All in motherhood

If I Could Write Myself a Letter..

We are quickly approaching Alisa’s first birthday, and the anticipation and excitement at our home is palpable. As with any time of celebration, I have been feeling rather nostalgic, reflecting on where we were one year ago and where we are now. I’ve found myself thinking frequently, “If only I knew then what I know today...” If only I could have written myself a letter to read on the day of her birth, with all of the insight and knowledge I have gained through this year of growth as Alisa's mom, what would I have said?

In celebration of her birth and with all the joy I have come to know through her life, I've written that letter below.

The Day My Eyes Adjusted

I have a friend whose baby has Down syndrome. Her little girl is about four months older than Alisa. We met through social media, and our friendship formed quickly into a bond of understanding and camaraderie as we both journeyed on this path we did not choose. We have since met in person, but the majority of our interactions have taken place through emails and text messages.

Early on, when Alisa was still in her newborn stage, I wrote to my friend about the struggle of my deep and abiding love for my baby, but also the deep and overwhelming grief I felt in her diagnosis. The grieving would come in waves so that some days were peaceful, while others were filled with sadness. My friend understood these feelings because she, too, was walking the same road. On that day in that particular email, I told my friend how not a day had gone by that I did not think of or see Down syndrome in Alisa. 

Becoming Mom

Nestled in the beginning pages of 1 Samuel, we meet her. Not many details are given about her life. We don’t know if she had siblings, who her parents were, or what she liked to do in her spare time. We don’t know how old she was or what she looked like. Though many details are missing, we are given insight into two very personal matters of her heart: she was loved deeply by her husband, and she was barren. Her name was Hannah.

Joy, Pain, and Paradox

I sit here this morning as drops of fresh rain dance upon our aluminum rooftop. The coffee in my mug has gone nearly cold after sitting by my side for a while, but I will remedy that soon enough with a fresh cup from the French press. On the other side of our home, my family still rests. I nursed Alisa in the early hours of the morning, and she sleeps in my bed now, her stomach warmed and full. I carry my bucket to the wellspring of life, drawing the waters of eternal, soul-quenching salvation. I drink of the Living Water of Christ.

To the Weak, He is...

Last week, I sat down with two therapists who were evaluating Alisa. "The good news," said one therapist, "is that she automatically qualifies for therapy. This evaluation is only a formality because of her disability." 

The good news.

Good news? It didn't feel like good news to me. I know in a sense this is a good news, because even though Alisa shows no signs of needing therapy at this moment, she will undoubtedly need it eventually. But good news? As a mom, I have to disagree. It certainly did not feel like good news.

Over the past six or so months, many of you have followed along and even walked with us on a very painful and very personal journey. In the beginning of June, Trey and I chose to publicly share the newsthat our unborn daughter had screened positive for Down Syndrome earlier in my pregnancy. What began last March as an exciting and "normal" pregnancy rapidly turned into a high risk and unpredictable pregnancy as complications arose. I was eventually hospitalized for nine weeks in order to allow our daughter Alisa the greatest chance for growth, health, and a full-term stay in my womb.

The morning before my induction at 38 weeks, I sat for the last time alone in my hospital room on the antepartum floor. Later that day, our family would fly in to join us as we prepared to welcome Alisa into our arms. Trey would come that afternoon to stay with me for the rest of our time at the hospital. As I searched my heart and feelings, I found myself facing a question that had surfaced many times throughout my pregnancy:

What if God says no?