Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blogger Spotlight: Deanna Smith

Dear Friends,

Before I introduce my guest blogger, I wanted to remind you about our Baby Sent From the Stars Giveaway....if you haven't checked it out, we have an iPad2, a Nook, and many other really sweet prizes that we're giving away. We will draw winners next Sunday night, so please don't miss a chance to enter!

I've blogged about this before, but one of the wonderful things that has happened this past year as a result of Lily coming into our lives, is the network of friends we've acquired along the way. As a new mommy of a child with special needs, I immediately sought out other families who had gone through, or were going through the things we were, in an attempt to form my own on-line "support group". I really don't even remember how I stumbled across "Everything and Nothing From Essex", but I do know that from the first post, I was hooked.

Deanna and I are about as opposite as you can get in many respects...She's in her twenties, I'm 43. Addison is her first baby, Lily was my tenth. She started out her parenting experience with Down syndrome, I ended (I think ;)) ours with Ds. I live on the west coast, she lives in Vermont. She has a college degree and works outside the home, I married a year after high school and am a stay at home mommy.

And yet, that magical little chromosome bonded us in so many ways this past year- I found a kindred spirit in Deanna, and I'm sure that if we lived close to each other we would click in real life as much as we do online! We both have a passion for music- she plays violin, I play piano. We both love to write, and after she publishes her first novel this year, I just know she's going to help me publish mine (right, Deanna??) We both love cooking, reading, blogging, and being a mommy...and we both have a wickedly snarky sense of humor:) When we each dressed our girls in the same adorable Strawberry Halloween costume, I knew we were indeed twins, separated at birth!

So it is with great pleasure that I introduce the lovely and gracious Deanna Smith, and I hope you leave her a million comments telling her what an amazing mama she is!


Deanna is a new mom to a beautiful fourteen month little girl, to be joined in September by a little brother. Married for almost five years to the love of her life, Aaron, she is wife, homemaker, mom and part time music teacher. Recent loves include blogging and writing all the while trying to keep up her daughter and of course the laundry and dishes. For some reason the cleaning fairies keep missing her's a mystery, for sure.

I've managed to pack a lot activities into my humble 26 years of life- touring Europe for an entire summer, finishing two advanced degrees, spending countless of hours mastering many musical instruments, getting married, buying my first home...

But out of all of the amazing experiences I've been blessed with, none of them can compare with motherhood.

Becoming a mother is hands down the best thing that I've ever done.

From those first few kicks and flips that I felt while my baby was still in utero, to warily watching my stomach expand and stretch to house a seven pound, fourteen ounce baby, to the pains of labor, to finally finishing with that last push, completely overwhelmed by a sense of awe that the little chubby miss was mine-every step towards entering motherhood was an adventure.

At this point in recalling of when I became a first time mom, my story might be a touch different than yours. You see, after the long labor, I didn't get to triumphantly hold and cuddle my long anticipated bundle of joy. I don't have a picture of my tired self showing the effects of 31 hours of natural labor with a shining smile that shouted to the world that it was all worth it as I gazed down at my baby in absolute pride and wonder.

I had imagined that scene out in my head for nine long months, eagerly anticipating that perfect moment of looking at my baby snuggled in my arms for the very first time. So much hard work, and that was supposed to be the moment of reward. But it simply didn't happen that way for me.

Immediatley after birth, my baby couldn't breathe. Her tiny little features turned a delicate shade of blue. She needed 100% oxygen assist to "pink up". The doctors had no idea why. They only had guesses based on one tiny fact that we had known for a long time. Something a bit extra. We found out when we were 20 weeks pregnant that our precious little baby was perfectly created to include an extra chromosome.

They immediately rushed my little baby- my Addison- to the NICU. I didn't get to see her until the next morning. By that time she was hooked up to so many machines that I couldn't even see her face. I was only allowed to hold her for a few minutes, and then I found out later that the nurse who let me hold her got in trouble because Addison was not supposed to be moved.

My baby had to fight valiantly to live. She fought for conviences that you or I might take for granted- such conviences as breathing, eating, lung pressure, liver function, maintaining a proper blood count, and the list goes on.

I don't write this because I'm seeking your sympathy. I don't bare my soul daily on my blog so that people will feel bad for me. I don't need pity or looks laced with not very carefully hidden "I'm sorrys".

No, I write this because I want to shout from the rooftops that my daughter lived. She fought the odds-and won. She was in NICU for 5 weeks, on oxygen for 9 months, had a g-tube for 4 months and had two heart surgeries. My daughter is a survivor. And I write this because I think that deserves celebrating. I want the world to view my daughter's life as the miracle it is instead of using sterotypes and labels to dismiss her existence as worthless and unimportant to society.

I celebrate my daughter's life every's been 14 months of constant celebrating and I couldn't be happier or more in love.

After much hard work, questioning tears and fervent prayers, she is finally healthy, beautiful (it's amazing when you can finally view your child's face without an extra piece of plastic taped to it) and completely amazing. Oh yes, still with that extra chromosome.

Extra chromosome? Who cares? My daughter is alive, and I look forward to giving her the very best life possible. She brings me such joy every day, and my life has never looked more promising. Some people think that having a special needs child means that their life is over. I submit to you that the birth of Addison was just the beginning of me being able to truly live, love and enjoy every moment to its fullest (you were expecting me to say laugh there, weren't you?)

Yes, my darling daughter has cognitive delays and physical struggles, but when she wraps her little arms around my neck and leans in for a cuddle, her body molding perfectly against mine- it absolutely doesn't matter. When she looks me straight in the eye, smiles and laughs the cutest belly laugh I have ever heard-I don't think of her as a syndrome or a label. She clings to me in utter dependance, and I treasure my role as her protector. This miracle child is my daughter. My biggest accomplishment. A complete gift from God. The pride of my life.

Motherhood is the best thing I've ever done. The summer I spent in Europe absolutely pales in comparison.

Motherhood for each of us looks different- our children are different, our circumstances are different, whether that means having to wait extra long for motherhood to begin, motherhood coming upon us unexpectantly, or being forced to face extreme health problems with our beloveds- everyone has a different story. The really comforting thing is- we each have exactly the experiences we were perfectly designed to have- my child was created just for me- yours were created just for you, whether biologically given or sovereignly sent to be part of your life. It's pretty amazing when you think about it. Don't take a minute of what you have been given for granted. Life-every life- is a miracle. Celebrate it.

I am privileged to be this little girl's mother. Life doesn't get much better than that-in a good, can't stop kissing those cheeks, my smile won't fade, over the top blissfully happy kind of way.


Anna Theurer said...

Dear Deanna, I do not know if you get to the read the comments on Lily's blog but your post is absolutely beautiful and thank you for sharing. I am currently during the celebratory dance for sweet Addison, the fighter! Her smile is completely infectious! My little Ellie (19 months) has that extra special chromosome as well. She is a fighter too. There isn't a day that goes by where I do not thank the Lord for giving me this precious gift. . . the gift of motherhood, the gift of Ellie. Thank you Deanna for sharing your story.

patsy said...

beautifully written deanna. yes, our girls are truly the best gift we could ever recieve :)

Ilisa Ailts said...

I love following Addison (and her Momma)!

Ellie said...

Such beautiful and inspiring words to someone who is trying to move mountains to bring that something "extra" into their lives. I would be honored if you would stop by and share in my journey to bring our perfectly created daughter home

We really need all the prayers and help we can get!
BTW, Addison is perfectly beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Addison is perfect and beautiful!!! Thank you SO much for sharing this journey with all of us. I know that your words will be used to encourage SO many that are also traveling this road. I know that you do not take your days with her for granted. What a wonderful mommy she has!!

Much love,

Not a Perfect Mom said...

another beautiful post Deanna!

Heidi Ehle said...

This was amazingly written, Deanna. Truer words could not be spoken. :) I think one of the hardest things we, as moms, can ever feel is helpless to take care of and fix our babies hurts. But obviously, in your case and in the case of my Liddy, these precious babies prove every day that although they do need us, they are strong enough themselves to face any challenges that come their way! What an amazing lesson to learn as a mom! :)

Amy said...

So beautiful... this post as well as sweet Addison. :) Your words moved me to tears, as I share all those emotions for my dear Evan who is just a few months older than Addison. :) Thank you so much for sharing your story here- I look forward to following your blog!

kecia said...

so beautiful! She is a doll!

cathy said...

She is a beauty & so happy to hear you celebrate her every day!


JC said...

Oh Deanna, this was so beautiful to read!!

Dee said...

Thanks for the amazing story and inspiration! Addison is absolutely beautiful!

NikkiB said...

What a cutie!! My little girl, Laura has that same white/black little dress!

Jessica from Germany said...

Your post is so right. God blessed you so much. I love Addisons bright smile!
Greets from Germany

Anonymous said...

Ha! I am a NICU nurse and I am ALWAYS getting in trouble for letting mom's hold their babies all too soon!
Also, I am a mom of child with DS and I found out at birth that she had DS and I feel the same way you do. Nope, no sadness, just joy! Love your outlook!

The Eitzens said...