“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. I'll always be with you.”
~A.A. Milne, from "Winnie the Pooh"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time Just Keeps Slipping Into the Future.....

My dearest Bug,

Another birthday has come and gone. It wasn't an exciting one, but it was peaceful....and sometimes that's better than exciting anyway.
I still can't help but reminisce on all the things that have changed since my 33rd birthday. It seems most days that a lifetime has passed since then, instead of a single year.

One year ago, I thought that my world had crashed down around me. Open heart surgery was a scary ordeal looming on the horizon and Down's Syndrome was the most terrifying thing I had ever had to accept. A year ago, I was no where near accepting either one, and I was praying fervently that it had all been a bad dream that I would wake up from. I was one kind word away from bursting into tears at any given minute, I was consumed with guilt, with sadness, with fear, with overwhelming pain. The only things that I knew for certain were that I loved you beyond measure and that I would do anything, deal with anything, just to have you safely in my arms.

Now here we are. A mere 365 days later. Down's Syndrome ISN'T the worst thing I have to deal with. Open heart surgery wasn't the scariest thing I can ever imagine. And while you are still so small in size, I have learned from your amazingly big spirit....


20 Lessons From My Daughter
1. Live each and every moment as if it's your last. Hug those you love every chance you get, and tell them you love them on a regular basis.....
2. As Garth Brooks once said, sometimes God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. 
3. A gummy, toothless smile can brighten even the very worst day.
4. Be thankful. For every single little thing. 
5. Always dance to the beat of your own drummer. 
6. Look for miracles. They are every where, if only you take the time to see them.
7. I don't have to change the world. All I have to do is change the way I look at it.
8. An extra chromosome doesn't change who someone is. It makes them who they are.
9. Lydia Anne is perfect. There are no flaws in her. No errors. No mistakes. She is EXACTLY the beautiful creation that God intended her to be.
10. The scars she carries now are a constant reminder that she is whole. She is healthy. She is here....I never thought I would ever be so grateful for scars.
11. Her scars are visible to the naked eye. They will fade. Mine are invisible, but they'll fade too.
12. Love unconditionally.
13. I've cried enough to fill rivers and oceans....but each one released has made me a stronger person.
14. Faith isn't a two way street. God sometimes has way more faith in me than I do in Him, but He never lets that slow Him down.
15. You'll never truly appreciate Heaven until you have stumbled through the fires of Hell, with the Devil himself breathing down your neck.
16. Dreams come true. But sometimes you have to work extra hard to help them along.
17. Choose your friends wisely. True friends love and support you even when you're ugly and mean, through your highs and lows, and know all your dirty secrets but still love you anyway.
18. I am capable of so much more than I ever give myself credit for.
19. This little DS club wasn't one I wanted to join. But it's pretty darn awesome just the same.
20. Holland is absolutely breathtaking.........

It's funny. Just when I think I have it all figured out, I learn something new. I think I can easily live through the next 34 years and still be finding out that God still has oodles to teach me.

I know I couldn't ask for a more precious teacher than you, Liddy. :)
I love you so much. You leave me wide eyed in wonder every single day. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Dearest Liddy,

 This upcoming week holds within it one of my favorite days of the year....my birthday. Somehow even though I rarely get presents anymore and that day adds yet another year to my age, I'm still like a kid every year when September 21st rolls around. 
This year is birthday # 34. 34! Wow! 

I suppose that one of these days I will start dreading the ever upward climb of years. But for now, I just feel grateful to have watched another year pass me by.

Last year's birthday sucked. Period. Instead of being celebrated with the usual fanfare, it passed with hardly any acknowledgement. The week before we had found out about your heart defect and DS was confirmed. I spent my day wrapped in a haze of tears.
But I just have to say that looking at your gorgeous face, this year just might be the best birthday yet. I am without fear, without dread, without sadness, without worry. I am overflowing with peace, joy, and love so deep that it knows no bounds. I am the recipient of God's amazing mercy, His amazing grace, and the mama of two of His greatest blessings. I find that, right now, at this moment, I could not ask for more. 

I'm Alive~Kenny Chesney
So damn easy to say that life’s so hard
Everybody’s got their share of battle scars
As for me I’d like to thank my lucky stars that
I’m alive, and well

It’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me, I’m alive

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin' in and out's a blessin' can’t you see
Today's the first day of the rest of my life
And I’m alive, and well
I’m alive, and well

Stars are dancin’ on the water here tonight
It’s good for the soul, when there’s not a soul in sight
But this boat has caught its wind and brought me back to life
Now I’m alive, and well

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin' in and out's a blessing can’t you see
Today is the first day of the rest of my life
Now I’m alive, and well
Yeah I’m alive, and well

Yep, I'm alive and well. :)

I love you, sugarplum.......

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

She's a Super Star....

Well, we didn't win the Parent's magazine contest, despite all of our hard work. She did come in 10th out of hundreds of photos though, so that alone is something to be VERY proud of! And no matter what, she's absolutely a superstar to us! 
This last week, my wee little Bug said "dada". Her daddy is busting his buttons with pride. :) I keep trying to get her to say "mama" but she usually just laughs.....

Just about the cutest thing I have ever seen, I swear. Haha. You'd think I'd never had a baby before! 

We also figured out that Liddy does indeed have a favorite Sesame Street character. Not one of the usual suspects for this baby though...oh no. Not Elmo, or Big Bird, or Zoe for this discerning taste. Her favorite is the little alien who always says "Yep. Yep yep. Ummmmhmmmm." She gets so freakin excited! It cracks me up. Of course this might just be because her very silly Mommy and Daddy usually mimic that alien, which really makes her laugh. :)

It's so hard to imagine that just last year we didn't even know this tiny girl yet. And now, I can't conceive of a world without her in it!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Memories...Light The Corners of My Mind.....

I already wrote one post today. That would typically be the end of my writing. But I just realized (thank you Facebook!) that tomorrow marks an anniversary of sorts. Not your typically happy memory type of anniversary, one of a bittersweet nature. 
Last year, on September 13th, we awoke to a normal morning with a little twist. We were heading to the doctor to get another glimpse of our baby girl. I remember being so excited, as I always was when it was time for a glimpse of that pretty face. 

That visit started like every other one that had come before. We watched in awe as our Lydia filled the screen, smiling, waving, rolling around and being her general ornery self for the ultrasound tech. Then in came Dr. Landwehr. He was about to rock our world. 
When checking our precious angel's heart, he saw an anomaly. On closer inspection, he turned to us and said that our baby had something wrong with her heart. I barely remember anything he said after that, except for his urging us to have an amnio NOW so that we could know exactly what we were dealing with. With tears already streaming down my face and John sitting beside me looking like he had just been punched in the gut, we agreed. 
Which led to the other bittersweet anniversary that will come later in the week. The day we got the phone call that forever changed our lives. The amnio came back as positive for Down's Syndrome.

What a truly awful week that was. I cried until I felt I didn't have any tears left. And then, I cried more. To say I was devastated doesn't even begin to cover the emotions I was feeling. I screamed at God, I mourned the precious girl of my dreams, I fell to my knees and begged God to fix it, to make the doctors be wrong. 

And then it came. A quiet acceptance. It didn't come like a revelation. It didn't enter with fanfare, or a flash of lightning, or a clap of thunder. It gently slipped within my heart, washing away the tears with a breath of peace, and filled my soul with overwhelming love for this precious, precious miracle.

I can't say that I still didn't mourn that baby that I thought I was going to have. I did. But I also came to realize that nothing else mattered except for getting her here on Earth safe and sound. And I fell in love with her more with every passing day....her spunk, her smile, her beautiful face. I thought before she was born that I couldn't possibly love her any more. 

Until I looked into her face.

It's kind of funny how just when you think that your heart is completely full of love, it expands to let in more. 
Looking back, I wouldn't trade my precious angel for a hundred other "normal" babies. I wouldn't change one single thing about her. I would gladly go through the 3 weeks of the NICU stay, and open heart surgery, and 2 weeks in the ICU all over again if it meant that I got to keep the most precious gift I have ever been given. I would walk through the very fires of Hell for this tiny girl in an instant, if it was asked of me. 

This family was not whole until she was in it. 
Just as she is.
So here's to the passing of year number one, without the heartache, confusion, and pain. In its place is left pure, simple joy and immense gratefulness.
I can fall on my knees in praise before God a hundred thousand times and it will never be enough to express how much I thank Him for my beautiful daughter.

Recognized as an Official Member of the Club

Dearest Liddy,
When you were born, I worried about how the world in general would accept you. Would they stare at you? Would they pity us? Would they think that you are less than the amazing creation you are just because you might look a little different? These are not worries that I am proud of having but it is what it is.
It didn't take long to find that this isn't an issue that we have run into much so far. I can only think of three strangers who have ever approached us and said anything about you having Down's Syndrome. The first completely stunned me speechless. Not because what was said was unkind in any way. Simply because by that time I had gotten used to it NOT being remarked on. The second left me full of motherly indignation. Again not because anything was said unkindly, but because this, I'm sure, well meaning lady told me that you were beautiful but all babies with Down's Syndrome were beautiful. This left me bristling because in MY eyes, you aren't beautiful because you have Down's Syndrome. You're beautiful just because you are you. 

 All of which leads me to the third random encounter. I took you to the doctor on Thursday. As soon as we walked in, I noticed a beautiful little girl, probably around 9 years old, sitting with her mom in the waiting room. I knew instantly that we were part of the same special club. As I sat down with you and settled you into my lap, the little girl was completely fascinated by you. As she chattered away to you, I think you instantly recognized that little bit of something extra in her as well, and rewarded her with a blinding grin. And (as I choked back tears) she turned to her mom and whispered, "Look Mommy. She's just like me." Even though her mom and I never exchanged a word, the smile between us spoke volumes. It was a "Hello. I know you. You're part of the club too" look.
This entire exchange took probably less than 5 minutes. Caleb, who was sitting right beside us, didn't even notice. Yet it sincerely touched my heart. 

As we were leaving, we passed another little boy in the parking lot. Again, I just KNEW. And as we got in the car, I remarked to Caleb that in all the times I have taken you to that doctor's office, I have never run into anyone else who had Down's Syndrome. He said, "What? Who had Down's Syndrome?". As I told him, he looked at me in shock and said, "But how did you know?"
I just did. My heart saw that extra magical chromosome from a mile away, and recognized, without speaking, another member of this wonderful club we now belong to.

I know that seemingly insignificant encounter is one that I will be carrying around in my heart for a long time. 
"But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart"~Luke 2:19

I love you, my wee Bug.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In Honor of The Day the World Stood Still

I had planned to write this post on Saturday. However, due to a small lapse in my organizational skills, I find that come Saturday evening, I will be frantically trying to finish a 3-5 page psych paper that is due on Sunday instead. Sooooo, since I will be otherwise occupied every single free minute of the upcoming weekend, I decided to go ahead and post now. It was very important to me that the tenth anniversary of 9/11 be recognized here, since my son doesn't remember and my daughter didn't even exist.

September 11th will be a day forever seared into the memories of all Americans old enough to remember clearly the haunting images that we faced that day. Our lives changed forever that warm fall day....and the way of life we so staunchly clung to died, along with so many innocent souls.
I wrote a paper on this back in freshman English and I feel that it's appropriate that I share it here with you.

The Day the World Stood Still

In the course of human events, there randomly come brief moments when everyone stops what they are doing to concentrate on the larger world. Most Americans tell each other stories of where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been shot or what they were doing when the Challenger exploded. September 11, 2001 stands out in most peoples’ memories as one of those times, marking the end of life as they knew it and the beginning of a nation united.             I am no exception. I, too, was changed by the events that I watched with horror unfolding on my television screen and the lessons I learned about generosity, solidarity, and good will are ones I still carry with me to this day.
I remember clearly where I was when I heard the news that the first plane had hit the World Trade Center.  I was driving my beat-up red Saturn to a doctor’s appointment, which was the reason I wasn’t working that day.  The radio was on and I was expecting nothing more than another ordinary day, the beginning to another ordinary week. An announcer came on in mid-song to announce that a plane had apparently crashed into the side of one of the towers, more news to follow as it was available. I remember feeling confused and like a ship tossed on a stormy ocean. Butterflies took flight in my sinking stomach.
I was in the waiting room, on the edge of the hard chair, eyes glued to the TV when the second plane smashed into the remaining tower. I watched with tears in my eyes as both began to crumple and people began to leap from windows onto the pavement below. It horrified and absolutely terrified, the world as I knew it had changed in an instant.

I don’t remember much of the rest of that day, other than the endless parade of images dancing across the TV and the constant ringing of the phone. I seemed compelled to memorize every face, listen to every story, even to cry for every lost soul. I watched people line up to donate blood across the country, as well as rush to Manhattan to help in any way they could.  My heart broke a little more with every passing minute. I hugged my baby boy close to me and phoned every family member just to tell them I loved them. I wondered how I would ever lose the fear and aloneness that pervaded every thought.
On September 12th , I stumbled out of bed and headed to work through a world with flags flying at half staff and streets quieted by shock. I worked for the local blood center, which had been the reason for my phone ringing off the hook the previous day. I trudged through the front doors, fearing the onslaught that was bound to come. Little did I know that having that particular job during that particular week would change the way that I looked at the American people forever.
The hours were brutally long, the line of people ceaseless. There was no time for resting tired feet, or breaks for easing aching backs. There wasn’t even time to eat.  Donors waited for hours, patiently, stacked on top of each other in too little space only to have overworked phlebotomists stick needles in their arms.  They were all moved to simply do something; any little thing to lend a helping hand to people most of them had never met. They sat in groups, sometimes whole families, chatting quietly about where they had been when they first heard and the emotions they were feeling. They sported flags of every shape and size on their lapels, on their shirts, in their hair. They were courteous and kind to each other. Food poured in from everywhere, from local restaurants as well as home-cooked goodies brought by concerned neighbors. The tables over flowed with nourishment, both for our bodies and for our hearts.  There were tears, laughter and hugs. The very air seemed to pulse with good will, patriotism, and love for mankind.
As tired as I was, I was buoyed by the hope and solidarity that surrounded me. Just when I began to feel that I couldn’t possibly take another step, someone was always there with a pat on the back or a heartbreaking story that gave me just enough encouragement to keep going.  I have never before and never again felt so emotionally and physically drained, but I have also never felt so alive. I looked around myself and was every minute graced with seeing the very best of human nature exemplified.  At least a hundred times a day, I was brought to tears; sometimes tears of sorrow, mostly tears of joy at the overwhelming beauty of the American spirit. I was touched in a million little ways by the simple acts of human kindness that I saw with growing frequency. I was personally grateful for each and every person who set foot in that building over the duration of those seven days, because each one changed me in some subtle way. 

In many practical ways, life as we had known it did end that crisp fall day. I find that I am still moved to tears by the sight of our flag waving in the wind or the familiar strains of our national anthem. I can still look around myself and be grateful that I was born an American, even if I don’t always agree with the leaders we choose to run our country. I can see the innate goodness that permeates the people of this country and the love that we have for each other deep down, even if it is hidden behind self-involvement. I will never forget a country where people were no longer black, white, yellow or red; but were simply Americans.  I believe myself truly blessed to have been a small part of the enormous sense of community that revealed itself during an extremely frightening time. While I will never forget all of the images of destruction, I will also never forget that feeling of unity in the face of great adversity.~Heidi Ehle

 I sincerely hope that we always remember what it truly means to be an American. And that our country never forgets the great sacrifices that have been made in the name of our freedom. May we always remember the lessons learned that warm September day. Let those who lost their lives never be forgotten, despite the ever changing sands of time.

God bless America.