Thursday, September 27, 2012

5 Years!

Tomorrow is our fifth wedding anniversary. Our big day was perfect. The two days leading up the wedding were rainy, and the morning after the wedding we woke up to sleet--but the wedding day was PERFECT--mid-70s and sunny. I really think God sent that weather to show his approval :) I couldn't ask for anything more. Our families and friends were all in the same place, everything ran smoothly, and I got to marry this handsome man.

 A man who....

...makes me feel beautiful every day...

....does what's best for his family...

....calms me down when I'm anxious or being unreasonable (a full time job in itself)....

.....spoils me any chance he gets...

....who, just the other day, after being up all night with a diaper blow out and two kids who wouldn't sleep while I slept blissfully unaware in the next room, said " I really love being a dad"...

.....and who is a serious contender for the "best dad in the world" award.

 I am so lucky. It's been a crazy, busy five years. It seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at the same time. I'm so happy I'm on this adventure with such a great man. Love you, Mikey!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So Thankful!!

Last Saturday, our little family received the greatest outpouring of love and support, and for that I am so thankful. Shortly after Bryce was born, my sister-in-law asked Mike if it would be okay to hold a beer bust in Bryce's name. I think the original plan was to donate the money to a Down syndrome organization. It suddenly turned into a benefit to help us out with our medical bills (having a baby in the hospital for 24 days is not cheap--even with good insurance!). Before I knew it, it was a big affair with a silent auction, raffles, all you can drink beer, a bags tournament, a band....I couldn't believe it! Actually, I felt really guilty because there are families whose children are actually sick who I felt deserve it more than us. It is really hard to accept help like that, but I had to surrender to the fact that people just really want to help us out. It's just so humbling.

One of the things I was most looking forward to was seeing who was going to show up. Thanks to facebook, we had some idea of who was coming, but I knew that word was spreading in other ways too. I was so surprised by the number of strangers (friends of friends, co-workers of family, etc.) that showed up. I also saw some people I haven't seen in YEARS, loyal friends, co-workers and family members. There were even a few members of the Down syndrome community there. A woman from Special Olympics had seen the flyer with Bryce's picture on it and decided she had to come. She brought a friend and invited a few other people. Both she and another gentlemen each had children with Down syndrome who have unfortunately passed away. It again made me feel so fortunate that Bryce has a good heart and is so far very healthy. They both just sung praises about their children and gave us so much hope. A young woman with Down syndrome and her mother also came to "welcome us to the club".  It was touching and made us feel so welcome.

The first thing that struck me was the sheer number of silent auction items that were donated. I walked those two long tables twice and still don't know if I saw all the items. Thank you so much to everyone who donated and bid on those items. There are so many great people out there.

I have been reading a lot of stories written by parents of children with Down syndrome. It is shocking to me that even 10 years ago (maybe it's still happening, I don't know), doctors, nurses, family members, etc. would just assume you would abort or abandon babies with Down syndrome. We have received nothing but absolute love and support from everyone--I can't believe how far society has come in accepting people who are 'different'. It gives me hope that Bryce won't experience as much hurt and discrimination as I sometimes fear he will. Maybe by the time he's old enough to work there will be very few doors closed to him.He is certainly very loved...our biggest problem will probably be making sure he isn't spoiled rotten.

I need to give the biggest thanks of all to my in-laws for all the hard work they put into the benefit. Mike's whole extended family was responsible for putting it all together, and some of my family members donated and helped at the event. Mike and I are the luckiest couple to have the families we have.

I was absolutely horrible about taking pictures (and I swore I was going to do so well!), but here are a few.

Okay, this was before the benefit, but it's just cute, so I put it up :)

Silent Auction

List of all the donors for the silent auction

Thanks to everyone for their love and support! Unbelievable!

xoxo, Julie

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Hi Friends,

    We've been going through a lot of adjustments the past six weeks. Adjusting to having a newborn, adjusting to being a family of four, adjusting to losing my teaching income, adjusting to being a stay-at-home mom (for me), adjusting to sharing the spotlight (for Connor), adjusting to having a hormonal crazy wife (for Mikey :), and adjusting to having a son that is a little different than we anticipated.

    Tomorrow is Bryce's due date. My pregnancy was so horrible that I can't even imagine still being pregnant right now. I was thinking about the fact that had he not been born early, we would still be oblivious about his 'condition'. We would still be anticipating the birth of our "perfect" little boy. We would have no idea about the shock and sadness we were about to experience. Man, that sucked. I am so glad we are not there right now. I'm so glad we are six weeks beyond that. I am so glad we have already been through it and can say we're okay now. I can't even tell you how glad I am. I keep thinking back to that day in the delivery room and I would never want to be there again.

    Even though we have adjusted to the fact that Bryce has Down syndrome, at times I think I am in denial. Right now, Bryce is very much a "normal" newborn. He sleeps, eats, poops, and snuggles, just like any other baby. He is actually ahead of where his big brother was at this age. Considering he is still supposed to be in the womb, I think it's pretty impressive that he is starting to coo occasionally, is on the verge of smiling, lifts his head, and has even rolled over four times. I am so proud of how well he is doing, but at times I think it adds to my denial. It's hard to differentiate between denial and hope/determination. I don't want to lower my expectations for Bryce, but I need to be realistic at the same time. Most babies with Downs are barely crawling by the time they are a year old. Just because Bryce rolled over at three weeks doesn't mean he's some kind of exception to the rule, but the mama bear in me wants to think he is. The mama bear in me wants to say, "Oh yeah, look at what he can do! You can take your lower expectations and shove them!" Does that mean I'm in denial? I don't know. I'm probably setting myself up for disappointment, but I don't ever want Bryce to think he can't do something just because he has an extra chromosome. When we were still in the hospital, one of the NNPs told me that we could probably expect to be out of there before Bryce's due date, but not before he was 37 weeks (we were still 2 weeks away at that point). I got so upset because I felt like people were going to be telling him his whole life what he could and couldn't do. She didn't mean any harm--and she ended up being right, but it was part of my journey. It was the first time I had to face that idea of being realistic while still hoping for the best.

   It is natural for parents to want the absolute best for their kids. We don't ever want them to feel pain or disappointment. We want everyone in the world to see how wonderful they are. I think sometimes about all the hard times Bryce has ahead of him and I feel so guilty. What did he do to "deserve" this? I think about his frustration when he starts talking and we can't understand him. I think about how hard it will be to explain to him why his brother can get his drivers' license and he can't. I don't want him to have to go through those things. I just want him to have a charmed life.

   While I obviously haven't figured this all out, I can say that we are adjusting. There hasn't been a day in six weeks that I haven't thought about Down syndrome, but there have been plenty of days lately that I haven't cried about it (yay!). We'll get there. Thanks for the continued thoughts and prayers. Take care!


P.S. Many people have asked how Connor is adjusting. He is doing really well! He doesn't pay much attention to Bryce, but there isn't any resentment. He is such a good boy. He doesn't like it when Bryce cries ("It's okay, Brycey...don't cry", "It's going to be okay Brycey"), and we've even gotten him to give the baby hugs and kisses. He is the sweetest boy around!