Friday, April 27, 2012

pay off

Sometimes as parents, well mostly the days when you are covered in vomit and other stinky unknown substances that are regurgitated by little munchkins that you promised to love and care for forever, you stop and think....really? Is this all worth it?  Could I be saving my pennies and traveling the world, living in exotic lands, eating fancy foods and experiencing a better life with some other destiny that isn't so down and dirty?  The answer is yes, yes you could.  But, you wouldn't get this....this pay off....BIG pay off.

The moment you see your children, running around with excitement for well, chasing a tiny ball in herds, making no real sense and I can't even call it playing a "game".  Because honestly speaking at 4 and 5, it's no game, it's just fun, and controlled chaos.  Tonight for all the parents lined up watching their babies, in their oversized, orange shirts, it was priceless.  It was all the sleepless nights, covered in puke and spit up, spending every last dime on the crane machine to finally win a cheap peace of crap toy, we do it all and for what? Nights like this....

Our favorite team mascot, decked out in orange and clapping all night long!

Daddy is the Head Coach and Nolan is learning some tricks of the trade

Pre-game pep talk, very important....

You see that field kids...that's where the magic is going to happen...ummmm or something like that!
It was a night of learning all around.  About how to wrangle 14, 5-6 year olds, a daddy's first time coaching, our babies first time playing Tball and my heart filled with pride for all of them.  They were pumped, about it all, to be "real" baseball players.  To eat the chips and Gatorade, to run the bases and chase a tiny ball, all of it equally exciting.  And although it was rather chilly and Nolan a happy camper, managed to spill a green gatorade all over our blanket and kept dried boogers or crackers on his face regardless of how many times I WIPED IT!  The night was a success.

Get your positions, umm, that means 14 kids in about a 12 x12 space!

Graham in his perfect batting form...and not so perfect way too big baseball pants!

Little Miss Audrey on 1st base!

A fellow mama there cheering on her boy, said it perfectly tonight, "I just remember driving by baseball fields seeing little kids playing and I couldn't wait to be there one day!"  Today was the day and I too remember those days where it was only a dream and today it came true.  Full circle mama moment.  So fun and so fulfilling, for all of us.

Good game, good game, good game, learning sportsmanship even when it's a TIE! :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This post is for the mama's on this journey with me and those who just like a new insight.  It's a post I've wanted to write for some time, but needed to digest a little.  It's about the reality that is getting pregnant after having a traumatic birth experience.  Now, mine obviously was having a child with down syndrome.  There are of course numerous other mama's with 1000's of stories of a frightening diagnosis, a heart in need of immediate repair, the loss of that precious life in the first hours of birth or prior to, for that matter.  I've heard so many, so many tales of heartache and loss and one thing that my heart and head has longed to hear was, "what was it like when you got pregnant after that?".  I have spoken to a few friends about that, not in my exact position, but with tragic lives lost none the less and have heard their insights on their future pregnancies, most involved, nail biting, heart pounding, just a struggle to get through the 9 long months with anticipation.  So, I wanted to express this, fully and truthfully for anyone out there that may need to hear what it is "really" like.  We are all different, we all react and feel differently, have different faiths that may hurt or help us during these times.  Either way, we are all mamas.  Who love our babies, deeply, whether we kissed their skin for a fleeting moment, embraced them for a few years, or still hold them in our arms today, and they look and act differently than we imagined, we love them.  All of them.  I know that to be true.

So, I must say that to begin.  I must state the obvious and hope that you all know the love for my boy runs deep.  It runs true and is eternal.  It is not based on his abilities, his milestones, his genes.  That doesn't mean that I wish to have a struggle or difficult life for my children, in saying that, I of course wish for a typical, healthy child, who will throw tantrums and try our last nerve at times, but for the most part, follow a normal path in life.  We all want that, it's hard to watch your child struggle.  There are many times I don't post all of the struggles that is having a child with down syndrome.  Lately what's been wearing on me, is his poor immune system that was heightened with his steroids for the seizures that he took LAST summer, yes they wreck their little bodies for THIS long and it's hard.  To see him sick almost always, breathing like darth vader, snot plugging his tiny little nose holes and drainage from his skinny ear canals, it gets exhausting whether or not to treat him yet again with antibiotics that wipe him out even more.  You see, it's not easy having a child with special needs, it's a lot of work, a lot of the time, and really a mental marathon, constantly balancing what you could be doing more of, what you should be letting go of, pushing harder on, expecting more out of, ugh, I just don't know sometimes and the difference with Nolan than my other children is I feel the weight of his future that much more on my shoulders.  Anyway, I digress, simply to illustrate the real challenges that we face daily.

When I found out I was "knocked up".  I was STUNNED to say the least, and ECSTATIC, truly.  It wasn't the timing I wanted, I knew the work involved and boy am I tired of being pregnant, I can't even tell you.  I am not a happy pregnant lady.  But, all of that aside, it felt SO wonderful to be pregnant again.  I don't know why.  I do know this.  In the special needs mama world, we talk a lot about "do over", wanting to just replace that experience and vanish it from our birthing first you are obsessed with it, it's common, I think everyone I have talked to expressed some level of that.  But, I knew this wasn't that and I was so grateful that I had recently grown out of that need when I found out. I wanted this baby and this pregnancy not to have the strain involved, the pressure to be a "do over."  It wasn't.  It was easy, not the morning sickness, not the exhaustion, but just loving this little life, dreaming all over again and feeling excited.  It still is.  I knew immediately I didn't want testing, which I've discussed in past posts, so won't go into again.  So, I just went on and weeks went by.  It was time for our 20 week ultrasound and that is when the truth comes.  I discussed that as well.  But, now I just wanted a FUN 3D ultrasound and wanted to share it with our big kids and Jeremy and thought it would be magical.  I mean seeing your baby, it's always magic.

The truth is, it wasn't.  I just kept obsessing, every angle, every picture, is there a nasal bridge? Is there a big gap on the toes?  It breaks my heart to type this, to admit this.  But, I pride myself on being honest.  And honestly, that's all I could focus on.  It sucks, it really does.  That the naive, magic of pregnancy went away for a bit.  That the REALITY of life stuck it's ugly mug in and tried to run away with me.  I let it for a bit, was sad that I went there, sad that I let myself go to that place, but it's true, none the less.  So, I think what is so shockingly different this time, is I can't imagine having a child without some sort of problem, just as I used to believe and never thought I would HAVE a child with special needs, now I can't seem to imagine one without them.  I can't believe I could be that lucky, to sit in the hospital and hold that brand new, perfect bundle and just celebrate, no tears, no shock, no fear, just celebrate.  It's crazy to think that way I know the odds are in our favor, that this baby is typical genetically and has all it's fingers and toes, and we will in fact most likely have that moment to celebrate.  But, in the depth of my heart, it lurks, that doubt lingers and the fear creeps in moments when I least expect them and it says, "don't get too comfortable..." .  So, that's the challenge.  Over and over telling myself, either way, any outcome, it's our life, we will survive and remain strong, I KNOW this.  I FEEL that.  But, I can't help but be honest and admit there is that fear, overshadowing this beautiful soul's delivery.

such a precious little face

The other raw truth is, it's been hard to dream this time.  I remember with all of our other babies, the images we had of what they would be like, what they would love, granted they were ALL wrong, LOL!  They all turned out to be so very different than we thought, that it's almost comical.  I imagined Graham to be strong, brave, fearless and reckless almost, that he would be a natural athlete like his daddy and years from now I would watch them play catch in the backyard and then on the football field.  Well, let's just say at about age 3 when Mary Poppins was his obsession more than baseballs we kind of re-thought that whole idea!  Then with Audrey, I remember giving her that name, specifically thinking, she will be independent, outspoken, an entertainer, love the spotlight, and wow, she runs from any amount of extra attention from anyone outside the 5 of us, and she is soft hearted, soft spoken and loves to cuddle and be cared for.  Nolan, well, I've stated before how we thought he was our athlete THIS time, he was all over my belly, moving and grooving more than any other baby I had, and I just thought of him as a carefree spirit, running wild and hard to reign in.  It's interesting looking back on those images and how they come mainly from your own hopes and dreams for your children.  I had lunch with a friend today and we talked about how we have to stop ourselves from pushing our children in directions that WE want them to go, realize they are their own people, with their own dreams and really if you are any good at this parenting thing, you just provide the means and encouragement for them to find their true callings, which may be the furthest thing from what you wished or hoped.  So, this time, I have no preconceived notions, no major judgments of what this baby will look like, be like, act like, I have no idea.  Maybe that's just being a parent three times over, you learn to just be at peace with whatever they may be, or maybe I am protecting myself from the initial devastation of the dreams we lost with a lifetime diagnosis.  I am not sure.  I am sure it's reality either way.  And with that, this hormonal mama will surely ebb and flow a different direction sometime soon...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

am i dreaming?

"Mama, am I dreaming? For REAL mama, is this a dream???"  Graham excitedly asked over and over as his albino feet touched real oceanic sand for the first time, and it went for miles, the water more blue than his little mind could have dreamt and it was all too much....he just stood with his mouth gaped open and stared, a lot to take in for an almost 6 year old.  I was so glad we waited.  Waited to take our kids on vacation that they would remember the moment.  It was magic.  Everything we wanted it to be.  A long few months of discussing over and over are they too young still? Will they whine the whole time and torture us? Will it really be fun for all of us?  Will they even care? Or just want to go home.  Finally we pulled the trigger last minute, Jeremy could FINALLY get away from work for a bit and we could escape.  I was nervous, being 7 months pregnant, leaving our baby Nolan and taking the other two, we hadn't ever done that.  I knew it was right, Nolan is into EVERYTHING and we needed a trip with some quality one on one with our boy and girl, before our next baby comes and well, let's be honest, when all hell breaks lose.

I'm not gonna lie, up until about 20 minutes before I was going to take all of Nolan's things throw them in our suitcases and bring him with.  He's such a little lover, his snuggles, he's babbling, his little chubby cheeks that need smooching all day every day, it's hard to leave that behind.  And how would he do? He cries if you walk by him and don't pick him up, if you leave the room...his bottom lip quivers if you hand him over to someone he doesn't would HE do?  But, still after being sick with THE worst cold I have ever endured, I could seriously write an entire blog post on this beast, which still has me down, but not out.  I needed rest, sun and fun with our first two big kids.  They made us parents, taught us the differences of boys and girls, rough and gentle, they educated us on all areas of parenting and they deserved some special time to get lavished with attention.  So, thanks to the generosity of my dad and his wife, we were able to go, knowing Nolan would be adored and smooched appropriately.

Every little thing about this trip from the first arrival at the airport, to the checking in at security, to boarding our plane and taking the seats, it was amazing.  I was too little to remember the first time I flew, so never remember being so enamored by the idea of it.  I was blessed to have parents, that took risks, explored the world and traveled to exotic places, especially 30 years ago, when it was done less than now.  I learned a lot from all of that, and also remember complaining a lot about leaving home and really just wanting to stay home.  My favorite trip of my life was WI Dells.  I know right?  I went on cruises, Mexico, England, but the trip I wanted to re-do the most was WI Dells.  And I knew why.  It wasn't about the location, exotic, far plane rides, nope, it was about the time and energy my parents spent with me.

So, as parents, Jeremy has wanted to take the kids long ago.  But for me, I would rather wait, until we can truly just embrace it and have fun with them.  And plus, I have always felt it really important to take at least one trip a year the two of us, to re-connect and fall in love again....needed after a few kids and 13 years together.  But, this year it was time, and it felt right, well despite being so flipping sick I could barely pack and get myself together.  Since I was sick and 7 months preggo we decided against any "theme parks" way too much walking and hot for this mama, I know buzz kill!  So we went down to Marco Island in FL.  It was ALL that we wanted and needed it to be.  We had been to FL numerous times, and it's funny it all seems to be the same tacky hotels and restaurants and people, but Marco is more like Naples, clean, sophisticated, yet still FL cheese factor, perfection!  Our resort was amazing and as I said, Graham really couldn't stop saying, "am I dreaming?" He probably said it 5 times the first day and then a couple the next, until he finally realized he wasn't!  It was priceless.

The kids were in heaven.  To have our attention, fully, dedicated to them, daddy throwing them in the air, giving them "dolphin" rides around the pool...over and over and over, he couldn't stop...he would come out for a few minutes to sit with me and then he got sucked back in, he was in heaven too, it's so great to watch it all unfold.  When your face muscles are sore from smiling so much, your stomach hurts from laughing so hard, you don't want to shut your eyes at night, because another day is ending and you don't want it was that kind of vacation.  When even waiting for our rental mini-van, (which the kids are still talking about and insist we get!) we still had FUN....splashing in the fountain at the airport!

And all my fears of bratty, ungrateful little boogers who tell us then want to leave and throw tantrums, well, they were no where to be found... Jeremy paid me the biggest compliment of any mama's life and said, "you've done a really good job with them...", it melted my heart.  Not that he doesn't raise them with me, but he knows in the end who all the discipline and day in and day out work falls upon and for me, it was a tear welling, grateful moment, of recognition that only a stay at home mom can truly appreciate.  They were awesome, did they whine, sure, did they fight, sure,  but all in all, they were the best kids.  They went to fancy dinners at night and sat quietly and ate the lettuce they called, "weeds" :).  They tried Sea Bass and Mahi Mahi well ok with some ice cream bribery.

Mostly they enjoyed the bottles of Sprite at a dive restaurant we went to and the crayons and drawing on big paper at the fancy ones.

On our way driving to Marco, all of a sudden I saw it...a sign for Isles of Capri, I paused picked up my phone and found it, a post from my favorite blogger of the place she cherishes the is her heaven....well, I HAD to see what it was all about, so we ventured off a short 10 minute drive and there we found not at all what we were expecting...a thatched roof bar, with a teeny tiny strip of sand that one can barely call a beach tucked away in a laid back marina....huh? I was confused, but hauled our towels and beach toys just the same, determined to see what she saw in this place...

It was a busy day on a tiny little scrap of beach, as there were kayak races...and honestly, still not quite sure where the charm and heaven is, but we all find ours in different places, right?  When I see this...I feel it...

Naps with daddy in fluffy feather pillows, 

smiling, happy faces, with herbs stuck in teeth...:)

Finding fun in parking lot mirrors...

pure joy on a little slice of sand...

or the worlds biggest hotel bathtub...

Planning to sleep all night on the rooftop veranda with daddy...(after some police sirens, plan was averted)

swinging on tire swing till you puke...ok well that happened once, we learned our lesson, for real!

searching for the perfect shells under each little piece of sand....

giggling watching daddy wear Graham's sunglasses...

getting thrown high into the sky and falling into the waves of the ocean....

piggy back rides...

furry friends that we tell our secrets to.

Kisses and cuddles from mama and capturing it all in priceless photos...

Every little bit was a piece of heaven for us.  We found it in everything we did this trip and we just treasured our time with our two.  It was odd being a family of 4 for 5 days.  It felt weird and different and then strangely perfect too.  We missed Nolan, we talked about him often and wished he were with.  We also talked and dreamt about the new little "alien" inside mama right is Graham's Alien face :)

Then, as a last minute surprise decision, we had a couple hours to spend before the airport and decided on a last minute 4D was fun, to see the baby and see our big babies looking on, it's still unreal to us that we are soon to be a family of six.  But either way, we will be taking trips with our older ones alone again, it was precious time that we all will treasure.


Running races in empty terminals before the flight, no shoes on I know GROSS! 

And when we returned home, to a bright sunny day and this beautiful boy, who missed his favorite sister oh so much....we had to make up for lost kisses....

and show off our new teeth!

play with our friends we missed

And remember how good home is too.