Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's Been 4 Years

Dear Addison,

In a few short weeks you will be turning 4. This is kind of unbelievable to me because it seems like just yesterday I found out that I was pregnant with you.

I was so excited to see that positive pregnancy stick, and then so utterly devastated when your gender reveal ultrasound turned out to reveal so much more. You would not be normal- they told me.

They were so sorry. You had an extra chromosome, and their voices dripped with pity as they talked about your life suddenly becoming expendable- if we were to so choose.
All of this seems like yesterday. The grief that consumed me as my perfectionistic side grappled with the thought that I was going through a very difficult first pregnancy for a baby who would not be perfect. The prayers that maybe the amnio was wrong even though I was assured that it never was. The horrific labor that ended with you being whisked off to the NICU with health problems that hadn't been anticipated. Five long weeks there, nine months of oxygen at home, a g-tube, two heart surgeries, countless doctor's appointments, therapies- my life revolving around your care- the first year of your life was such a blur and yet I can't believe that it didn't just happen. Yesterday.

They say that hindsight is 20/20. As I look back over the past four years of your life and the months before that after getting your diagnosis, I have to agree.
The baby I thought would be imperfect turned out to be the most perfect gift I have ever been given. The long months of grief and worry turned out to be just the stretching experience I so desperately needed to prepare me for the difficult task of motherhood ahead. The extreme health issues and need for therapy helped a super competitive person not to be a hyper competitive mother. So many details that at the time seemed unfair and awful now fall into their places of the puzzle of my life. And even if fairness hasn't been achieved, purpose and a greater design has been. The dark pieces of the puzzle are nestled into lighter pieces, causing an overall picture of beauty and grace. A picture far greater and better than I ever deserved.
And now you are turning 4. Where did the time go?

I watch you with your brothers- roughhousing with Carter and gently soothing Eli. I watch you read, babble, and play so imaginatively. I see the sparkle in your eye when you ask to go to school, and I laugh right with you while you dance to your favorite tunes. I cry with you when you're frustrated, and sometimes I wish that you had gotten a better mother to help you through tough communication issues. I love it when you snuggle up next to me on the couch and put your blonde head on my arm. I have a hard time not busting out into laughter when I catch you doing something naughty- like resting in the baby's rock 'n play while sucking on his pacifier and clutching his blanket. I rejoice when you eat well, and I shake my head at all the snacks you sneak through the afternoon right before snubbing your nose at dinner.

It is true- you are not normal. And yet you totally are.
You have Down syndrome. And yet your status reads "little girl" first.

You have the features that I feared- and yet- they are so beautiful. You are so beautiful. You are beyond my wildest hopes and dreams for a daughter.
You have this wide range of emotions: happiness, anger, frustration, joy, silliness, jealousy- and even though there are moments that I want to resign my position as mother and watch from the side lines while someone else does the tough work- most of the time I am overwhelmed with the thought that you are my daughter. I get to spend every day with you. You come to me when you've been hurt. You race to show me your school crafts. You laugh with me during your daily silliness. There are many moments that I just stop and think with wonder how extremely lucky I am that you are my daughter.
As a 25 year old, the chances of me having a child with Down syndrome was 1 in 1400. It's like winning the lottery. The odds were slim. And yet I won. I got you.

But then, I strongly believe that there was more than luck at stake. There was a Creator up above who didn't look around for someone to "handle" you. He looked around for someone who needed you desperately to teach her so much about life that she didn't even realize that she didn't know. And he picked me.

God designed you perfectly. You are one of a kind. You are special. You fill an Addison-shaped hole in my heart....whichever cliche you want to use works for me. Because as far as I'm concerned- they are all true.
I love you, sweet little girl. And I still have so much to learn about you. But the good news is? We have a lifetime ahead of us to keep learning together. One day at a time.

I am sorry I ever doubted your goodness in our lives. But thank you for so graciously teaching us about love and life. We are supposed to be teaching you, but more often than not the tables are turned, and I walk away with my mind blown yet again from an Addison lesson. Thank you. I think you are pretty amazing.

Your Mommy
(who loves it when you now call for her by name when you need something)

p.s. can't wait to help you celebrate your big day

p.s.s. sorry we left your glasses at Papa's House this week...

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