Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Completely Yours

Dearest Lily,

We are back home today...all of your brothers and sisters were SO happy to see you and hold you and smother you with kisses again. You stared and smiled at everyone, just soaking them in. It's so obvious you love them all as much as they love you.
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You have been so expressive lately. You go from smiling and cooing to solemn and silent in an instant. Mama loves to tickle you and hear your deep-bellied laugh in response. You spend each morning singing- you try different consonants and vowels, and you stretch each one out as far as your breath will allow.
"bbbbbbuuuuuuhhhhhh" is your favorite these days...
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...you are so serious as you practice this sound over and over, your tiny brow furrowed in concentration, your lips pursed determinedly. I love, love, love your baby songs.
When you tire of the "bbbbuhhh" sound you move on to the "aaaahhhhs"..
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...first loudly and proudly, then your sweet voice drops to a sigh, and all the while my heart melts at the lullabyes my Lilybird sings to me.
Soon your morning melodies fade, as you turn your attention to your other new enthrallment..
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.. your hands! You grasp them in front of your eyes and stretch them out excitedly, your tiny arms extended high above your face...you alternate between stuffing as many fingers in your mouth as will fit, and happily squeezing them together in the air.. You've almost lost your love for your binky- those fingers are too fascinating! Mama loves to watch you clasping those chubby hands in the air, studying them intently as if they suddenly just appeared out of nowhere.

I am so mesmerized by these little milestones, Lily. And I know I treasured these moments with each of your older siblings as well. ..but something about these little feats of yours..is it because you're my last baby? Or because I am so thrilled that you are reaching them? Either way- they bring so much joy to my heart, it's like Christmas every morning, waking up to you.


While we were visiting my relatives back East last week, I heard the most beautiful description of a mother's heart. My cousin Brian's wife, Lucianna, had their first baby, Joshua, several weeks after you were born. As new mommies do, we sat together cuddling our little ones and sharing birth stories. In her lovely Brazilian accent, Lucianna talked about how having Joshua had changed her. "When I look at him, I know- he is not mine - I am HIS!"

What a perfect way of putting it. I am yours, dear Lily...

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Completely yours,

Mama oxox

Monday, June 28, 2010

Our Secret Society

Dearest Lily,

It is our last day in New Jersey..we have been having such a wonderful time visiting relatives and seeing the East coast. I am so sad to leave your cousins and aunts and uncles, but I do miss all your brothers and sisters.

The other day we had the neatest thing happen. We had been visiting the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA, and we were getting on the elevator at the parking garage. As we got on, I noticed a little boy -he was maybe ten years old- with ds. He was so cute, and he was at that kind of gangly age, when a boy is all limbs. He had the cutest almond-shaped eyes, and he was wearing a baseball cap..I asked his mom what his name was, and she replied A.J. I said, "Hi, A.J.! You look like my Lily."

His mom brightened and looked over at you, snuggled in the front pack that Daddy was wearing and asked "Does she have Down syndrome?" I smiled and said yes, as the elevator doors opened..

And as I got off, this radiant, proud Mommy beamed at me and said, "Congratulations, Mama! It's an exciting journey- he's the light of my life!"

It was such a special moment, Lily. It was like we were a part of this secret society, linked by our wonderful children. Strangers getting on the elevator, we were linked immediately by our passports to Holland. And I got off the elevator honored to be a part of the club.


I am so excited about our journey, Lily. I don't fear the future, I look forward to it! I can't wait to see what the next bend in the road holds..what milestones we'll reach together. I wish everyone knew how exciting, how wonderful that magical extra chromosome is. I wish I could share this feeling of joy and pride and love with every expectant Mama who finds out she is carrying a baby with the passport to adventure.

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So thankful for this journey..

Love always,

Mama oxox

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday



Dearest Lily,

We're sitting in an airport together, waiting to fly to the east coast to see your cousin Elli and Uncle Chris and Aunt Lori and a host of other uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. AND Grammi and Papa and Aunt Hopie and and all her sweet girls...I am beyond excited to see everyone, and so thankful for the chance for everyone to meet you.
As always you are in a great mood- traveling with you is so easy because of how good-natured you are. You are constantly smiling and cooing at everyone who glances your way. You're such a little charmer:)
Daddy and I are so happy to have a whole week with you. Your brothers and sisters are all going to miss you so much... but it is really going to be fun getting you all to ourselves!!
Just wanted to take a moment to say how very much I love you..and how proud I am of my little princess. You are the joy of my life, sweet baby girl.
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Love you forever,

Mama oxox

Friday, June 18, 2010

On the Inside Looking Out

Dearest Lily,

Sometimes it hits me that I have ten children.

What I mean is, most of the time we're just living in the moment, so to speak, and I don't really think about the big picture.

What's really funny is when we're out and about, and I see a family with 5 or 6 kids, and I think -that is a LOTof kids! It looks overwheming from the outside.

So too, with your diagnosis. It's like we're just living day to day, enjoying life with you and taking things one sweet moment at a time....and I don't really think about having a baby with ds. Things are so normal, and you are such a typical baby, that it just doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

I wonder (now) what people are so afraid of when they hear the words "Down syndrome"...possibly during prenatal testing, or an ultrasound, or maybe just talking about having a baby later in life.

Because I used to be one of those people. But now I find myself drawn to websites promoting adoption of babies with ds overseas, who are abandoned in orphanages. I can't understand how moms can discard these babies.. like tossing aside diamonds in search of pearls...

Maybe it's like raising a large family...from the outside it looks daunting, difficult, maybe even overwhelming. But from this side of things it's just....life. It's just normal. Maybe some days are a little more crazy than others. But we didn't just wake up with ten kids one morning. We grew into this, and as the dynamics of our family changed, so did we.

And it's not so different than life with 2 kids or 3..there's always ups and downs and tears and laughter and unexpected events and predictable ones too, familiar routines and surprise situations, and maybe it's multiplied a little bit more, but it's all good.

So maybe there will be more challenges as you grow...but there are challenges raising any child, and there are no guarantees that any of us are going to sail through this parenting thing unscathed by life's curveballs.

Something funny happened recently that made me realize I've come to a different place..maybe a new me. A friend of a friend had a few markers show up on an ultrasound for her baby. Possible markers for Downs. And as I heard the news, I didn't feel sympathy..I felt ...nothing. Isn't that strange, Lily? I felt like...what would be so bad about that? I wanted to call that young Mama and say- there's nothing to worry about. As someone on the inside, please believe me- it's all good.


Photobucket What a journey we've been on together, baby of mine. What a long way I've come in a few short months of knowing you.

Loving life on this side of things,

Mama oxox

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Five Months

Dearest Lily,


You turned five months old yesterday.

Five months since our lives were changed forever- for the good.

Five months of pure joy, knowing God gave us the best gift when He gave us YOU.

Five months of falling head over heals in love with you, and wondering how we ever lived without your radiant smile in our lives.

Who were we before you came along, Lily? Not complete- that much I know. We thought we knew unconditional love, we thought we had experienced all there was to know in parenting and loving a baby so much you would give your life for them. We thought we had felt a love that goes so far you know you'll never be the same again.
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But then you came along. And rocked our souls to the core. You wrapped us around your tiny bent little finger, and we know you'll never let us go. You made us complete. You showed us that life is so much more than what we thought it was. We learned the value and fulfillment of being needed. You did all that, just by being YOU.

I love you all the way to God and back, baby girl. I will spend the rest of my life thanking God for sending me you.

Always and forever,

Mama oxox

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

All that really matters..

Dearest Lily,

It happened for the first time last night.

My first encounter with wondering what people think about you. Up until this point I have been so consumed with loving you, and wanting to show you off to everyone, that I have never watched to "see" if anyone notices you have Down syndrome.

All of our friends and family already know. And when we're out and about, all I've ever heard people comment on is how cute you are. If anyone has ever observed that you have ds, they have never said anything.

Last night we were at someones house for a graduation party. You had a little bit of sunburn under your eyes, and it had faded to a light brown...it looks unnatural on a baby, so I kept explaining to everyone that Mama had put sunscreen everywhere but directly around your eyes. I didn't want you to rub it into your eyes and irritate them. You wore a big floppy hat and stayed for the most part under your canopy in your carseat while we were at a pool this weekend. But the pool water must have reflected up onto your little face and caused a slight burn.

So Mackenzie was holding you last night, and showing you off to the other teenagers. I don't know if it was the sunburn...or if this was the first time one of the teen boys had seen you...but he was staring open mouthed at you...and the look on his face made me rush over to Kenz and scoop you out of her arms. I mumbled something about her holding you all slouched over.

But the truth was, I didn't want to watch that boy staring at you anymore.

And honestly, I don't know what he was thinking. Maybe he was just looking at your sunburn. Maybe he was not really thinking about anything, maybe he just happened to have that look on his face when I glanced his way.

But at that moment, all I could think was- he is staring at Lily and wanting to know what a baby with Down syndrome looks like.

And I felt nauseous and protective and hurt, and I wanted to- God forgive me- slap that look off his face and leave that party and take you home with me, home to where you are loved and adored and accepted.

I have never felt such rage and indignation like that, and I honestly don't know if it was justified or not.

But it is making me wonder- will I feel that way again some day? Will I see a stranger gazing at you...with pity or curiosity, or some other undeserved emotion, and want to hurt them the way they're hurting me?

Because really, it will be me hurting. I hope with all my heart you will never be aware of some people's inadequacy to deal with people who are different.

Hopefully I will grow. Hopefully I will learn to toughen up a little..a lot... and learn to not care what others think. To focus on how many people love you, and are praying for you, and realize that some people are just ignorant. And some people don't mean you harm, they are just shallow.

God, help me to not care. Help me to forgive, and keep my heart right towards people, and to fight that instinct to retreat to the safety of seclusion.

I could be totally wrong about that boy. I hope I am.

My dear friend Denise told me about wanting to run people over with her daughter Jen's wheelchair the first few years of taking her out in public in it. She said these horrible thoughts would come to her mind, and it was everything she could do not to turn and stare back at those people and shout "What are you looking at?!" But one day- she doesn't even know when- she stopped noticing the looks. It wasn't until she looked back on that time, when she realized - people didn't change- she changed. She didn't care what people thought anymore. She didn't even think about what people were thinking. Jen was Jen, and people could think whatever they wanted.

I want to be there. I'm going to pray to get there.

You are so perfect to me, and I know deep down, it doesn't really matter what anybody thinks. You are beautiful and perfect, and you are our Lilybird.

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And that's all that really matters.

Loving you forever,

Mama oxox

Monday, June 14, 2010

oops

forgot to hyperlink " what I was worried about" below..it's fixed now:)

What I Was Worried About

Dearest Lily,

Today I am reflecting about what I was worried about ...and realizing I had nothing to fear.

Love always,

Mama oxox

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sunday

Dearest Lily,

As I type, you are sleeping peacefully on the bed beside me. You sleep so soundly and still, that sometimes I watch you closely, just to make sure your chest is rising and falling. I love when you smile in your sleep...sometimes you even laugh. What are you dreaming about, baby girl?

Today I dressed you in a baby blue outfit that Danielle loaned you...just when I thought pink was my favorite color on you, baby blue tied it up. Your eyes are the prettiest sky blue, just like your Daddy's, and your sweater made them shine even blue-er.

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I love how much you smile these days...your face just lights up, and your eyes crinkle, and anybody watching you can't help but smile back..
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You looked like such a big girl today, with your cute little socks that look like little black Mary Janes..
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Aunt Hopie bought you some in every color..It's a good thing, because your feet are so tiny none of your shoes fit you yet. I just found a super tiny pair of sneakers at a resale shop this weekend, and I think the only reason they fit is because they are cloth and had shrunk:)
Last week I tried on some
outfits that Aunt Lori gave you..you must be growing, because they didn't fit a month ago. All your brothers and sisters gathered around you and said how sweet you looked in your little pink leopard print outfit..
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What a fan club you have!!

I think you know it, too:)

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You are still sucking your lips in and entertaining yourself with the smacking sound it makes when you pop them out..
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This afternoon I tried to get you to pose in yet another cute outfit...but you were too busy working at your other favorite pass time...sucking on your fingers..

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Karen, your therapist comes tomorrow..we all can't wait to show her all the things you've been doing! We're so proud of you, Lily bird..
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What a beautiful gift you are.

Love always,

Mama oxox

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You have a voice!!

Dearest Lily,

Our home is filled with beautiful sounds these days...YOUR VOICE!! It's constant- it started when you were 6 weeks old with the aaaaahhhhh-goooooos...and it has morphed into a sing-songy, long drawn out AAAAAAHHHHHHaaaaahhhh....AAAAAAHHHH !!! up and down the musical scale.

And if we come over to wherever you are and comment on your singing, you kind of laugh in the middle of your song, and then keep singing...like "I think you're funny staring at me, but I can't be interrupted right now- I'm composing."


Here you are complaining to Noah...I think you are saying something along the lines of "I am hungry, and all Mama wants to do is film me, can someone please tell her to get me out of this swing and FEED ME? What's a girl gotta do to get some FOOD around here?!"
I dunno, I could be wrong, but that's really what it sounds like you're saying to me...


SEE LILY COMPLAINING HERE

Today you were singing to Mama...talk about making Mama's love-ometer skyrocket! You are sooooooooooo cute!!

SEE LILY MELTING MAMA'S HEART HERE

You have this special little friendship with your brother Noah..
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It's like the moment you see him, your face breaks into a huge grin, and no matter what goofy little face he makes, you think he is SO funny.
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He's the one who taught you the "pucker and pop" trick...he does it all the time, and you just crack up every time.

SEE NOAH DOING THE PUCKER AND POP HERE



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He loves to talk to you, he calls you "Lils" all the time, a name your brother Jackson made up for you.

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He will sing to you, hold your binky in for you..
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tell you stories, talk to you,

tickle you, hold your little hands..

and coo back and forth with you. It is pure sweetness to the soul to watch your love for each other in action..
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Noah can't wait for you to play..he asks me all the time when you will be walking and talking:) Doctors, therapists, and mamas of other children with ds all tell me it is SO good that we have a large family... because every one of us will teach you something, and with all this love and attention, you are bound to flourish.

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So thankful for my children, and so thankful for YOU.

Love always

Mama oxox

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Special Lily..Needy Mama:)

Dearest Lily,

Is it possible to love a baby any more than I do? I doubt it. Daddy and I keep asking each other- have we ever loved a baby this much?
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Your favorite thing to do these days is still your pucker and smack trick. This consists of sucking your top or bottom lip (or both!) in, and then SMACKING them out- I don't know if it's the POP sound your lips make, or the feel of them doing that, but it entertains you for hours. Okay, maybe a half an hour, but seriously, it seems like you do this cute little thing whenever you're awake:)
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You have such a strong connection to all of your brothers and sisters. Jackson always asks to hold you by jumping onto the couch or bed and saying "Can I hold Lil-lils?" and cupping his hands together, as if you are a little present he is about to receive.
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I never get tired of picking out your outfits every day...I have TUBS full of clothes just waiting for you to grow into!! I really love how petite you are, but at the same time I am so anxious for you to wear all those sweet things I got for your shower. I'm pretty sure we will get 2 year's use out of one year's sizes.

You look so pretty in pink...
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and stripes...

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and just about everything you wear.

I find it so hard to put you down when we're cuddling..your little body just melts right into me- you are such a snuggle bunny. You are so tuned in to whatever we are doing- you just stare and stare at our faces and you watch all your siblings playing all around you. I wonder what is going on in that cute little head of yours, as you watch all the commotion. You sleep through any amount of noise- one of the benefits of a large family:)

Lily Anne, life is so much richer with you in it. Every day brings new joy- smiles and laughter and "firsts" and cuddling and kisses and tickling and cooing...is there anything more delicious in life than babies???? No wonder Mama is so addicted to them!

The younger children ask me all the time if I will have any more babies. They don't want me to stop! But as much as I would love to, right now I feel like I want YOU to always be my baby. I want you to grow and mature and develop into a beautiful young lady... but I just can't see feeling like I'm ready to ever give you up as my youngest.

Maybe that's part of why I love you so much. There is something so special about being needed- and I know you need me. There is something so wonderful about knowing I'm going to help you learn and develop..that you'll need me to teach you, to nurture you, even more than your brothers and sisters needed me. I never knew before having you that this is how it feels to have a baby with special needs...because I'm needy.

I love you so much, Lily. My heart is overwhelmed with loving you, and I can't imagine what my life was like before you came along. I can't believe there were nights when I was staring out our big window at the starry night sky and wondering how I could handle things if you were born with a little something extra. I wish I could go back to that wondering, sometimes worrying Mama and tell her- it's going to be so good.

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Loving who you are,

Mama oxox