kinds of downs. and i can speak from my own life that people with downs are the most loyal loving and kind people i have ever met. i grew up with Dede a woman with downs living with my family and she was amazing (she now lives on her own in an group home and has her own dog walking business. not bad for a person whos parents were told would never be anything.)

get her books on downs there are good ones that dont do the whole horrid outlook thing.

but most of all tell her that this child is a blessing not a curse. she will learn (on a slower scale but she will) she will love and she will always be there to love her mom.

I really hope this helped,

never pitty her, or her child. never feel sorry for her because then she will be justified in feeling the same-be her friend and remind her that though downs sounds horrible her little girl was born with 10 fingers and 10 toes, and some people arent so lucky to be given this gift of a child.
In the end if she cant cope with her childs condition adoption is always an option (no one wants to say it but there are women across this country that would give their entire lives to have ANY CHILD.)



answers from Albany on

I don't know if your friend has faith to fall back upon, but I would recommend saying things like, "God gives the strongest the biggest challenges cause he knows they can handle them.", or something along those lines. I had a miscarriage last year, and although it was a heinous experience (I hemmorhaged and visited two ERs while on VACATION), I got through it fine thinking about that fact. God has a plan, and she is part of it. Good luck with this matter!



answers from Buffalo on

Hi J.~ I am so sorry that your friend is going through this right now. My son was born clubfooted and with several heart problems. I can only speak from this experience. It is overwhelming to digest the information that your hopes for a perfect baby aren't what you thought. The not knowing of what is in store for you or your child are difficult. And the after pregnancy hormones don't help at all. My advice for you would be to get your friend a beautiful baby gift and go visit her and her newborn. Hopefully she will seek support, but also be careful with that as well. Online support groups can be overwhelming as well. She should write down all of her questions and start with her pediatrician, and see if he can recommend a developmental pediatrician. Just be there for her is all you can do right now. My son had casts from 11 days old on and then a brace, EVERYONE asked so many questions. She may have to prepare herself for the nosey people out there as well. That was a difficult thing to deal with. don't feel bad that you have a healthy baby, she will be this baby's friend and she will have a greater tolerance for people with differences. I hope all that I said makes sense. I love my son and all of the hurdles we have overcome have made us a stronger family, and she will come to see that as well. Take care



answers from Syracuse on

I am so sorry your friend is going through this. I have a cousin with down's syndrome (she is now 15 years old), but when she was born, my aunt was devastated. I think the best thing you can do for her right now is educate yourself on down's syndrome so you can somewhat understand what your friend has in store for her. Also, it will show your friend that you care. You should also just tell your friend how sorry you are and let her know that you will be there for her no matter what. Offer to babysit her other child as often as possible, so she can have some quality time with the new baby. Maybe you could also find local down's syndrome groups (I know there are a few out there) and recommend them to your friend for support.
I wish you the best, and I hope your friend is able to evetually bond with her new baby.
:) -P.



answers from Hartford on

I have not been in this situation but I can tell you what I would do.... Be there for her at her time of need or just to sit and relax (if you can). Also when you get the chance (I know your busy with your own 6mo) go, hold the new baby and show the little girl the love and affection she deserves. Maybe if she sees you loving on her new baby she might be inclined to do the same. The baby did not ask to be born "messed up", it just happened. She is still a living breathing being that needs more love because she has no clue why she is here and why she isn't working well. I feel equilly for mom, dad, brother, and new baby - they all are dealing with a lot and all need just as much love - they should turn to each other and all friends and family! Remind your friend that it can't be easy coming out of the playdo fun factory of life, getting your head squeezed, then breathing air for the first time, then being rushed to have your chest cut open and funny tubes stuck in you... when just a little while ago you were in nice warm water, sucking your thumb, listening to the radio (mom's heartbeat), what a way for vacation to end... (on the lighter side) - I wish you and your friend and her family much luck and love... You never know she could only be slightly "damaged" and grow up to do wonderful things for this world!

S. B.



answers from Syracuse on

Hi J.,
I would just be there for whatever she needs -- a shoulder to cry on, someone to help with her son while she and her husband are at the hospital, whatever. You could pray for her and the whole family too.
I would suggest she take a look at glyconutrition -- it has helped some children with Down's Syndrome (not made them completely "normal," but made some improvements in quality of life. She can go to to learn about the science.
I'll say a prayer for their family.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches