Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"I love her."

While driving to Leah’s appointment at the Down syndrome clinic today, I saw a few protesters outside of a Planned Parenthood. One held a sign proudly saying,”Abortion stops the beat of a heart.” Another sign read, “Abortion kills babies.”

As I kept driving I realized that some mothers might just be going in that building to “get rid of” a baby with a disability, most-likely even Down syndrome.

How sad.

I was talking about Leah on the phone this morning with Steven and he said, “I love her.”

He says this all the time. We all “love her.”

But there was something different about this “I love her.”

It was pure.

It was sensitive.

It was beautiful.

It was true.

It was the type of statement that melts your heart.

Leah does that to us. She makes us all want to be better then we were before. I don’t know why.

Is it her spirit?

Is it her disability?

Is it us reacting to her disability?

Who knows?

How many daddies will never know this feeling because their baby wasn’t good enough?

How many mamas will regret their “choice” every day because they were so selfish?

No one wants to have a child with a disability; none of us want to see our children suffer but…

I love what Down syndrome has done for me and my family. I am grateful for Leah, every second of every day, disability included.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Old House (Jennifer Sones)

When my baby was born with Down syndrome, I received a writing, called “Welcome to Holland,” by Emily Perl Kingsley, from my local support group. I am grateful for the inspiration which has been felt by many who read it and love that was put into creating it. I would like to relate my experience with a different analogy of the feelings involved when having a child with a disability.

For years, you save for your dream home and the time has come to buy! You walk through several houses, many of which are interesting, but not quite perfect.

Finally you find THE house. The location is great. It has 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, hardwood floors, and one entire wall is a giant window showing the most breath-taking view that you have ever seen.

Everyone you know is happy for you and your new house. You can’t wait to move in.

On the day you are scheduled to close, you receive a call from your lawyer explaining that the homeowners changed their minds and have decided not to sell.

You are shocked and sad. You have planned, waited, and prepared for this house, but now it is gone. You picked out new paint colors and decorated it in your mind at least a million times. You wonder, “How could this happen to me?” You think you will never find your perfect house again.

You remember a cute little house in the city that you walked through a few months earlier. There was something about that house which was comforting when you were there and the need for a home of your own is still strong. You decide to put an offer in for this house. Your bid is accepted. You move in within weeks.

When you tell everyone about the loss of your “perfect” house and plans for moving into the second one, you receive many condolences. Everyone is sad for you and all of your friends and family wish they could “fix it.” Nobody thinks it is fair.

You go to the new-older house immediately after you close. You wonder why you didn’t realize that it was so close to your favorite store. As you walk in the front door, you see a beautiful window, full of stained-glass artwork, which was hidden by a curtain before. As you continue to walk through, you notice the stained and dirty carpet, decide to look at what is underneath, and are amazed by hardwood floors which are even more elegant than those in the other house. There are only 3 bedrooms but two of them have adjoining bathrooms with awesome claw-foot, porcelain tubs which are very deep, and you can’t wait to soak in them.

You begin to realize what made you like this house initially. There is sweet character here. It is unique. There are rooms attached to rooms and many hidden spaces that you never expected to see. This house will need work and there are things about it that aren’t quite “perfect,” but you kind of like the imperfections; they add to the personality of the house. You immediately develop pride and love for this house because it is yours, imperfections, beauty, character, and all.

You can’t wait to tell those you care for how much you love your new home. You want to show it off to everyone and let them know how very excited you are. You don’t want to feel sadness anymore; you love this house and wouldn’t have it any other way. The other house would have been nice too but the one you were given will bring you just as much joy so there is no need for condolences. This home is where you belong, you know it, accept it, and love it. You will be happy here and look forward to the experiences you will have within its walls.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Reloading pages...

The online Down syndrome community is a strong one, even though most of us will never meet in person.

We share joy, inspiration, sadness, grief, frustration, love, and teaching one another, as parents who are dealing with some of the same issues our sweet little ones may face.

Because of our community, the face of Down syndrome is changing.

Children have more opportunities then ever imagined before.

Teenagers are graduating high school with general education degrees, and even as members of the National Honor Society.

Adults are going to, and graduating, college, marrying, living independently, and experiencing very fulfilling lives.

Life as a person with Down syndrome can be a beautiful thing.

Maybe this is why there is a fantastic bond which connects the parents of these inspirational people.

It doesn’t matter what your political or spiritual beliefs may be; what color your skin is or what country you live in; whether you are a multi-millionaire (which most of us wish we were ;)) or collecting welfare; there is a very unique tie between us all.

The last week has been a very tough one for us. We have lost a beautiful princess and have other children who are critically ill.

We have been continuously reloading blogs and Facebook pages, to get a glimpse of hope that all is well with those we love.

It is because of this indescribable, yet amazing, bond we share which makes weeks like these so hard. We mourn for our brothers and sisters, their families, and those incredible children who we feel so close to.

We realize life is so very fragile, especially when you are faced with the many medical concerns which go along with Down syndrome.

We put ourselves in our friends’ shoes because we could very well be in the same place some day.

Our hearts break for those we love, and our days are filled with prayer for them, at least I that's the way it is for me...

“ And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (D&C 122:7)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's Just a Word

Leah’s newest favorite thing to do is swing, so yesterday we swung at the coolest park in town.

Swinging next to us was a cute little girl with the biggest blue eyes that I’ve ever seen. We began to make silly faces at one another while her parents were chatting.

I wasn’t eavesdropping, I swear.

But then all of the sudden, out of nowhere, like semi-truck racing down a West Virginia mountain, this woman said, “He always acts like a retard.”

My heart stopped.

My face flushed.

My soul ached.

It was if time stopped for a split second.

The tears were very hard to control.

I know, I know, this sounds silly to most people. It’s just a word, right?

Actually, it is a word I have used 1,000,000,000 times in my life.

I didn’t associate Down syndrome with “retard”. Heck, I didn’t even know what Down syndrome was.

I never meant it to hurt anyone and I am sure this woman, with the blue-eyed beauty, meant no harm.

But boy, it hurts now.

Why does one word cause so much pain?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

At First Glance

With Leah’s birth, came a multitude of blessings.

Our family has become a stronger unit.

Our lives have been enriched.

Our souls have been uplifted.

We’ve seen miracles which are too numerous to count.

Leah has made our lives simpler and sweeter.

Life with Leah is amazing and the tough days seem to be disappearing, for this I am extremely grateful, because those tough days are SO hard!

We have been blessed by strangers and “special friends” (who happen to be anonymous) who have seen needs which we have, and tried to satisfy them. We have received gifts of love simply because Leah is who she is.

Leah brings out the best in everyone at first glance… how many of us can say that?

I am eternally grateful for the blessings and love which have been a part of our family for the past nine months.

Some day I will repay every one of them.

I promise.