Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Am Glad It's Me

The other day, along with several others, I was listening to someone talk about something upsetting to her. I was taken aback when (in front of everyone else) she  stopped to tell me, "I don't mean to talk about this in front of you. I know you have problems."

Now, this woman doesn't have a mean bone in her body, and I can assure you she didn't mean anything negative by her words. I think that is why it has been on my mind so much. I don't think she was implying that I seem unhappy. What I think is that most people don't want to be in my shoes. I think that others would find my life problematic. The understanding I get from the general population is, "I'm glad you're handling this well, but I'm glad it's not me."

I am glad it's me.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Our Own Little Awareness Campaign

This week, I was on a mission. I scheduled my annual ob/gyn check-up with the doctor that delivered Levi, not because of my fondness for her, but because I wanted her to see that we are okay. You see, when Levi was born, I cried...and cried...and cried. I didn't stop crying until after we were home from the hospital. This ob/gyn never saw anything but tears from me. 

This particular doctor just ended up being the one on call when I went into labor and wasn't someone I really knew. At one of Levi's check-ups, a week or so after his birth, Levi's pediatrician told me that she called his office to check on me. It made me so sad to think of the impression I must have made on her...a mother disappointed by her baby. I found it very interesting that she called to see how I was doing a week after the delivery because while I was still in the hospital, she asked me why I didn't do testing to find out ahead of time if Levi would have Down syndrome. I said, "Because that would never have changed my plans to have him." With a raised eyebrow & shoulder-shrug she responded, "That's what everyone says."

Those words have been frozen in my mind. I don't know exactly what was meant, but it made me really, really sad. Did she think I'd have chosen not to have him if I had known?

I have wondered what on earth I could do to change the impression I made on her. I wondered if she thought I was unhappy with Levi. I wondered if she'd ever encourage someone to terminate a pregnancy so they wouldn't be sad, like she saw me. It was really eating at me. The only thing I knew to do was to see her again and tell her that we are happy and that life is good.

So yesterday we did just that. I told her his diagnosis was surprising, but not disappointing. I told her that my post-pregnancy hormones amplified my worries and fears, but that this kid is amazing and has made me a better person.
Of course, he had to do his camera face for me!

Since we were near the mall, I took the boys out to run around the play area there. Adam made some new buddies and enjoyed a game of hide & seek. They all played so nicely together and were very kind to one another.
Here they are deciding who will count while the others hide.

"I don't think anyone sees me up here!"
It was such a thrill to see Levi run around the play area for the first time. We haven't been here since he started walking. He had a big time.
His favorite thing to do was run toward the exit! That's what he's doing in this picture! Little Stinker!
We went on another awareness mission today. Levi got to be the big man on campus at the University of Kentucky. We went to a class for future physical therapists, and they practiced doing assessments with Levi as their "patient."
PicMonkey sure makes it fun to conceal a person's identity!
The students had a lot of questions about Down syndrome, sign language, and our therapies. It was fun being there. I am so glad we went.

Even after expending lots of energy for the class, Levi LOVED walking around on campus.

"You comin'?"

And here he is five minutes after getting into the car, when I stopped for gas.
Making a difference in the world takes a lot of energy out of a two-year-old!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Great quote and a video for you...

Depending on how long we spend at his ENT check-up this afternoon, by the end of the day, I will have spent at least twelve hours of the last four days either at appointments or driving back and forth from appointments for Levi. (He's not even sick, just the usual therapies and this ENT check-up.) I think I have done this while giving careful attention to Adam during the day, and Wes & I have had quality time together, too. I feel more productive than usual, even with a busy week. I think I gave attention to my priorities, and it has felt so good.

I saw this a few days ago...
And it really spoke to me.

It is so easy to let whatever we struggle with consume us and take our focus off of doing good and serving God. We also have the tendency to work on fixing our problems rather than fixing our eyes on things above.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says: "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." For me, things don't get more encouraging than that!

Tonight, when Levi walked unassisted into the church building, several people started clapping, and I thought I'd start bawling right there in the middle of the foyer. It meant so much to have people that excited for our sweet boy. He has worked so hard to reach this developmental milestone.

I took this video just before we left for Bible class. I didn't even notice the sound Levi was making until I uploaded the video. Wow.

Thanks for the great gift, Miles :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday, Adam!

Four years ago, my dream came true, and after years of yearning to be a mama, I held this sweet boy in my arms. Happy birthday to the coolest four year old I know!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What's with All the IDSC for Life Photos on Facebook?

It is pretty likely that you have seen a photo like this...
Photo used with permission from IDSC for Life
or this...
Photo used with permission from IDSC for Life
or this...
Photo used with permission from IDSC for Life
being shared on Facebook. I hope that you've seen them. I hope that you've shared them. These messages are coming from an organization called the International Down Syndrome Coalition for Life. Their tagline is "All life is precious." As you know, expecting mothers can have tests done to determine if they are carrying a child with Down syndrome, and there are alarming termination rates. Not only are parents making this choice on their own, some doctors are pressuring them to do so. IDSC's purpose is to "direct families to accurate and up-to-date information about Down syndrome."


Why is there an IDSC for Life?  (taken from the IDSC for Life website)

We are parents, grandparents, and loved ones of individuals who happen to have Down syndrome, standing alongside members who are self advocates.

Some of us were informed that our child had Down syndrome while we were expecting. Following that diagnosis, quite a few of us were pressured to abort our child. In spite of that pressure, thankfully, we went on to have our children.

Yet, there are a good number of us who were given encouragement by wonderful physicians, counselors, and other professionals. We were handed up to date information about Down syndrome when they told us our child’s diagnosis. Now, we want that same quality and caring experience for every family.

Along the way, we have also been contacted by those who lost their child to the pressure, to end their pregnancy. Many report they were given out of date information. Sadly, this happens when families are most vulnerable. The IDSC grieves for and with these families. They stand with us, on behalf, and in honor of their child, telling the world that every life is precious.

We are here to lend support and encouragement to families who are new to the diagnosis of Down syndrome.

We are here to share the adoption option with those who do not think they can raise a child with Down syndrome.

And we are here, for the individuals who happen to have Down syndrome, who are part of our coalition, and are proud to say every life is precious!


Last year, IDSC put together this amazing video for World Down Syndrome Day.

Right now, they are running a photo campaign on Facebook. That is where these beautiful photos with meaningful quotes are coming from. My favorite photo in the campaign happens to be this one of our sweet boy...

I had the pleasure of speaking on the phone with Diane Grover, who started IDSC for Life. I wanted to find out more about it. She was surprised that no advocacy groups were addressing the issue of women being pressured to abort for a Down syndrome diagnosis and the effects it had on the women. She asked other moms to join her in her efforts. Many women who have aborted for Down syndrome have contacted IDSC and said that they were scared, did not have up to date information, and were also pressured by someone. Not always doctors. Sometimes loved ones. Even fathers have contacted Diane, to say that they were the ones who did not want to end the pregnancy. On behalf of their child, they advocate along side with IDSC. So there was a need, and IDSC is filling that need.

Diane also said, "The IDSC was first a very small group of moms. From all over the world. From all walks of life. All of us wanting the world to know that this was happening right under all of our noses and wanting the world to hear us. It is unique to have people from both pro life/ pro choice groups standing together, all believing that Down syndrome is not a reason to encourage someone to end a pregnancy."

Diane's most rewarding experience is feeling spirit of the organization. Each and every person who comes along, advocating on behalf of their loved one touches her deeply. Diane says, "We have SO many stories to tell. Not one could top another. We are so proud of every person who tells their story and stands with us! We are the train rolling down the tracks for its voice to be heard. It is not about us; it is about them! It is about all of us, TOGETHER, being heard!"

Check out IDSC for Life's website by clicking here.
You can see all their photos from the Facebook photo campaign here. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Look at Levi Go!!!!

I don't know what is better...seeing Levi stand and walk on his own or listening to his big brother cheer for him!!