Forgiveness …

I did something today that I don’t often do with strangers who offend me. I do it easily for the people I know and love. But I’ve never really done it for someone I don’t know. It really made me think and made me want to change my ways. I’ll get to it, but let me first share what happened to me around noon today.

Unfortunately, I had an encounter with … let’s call her … ROAD RAGE LADY. For the record, I use the term “lady” VERY loosely. Typically when I have these types of interactions I BRIEFLY wonder what gets people to THAT level of enragement. Then I move on with my happy life.

Anyway, about 20 minutes later I had a lovely interaction with a young woman who was my cashier at a local department store. She said that she liked the pattern of the SIXTEEN Christmas cookie plates I was purchasing. I figured that she probably thought it was a little nutty to be buying so many cookie plates, HA! So I explained.

A few years ago I started a tradition with Reese’s teachers, aides and therapists. Every Christmas I give them a new Christmas cookie plate and other treats. After explaining, this young woman immediately said that she loved our tradition. She then shared with me that her nephew was born very prematurely and has many therapists as well. She said that she and her sister were trying to brainstorm Christmas present ideas for her nephew’s therapists. She said that she was excited to share our tradition with her sister and thought that it might be something that she would want to start too. This sweet woman thanked me profusely and then we wished each other well. I left the store with a smile on my face … and then I remembered ROAD RAGE LADY.

And I actually felt badly for her.

Just 20 minutes after experiencing her anger (screaming, honking and fists slamming against her steering wheel) I was blessed by a woman who freely shared her life with me. We connected, albeit briefly, because of two very special children and a village of therapists and helpers who are appreciated beyond measure. I was reminded, in that moment, that my life is filled with an abundance of good souls. And I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

It took me a while to process the good and the bad that had just rapidly entered my life. I thought about the balance of all of it and it made me laugh. Life can be so weird sometimes. And then, I found myself moved to pray for ROAD RAGE LADY. I didn’t just go on with my happy life this time. I thought about her and her fury. And then I prayed that she be blessed with an abundance of good souls in her life too. After all … we are all human.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you forgive someone who you don’t even know!!!

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A story about faith, love and believing in miracles …

I post these words every year. I don't think I will ever be able to change them. To do so would be an injustice to her. To me. And to all our family and friends who stood by us then and who continue to share this life with us now. This story is about our beginning together. It is a story of faith and love … and believing in miracles.

We were told when I was about 11 weeks pregnant that she did not look quite so “typical” … I didn’t care. I loved our baby. And I prayed.

A few weeks later we were told that not only was our baby “not typical”, but that there was a chance I would be delivering her still born … I wanted our baby even more fiercely than I had before. And I prayed.

Several weeks later, we almost lost our baby … to which I screamed an adamant and angry “NO!” And I prayed.

A month later we were told that our baby had a “very large hole in her heart” … to which I said, “I don’t believe you.“ And I prayed.

Two months later we were told, “Your baby is small” … to which I laughed and said, “Of all the things that you have told us, this seems pretty manageable.” And I prayed.

Two weeks later, on what was supposed to be a brief doctor’s visit before we headed to our local water park, we were told that our baby was not growing, that she was too small and that she was not acting the way she should be. We were told that I would be given another amniocentesis to see if her lungs were developed. If they were, my doctor wanted to take her right away … I felt like my body was failing her. And I prayed.

My doctor gave me a drug to speed up our baby’s lung development. The results of the amniocentesis were not what we had hoped for. My doctor told us that our baby’s lungs were not developed, our baby could not breath on her own. Now we had a team of medical professionals. They hoped nothing would go wrong for the next 48 hours so that the steroid they had given me would have time to help our baby’s lungs grow … to which I said, “OK”. And I prayed.

Less than 24 hours later I had a hospital room full of people wearing blue who were running around and pumping my body full of fluids and drugs. We were told that we could no longer wait. We were told that our baby would not be breathing and that she would be very small and weak … to which I cried in her father’s arms and said, “I’m scared.” And I prayed.

Minutes later I was strapped to a table. I had refused anything that would alter my mental state. I wanted to be there for our baby. It took a long time to get her out. I was told that she was so small that she kept slipping through the doctor’s hands. I kept screaming, “Is she out?!?!” And I prayed.

Then, I heard a cry … to which I thought, “That is a loud cry for a baby who is supposed to be weak, small and not breathing.” And I prayed.

A few minutes later our baby was brought over to me, warmly swaddled, pink as could be, breathing on her own and with no hole in her heart. (Sure, she has some extra chromosomes, but who cares about that?) And when I saw her I thought, “You are my miracle and I love you.” And then, I praised God for our beautiful daughter.

Eight years ago today, through God’s amazing grace, Reese Lindsey Grace was born by emergency cesarean section. She was 6 weeks early. She weighed 2lbs 15oz and was 15 ½ inches long. My world has not been quite the same since … and I would have it no other way.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you celebrate a miracle … and always remember to pray!!!

Celebrating a miracle …

I post these words every year. I can’t convince myself to change them. To do so would be an injustice to her. To me. To our family. It is our beginning together. It is the story of faith and love … and believing in miracles.

We were told when I was about 11 weeks pregnant that she did not look quite so “typical” … I didn’t care. I loved our baby. And I prayed.A few weeks later we were told, that not only was our baby “not typical”, but there was a chance I would be delivering a still born … I wanted our baby even more fiercely than I had before. And I prayed.

Several weeks later we almost lost our baby … To which I said an adamant and angry “NO!” And I prayed.

A month later we were told that our baby had a “very large hole in her heart” … To which I said, “I don’t believe you.“ And I prayed.

Two months later we were told, “Your baby is small” … To which I laughed and said, “Of all the things that you have told us, this seems pretty manageable.” And I prayed.

Two weeks later, on what was supposed to be a brief doctor’s visit before we headed to our local water park, we were told that our baby was not growing, that she was too small and that she was not acting the way she should be. We were told that I would be given another amniocentesis to see if her lungs were developed. If they were, my doctor wanted to take her right away … I felt like my body was failing her. And I prayed.

My doctor gave me a drug to speed up our baby’s lung development. The results of the amniocentesis were not good. My doctor told us that our baby’s lungs were not developed, our baby could not breath on her own. Now we had a team of medical professionals. They hoped nothing would go wrong for the next 48 hours so that the steroid they had given me would have enough time to help our baby’s lungs grow … To which I said, “OK”. And I prayed.

Less than 24 hours later I had a hospital room full of people wearing blue who were running around and pumping my body full of fluids and drugs. We were told that we could no longer wait. We were told that our baby wouldn’t be breathing and that she would be very small and weak … To which I cried in her father’s arms and said, “I’m scared.” And I prayed.

Minutes later I was strapped to a table. I had refused anything that would alter my mental state. I wanted to be there for our baby. It took a long time to get her out. I was told that she was so small she kept slipping through the doctor’s hands. I kept screaming, “Is she out?!?!” And I prayed.

Then, I heard a cry … To which I thought, “That is loud cry for a baby who is supposed to be weak, small and not breathing.” And I prayed.

A few minutes later our baby was brought over to me, warmly swaddled, pink as can be, breathing on her own and with no hole in her heart. (Sure, she has some extra chromosomes, but who cares about that?) And when I saw her I thought, “You are my miracle and I love you.” And then, I praised God for our beautiful daughter.

Six years ago today, through God’s awesome grace, Reese Lindsey Grace was born by emergency cesarean section. She weighed 2lbs 15oz and was 15 ½ inches long. My world has not been quite the same since, … and I would have it no other way.

Happy Birthday my beautiful Ree Ree! You are my joy and my miracle! Mama loves you and all of your EXTRA parts!!!

Well, I hope you all have a day where you celebrate a miracle … and always remember to pray!!!

  

Genuine and loving eyes …

Reese is beautiful.

I know that every mother believes that their child, or children, are beautiful. Some will argue that biochemical changes during pregnancy and after delivery are to blame for this type of reaction to our off-spring. Some may argue straight up love and emotional bonds are the culprit. Whatever the reason we, as biological or adoptive parents, think our kids are the cutest darn things that humankind will ever see.

Now, factor in a disability.

When I first had Reese and was willing to actually go outside I never thought much about how the world would perceive her. But first I should explain my unwillingness to leave the house. Reese was only 2lbs 15oz at birth and was born during what was one of the worst cold and flu seasons I could ever remember … and she was a preemie. I’m a bit of a germ phob. OK, fine. I am paranoid of every germ out there and having a teeny tiny baby magnified this by a BAZILLION.

Anyway, Reese was a baby.  An extra small version and cute at a bug. To me. I loved her and all of her extra chromosomes. I was so proud of her, as I am still today, for all she had overcome.

I should probably elaborated a little more here as well. I had a very difficult pregnancy with Reese. Setting aside all the false worries our “specialists” filled my head with, she had some very real and scary things to overcome. Reese stopped growing at 28 weeks. It had nothing to do with the Down Syndrome, something was wrong. It wasn’t until after she was delivered via emergency Caesarean Section that everything became clear. My placenta necrotized. In lay terms, it died. Or at least enough of it died to significantly hinder Reese’s growth. Her umbilical cord was also described to me as “feeble”. All of this was not good. Reese was born malnourished. They didn’t expect her to be breathing at delivery, but thankfully she was. Reese spent 28 days in the NICU overcoming every hurdle she was presented with. I was in awe of her strength and will to thrive. She was a natural born survivor and I was so proud of her.

So when I finally did leave the house with her I paraded her around like a Rose Parade Queen on a float. She was my little hero.

What I experienced when I finally left the house with her was something I never expected. A reaction from strangers that I never saw coming. Let me point out that there were people who could tell right away that Reese had Down Syndrome. And we almost always could tell by their description of her. “What an angel!”, “Hello angel!”, “She is just like an angel!”. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, if the word “angel” was thrown in there, they knew. And I loved it. I thought it was a perfect way to describe her and I was thrilled that others, people we have affectionally coined “on our team”, saw her for what she was … our little angel.

But then there were the people who surprised me the most. The men and women who would be absolutely “taken” by Reese’s looks. 

“My god she is beautiful.” 

“She has the most unique features I have ever seen.”

“She is prettier than any of my babies ever were.”

… and they hadn’t a clue. None of them knew she had Down Syndrome. I would let them talk about her beauty and I wouldn’t say a word. At least not until the very end of our conversation. And then I just watched their reactions. They were stunned. They had no clue that what initially drew them to Reese was what many in the world would find unattractive and a reason to judge her and treat her negatively. I loved that they viewed her unique features as something positive. I made sure I thanked them and I shared that their view of her, albeit one based entirely on looks, somehow gave this mom some hope.

This morning as Reese sat at the table eating breakfast Libs and I were both struck by how beautiful she looked sitting there. Libs told me a story about a friend of hers. She had recently told this friend that she had a little sister with Down Syndrome. Her friend went on and on about how she thought babies with Down Syndrome were so “cute”.

Perhaps I am being naive and more hopeful than I should be. But I personally have bore witness to the changing perception of people with Down Syndrome. How uniqueness is FINALLY being celebrated as a gift and not something debilitating.  

We aren’t all good at everything. We don’t all look the same. We don’t all come to the same conclusions. We don’t all learn the same way. We won’t grow up and all become the same thing. We were all made differently … on purpose. Each of us has a different job to do with the life that we have been given. No job less or more important than another’s. No one’s life less meaningful than another’s. How we look should not matter in the scope of things. But I sure am glad that at least a portion of this world we live in is starting to perceive beauty in different ways. In this era of awareness how we truly SEE others with disabilities is changing … and this mom sure can appreciate that.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you view the world through genuine and loving eyes!!!

Celebrating Reese …

I post this every year, because I honestly I feel that this is her testimony of strength and perseverance that she is unable to tell for herself. For me, there are no words that tell this story better. This is about her beginning and how our EPIC journey together unfolded … a legend of sorts about a little warrior who is changing the world one heart at a time.

We were told, when I was about 11 weeks pregnant, that things did not look quite so “typical” … I didn’t care. And I prayed.

A few weeks later we were told, that not only was our baby “not typical”, but there was a chance I would be delivering a still born … I wanted our baby even more fiercely than I had before. And I prayed.

Several weeks later, we almost lost our baby … To which I said an adamant and angry “NO!” And I prayed.

A month later we were told that our baby had a “very large hole in her heart” … To which I said, “I don’t believe you.“ And I prayed.

Two months later we were told, “Your baby is small” … To which I laughed and said, “Of all the things you have told me, this seems pretty manageable.” And I prayed.

Two weeks later, on what was supposed to be a brief doctor’s visit before we headed to our local water park, we were told our baby was not growing, that she was too small and that she was not acting the way she should. We were told that I would be given another amniocentesis to see if her lungs were developed. If they were, my doctor wanted to take her right away … I felt like my body was failing her. And I prayed.

My doctor gave me a drug to speed up our baby’s lung development. The results of the amniocentesis were not good. My doctor told us that our baby’s lungs were not developed, our baby could not breath on her own. Now we had a team of medical professionals. They hoped nothing would go wrong for the next 48 hours so that the steroid they had given me would have enough time to help our baby’s lungs grow … To which I said, “OK”. And I prayed.

Less than 24 hours later I had a hospital room full of people wearing blue running around and pumping my body full of fluids and drugs. We were told that we could no longer wait. We were told our baby wouldn’t be breathing and that she would be very small and weak. To which I cried in my husband‘s arms and said, “I’m scared.” And I prayed.

Minutes later I was strapped to a table. I had refused anything that would alter my mental state, I wanted to be there for our baby. It took a long time to get her out. I was told that she was so small she kept slipping through the doctor’s hands. I kept screaming, “Is she out?!?!” And I prayed.

Then, I heard a cry … To which I thought, “That is loud cry for a baby who is supposed to be weak, small and not breathing.” And I prayed.

A few minutes later our baby was brought over to me, warmly swaddled, pink as can be, breathing on her own and with no hole in her heart. Sure she has some extra chromosomes, but who cares about that? And to which I thought, “You are my miracle and I love you.” And then, I praised God for our beautiful daughter.

Five years ago today, through God’s awesome grace, Reese Lindsey Grace was born by emergency cesarean section. She weighed 2lbs 15oz and was 15 ½ inches long. My world has not been quite the same since, and I would have it no other way.

Happy Birthday my precious Reesey Roo! YOU ARE MY HERO! Mama loves you and all of your EXTRA parts!!!

Well, I hope you all have a day where you celebrate a miracle … and always remember to pray!!!

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