I’m Not Thankful

The Bible gives us a lot of instruction. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think of all the guidelines, recommendations and commandments that are contained within that one book. God has given us clear expectations about how we are to react or behave in a variety of scenarios.  By reading the Bible we can understand the shape that our lives should begin to take as we follow God.  The way we interact with the world and the way we cope with the things we experience through our lives are described to us in His word. But what happens when you just can’t manage to be that person?  The one who embodies the very heart of Christ in all situations?  What then?

1st Thessalonians 5:18  tells us ‘to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will for you in Jesus Christ’.

I’m not thankful for my circumstance right now. I’m just not. It’s incredibly hard to be thankful for a circumstance that just down right sucks.  It’s challenging to say ‘thank you’ for something that you never wanted to be a part of, something that leaves you and those around you broken and devastated.  It’s been 814 days since our first miscarriage and 699 days since our second.  It’s been 406 days since our third miscarriage and 322 days since the fourth.  It’s been 19 days since our son, Samuel, was born sleeping at 15 weeks.

And I’m still not thankful for any of those circumstances. As a matter of fact I’m not happy about it, at all. I’m confused, I’m hurt, I feel lost and directionless, I miss each and every one of them and all the hopes and dreams that went to Heaven with them. So, how do we continue to strive towards obedience, to take the shape described for us, when we don’t feel thankful for circumstances? When the situation that we’re in leaves us feeling about as far from thankful as we can get?

1st Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to give thanks in all circumstances.  It doesn’t say that we have to be thankful for that disaster that has seemingly stolen everything from us.  But it is important to give thanks.  Even if for the moment, the only thing you can tell the Lord thank you for is the very breath that is left in you; thank Him for that! Lord, everything around me has crumbled, I am broken beyond what I think can be repaired, but I still have breath in my body, Thank you for that breath.  

Thank Him as often as you can for the things that you can say thanks about!  I can thank Him for the unwavering support of my husband, who has endured each heartbreak right along with me.  I can thank Him for the friends and family who have surrounded us with love and comfort, kind words and support.  I can say ‘thank you’ for the two children who somehow miraculously made it into our lives.  I can say thank you Lord for the roof over my head, for the shoes on my feet, for the food in my belly.  We may not be thankful for the raging storm around us, and we don’t have to be!  But we do need to not lose sight of the things that we can be thankful for.

We can be thankful in all circumstances by having a heart of thanks.  Even shattered, broken hearts, can be thankful hearts.  And sometimes, by finding just one thing to be thankful for, we can also find a little bit of joy in that one thing.  That little bit of joy can lead to a spark of happiness and that happiness into healing for a broken heart.  So wherever you are today, whatever circumstance you are in, look around you, find that one thing you can be thankful for today.  No matter how big or little it is, and tell Him ‘Thank you’.

Recipe for Holiday Success: How to Safely Teach Your Children the Joys of Cooking and Baking

I love baking with the kids. Sister enjoys measuring and mixing the ingredients, brother loves taste testing! It’s never a tidy activity but we always have fun with it. So when Daniel Sherwin, from Dadsolo, reached out to me about writing a post as a guest blogger on safely teaching your kids the joys of cooking and baking I could say no?!

Photo courtesy of Pixabay by laterjay

Those of us who enjoy cooking or baking know it’s a creative form of self-expression, relaxation, and joy, and the holiday season is a perfect time to partake in your favorite pastime even more and possibly pass on the love to your kids. As it turns out, your favorite pastime might actually be good for your mental, physical, and emotional well-being, too. That’s right; science says cooking and baking reduce stress and associated physical, mental, and emotional conditions.

If you’re looking to limit your child’s screen time, cooking or baking with your children can be an excellent alternative to computers and Minecraft, especially during long winter breaks from school or snow days. By spending time together in the kitchen, you’ll prepare your kids for a lifetime of healthier, happier choices. Just like hobbies such as painting or playing guitar, cooking and baking provide children (and adults) with an outlet for creative expression, as well as a way to communicate our love for others and spread the spirit of the season.

Start by choosing easy, age-appropriate recipes. Delegate tasks to your child that can be performed safely. Cooking and baking also provide an excellent opportunity to teach your child about germ control and food safety. If your child has long hair, teach him or her to pull it back prior to making food. Remind your children to keep their hands clean, and to wash frequently to avoid cross-contamination of foods.

Never give knives to young children. When you feel your child is ready to start cooking with knives, start with a plastic knife or butter knife and teach them how to safely hold and use the knife.

As your child gets older and more confident in the kitchen, you may begin teaching more independent tasks, such as using the can opener or microwave. Children above the age of twelve are often capable of much more complex recipes; however, you should still supervise your child at all times while cooking or baking.

Fire prevention is another important consideration. Kitchen fires do happen, and are a common occurrence what with all the cooking for holiday parties and gatherings, so never gamble when it comes to the safety of your family or your home. Here are some expert tips on how to prevent fires and handle unanticipated emergencies:

1. Test your smoke detector. Testing your smoke detector regularly is one of the most important things you can do to protect your home from a fire. Because three out of five house fires involve homes without working smoke detectors, having a working smoke detector with good batteries can spell the difference between life or death.

To keep your family and your home out of harm’s way, you can add a recurring monthly reminder to your smartphone or calendar to test your smoke detector. Experts also recommend adding a reminder to change your smoke detector’s batteries once every six months. Even if your home breaks out in a fire, the results can be much less severe if your smoke detector is in good condition with working batteries.

2. Never leave children unattended. Keep watch over your child in the kitchen, especially if you have young children or kids (and teens) who are new to cooking or baking. It is important to never leave your child in the kitchen unsupervised. You might also teach your children a house rule: that they only cook or bake when an adult is in the room to supervise.

3. Plan for emergencies. Just in case of an emergency, make sure there is a fire extinguisher in your home… and learn how to use it. Teach your children how to safely evacuate the home in case of a house fire. Tell your children how to contact 9-1-1 in the event of an accident, fire, or other unexpected emergency. Hopefully, you’ll never have to do any of these things but just in case, it’s important the entire family is educated on what to do.

Cooking or baking together as a family is a fun way to bond while teaching confidence, self reliance, healthy food choices, and other life skills. Your children will have a lifelong creative outlet, which will benefit their mental, emotional, and physical health. By adding kitchen safety to the mix, you’ll be helping them create a delicious recipe for continued success for years to come, and pass on a holiday tradition you can enjoy together for years to come.

Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.

But, What If He Doesn’t

Daniel 3:1-25

In June of 2016 I sat in my car outside a video store praying fervently to the Lord.  I was begging for Him to give me a child.  Not just any child; my child.  The one that just a week before had been growing and thriving inside of me.  “Please, Lord” I whispered “let this one be okay.  Let us have this one, please make the bleeding stop, keep the heart beating and let this baby grow.”  I stayed in my car with my head bowed, pleading for that little life, tears dripping off my chin for about another ten minutes.  I took a few breaths and began to try to put myself back together.  I was wiping my face when a startling thought popped into my head, ‘but what if He doesn’t?

What if He doesn’t?  What would I do then?  I remembered a story from Daniel about three individuals who were facing the same question.  They, however, had an amazing answer.  In the third chapter of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar had set up a golden statue.  He was very proud of this and required that every individual must bow before this image.  Now, there were three young Jew’s, they knew the commandments of God forbid this and they refused.  Nebuchadnezzar was not happy about that and told them that they would be cast into a furnace.

A furnace.  This wasn’t a simple time out or jail time or a slap on the wrist.  This was death and not a peaceful one at that!  This was being tossed into hot, scalding, burning, flesh searing flames and suffering until the very end.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were facing a horrifying life or death situation.  But that didn’t deter them.  They had faith that their Lord would indeed step in and save them.  That He would redeem them and bring them out of the situation.  But what if He didn’t?  What if the Lord didn’t intervene and spare their lives?

Daniel 3:18 provides that answer, “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the image you set up”.  In essence; absolutely nothing will change.  They would walk into that furnace facing certain death, and even if God did not intervene, they would not falter or be shaken.  So where did that leave me?  What if God didn’t intervene and what if I did lose the pregnancy?

If God didn’t step in then I would be forced to walk into that furnace.  I would be forced to face the biting, stinging, painful flames of grief and loss.  But I wouldn’t be alone!  God says in Hebrews 13:5 “Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you”.

If God didn’t step in then I would be changed.  Those flames would alter little pieces of me and those pieces would never be the same again.  But God would still be the same!  Hebrews 13:8 states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”.  He would be as good, and just and loving as He was before the fire.  His heart towards me would be no different than it was before!

If God didn’t step in then I might break.  I worried that the fire would be too much for me to overcome. I worried that I wasn’t strong enough to endure the overwhelming, seemingly unending and devastating flames.  But God would be there in my weakness!  It would be through my weakness that God’s power would be the most evident.  In 2nd Corinthians 12 the Lord says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.  

God didn’t stop King Nebuchadnezzar from throwing the three Jew’s into the furnace.  In fact he was so angered by their response that he demanded the furnace temperature be increased even higher!  He tied them up and had them thrown directly into the flames.  When the king peered into the furnace though he realized that there were no longer three men but four.  There in the midst of the flames, in the furnace hot enough to kill the attendants, who threw the three men in, was the Lord! They emerged from the flames unscathed, not a hair singed or the smell of soot on their clothes.

I prayed, I trusted and I waited.  But God didn’t intervene.  Just like with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego God had allowed me to be flung into the furnace.  For the second time in within just a few short months I had to say goodbye to another baby that I hardly knew but loved fiercely.  I was deep within the flames.  But I knew with every part of my being, that I was not alone in them.  That the Lord was there with me, even when I couldn’t see him through the smoke and when the flames seemed to consume me, He was there.

There will be many times in all of our lives that we will face the furnace.  We will stand at the door of situations that we don’t want to be in.  We will feel the heat rising up to singe our skin.  The flames may look insurmountable and terrifying.  With fear and worry coursing through us we will call out to God to help us, in our faith we will look to Him who we trust.  Sometimes He will close the door on that trial before we even have to enter.  Sometimes we will have to go into that furnace.  But if we do, remember who is in those flames with you.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, we are so thankful that you are there through every circumstance with us.  You have said that you will never leave us or forsake us.  Please let us be reminded that no matter how difficult our situation may be that you are nearby.  Help us to remember to lean on your during difficult times and continue to find moments to praise you even in the fire.

Rainbows

rainbow

We were in the car driving home from one of our many activities. The children were sitting contentedly in the backseat staring out the windows.

“Mom, we need to pray!” my oldest, Abi, shouted from her seat. I glanced in the review mirror at her.

“Okay,” I said cautiously, “what are we praying for?”

“We need to pray that those bad clouds over there are chased away by the good clouds over there,” she responded gesturing out the window. I looked at where she was pointing and realized that there were storm clouds moving in. I half listened, nodding in agreement, as she sent up a prayer for ‘no storms and for only good weather’.

We made it home just before the rain hit. Abi and I stood in the garage looking up at the sky. It was full of dark grey fast moving clouds. Every few minutes lightening would flash and thunder would growl low and angry.

“Mom, the bad clouds won,” she said with a sad sigh. I smiled at her.

“I know Peanut, but it’s okay. Maybe God knew we needed the rain today”. She chewed on her lip and asked,

“Mommy, why does it storm?”

“Oh,” I said thoughtfully, “well, you know the plants need a drink, and the clouds need emptying, and….” I was trying to think of something brilliant to explain storms when she turned to face me. She stared up at me, right into my eyes.

“No. Mommy, why does it storm?”  I felt my stomach due a huge flip flop and I suddenly knew that this was an important moment and that what came out of my mouth next was going to be significant. I licked my lips and drew in a deep breath.

“Because, if it never stormed, we would never have a chance to see rainbows,” I saw her little body relax and she smiled at me.

“Alright,” she said cheerfully and ran into the house. I stood there absolutely still, my heart pounding in my ears. That conversation was no longer just a little chat about the weather. It was a revelation to me from God. It was an answer to a big question that I had posed to Him several weeks before.

You see back in Genesis when the entire world was so wicked and horrible, God asked a man named Noah to build and ark, gather up his family and the animals and climb aboard for a little cruise. Once they were safe inside God caused it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights flooding the entire earth. When that was done He placed a rainbow in the sky saying,   I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Gen. 9:13

The rainbow was a sign of Gods covenant that he would never flood the earth again, it became a symbol of God’s promise. Now, the amazing thing about God is that He will never break a promise.  Ever. Psalm 89:34 says, I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. If the Lord says it, it will be.  If that isn’t convincing enough, what about 2nd Corinthians 1:20, for all the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.  He cannot and will not break a promise, not just the one that He made with Noah, but all the promises in the bible.

Now, there are a lot of promises in the bible. ALOT.  But what isn’t promised to us is that there won’t be storms or trials in our lives.  Just like Noah and is family, we are going to encounter storms.  We are going to face trials.  Sometimes you will be able see the clouds in the distance and prepare for what’s coming and some will take you by surprise.  Some may be only a sprinkle but some will bring hurricane force winds and shake you down to your very foundation.  They are going to come, the bible warns us in 1st Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. And then again in John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.

 We will have storms; we will have trials, but with those storms comes an opportunity to see rainbows! Those true and never failing promises to you from your Lord and Savior.  What are some of those promises?

He will be your shelter and protection

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!    Psalm 91:1-2

He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.   Psalm 91:4

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.   Psalm 46:2

He will fight for you

When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.   Isaiah 59:19

 The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.   Exodus 14:14

No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.   Psalm 91:10-13

 He never leave you or forsake you…

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.   Isaiah 43:2

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged    Deuteronomy 31:8

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.   Joshua 1:9

 He will give you strength and rest

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  Matthew 11:28-29

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:29-31

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may rest on me. 2nd Corinthians 12:9

He will give you victory…

Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him And let him see My salvation.   Psalm 91:14-16

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:37-39

 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1st Corinthians 15:57

 I know that some of you might be thinking, ‘Sure, Sherry, these things are all great and stuff, but it’s a lot harder quoting scriptures and trusting God when you’re actually in the middle of a storm.’   I get it, I really really do.  Remember back to the moment with Abi in the garage. I said that I knew the answer I had given her had been an answer to a question that I had asked?  It was a question that I had been asking for several months. I had asked God why?  Why did were we walking through, what I felt, was one of the biggest storms in my life.

In June, I had a miscarriage.  We wanted that baby; we were elated to be pregnant again and had felt it was an answer to prayer. A prayer that I had been praying for almost three years. So you can imagine the heartbreak and confusion that came after the emergency room doctor told me that I was no longer pregnant. It wasn’t just a little sprinkle, it was a hurricane. Fear, confusion, anger and grief; all of those swirled around throughout this storm.  It was wind so strong and devastating that I risked being torn down to the very bare bones of what I was made of. The thunder and lightning of it got so bad that I cried out in desperation, why dear Lord, why, did this have to happen! 

And then it was calmer.  It still rained and sometimes the wind would pick back up, but I held firm that solid rock foundation of the Lord and I waited.  Praying for an answer. Finally it came, in the form of a question from a little girl, who was just as unhappy about a real storm as her mama was about her spiritual one.  Because if it never stormed, we would never have a chance to see rainbows.

I don’t know what is going on in your life right now. Maybe it’s all sunshiny and clear, or maybe you’ve got a sprinkle, or some gale force winds. Whatever it may be the promises of God will always remain and be true and infallible. Hold on to them and remember to cling tight to The Lord, because he will get you through, the skies will part and you will see rainbows.

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.   John 14:27

What It Should Have Said 

I was cleaning out my closet today; sorting through old clothes, photographs, boxes of odds-n-ends. The kids were happily running around the house playing with each other and being about as loud as a herd of elephants wearing microphones. They came running into the closet, scampered around the mess for a moment or two and then turned to run out. Gabe bumped into the chair that I was perched upon on his way by I had to let go of the box I was holding to steady myself. I reached down to pick up the papers that had been scattered and stopped.  
I recognized it instantly. It was creased and wrinkled. There was a spaghetti sauce stain on the corner of it and ink smears where my tears had fallen onto the paper. I opened it up, smoothed it out and took a deep breath. I knew what it said, I had read it enough times that I practically had it memorized. It was given to me tucked inside a manila folder and placed in a binder alongside pamphlets and informational flyers. It was a life changing paper, one that altered the course of my family’s lives.  


It said, 47, XY, +21, abnormal karyotype. Analysis shows three copies of chromosome 21 (Trisomy 21) in each metaphase cell examined consistent with the clinical diagnosis of Down syndrome. 
It said, common manifestations include mental retardation, cardiac abnormalities, small stature, gastrointestinal complications, hearing and/or visual disorders and hypotonia. Social development is typically more advanced than intellectual development.
It said, there is a greater than 30% risk for fetal loss in the second half of pregnancy.
It said that there is an increased risk for chromosomal abnormalities in subsequent conceptions.
It said to me that my child, my son, was abnormal on a cellular level. That he would face physical and intellectual challenges. That there was a chance that I would not get to meet him. And it said that it could happen again. 

 It said to me that life as I knew it was over, the child I had dreamed of was gone.  
It said things that made me not just cry, but sob uncontrollably. Things that made me go through the next several weeks worrying about the safety and well being of the baby growing within. Things that painted a drab and dreary future of abnormalities and complications. Oh how wrong was that paper.  
What it should have said was; we have completed your testing. You are having a baby boy. His cells are more unique than most of the ones we see. Inside of each and every one of those microscopic discs is an extra twenty first chromosome. While the addition of this extra chromosome may make it more difficult for him to do all the things that children without Down syndrome do, it does not mean that he can’t. It does mean that he will find his own way to do them and he may do them at different times than children lacking this extra chromosome.  


What it should have said was; While this little extra piece may seem daunting and overwhelming, included within it are some amazing things! There is a laugh that is contagious, it can fill a room and make even the most somber smile and chuckle. There is a determination that will sometimes test the limits of even the most steadfast parents. But that determination will be used to accomplish many things! There is an infectious joy that passes from this one little person to all those around them. There are hugs and cuddles and kisses and snuggles that are absolutely unbeatable.
What is should have said was: There are lessons tucked away inside that additional twenty first chromosome. These lessons are best taught by the little one who carry them. Lessons on acceptance, unconditional love, empathy, compassion and selflessness. Lessons that makes us view the world around us in a completely different light. Lessons that makes us stronger as parents. Lessons that remind us not to rush and to take time to enjoy the little things in life. Lessons that accumulate to make those around this little being, just a little bit better.
What is should have said was: Inside of this chromosome there is an extra dose of resilience and drive, humor and personality, understanding and patience. There is strength, forgiveness, steadfastness and even temper! There is sweetness, fierceness, willfulness, and stubbornness. There is rhythm and dancing, silly songs and imagination. There is intelligence and brilliance, ability and accomplishments.
What it should have said was: This chromosome’s effects are not just isolated to the one whose cells contain it. It will impact and touch all those who encounter this child. Hearts will be softened, perceptions altered and lives changed by this sweet boy. It will change you. You will learn more about yourself than you knew before. You will be an advocate, a voice. You will find a strength that you didn’t know existed, a boldness that may even surprise you.  
What it should have said was: With this information may come a feeling of fear, worry, anger, disappointment, uncertainty or even guilt. Those feelings are normal, it can be challenging to imagine what life will be like caring for a little one with so much extra inside of them. Take some time and be patient with yourself. Remember that the baby you are carrying is still the same baby; you are just one of the lucky ones whose child contains a little extra amazing.


What it should have said was: Congratulations, it’s a boy!

 

It’s been a while

Actually, it’s been almost a year….361 days since the last blog post. Let me start by saying, I’m sorry….

 
Writing has always been a big part of who I am. Writing is therapeutic for me. Writing is my release, I can put pen to paper (or fingers to keys), and pour out my heart. On my darkest days writing brings me light. My writing often reflects my emotion because I write from my heart. My feelings dipped in ink and stamped on paper. I am transparent, honest and raw. 

But I’m also a hesitant sharer.  I wrote in middle school, scribbling furiously in a secret journal, sharing my thoughts only with myself.  I wrote in high school, sharing some of my most special pieces with just my favorite English Teacher. I wrote when I was I college and newly married, letters to myself, of the future I imagined for myself and my new husband.  I wrote when I became a mom, chronicaling the everyday events of my daughter. Light hearted and happy, these were the stories of my life, a glimpse into the shenanigans of my walk in mommy hood.  

Then I began to write about my son; the guilt that I felt with my first reaction to his diagnosis. I wrote about my feelings about Down syndrome. What it has given and what it has taken away. I need it, my heart needed it. And then after almost a year, I decided to share. I shared everything, I put it all out there. And I was relived. I felt like I was using my testimony to help other families who were just beginning there walk down the blue and yellow road of Down syndrome. I shared my blog with some of my fellow moms, my family and friends. And then something happened. 

Someone noticed my blog, they noticed a post. A post about an experience that I had with a cashier, so they shared it. And they shared it, and shared it, and shared it. Before long the post had been shared so much that it was considered “viral”. Then it turned into something more than my heart on paper, it was a “pro-life movement”, it was a “call for attention”, it was “monopolizing my child” and it “was all a lie”. I looked beyond many of the comments, including the private ones that came with hateful comments directed at my son.  I took comfort in the many encouraging posts from people who commented with love, encouragement and stories of their own. 

 
I continued to write and share here and on my blog Facebook page, but less often. I was hesitant, the comments had gotten into my heart, I was being more guarded with my sharing.  The negative comments became fewer and things felt like they were back to normal, until I found out that Gabes photo had been taken, edited to include the words “I got cancer” and was being used on multiple Facebook pages for likes and shares. I worked hard to get them removed and despite several pages being closed, many more remained active, using Gabe for like farming. 

So I stopped. I stopped blogging, I kept writing, but not sharing. I decided that I would close Hand Me Downs, and go back to sharing with those closest to me only. And then two things happened, last week I got an email with a photo in it.  A sweet baby girl, snuggled up in her mamas arms, her mama wrote, 

“I sorry my English not good, from Italy.  Your writing give me hope when daughter, Elena, was born Down syndrome.   I see your son smile and think it’s all okay.  She is good health and we love her.  Thank you for your sharing. Ilaria”

Then tonight the post Sometimes I Forget resurfaced on Scary Mommy. A good friend tagged me in it and I was initially terrified.  Then I remembered Ilaria and Elana and I just don’t care anymore. In the words of Taylor Swift, “haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate”.   And “I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, I shake it off, I shake it off!”  

Feel free to comment below if y’all don’t like it, but I’m all done letting others bad behavior dictate my choices!

After Down Syndrome

  

Everyone has at least one day in their lives that they could call “life changing”. When applied to my life there are a few moments that come to mind; high school graduation, my engagement and subsequent wedding, the night we found out we were expecting our first child, her birth, the day I found out we were expecting again.  I can tell you the month date and year that all of those things occurred, they’re important moments, monumental moments, moments that changed the course of my and then my husband’s life.  One thing that they all have in common is the joy that came with these special moments and the tears shed by me or others that were looking on with love and pride.

But there is another moment, one that will be with me until the end of my days.  It’s a moment that I’m not proud of, a moment full of anger and hate and tears.  Three years ago today, I was blissfully unaware that I was about to add another “life changing” moment to my list.  I had no idea that less than 24 hours from now, I would be given news that would expose my truest of feelings, and leave me shaken, ashamed and confused.

 When I think about it, I don’t really remember much about March 20th, 2012; it wasn’t anymore special to me than any other day.  I couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I couldn’t tell you what I wore, if I was at work or home, if I did anything special with my spouse or daughter.  I’m sure I was happy, or as happy as a pregnant lady chasing a toddler could be.  We had some scary news earlier in the pregnancy, that had seemed to resolve itself, and although I knew the results for our amniocentesis would be in soon, I wasn’t too concerned.

  

And then the next day came.  I remember going to work and having a fairly pleasant day in Triage, I chatted with friends, very few knew that we had an amnio, so it wasn’t on the forefront of my mind.  As I was leaving I checked my voicemail, there was a message from our perinatologist to call him back; our results were in.  So I did just that.  I called him back, and then March 21stwas added to my list of life changing days.  It wasn’t a happy occasion; the tears that were shed were not ones of pride, joy, or love. 

I can sometimes still feel fear and confusion that I felt after hearing the Doctor utter two little words “Down syndrome”.  I can still feel the tears that rushed down, soaking my steering wheel and t-shirt.  I can still picture the confused look on the old man’s face, who tapped on my window to check on me.  I can still hear the three words I shouted in anger at God as I pulled out of the parking lot “I Hate You”.  And I can still hear the thoughts echoing in my head about my unborn son, “I Don’t Want You”. 

As I said, it wasn’t a moment that I remember proudly.  My initial reactions left me feeling guilty and angry at myself.   I went home that night, kissed my sleeping daughter and changed into my pajamas.  My in-laws came over to discuss our results.  I ate cold Ramen noodles.  I had told my mother in law, “I like them cold”, when she urged me to eat them, I didn’t want to tell her that I had no desire to eat anything.  I cried some more and then went to sleep. And then it wasn’t the 21st anymore.

  

Over the following weeks and months I learned as much as I could about life with a child with Down syndrome.   I prayed.  A lot.  I forgave myself.  My love for Gabe grew bigger and bigger, just like my belly, until it felt like my tummy and heart couldn’t expand any further.  Then Gabe came and slipped seamlessly into our lives; Mommy, Daddy, Daughter and Son; our perfect family.   I like to think of the days before Gabe as the days “Before Down Syndrome”.

Those were the days before words like chromosomes, trisomy, Down syndrome, low tone, therapy, advocacy or acceptance were part of my every day vocabulary.  The days before I understood what it meant to use people first language. They were the days before I felt like I understood the meaning of true and unconditional love. The days before I had friends, best friends, that spanned the globe, before I had the confidence to stand up for my children’s needs and before I knew what it meant to take a time line, throw it out the window and be okay with it.  Those were the days before I fell in love with a blue eyed boy, before I knew how wonderful, amazing, challenging and perfect it was to have a child with Down syndrome. 

I wouldn’t give them up for anything, and even though sometimes I miss the simplicity of them, I wouldn’t give up a single day that has came After Down Syndrome either.