For those who do not know October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. It is when we all try to raise awareness for the sweet ones in our lives blessed with that magic chromosome. Alot of the blogs that I follow have been reposting their birth story, so I decided to as well. As I have read everyone's story, including my own it is amazing how although we were all scared of the unknown that we all quickly realized how truly blessed we are to get to go on this journey. I wish I could go to the then Jeff and I and just give us a big hug and say... 'I know it is a little scary just because it is not what you were expecting...but with faith it is all going to be okay. It is going to be so much better than okay. This sweet, innocent soul is going to make your life grow in ways you did not know possible. She will light up your life with her sweet smiles that come straight from her heart. When you look into those sweet little almond eyes you will truly feel closer to heaven. Like she knows so much more than I do. She is just this little ball of happiness that makes everyone around her smile.'
So the 'now me' just wants to provide such hope for anyone who is the 'then me'...and say there is nothing to be scared of. It is going to be wonderful. Pure happiness. True bliss. Better than you could ever imagine. And I do feel so blessed that Jeff and I accepted it all so well...so early. But it is all do to faith in HIM who made it so easy to accept our perfect little Magpie...just the way she is....perfect to us...perfect for our family.
Well I have been remembering all day where we were exactly one year ago today. We were cleaning our house in a mad rush to get ready for the appraiser to come that Saturday afternoon so we could start our addition. I remember working inside and then going outside to start mowing, and I remember it started raining and me running inside in the rain. I remember being so anxious about meeting our new baby, the one that had been kicking me like a star soccer player for months, and that had the hiccups many times a day! I wanted to know the sex of this precious being in my belly, I wanted to hold it and see it and know everything was "perfect". After we got the girls in bed I took a long bubble bath, did a mud mask, heated gloves with lotion, the works, getting ready to be induced in two days. I would pack for myself and the girls on the next day, Sunday, May 17th. I would have all day to get ready so I was just going to relax tonight. After my 2 hour bath I laid down in bed with Jeffrey to watch the season finale of Lost.
I remember saying "Baby, I can't tell if I am having contractions or just cramping." Jeffrey said "Let's try and time them." Sure enough they went from "I can't tell every 7-8 minutes to "I can't stand up long enough to throw stuff in a bag to go to the hospital to get checked out", just in case! Well somehow we made it to Baptist Hospital, breathing through contractions every 3 minutes, about midnight.
I remember the sweet grandmother-like nurse finding us a room when at the desk they said none were ready. And thank you Lord because I was already dialated to an eight!! I barely remember my parents, sisters and aunts coming in the room to help us welcome Miss Maggie. I did get an epidural, THANK YOU! and Miss Maggie Rae made her arrival just barely one hour later at 1:16 am. I have been writing alot of this in a journal over the past year, but tears still stream down my face everytime I relive it all, or atleast all that I remember.
But they are happy tears now, the only thing I wish I could change about that night would be that we were not sad the first few hours of her life, that our hearts would not have been so heavy. If I had known then what I know now we would have been rejoicing and smiling and so happy our hearts would explode. I remember seeing her when they held her up and laid her on my chest and thinking--
"Something is not right, she look's nothing like my other two girls, is that my baby?" But I knew. I knew the second I saw her. I was just to scared to say anything.
I remember waiting for someone, anyone to say something. Did they not see it too? Everyone was just "She is beautiful, but she looks nothing like her sisters!" Or that they could not believe it was another girl.
But you don't notice anything else, no one? Nothing?
And so we all got to hold her for about 5 minutes and then they said they had to take her to put her on a little bit of oxygen, no big deal...
So everyone left to go back home to bed, and it was just Jeffrey and I in the room. I remember it being so quiet. So empty. Where was my baby? I should be nursing her and loving on her, just like my other deliveries. They were picture-perfect deliveries. Baby out in a few pushes, then laying on me nursing while I stared at them thinking "Did I really make this? Something so sweet and perfect and wonderful?"
Finally I was brave enough to look at Jeffrey and ask--
"Did her little eyes look ok to you baby?"
Through tears he said "No baby, I'm scared."
Well that totally freaked me out because Jeffrey is Mr. Positive, Mr. always-look -on-the-bright-side, Mr. glass half full. Which is one reason I love him so. And so it scared me to death to see him scared for the first time in almost 10 years.
So we sat in total silence for hours. I think we both shut down. I was scared to ask him anything else. I was scared to ask where Maggie was. I was scared to breath, move, think...anything. It was like I was out of my body for almost 7 hours. I would cry myself to sleep and then wake up and cry myself to sleep again. I remember I wanted to wake up and it be a bad dream. I wanted everything to be the way I thought it would be. I wanted to be so excited to call my girls and tell them thay had a new baby sister, not a new baby sister with Down Syndrome.
And finally at 7:30 am I finally got the nerve up to force my mouth to open--
"Baby, I need you---"
And Jeffrey crawled into bed with me and we both cried.
We cried harder than I knew humanly possible. And I hurt. My heart broke into a million pieces. I could not believe this was happening to us. Was I not thankful enough? Is this a lesson I am being taught? I did not appreciate having such a wonderful husband, two beautiful healthy girls and owning a business that I loved for almost 11 years. Now looking back I cannot believe I ever thought any of those things. But I feel it took going through all of those feelings to now see it as not what happened to us...but for us.
And then enter the wonderful on-call pediatrician. She found us in bed together crying and said "So someone has spoke to you?"
"No, no one. We just could tell by her little almond eyes."
She asked if we knew anyone with DS...
Well, she then started telling us so many wonderful things that we knew nothing about. They do not all have health issues. They can live into their 80's. She will bring so much joy to us and teach our other girls so much about unconditional love. She was so positive, and we feel so blessed to have her to be the first one to speak to us. She sat in bed and held our hands and cried with us. She was definitely sent to us through many prayers that were being said in the previous hours.
Then I called my mom and Jeffrey called his.
We had to tell everyone. We needed support and that is exactly what we received.
I remember crying and how bad it hurt to say the words to my mom.
"Momma, Maggie has Down Syndrome."
And she comforted me like a mom always does.
"It will be okay. We will help you. We love you and we will be here for you. We will do whatever it takes."
And then they finally brought Miss Maggie to our room.
Jeffrey walked over to get her and handed her to me in the bed. I remember taking her and putting all of her 6 pounds 2 ounces up to my face and breathing her in. It was like heaven. Just like the other girls. She was this sweet, innocent soul looking at me...
"Please love me, please want me. I know I am not what you were expecting...."
And I looked into her eyes and truly feel like I could see her sweet soul. I remember my tears falling on her perfect little face, but they had now turned to happy tears. And then I tried to nurse her, "Please do this, you can do this. I want that special bond I had with Emme Grace and Rayley Beth." And she did. She latched on just like they did. I think she knew I needed that. Even though it was harder for her she did it like a champ..and is still nursing like a champ!
And then waiting on the big sisters to arrive...they had gone to bed with mom and dad at home and woke up to Nana telling them they had a new baby sister waiting at the hospital! Needless to say, they were ready to get in the car to meet their new sister. And I remember worrying that something would be different, something taken away from them. But I will never forget when they walked in that hospital room...
So much excitement behind their shy little smiles as they walked toward me and Maggie in the bed....then my sweet little girls reminded me what unconditional love looks like...with the absence of stereotypes...
Rayley Beth's first words out of her mouth when she met Maggie--
"She's the cutest baby in the world."
It took my sweet 5 year old to remind that we should all be just like her....proud.
It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I think she knew just what I needed to hear. My tender-hearted Miss Rayley Beth, reminded me how to love.
And then my sisters...Tina was online for hours looking for us an inspirational website and she found the perfect one. Thank you to Lisa at bridgets-light.com... you provided us with so much that first day. You gave us so much inspiration watching your videos of your sweet Bridget. And thank you Tina for your words you wrote to us, of how lucky we were to get to go on this journey. You helped us realize how good it felt for others to be feeling the same as we were....happy. It only took holding Miss Maggie to feel her sweet, gentle spirit and the feeling of ...it is going to be okay. And Susie who told us we had so much to look forward to, since she works with DS children on a weekly basis at Vanderbilt. Thank you to Jana for coming to meet your new niece and reminding us how beautiful she truly is. Thank you to all of our family and friends who visited and showed your support and helped heal our hearts by just knowing your love and support were there. We love you so and feel truly blessed to have such an amazing support group.
And Jeffrey, when I watched him holding Maggie...well, it just made me fall even more in love with him. It made me feel so safe, all of his words that this is part of God's plan and what we have to look forward to.
The morning after Miss Maggie entered our lives the clouds definitely parted. You just have to love her up and you"ll see what I mean. And if I would have known those first few hours what I know now, like how her smile lights up the whole room,
(and they are many!) or how much of a snugglebug she is or how she holds her little hands like she is praying and she loves her feet like no one's business! And how she loves her sisters and smiles everytime she sees them, and makes them smile and laugh so much.
I feel truly blessed and have thanked God many times for all the wonderful things he has planned for us. I feel like he has written a new story for us and is teaching us, through Miss Maggie, to turn each page slowly. To take in one day at at a time and to truly enjoy all of the small things because those are always the best things. What joy this past year has brought us and we have so much to look forward to....Happy 1st Birthday Miss Maggie Rae, our little love muffin.