It is funny as I am reading it, how my vocabulary in terms of Down Syndrome has changed a little bit. I have read over that post a few times in the last four years, but never want to go back and change things I wrote, because it is all kind of raw as far as my emotions at the time. And, I did not have much knowledge of what DS is, and what may or may not be the 'right' vocabulary to use. Things like "Downs child", and I said 'Downs" a lot. Which, I have learned isn't exactly the proper thing to say I guess. And it's not super appropriate to define a person by what they have. Like saying "Downs child". Rather saying, "a child with Down Syndrome". Some get offended by those things. I try not to, knowing that a lot of people just don't know that. I didn't 4 years ago. But, I kind of get it. She is many many more things than a girl with Down Syndrome. MANY more things define my beautiful girl. (THIS whole subject could be an entire blog post in itself. One I may sit down to write someday soon.)
My love for this little girl is the same, if not deeper, than it was that day in 2010. Reading all that I wrote makes my eyes well up with tears because it brings me back to that place. My chest feels heavy remembering all that my heart felt. It's overwhelming. The birth of my daughter rocked and changed my world and the world of those that are in my life. The birth of that girl rocked and changed my marriage, my relationship with my Savior, the relationships in my immediate and extended family and changed me in ways I could never ever explain. Having a child changes you in such crazy ways anyways, but having a child with special needs does something else. It altered my perspective on life. God knew EXACTLY what Craig and I NEEDED. We NEEDED Annabelle. And we NEEDED her to have Down Syndrome. God's gift of this little girl, this little girl with Down Syndrome, is something I will never take for granted. I would never ever change this gift. There are certain things that were said to me after her birth that I have never forgot. Two in particular.
1. "It's OK to grieve the life she would have had." Someone said this to me the day after she was born. A sweet, dear friend of mine. I wasn't sure how to take this. I wasn't sure if I was upset my this. But, I have thought about it for four years, and I am finally getting it. Never did I feel upset about who she was. Ever. But, I do wish, FOR HER SAKE, that things came easier to her. I don't want her to have to struggle with things that come easy for others. But, as a parent, it's hard to watch your child struggle at all. You want to fix it and make things easier. She has a hard time with some simple things, some simple milestones, and I wish those things were easier for HER.
2. Somebody that I don't know told someone that I DO know something kind of like this, "Katie is in kind of a honeymoon stage. She's not upset about the diagnosis yet, but she probably will be." UHHH, excuhhuuse me? After Annabelle was born, it is true, I was in a 'honeymoon' stage. I was loving EVERY minute of it. Loving EVERY minute of this little girl. Cherishing WHO she was and the amazing gift that was wrapped up so beautifully and placed in my lap. Y'all, it's four years later, and I am still there. No, I am not, and have never been upset about her diagnosis. Never was I ever upset with God or did I sit and ask him "WHY?" I never grieved about her diagnosis. Like I said, I would love for things to be easier for her, for HER sake, but not for mine. Craig and I were given an UNCONDITIONAL love for that sweet girl. Here is what good ol' Wikipedia has to say about unconditional love...
"Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism, complete love, or "mother's/father's love." Each area of expertise has a certain way of describing unconditional love, but most will agree that it is that type of love which has no bounds and is unchanging."
My love for Annabelle has NO BOUNDS, and is UNCHANGING.
I am so thankful for her, and for the last four years that we have had with her. She's an incredible child, and teaches me new things ALL the time. Her joy and her love is contagious. I want to be like her when I grow up. Ha ha. For real though, she is just amazing. It has been a beautiful four years. We are looking forward to a million more.