“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"

Monday, January 30, 2012

Raising Awareness for Lily

Sara is a friend of mine, one that I am proud and honored to have. 

Somehow, several months ago, while she was pregnant, she stumbled across my blog. She was going through an especially hard time with her pregnancy back then and was filled with worry for what the future might hold for her baby. Her doctors had determined that something wasn't quite right, but had been unable to determine what exactly it was. 
When I went to her blog, following a comment she had made on mine, I found that she had left one visit with a list of things that might be wrong with her precious wee one. She was told the very thing that no parent ever wants to hear...that her baby might not survive.
I had written a post on Liddy's 8 month birthday about wishing I could tell the me of 8 months prior to not worry, everything was going to be fine, and had told Sara herself that I was holding on to the promise that when her little girl was 8 months old, she would look back and realize her worry had all been for nothing as well (and.... I would get to tell her "I told you so.")
Meet Lily.

Being right has never been more beautiful.
Lily is a miracle.

Lily has Turner's Syndrome. She will always be a tiny little thing and could have other issues that present themselves as time goes on. But right now, she is healthy. She is here. She is alive,and thriving, in spite of the prognosis that her parents were given before her arrival into this world.
I gotta say that after all the prayers I have said over this precious girl, I sincerely praise God every single time her mama posts new pictures. :)
This month is Turner's Syndrome awareness month. Her mama, my friend, has asked for my help in spreading the word about what Turner's Syndrome is. She will be doing special posts to raise awareness the entire month of February. 
If you're anything like me, you might have never even heard of this before right now. I hadn't before she was born. 
Please go visit Sara (and beautiful Lily) at Sara's blog this month. Learn a little something. Gush over how beautiful Lily is. Support a mom just trying to teach the world a little something about her daughter. 
Behold a miracle. :)
And Sara, time is ticking away.....that 8 month mark will be here in the blink of an eye. I'll be looking for that future post about all the worry being for nothing. XOXOXO

Friday, January 27, 2012

Strength Through Adversity...And Keeping The Faith

It seems that the more I immerse myself into the DS community, the more I stumble across people who are scared, who are worried, who are hurting in places that they rarely let the rest of the world see. When those tiny glimpses into the pain inside show themselves, I find my own heart filling with tiny fractures, filling with a tiny bit of sadness as well.
You see, I have always hated to see others in pain. Even stories that I read or see on the news have the power to nearly drown me in sorrow and wash my face with tears.
Genuine Empathy. The ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and genuinely feel the pain of whatever struggle they are going through. The very real wish that you could reach through the TV screen, or the computer screen, or the pages of a newspaper and do anything possible to lighten their load in whatever way is possible, even if all that is available is a willing ear, an open, caring heart, and a hug that says one way or the other it will all be okay.
Something this world could use a whole lot more of, in my opinion.......

This morning, I again caught a glimpse of someone wrapped solidly in their sadness, bearing a load that no one should have to. And as always, I found myself wishing desperately that it was as easy as jumping in the car, or picking up the phone, to let her know that I care, that my heart is broken FOR her, that God has not abandoned her. But it isn't always that easy in this world of far-flung friendships. In my efforts to find the right words to say, God placed on my heart a story.
For those of you who grew up in any type of church setting, or who are church goers now, the story of Job is not a new one to you. It is one that I have probably always known but have not thought of in more years than I can count. And if I am honest, I'd have to say that once again, just like the story of Mary, it's not something that I have considered deeply or in relation to any struggles I have experienced in my own life. Job was, to my childish mind, a character in a story, a man whose thoughts and very real pain I never truly considered.
Job was a rich man, a blessed man. He was also good in deed and in character. He worshiped God and faithfully gave thanks for the many blessings that He had seen fit to give him.
One day, God and Satan were having a little chat and God pointed Job out as a shining example that faith and goodness were not lost, which set the Devil to thinking. Satan told God that the reason that Job was faithful and turned from evil was because of the blessings that God had bestowed upon him, to which God disagreed. I can see in my mind Satan rubbing his hands together in glee as he offered what amounted to a little wager, that God would allow Satan to do his worst, take away everything from Job, and Satan believed that THEN amid the ashes of his former charmed life, Job would curse God. God fervently denied that anything would turn Job from Him, and agreed to allow Satan free rein, as long as he did not cause harm to Job himself.
It started with his livestock....one herd after another stolen, burnt up, dead. Job remained faithful. So Satan set a horrible windstorm upon the land, which destroyed the home of Job's oldest son, killing all of his children in one fell swoop. Job still remained faithful.
Satan returned to God, saying that despite the proof in front of him, he was not convinced of Job's faithfulness. He requested that God allow him to place his hand on Job. God reluctantly agreed with the stipulation that Job could not be killed. Poor Job, who had already lost so much, was struck down with blistering sores.......His wife by this time was urging him to turn from God, yet Job remained steady in the belief that God would care for him..........

I find that this story from thousands of years ago answers many questions that we all seem to have about why bad things happen to good people, while it seems that good things happen to those who are not. I see it a little as God chooses those who He knows will remain faithful to Him, who will continue to see the blessings which He has seen fit to bestow despite the cloudiness of the sorrow in their hearts because He knows that tragedy and heart ache will come together and forge something beautiful out of the ashes of life as we know it.
God doesn't harm us. God doesn't give us troubles. Satan does. And it seems to me a little like God and the Devil chatting about Job; God is bragging on His kids and the Devil is jealous. It stands to reason that the very people God is proudest of are the ones that the Devil pushes the hardest, trying to break them, just like he tried and failed to break Job.

Back when Liddy was in the hospital following her OHS, I wrote this post about the creation of diamonds. In a nutshell, it takes unrelenting pressure and incredible heat to change an ordinary lump of coal into a diamond. This little geological tidbit is something that I hold tightly to when trouble pays me a visit.
The likeness between myself and a lump of coal is not lost on me. I am first a lump of coal, hand picked to become something less than ordinary, something spectacular, a diamond. And I have to believe that Job was as well.
So even though we may never have all the answers and we may never have it within our power to stop the world's pain, we do have it within ourselves to understand that by continuing to praise God through the trials and tribulations, through the seemingly unrelenting rain, through incredible pressure and the Devil's hot breath on our necks, we, too, are becoming a treasure beyond worth.
I may not always thank God for the troubles in my life but I DO thank Him for seeing past the rough exterior to the potential beneath. I believe that in His eyes, I am already a diamond, just waiting for my chance to shine..........

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Another Anniversary....

Dearest Lydia,
One year ago today, we bundled you up and set out from the hospital for the first time with you nestled in the back seat. 

Three weeks as a guest of the Special Care Nursery.....three weeks of your brothers waiting to meet you officially, without a pesky piece of glass separating them from getting a good look at you....two weeks of being torn, spending my days settled in the recliner cuddling you and then driving home without you every evening. Two weeks of spending all day long thinking of what I needed to do at home when I was with you, and two weeks of thinking of nothing but you when I was home.
Home. A place you had never known in your three week old life, with plenty of brotherly love......

Overjoyed doesn't begin to describe what I was feeling. But I must admit that I was nervous too. More nervous than I remember being when I was a brand new mom, bringing Caleb home for the first time. Caleb didn't come with feeding tubes and apnea monitors. Caleb didn't come with a huge hole in his heart that would need surgery to repair. I didn't have to take infant CPR classes to bring him home or spend a whole night caring for him without the help of nurses before they would allow me to take him. With him, I was just hurled into the world of motherhood. With you, even though motherhood itself was old hat to me, I had to relearn everything I THOUGHT I knew.

Even with my nervousness about this new journey, you settled right in like this was where you had been all along. And that did more to set my mind at ease than any words or comfort could have....
I don't know quite how you did it, but you filled a hole in this family that we never knew existed. You seamlessly slid into our hearts, into our home, like you had been there all along. 
I have only known you for less than 13 months and yet...with every passing day, it gets harder and harder to remember the time before. 
Before sharing the bed with a 16 lbs queen bed hog. Before being the recipient of heart stopping smiles. Before seeing the sheer joy on your face when I come home after being gone for a while. Before slobbery kisses. Before seeing the pure pride in your eyes when you accomplish something you worked so very hard to learn. Before treasuring the scars on your chest. Before a tiny girl reached into my chest and stole my heart...........

Forever after will my life be divided into before and after. Because before you, I wasn't the me that I am now........I wasn't complete. I was just waiting for God to place you in my arms. :) 

I love you so much, my sweet miracle.

I just know that you are going to become more breathtaking with every year that passes......and I know that I, as well as everyone who knows you, will be more and more in love. More and more in awe that you belong here with us. 
Never forget to let your true colors show. They leave me without breath....

Ignite your light and let it shine.
Baby, you're my firework....
All of my love,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Changing the World....

When I set out on this journey a little under 18 months ago, I had no idea what it would entail. I was scared, I was worried, I was completely unsure of my ability to raise a child that others believed was different in a world that seems to put so much value in being the status quo.

 But all it took was one look at my tiny princess to know that I would virtually move mountains to make this world a better place for children like her to grow up in.

 As time has passed since that day when I first gazed upon her face, I have been shown the sometimes overwhelming opposition to the goals of all parents of children with any type of special needs. And I have been disheartened by it more than once. I have found myself returning again and again to those same doubts that I had in the beginning. Can I truly change the world? Most days, I truly don't think that I can......
I cast my words out there into the great unknown, opening myself up for the world to see, never knowing if anything I say makes a difference, if anyone truly cares.
All in the hopes that I will reach one person, change one life. 

I have always firmly believed that tiny Lydia will change the world more than I ever will. Her grace, her beauty, her heart stopping smile, and her determination to beat the odds will take her further in life than anything I could ever hope to do to pave the way for her. But I also feel a responsibility to find little opportunities along the way that just might lighten the load that she will eventually carry on her tiny shoulders and make the path just a tiny bit easier.....

I don't always jump on the typical bandwagons that make the rounds in our community. But I try very hard to make even a small difference where I feel led to. I speak my mind about a variety of topics that I feel are important, not really caring if the world in general feels as if I am out of line or not.
I don't care if I have the world's approval. All the accolades I need are the unwavering love of my family and for my God to be proud of me.

With all of that being said, the last few weeks have done much to bolster my faith in the power of words (and a whole lot of prayers) to actually scale virtual mountains. I have witnessed the power of one blogger's post, which has spun the author into a stratosphere of publicity, allowing him to spread the word about our amazing kids in a very public way. I have witnessed a movement spread like wild fire throughout the special needs community, reaching its hands across the dividing line between our own little club into the wider world, resulting in the very real possibility that the life of one little girl will be saved. 17000+ signatures, 17000+ people standing up and saying that it is not acceptable to deny a child a chance to live and grow because of a label. And I have been a humble participant in watching the numbers of people who stand beside us at IDSC For Life swell to nearly 900, all standing together to say that ALL life is precious....
My faith is renewed. My resolve is reborn. I may not ever receive fame with my words and I am okay with that. I may not have it within my power to change every closed mind who happens upon this blog and as much as that saddens me, I'm really okay with that as well. I may not be able to change the world myself.....but with so many standing beside me, I CAN and will make a difference, even if it's only in the life of one small girl.....who already made a world of difference in me.

Friday, January 13, 2012

6 Month Heartiversary....

Dearest Liddy,
Tomorrow, it has officially been 6 months since the day we handed you to a very skilled surgeon, praying with all of our hearts that you would be returned to us, with a whole and healthy heart. By far the scariest day of my entire life, followed by some of the worst days I have ever experienced, sitting beside your still tiny form waiting for a glimpse of your sweet smile. 
Some days, it is so hard to reconcile those memories with the beautiful reality that I live with every day.

You are a 16 pound wonder.....full of all of the best of your daddy and I, along with a little magic that is entirely your own. Full of laughter, full of smiles, full of slobbery kisses. Proudly bearing the scars that attest to where you have been and what you have been through, giving me renewed hope every day of where we are going...together.

Before you were born, I didn't really know how big my dreams for you could be. I was so focused on the battle that you would have to undergo just to live and all of my dreams for the future revolved around all of us surviving open heart surgery.  Now that it is fading behind us, my dreams for you have grown to enormous proportions. 
Make no mistake. YOU WILL CHANGE THE WORLD. 

I'm not sure that I have ever believed in something so strongly.
Every single time I look at the stripes of scars which cross your chest and belly, my faith in this in renewed. Never doubt for a second that they are truly badges of honor and they are one of the most beautiful things I have ever laid eyes on. 6 months of looking at them every day and I still am moved almost to the point of tears.

Enclosed in that tiny chest is a broken heart made brand new. Enclosed there is one of the most vital parts of you, miraculously healed. Enclosed there is the reason you are still here with me...smiling, babbling, and making me smile. 
There is no better gift. 

You are the dream of my heart. And as amazing as the dream was, the reality is even more than I could have wished for. 

One step at a time. I will love you a thousand years, baby girl.
Happy heartiversary!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Excuses are Just That... Excuses.

I try very very hard to look at the bright side of most things. I am happy and content with my life. I am surrounded by people that I love dearly and who love me too. And I know for a fact that I am luckier than most people out there in this great big world......
Every once in a while something or someone comes along and gets right under my skin, despite my best attempts to not allow it. The infamous redhead temper gets riled up, the cuss words start flying, and sometimes, I feel strongly that whatever it is that bothered me so much has to be brought to light.
That is partly what this blog is for. This is where I vent as well as where I celebrate the amazing creation that is my precious daughter. I try to keep my soapbox preaching to a minimum because I truly feel as if this should be a place of love and light. However, every now and again, I start preaching away, knowing that many of the other mamas will stand behind my words and echo their truth with resounding amens.

I've been pondering this post for a couple of weeks now. Praying desperately that God gives me the words to say exactly what I think needs to be said. Last night, after reading a comment on my dear friend Annie's blog, I found myself itching to jump in the ring yet again for not just precious Ollie, who I love as dearly as my own kids, but for my daughter and the thousands of kids like her already in the world, as well as those who will come in the future.
There are seemingly a thousand reasons that people give to justify why it is acceptable to abort babies like my own. But in reality, when push comes to shove, every single excuse comes down to the same reasons, no matter the wording. In my experience, what seems like a wide range of "concerns" and "reasons" boil down to one of the following:

Excuse #1: "I would never choose to have a child with DS because I would not want my child to suffer."
Does this look like the face of someone suffering from anything?

What I hear when I hear this excuse is "I don't want to suffer." I know a boatload of kids with DS and can honestly say that the ONLY ones suffering at all are those shut away in orphanages and mental institutions across the world and even their suffering isn't because of DS. Its because of the way others view it.
What I really want to know is this: Where does it end? Where do we draw the line? There is little doubt that people "suffer" from depression, Alzheimer's, and other mental illnesses, including drug and alcohol addictions. Do we start testing for these prenatally and eliminating children who may be at risk later in life so as to alleviate their potential future suffering? Appalling thought, isn't it?

Excuse #2: "It isn't fair to my other child/children."
I can honestly say that one of my biggest fears was how my now 13 year old son, who is old enough to understand a whole lot, was going to react to having a sister with DS. I was concerned about how both boys would react to having a baby sister who was facing several weeks in the NICU at birth and who would have to have open heart surgery within the first year of her life. I worried about how well they would deal with the extra time we would have to spend caring for Liddy. I worried that they would someday be forced to care for her after we were gone from this world.
However, I didn't give my kids nearly enough credit. They both adore their sister.....and are her staunchest supporters. They could care less that she learns things slower than other babies her age, or that she has had open heart surgery, or that she has 47 chromosomes instead of 46 like they do.

They, almost more than anyone, love her for herself....because she is their beautiful, sassy, funny sister. And even though I have every expectation that when the time comes, Liddy will live on her own and take care of herself, I'm also positive that if it was necessary for someone to care for her later on, they'll probably be fighting for the opportunity.

Excuse #3:"I wouldn't want to live my life with DS so why should I force my child, who has no choice, to?"
I've been Liddy's mama for a year now. It has been a rough year, given. But I firmly believe that she is closer to God than I can ever hope to be. She teaches me much more than I teach her, and watching the way she approaches life, smiling and laughing, kind of makes me a little jealous at times. Yes, she's only one. But she has went through enough in the last year to bring most adults to their knees. Yet she's still smiling.
She has fought tooth and nail to live. And she lives to the fullest every single day. She shows me constantly that she wants to be here.....DS or not. 

In a recent survey, 99% of people who have DS said that they were happy with their lives, 97% like who they are, and 96% are happy with the way they look. I think that you would be hard pressed to find even 50% of the average 46 chromosome population that felt that positively about their lives. Sounds to me like all of those "kids" are pretty glad their parents gave them life.

Excuse #4: "I don't have the patience...the money...the strength...the faith...the support....the time....etc."
First let me say that if these are sincerely the reasons someone chooses to abort a child, any child, they shouldn't be having kids at all. I'm sorry if that sounds overly critical or judgmental.  But honestly, if we all waited until the time was right and everything fell into place to have kids, no one would EVER have any......The best laid plans usually go awry. It's just a fact of life. There is never enough money. Never enough time. You make time....and the money isn't that important anyway.
Second....not a single parent of a child with DS will tell you that they thought they were well prepared or well equipped to care for their kids. We ALL doubt God's plans and His faith in us every once in a while. Thankfully, He has enough faith in us to keep us going, one foot in front of the other, until we reach a point where we have faith in ourselves. I am sometimes just as overwhelmed by my other kids as I have ever been Lydia. And really none of it has to do with DS at all. It's just being a parent in general. Raising kids, any kid, is a hard job and one that you learn as you go. Parenting a child with DS is no different...except that often the lessons learned by these parents are ones that all of us could stand to learn a little more often......

Excuse #5:"With a diagnosis of DS, and all of the possible health issues that come with it, I might as well kiss my marriage goodbye. And say good riddance to a whole lot of friends."
This is something that was said to me shortly after Liddy was born.
Did you know that divorce rates are considerably lower in the DS community than they are in the general population? It just has to be said. If a marriage fails, it isn't failing because of DS. Its failing because it was going to fail anyway......and if friends walk away because of DS, they weren't real friends either.
My marriage is stronger because of our mutual love of Lydia and surviving the hardships we have been through in the last year and a half. We lean on each other and hold each other up when the road is especially rough. Isn't that what marriage is all about anyway? I haven't lost one single friend because of Liddy's diagnosis. The ones who have been friends for a long time started out loving her because she is mine, and grew to love her more because she is who she is. Not only have I not lost any old friends, I have gained oodles of new ones, which was truly an unexpected blessing. The community of parents who have children with DS is a tight knit one, a family, and there is more love and support within it than I can even begin to explain. It's something that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated.

While this is no where near a complete list of all the "excuses" we, the parents of little ones who rock an extra chromosome, have heard, these are by far the ones we hear most often. What I most wish that anyone who stumbles upon these words sees in them is that excuses are just that...excuses...and that while the road may not be always easy, it is beyond worth it. Ask any of us who are raising that measly 10% of kids who make it to draw their first breaths. I can guarantee that you would find that unanimously we would all say that our children are absolutely perfect, breathtakingly beautiful, and that if we had it all to do again, we would, in a heartbeat. There are a whole lot of parents that even choose to adopt other kids with DS after having one of their own. While that may be difficult to understand to someone on the outside looking in, for us, it's because we know the secret. We KNOW how amazing our kids are, and we KNOW that every single one of us is better for their existence.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

An Unexpected Gift

I dreaded Thursday's arrival. 
It's not something I voiced. It's not even something that I truly acknowledged, even to myself. 
But during the 90 minute drive, the fear, the doubt, the worry washed over me in waves that only grew stronger the closer we were to reaching that final destination.....
The cardiologist's office. Liddy's first check up with Dr. Schomberger since we left the hospital a little less than 6 months ago. Make or break time. 
I was nervous. I was scared. I was fighting it for all that I was worth.
As we settled in to the very room where I had spent so much time during the last 4 months of my pregnancy, staring at Liddy's tiny broken and mangled heart, I waited with barely restrained trepidation.
And then it happened. 
A brief glimpse of a properly working heart. 
I couldn't help it. I gasped. I barely choked out an "Oh my God." before the tech went back and gave me the very best gift I could have ever received. She gave me a good look at my baby's newly rebuilt heart.
I have seen some truly beautiful things in my life (I get to look at one every single day!). But at that moment, I can honestly say that I have never seen anything as beautiful as that tiny heart, with four distinct chambers and two working valves. 
I'm not even going to try to lie. I cried. Like a 34 year old baby........

I have been a slight emotional wreck this week. I honestly can't even count how many times I have fought back tears (or just went ahead and shed them). But unlike this time last year, none of those tears are caused by sadness. Every single one has been because I am simply overwhelmed by the simple beauty in the every day moments that surround me...........

from my precious girl, sitting up entirely on her own.....

and actively playing with her blocks...reaching in and out to pick one or two.......
and even figuring out how to dump them all out at once......
to tea parties with her brother......
where she even drank some imaginary tea........

to the way she looks at both of her brothers...how she just watches them so intently.......
to  how obvious it is how very much they love her and how proud they are to be her big brothers......
to super model poses.....
and super arm strength......
to afternoons spent with a tiny giggling bundle of baby sweetness cuddled on my lap.......

It should be illegal to be as happy as I am these days.
It just doesn't get a whole lot better than this. :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Looking for DS

Yesterday's birthday girl, my now officially one year old Bug, is tucked into bed, sleeping like the angel that she is. And as much as I love to watch her peaceful slumber, I find that she seems to be almost an entirely different girl once she fades into her dreams. Once the sparkling eyes, beaming smile, and bubbly personality are put to rest, once I am not enthralled by the beauty that is my daughter, in the quietest hours of darkness, I see what I have looked for since the day that she was born. I see DS. 
In those beginning days, the constant searching was done because, quite honestly, I wanted her to NOT appear to the world to carry anything that marked her at first sight as different than any other baby. As time has passed and I have been the proud witness to that magic that Liddy carries inside her, spilling over for the world to see, the physical traits often shared with her genetic brothers and sisters have become a whole lot less frightening. 
Although I still search for those little signs of DS in her features, now it's with a sense of wonder. 366 days of looking at that little face and somehow I never get tired of it, never fail to be struck breathless at her beauty. 

With a single flash of her smile, she can make everything right in my world. 
I relish slobbery kisses. I adore her sweet baby smell. I love her laughter, her adorable baby babble, and I cherish every accomplishment she makes. 
She is sunshine after the rain.

She is the coming of spring after a long, bitter winter.

She is a cool drink of water on a hot summer day.

She is waking from the most beautiful dream every single day to find that it was real.

She is sassy. She is spunky. She is smiley. She is herself. Without compromise. Without reservation. Without fear.

If this face, this tiny person so full of love, strength, intelligence, and yes, even beauty, is what it means to carry an extra chromosome, then I am thankful for each and every feature that proves that she has DS.
Because I believe that anyone who takes the time to know her will see so much more than the outer trappings. Just like me, they won't see DS when they look at her.........

They'll just see Liddy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

On the Day That You Were Born.....

Dearest Lydia,
When Daddy and I started this journey a little over a year ago, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. All we knew is that we loved you so much already that there were no other options but to educate ourselves to the best of our ability and prepare as best as we could for whatever God threw our way.
How blessed are we that He gave us you!
One year ago today, you slid into this world after three full days of doctors tacking up eviction notice after eviction notice. After almost 3 (slow and agonizing) days of labor, everything progressed rather quickly that 4th day. The epideral was started at 11 am, the doctor removed the last barrier impeding your progress at 11:30 am, pitocin drip started by 12, at which point we called Grandma and Grandpa to tell them not to rush. At 12:50, I was still dilated 2 cm. The resident left the room, and shortly after my water broke. At 1:00 pm, I told the nurse I needed to push.She looked at me with shock and left to get the resident who entered the room muttering that she had JUST checked 10 minutes ago...there was no way I had progressed that far in 10 minutes.....until she actually looked. There you were. SURPRISE!
As neonatologists and nurses scrambled through the door, suiting up as they ran, I tried my hardest to resist pushing, with the, now near panic, resident begging me to hold on for just a minute more. And then, after waiting so long, you decided your patience had worn off and you promptly delivered yourself at 1:07 pm. 

You were whisked away to the dreaded room across the hall almost immediately....I barely got a glimpse of your face. I didn't know if you were ok. I was stuck on the sidelines of the day I had waited on so long......
And then, the typically hushed tones of the nurses across the hall gave way to laughter (a whole lot of it) and excited footsteps leaving and entering, amid bubbly bursts of happy chatter. My heart heaved such a huge sigh of relief. In three days of constant watch, not one other baby was ever greeted in the resuscitation island with as much joy as you were. 

You were here. You were perfect. You were already stealing hearts.
It took until almost 8 pm that night for me to get to study you as much as I wanted and to get to hold you for the first time. I cried. 

You were so much more amazing than I had ever dreamed.
While we faced the great unknown, there was never a doubt how very loved you already were and how thankful we were that you arrived safely.
Now a year into the journey, I can look back on those first days of your life with peace, with happiness. I can see, that although some of your milestones are slightly delayed, you will make it to each one, in your own time. You are growing slowly but surely, which really just means that you are still very tiny. Petite like some other ladies that we know. ;) Yet despite your slow growth in size, you are changing every day before my eyes, leaving the look of a baby behind, giving us glimpses of the beautiful little girl you are now becoming.

A year later...and you still take my breath away.
On the day that you were born, angels danced at the head of your tiny bed, the stars sparkled a little brighter, and God rejoiced at a job well done.

Happy 1st birthday, my sweetest Bug.
I love you so very much and I can't wait to see what amazing things are coming in the next year!

Dedicated to my baby girl.......