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.



Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the definition of inadequate as this: “lacking in quality or quantity required; insufficient for its purpose”. I’m certain that if I were in a room full of parents and said “Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt inadequate as a parent”, there wouldn’t be a single person not raising their hand. If there were anyone in the room not raising their hand it could be due only to the fact that someone superglued them to the chair or they’re lying. I remember from the moment that expensive digital test blared the unmistakable word “pregnant” on its little grey screen, I began to question my ability to be a parent. I technically wasn’t even one yet, however there I was unsure of myself and my capabilities. But why? Why are we so unsure of ourselves as parents?


Is it because there are sooo many choices? Cloth or disposable diapers. Homemade or jarred food. Organic or nonorganic. Breast or bottle. Strollers or slings. Co-sleep or crib. Vaccine or no vaccine. There are even choices for our choices! Pampers, Loves, Huggies…there are entire walls dedicated to varying brands of disposable diapers.

Or is it because we are bombarded by advertisers who portray parents who don’t use their products as a little less than those who do? ‘Choosey moms choose Jiff’; and what about those who like the one with the flying boy on it? Or ‘by the second one, all parents are experts’ and those experts obviously prefer one specific brand of diaper.


Could it be our innate competitive nature to rear the best children that the world has ever seen; causes us to constantly compare ourselves to other parents, leaving questions and doubts crowding our minds. Am I doing the right thing, should I have fed him that, should I have let her wear that, will they really turn out okay if I don’t let them sleep with me, or if they do sleep with my will they be scarred for life?

Perhaps it’s all three. Or none of the above, maybe something I haven’t listed. The reason doesn’t so much matter as the fact that we do. I’ve heard countless friends and acquaintances express their uncertainty and their concern about the choices that they have made or are making for their children. Questioning their judgment. Doubting their ability based on the going ons around them. I do it myself.

I see parents when I drop off my children who are spectacularly dressed and I’m lucky to show up with pants and a shirt that I didn’t sleep in or wear to work the night before. I find myself tugging my tshirt down over my yoga pants (note I never do yoga) and glancing at my kids; inadequate. I find posts from parents who are rocking incredible homemade therapy sessions and the only thing that could pass for therapy for us that day was him trying to dig out two lost Cheerios under the couch. (I mean that’s fine motor right?); inadequate.
I see moms bent down on one knee speaking soft reasoning words to their tyrant of a toddler and I am immediately reminded of the wall shuddering bellow of “Get.Your.Daggum.Shoes.On.Your.Feet.NOW!” that shot out of my mouth not even a half an hour earlier; inadequate.


What it boils down to is this; the more I compare myself to those around me, the more inadequate I feel. I gotta stop, we’ve gotta stop. The true judge of our ability is our children. The choices that we make for our families are OUR choices. Make them and stand by them with confidence. Instead of looking around at the other parents doing all the other things that you THINK you should be doing, look at your children. It’s easy to see that what you are doing is enough, it is sufficient, it is adequate, when you use your children as the scale by which to measure.

I know that it’s difficult not to compare, or even judge other parents, but it’s important to remember that that’s what they are; other parents. They’re making the choices for their families. Those choices may not be right for your kids, and you shouldn’t feel inadequate because of that. It’s possible that the parent you’re envying isn’t as put together as you think they are! As parents we all have a similar goal in mind; the health, happiness and well being of our families, we can’t do that if we’re consumed with self doubt.

I’m not going to let the fact that my daughter has eaten dog treats, peed in a potted plant, fed her brother his own boogers or painted him blue with stamps, make me feel like less of a parent. My daughter is incredible; she has a vocabulary that won’t quit, her creativity is inspiring and her sense of humor admirable. My son rocks; he faces whatever comes at him with “a kiss my diapered butt” grin, spreads joy to whomever he meets and challenges this family to be more than just observers of life. Hearing their laughter and seeing their smiles throughout the day confirm to me that I’m doing alright.

My children shall be my scale, not the parents around me! I’m going to move forward as a mama who is confident in her ability, attempt not to allow myself to compare my choices to others and I’m gonna wear my yoga pants proudly. I hope you’ll do the same (yoga pants not a requirement).


Mommy Lesson 700: Nothing to Lose Your Head Over

I want to first start off by issuing an apology. This apology is to my daughter. Mommy is very, VERY sorry that you were unfortunate enough to bear witness to the events that unfolded this evening. I am certain that the shocking and unsettling incident that occurred will leave you slightly jaded. You may never look at mommy the same, or your Dollie for that matter. I hope that you can forgive me and maybe even forget my unfortunate mistake.

After enjoying a nice family dinner and playing at the play place in our local mall we arrived home just in time for pajamas and bedtime. While picking out her jammies Abi asked if we could change her special Christmas dolly out of her church clothes and into her pajamas too. I said sure and she proceeded to pick out a pair of pajamas for herself and her doll. She then sat down in the floor to change her dolly’s clothes. Peanut expertly removed the shoes and the jacket but struggled with the dress.

She looked to Super Mom for some help and I willingly obliged. I sat cross legged on the floor, the doll standing straight up with her arms up over her head. I nimbly pulled the dress up and over the top, in much the same fashion you would your own child. Things were going great until the dress became stuck around the dolls head. Now, typically when clothing becomes entangled around your child’s head you just tug a little harder. If that doesn’t work, you typically feel for a button or snap that you may have forgotten. If not button or snap is present you just pull really, really hard and eventually the child will be wrenched free of the offending outfit. This doesn’t work for dollies.

Want to know why? Because THEIR HEADS COME OFF! I tugged and pulled and felt the clothes suddenly give and come free of my daughters VERY special Dolly. I was grinning ear to ear until I heard my daughters surprised and terrified gasp. I followed her open mouthed stare to the the neck of the dolly. Smile gone, proud moment over, childhood ruined.


Abi open and closed her mouth rapidly, rather fish like, gasping for air, unable to say anything. I frantically pulled the decapitated dolly head from the Chinese trap of a dress, and worked desperately to stick it back on. “Ha, oh dear, you know Peanut, um sometimes these things happen. But it’s REALLY easy to fix”. She sat and watched stunned as I attempted to cram dolls head onto dolls body. “She. Doesn’t. Have. A. Head.” I frowned, I mean the darn thing came off so easily, it should back on just as easily, right?

I crammed and twisted for what felt like hours, but I’m sure it was only seconds and finally with a satisfactory click the head snapped back on. I held her up triumphantly and realized that she was looking at me from her backside. “Oh!” I yelped, and quickly spun her head around to the front. I peeked at Abi and found her still sitting there, mouth stuck open. “Hey! Look, there, all better. Mommy fixed her! Yay mommy!” Abi narrowed her eyes at me and snatched her precious Dollie from the dangerous grasp of the beheadding mommy “You. Pulled. Her. Head. Off.”

My attempts at an apology fell upon deaf ears as she set about checking her doll out to insure that I hadn’t detached any other parts. She verified that both arms and legs were still attached before sending me a seething glance and placing her dolly safely in its sleeping bag. She smoothed her hair out and gave her a kiss and placed her gently beside her bed on the floor. Without a word, she looked at me with disappointment, and silently left the room shaking her head. She turned right at the door, sighed and said, “I don’t think that you should play with dolly again”.


Follow Hand Me Downs via

Facebook or Twitter


Are You Ready?


I’m a baby blogger. I don’t mean that I neccessarily blog about babies, I just mean that I’m fairly new to the world of blogs, blogging and everything that comes with it. So I am going to blame my lack of posts on my newness. It has nothing to do with the holiday craziness, working, nursing a flu ridden husband back to health, trying and failing to prevent my children from catching the flu and pink eye, nursing them back to health and organizing, reorganizing and giving up at organizing the christmas gifts that my children were blessed with throughout the entire month of December.

However, I CANNOT let another moment go by without sharing this challenge for change that has been thrown down by an incredible woman. Katie at Changing the Face of Beauty has worked tirelessly since 2012 to change the perceptions of society. It started as a website highlighting children of all abilities through photography. The mission was simple; encouraged mainstream media and companies across the globe to include individuals of all ability in their advertisements and promotions. Katie’s intiiative has certainly changed perceptions and is continuing to gain momentum. And why shouldnt it? Why shouldn’t children and adults with disabilities have an opportunity to promote the brands that they know and love?

Recently Katie issued a challenge; #15in2015. The goal is to convince at LEAST 15 retailers to feature individuals representing a variety of abilities in their advertisements during 2015. Using the #IMREADY individuals across the globe have began calling out their favorite retailers, businesses, brands, and the like, challenging them to step up and join in! To be one of the first (of many I’m sure) to come along side this community and show their support for inclusion.

Changing the Face of Beauty has already made it super simple to join in and challenge whatever retailer you love the most. Take your choice of social media outlet and tag the business (or bussinesses) of your choosing. Add in a few hashtags including #IMREADY, #15in2015, #changingthefaceofbeauty and garnish with a photo! There you go, thats it. It wont take too long, and the resulting change will be monumental.

It can be easy to miss a few little voices, but the public cannot ignore the crowd chant “I AM READY!”. So go on, get to it! And remember “The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of MANY working together is better” Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.


Gabe has called out #thechildrensplace, #oldnavy, #gymboree, #jellybeans, #thekidscourt, #melissa&doug, #walmart, #mobywrap, #medela, #brightstarts, #target, #carters, #mattel, #toysrus, and #playskool

Do you think they’re ready to represent?

Follow Hand Me Downs via

Facebook or Twitter


Mommy Lesson 251: Buzz Buzz Chirp Chirp

The average family in the United States has 2.16 children. While it may be difficult to determine just how one would get .16th of a child, it’s not much of a stretch to say that a large number of children have siblings and almost every child will encounter at least one pregnant woman during their lives. Inevitably the visual of a woman’s swollen belly will provoke certain questions.

These questions might include; what’s in there? How does it come out? They might even ask; does that man have a baby in his tummy? While the majority of these questions are fairly easy to answer, one day your child will ask THE dreaded question; how did it get in there?


Earlier today the kids and I were driving down the road. Ever curious, Abigail began questioning me about where we were going. I told her that we were headed to a baby shower. She wasn’t sure what that meant, so I elaborated a little further. “Umm, you remember when baby brother was in Mommies tummy and we had a big party for him while he was in there? That’s what we’re doing for the little baby in Shannon’s tummy”. Instead of further questions, she requested a cookie. Being before dinner I told her no, which led her to sit pouting in her car seat. After close to 10 minutes of silent contemplation Abi piped up with “Mommy, how did the baby get in her tummy?”

My fingers clenched the steering wheel and I felt the car serve sharply to the right. I started to stammer, stalling for time. As a mother of two, I am well aware of how they got in there. With my background as a labor and delivery nurse I am capable of remaining calm during high stress situations, yet my palms were beginning to sweat, my heart was racing and I could feel my cheeks getting red and warm. I quickly thought of and rejected several explanations inside my head and glanced into the rear view mirror. Abi sat looking at me, patiently awaiting an answer.

I licked my lips, trying to draw some moisture into my mouth, and took a big breath in, here goes nothing. “Um, well, Abs, um….”. My eyes darted frantically around the inside of the car, know my inquisitive daughter would not accept “they just do” as an answer. After what seemed like a millennium I found the answer, “Hey, Abi? You want a cookie?”


Sometimes distraction is the best answer. Abi happily chewed her cookie and watched the scenery go by. Swallowing the last bite she glanced up and repeated her question, “But how do they get in there?”. Obviously another cookie was not the answer, I quickly calculated my additional options and settled on avoidance, “Hey, you know what? Why don’t you ask your daddy when he comes home?

Follow Hand Me Downs via

Facebook or Twitter


Every Good and Perfect Gift


There is a hustle and bustle this time of year that is both overwhelming and wonderful. The lights, ribbons, bows and decor that cover every inch of everything add to the ambience that is Christmas. Christmas is all about giving, right? You don’t have to look long to see advertisements for the latest and greatest gifts of the season. People going from here to there stocking up on goodies for those they love. Packages are prepared with care; their givers eagerly awaiting the moment the paper comes off and they see the look of joyful excitement in the recipients face.

Gifts come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are created and some are bought. Some gifts are appreciated, loved and treasured. Where some gifts are misunderstood, unwanted or discarded. Some gifts inspire jealousy, where some inspire hope. No two gifts are the same, even if they look exactly alike. How they are received makes them different.

Gifts are given in a multitude of ways. They can be wrapped in paper, placed in a festive bag with matching tissue paper, or covered in ribbons and bows. They can be packaged and shipped all over the world or hand delivered. Gifts can be displayed for those awaiting them to see and yearn over, or they can tucked away in hiding places awaiting discovery. Not all gifts arrive the same way, some actually come in a rather unique way….

Her hand was shaking as she attempted to push the hair out of her face. Her attempts were mostly futile as the beads of sweat had made her hair unmanageable and tangled. It clung to her neck with damp tendrils spilling out here and there down her back. Her shoulders hunched and heaved with each fatigued and haggard breath she took. Her entire body saturated with exhaustion. She held on desperately to the wooden pillar gritting her teeth, her knees week and wobbly. Just when she thought she couldn’t bear it any longer the pain slowly lessened, little by little until there it was only a memory. A memory seared permanently into her, making it difficult to concentrate on anything but it’s return. But she tried, oh how she tried, to push the thought out of her head. Her breathing slowed to a more manageable rhythm, in and out, in and out. With each breath she drew she attempted to redirect her thoughts, not on what was to come, but what had been and what would be.

She accepted the sip of drink offered to her, wetting her lips and nodding graciously. She only had time to release the beam, her life line, and stretch her aching fingers briefly before the next pain wracked her body. This time, try as she might, a whimper escaped through her clenched lips. The pain building and building until she felt that it would surely tear her in half. Legs and arms burning under the strain of her attempts to stay upright and trembling in response. Her knuckles were white, the circulation halted through the vice like grip of her fingers. And then, again, just when she felt she couldn’t take anymore, it lessened little by little until she could stand upright again. She drew in a harrowed breath and wiped the mingled sweat and tears from her face. She could hear the encouraging murmurs from those around her. Though soothing it brought little comfort.

As she began to feel the sharp ache and burn building, she attempted to put her thoughts elsewhere, outside of her pain ridden body. She deemed it impossible and considered for a moment shouting out, but muffled her noises into her outstretched arm. She didn’t know how, but something was telling her that it was almost over, she knew that her time was near. It was an unshakable sureness, but with it came the knowledge that the worst was yet to come. She drew in a deep breath and willed her mind into cooperation. I can do this, she told herself, I’ve almost made it.

She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, her mind floating back through the months before. It came to light on a day that began like many others. She awoke and began attending to her daily duties; preparing meals, drawing water and bringing it in and generally caring for the household. Consumed with her chores, she was suddenly startled by the visitor who had arrived without so much as a sound. So quiet was his approach that she didn’t notice him until he was mere feet away from her.

She had only just begun to catch her breath when he spoke, voice clear and with purpose “Mary, favored one, the Lord is with you”. She could feel herself begin to tremble slightly, uncertainty stealing her thoughts. He continued “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found grace with God. You shall have a son and He will be called Jesus, the Son of the Most High. He will reign, throughout the ages, with no end, as given to Him by his Father, God.”

She spoke slowly but deliberately, the terms of her engagement to Joseph clear in her mind, “How is this possible, as I have yet to marry?”
He answered her simply “Through the Holy Spirit, the power of the Most High, you will conceive. The child you bear shall be called Holy, Son of God”. Her answer was succinct “Let it be”. At that he left her to ponder his words, their meaning and her future.

The brief reprieve that her memories had given her was over, Mary could no longer escape the pain that was welling up inside her. She had a sudden sense of urgency and panic, she glanced around frantically, unsure of what she was searching for. The pain was no longer rhythmic, it was ceaseless and unrelenting. The tears poured freely now, and she no longer cared to stifle her cries. She could feel her heart throbbing in her chest, certain that it would explode before this torture had ended. She could sense her body directing her, urging her and guiding her as to where to focus her energy. She closed her eyes and clamped her hands onto the wood, a sound escaped her lips, a cross between a sigh and a moan.

She knew, it was almost time, she could sense it with every fiber of her body. She reached haphazardly for the linens and drew in as deep a breath as she could. With all of her might she willed her body to act and with a final triumphant yell she felt a life defining release and the pain ceased. She swiped at the tears blurring her vision, and reached out for Him. She could see that He was just as exhausted as she, and quickly urged Him to cry. As she crouched there, huddled with her miracle, he began to stir and fuss.

The joy that washed over her, hearing His voice for the first time left her feeling flushed and giddy. Her spirit soared and leapt as she stared into His eyes. She stroked His face, from temple to chin and kissed His smooth, spotless skin. She could feel the kick of His little feet against her side as she cuddled Him into her. She placed her finger in His unclenched hand and sighed with contentment as He closed His tiny fist around it. He was a gift, a perfect tiny and amazing gift. She knew that in too short a time, He would no longer be just hers to hold and cherish. He would become someone else’s miracle, someone else’s perfect and amazing gift. She had no doubt that He would grow to do great things and she was honored to be witness to it. But right now, He was her son, her blessed baby boy, her gift, and so she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the manger next to her….

The Bible tells us ‘that every good and perfect gift is from above’. God sent Jesus to be born of a woman, to grow, to teach, to heal and to ultimately be offered as a sacrifice in place of you and me. The gift of our salvation, hand delivered in the form of an innocent infant. This good and precious gift is available for all of us; prepared the same, packaged the same, delivered the same, but the difference is how it is received.

This gift has already been wrapped and delivered; it is sitting there, waiting and ready for you. The choice to receive it or not, is yours….

Follow Hand Me Downs via

Facebook or Twitter