Sun Shine Down

"Lifting my hand, I placed it on my breastbone and slid it towards my navel. My mid-section felt numb. Pushing down, it was as if I tapped another person's toneless stomach. White gauze held my empty abdomen tight. I had been eight months pregnant."


What if? What if you dreamed of having a beautiful child and in your mind you saw the life you'd share with that child. First steps, little league (or ballet). Maybe the child would play piano or make you proud on the Honor Roll. There'd be eventual graduations, college, even marriage and grandchildren. You might dream it out that far. Or not. Every parent has hopes. No parents wish for pain—their own, or a child's. Then you had a premature delivery in a foreign country. And the words swirling around you said a different kind of "what if." What if something was wrong? The dream was at risk—or so it seemed. Would you be ready for that? Could you make peace? Or would it take you down? These are the questions author Gillian Marchenko faced as she woke up after an emergency C-section in Ukraine. Only her newborn child could answer them, in time. But first she had to find a way to hear more than the words "Down syndrome."


Gillian Marchenko is the author of the memoirs Still Life, A Memoir of Living Fully with Depression, and Sun Shine Down, a book about her third child’s birth and diagnosis of Down syndrome while living in Kyiv, Ukraine. Gillian is a national speaker and advocate for individuals with mental illness and special needs. She has written for many publications including Literary MamaChicago ParentThriving Family, and Today’s Christian Woman. Gillian and her husband Sergei live with their four daughters near St. Louis, Missouri. Catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.