“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"

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One Big Happy Family

With the new prenatal screening test for DS that is currently all over the news, there has been a revisiting of all the old preconcieved notions about raising a child who happens to have an extra chromosome. I have read a whole lot of "It's not fair to the other kids in the family" comments on various articles. I have heard from what I can only assume are well meaning people that I will lose a lot of friends because of DS and that I might as well kiss my marriage goodbye. I have been patted on the back and told how strong I am, how brave I am for choosing to raise my daughter.
I seem to be on a roll this week telling it like it is..so here's my soapbox of the day part 1 (with a few Liddy pictures thrown in to keep you reading!).

My marriage was still in its infacy stages when I got pregnant. The settling in phase. It was a big change for all of us to go from two seperate families of two to one family of four. Add into the equation John losing his father, my quitting my job and going back to school, John's starting efforts to be a freelance writer, and a custody battle that took a year to get to court and you have got a tough year full of upheavals and adjustments. We were broke. We were out of room in our little two bedroom house (and I gotta tell you that a 12 year old and a 5 year old sharing a room is NOT a good time!). The timing for having a baby couldn't have been a whole lot worse. We didn't even tell our kids that we were pregnant until July (I knew I was pregnant in May!). I was honestly more nervous about telling them than I was anyone else. How was my almost 13 year old son going to react to all of a sudden not being my baby any more? And how was our then 5 year old center of attention going to handle being upstaged by a tiny new person?
I shouldn't have doubted what great kids we have. Sure, they drive us crazy. Sure, they act up at times. But deep down, they are both really wonderful boys. :)

We were a happy family impatiently awaiting the arrival of our newest member. Who cares if the timing sucked? God's timing is always right, even when it's hard to conceive of His plans.

We hadn't been married much over a year when we got the news that Liddy had a heart defect and an extra chromosome. My husband was my rock. We don't deal with things in the same way. A great deal of the time, we don't even see them the same. I'm little Miss Optomistic, spouting my silver lining philosophy to anyone who will stop long enough to listen. I put my little rose colored glasses on and pleasantly live in my own little bubble where everything is perfectly okee dokee. John is my opposite. Mr. Pesimistic, jumping right in with his research and his matter of fact attitude. He had already accepted DS as a part of our lives by the time we came home from having the amnio, while I refused to consider it all. He knew already in his heart by the time we got the phone call confirming it. He was steadfast through doctor's appointments, asking all of the right questions, while I was usually incoherant through my tears. I was falling apart. He held me together. We compliment each other. His strengths are my weaknesses, and vice versa.

 I am beyond thankful that he is a part of my life. And I couldn't have asked for a better father for my daughter.

 Is my marriage destined to fall apart now that we have Liddy? No, I really don't think so. Even though dealing with the extra medical issues that come along with DS have put extra strain on us both individually and on all of us collectively, we remain focused and determined to remain what we already were before DS entered our lives. A family. Are we perfect? Heck no. No where near it. But DS didn't change a darn thing. It just made more of us to love :)

Is it not fair to our boys to have a baby sister that they both adore? How is that not fair to them? They are growing to be more considerate, more accepting, more patient, and more loving. Caleb, whose most common refrains involved the r-word, says it less and less without me ever saying a word to him about it. They don't see a heart problem, they don't see Down's Syndrome. They see their sister. Plain and simple. And they're every bit as proud of her as we are!

We are a family. A whole and vibrant, normal, happy family. And a family is how we intend to stay, regardless of what tests life throws our way.

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