Today, Kaetlyn is one year old. ONE WHOLE YEAR. Wow.
So, you might've guessed that Kaetlyn let me (her Mom) have at it on the blog tonight. We had a big day and I felt that, since I've been crafting this post in my head for weeks now, I should finally write it down. I can't believe a year has passed since our sweet girl FINALLY decided (36 hours into labor) to come into this world. What a ride the year has been. Turns out Holland is not such a bad place...
When we found out that Kaety would have Down Syndrome when I was 4 months pregnant, my heart felt the deepest sorrow it had ever known. I had waited so long for this baby; we knew her, we loved her, but now were faced with such fear, such ache, such sorrow. The kind of sorrow where you can't even cry hard enough to get it out. The kind of sorrow where your throat constricts, your knees go weak, and there seems there will never be enough to fill that hole in your heart. Enough. I worried SO MUCH about Enough. How could I possibly be what this little girl needed? How could that sorrow ever turn to joy? But we, my husband and I, knew how much we already loved her. We knew she was something special, and we knew that maybe Enough was to give her a chance.
All the reading and studying we did following her diagnosis was, for us, preparation. We studied books and tried to learn all we could about DS. And it was scary. And that sorrow threatened to consume. I started reading blogs of all the other Mommies out there with babies with a little something extra. We found our local ARC and DS Community and realized how HOPEFUL these people were. I recently realized that at that time, I don't even remember that part of my pregnancy because we focused so much on the DS, not on the fact we were going to have a baby...until one day, two months after we found out... We had read ENOUGH. You can never prepare yourself for the unknown; you can never know what you will walk into...and sometimes it turns out to be the biggest blessing you will ever know.
I have found that the Moms I've "met" in the blogging community have helped me more than anything I read in a book...getting to know them and their kids has meant the world to us. It's not by accident that this community is what led us to focus not on the DS, but back on our pregnancy. Through the blogging community, we stumbled upon a poem that meant more to us than anything we had read and through that, we started focusing on having a baby. A BABY! That poem was "Three Angels"... I want to share it here because it helped me so much, because it truly describes how we feel about Kaetlyn...
Once upon a time, three angels were busily working in the miracle factory. They were responsible for wrapping up all the little miracles and sending them on their way. Normally they wrapped each one in bright, sturdy paper with big, shiny ribbons. They stamped it with a delivery date and away it would go to the parents who eagerly awaited its arrival. Things usually ran pretty smoothly. One day, however, down the conveyor belt came a little miracle that made the angels pause.
"Oh my," said the first angel. "This one's uhm...well...different."
"Yes, she is unique." said the second angel.
"Well I think she is quite special," said the first angel, "but I don't think she will quite fit our standard wrapping procedures."
And the second angel added, "And we know she's special, but will everyone else?"
"Not a problem," said the third angel. "Obviously a special miracle deserves extra special wrapping; and of course, we'll send her off with our most heartfelt blessings. Then everyone will see how special she is."
"What a wonderful idea!" replied the others.
So they searched the shelves high and low for their finest paper, and their most delicate ribbons. When they were done, they stood back and admired their work. "Beautiful!" they all agreed.
"Now for our blessings," said the third angel, "for it is time for her to go."
"I will bless her with innocence and happiness," said the first angel.
"And I will bless her with strength to face the many challenges that lie ahead," said the second angel.
"And I will bless her with an inner beauty that will shine on all who look upon her," said the third angel.
Before sending her off, the third angel, who was very wise, gently tucked a note inside. And it said:
Today you have received a very special gift. It may not be what you were expecting, and you may be disappointed, angry and hurt. But please know that she comes with many blessings, and, while there may be pain, she will bring you much joy. She will take you on a very difficult journey, but you will meet many wonderful people. She will teach you patience and understanding and make you reach deep inside yourselves to find a source of strength and faith you never knew you had. She will enrich your lives, and will touch the hearts of all who meet her. She may be fragile, but she has great inner strength. So pleases handle her with care, give her lots of attention, shower her with hugs and kisses, love her with all your heart and she will blossom before your eyes. Her spirit will shine like the brightest star for all to see, and you will know that you are truly blessed.
So, fast forward a year. Here we are. Our Kaety-girl is ONE YEAR OLD.
I am truly blessed. Enough? Is the joy of her Enough? Our Kaety is SO SO MUCH MORE than I could ever have imagined. Every day I look into those crystal blue eyes with their brushfield spots, I see laughter, dancing, mischief, love. Oh yes, LOVE. MORE than I could ever have hoped. She is the most amazing thing to ever happen in my life. That original sorrow and fear? I wish I could tell myself of a year and a half ago not to worry so much! Are they still there sometimes when I worry about her future, or wonder how she will be with her soon-to-arrive little sister? Yes, they're there...in fact I still worry about her future life every day. What will happen as she gets older and the gap between her peers widens? (I am sure I will not be very nice the first time someone is not nice to her!) Will she be independent? Will she go to college? What will her adult life be like? But the reality is that every parent feels fears and worries about the future with any child. The reality for my husband and I is to take things day by day, to deal with the now, to experience all that having her in our lives can give us.
On this, her first birthday, I can't believe how LUCKY we were that those three angels picked us, that Kaety's little soul looked down and said, "I want that family," that she chose us, and that we were given the opportunity to know her...
To you out there, thanks for sharing in each week of her first year, for helping us through, for being with us... We'll continue to update and write about Kaety's goings on, of course (this girl is unstoppable!). It just seems like SUCH a huge milestone, though I know there will be many, many more. But...ONE YEAR. Wow.
HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY, KAETLYN...WE LOVE YOU!!!!