Friday, January 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jessi!

As I think about today-my heart and mind are flooded with memories. For the past 7 years, Jan. 11, has been a special day at our house. It was the day that our sweet, baby girl was born. Honestly, she was not expected or planned-but when we found out she was on her way we were all sooo excited. For months, we talked about names, set up her nursery and made all kinds of plans for her. Finally, the day came for us to go to the hospital and get ready to bring Jessica Ann, her Daddy and Jordan named her, home. After a long night and day of labor, she finally arrived! I was so glad she was here and so glad that labor was over!

After they had cleaned her up, we got to really see her-she was precious! I guess, looking back on things, I knew somethings wasn't just right but I was so tired and so glad to have her-I guess I didn't really admit it. Our Dr. came in shortly and told us she thought Jess had some Down Syndrome tendencies. They were going to run test and then we would know more. I remember crying, but Downs was not unfamiliar to me. I think the hardest thing was telling people-our neices, nephews, family and friends. I remember my sister's daughters sitting in our hospital room crying. After helping to raise them, that was heartbreaking. We were immediately surrounded by family and friends and today as I look back, I know that there is no way we would have made it through without them; and some of them are you-THANK-YOU!

That first night is still a fog! I remember waking up and wondering if I had dreamed all of that-but it wasn't. Very quickly, our thoughts and fears changed as Jessica had to be air-lifted to Augusta. I knew that there was NO way I was letting her go without me, so Kenny, his parents, my parents and I started making plans to follow right behind her. Of course there was no way that we could get to Augusta as quickly as she did-there is no easy way to get there from Valdosta. Kenny's sister, Toni, left Atlanta and got to Augusta shortly after Jessica arrived. They let her in the NICU and when we got there, Toni was holding Jessica. Still today, I am so thankful that Toni was able to go and be there with Jessica. We spent a week in Augusta and fortunately didn't have to have any surgery. They got her value that was open, closed and didn't even put us on heart medicine for the small hole in her heart. We knew that God was looking over her from the beginning and we are so thankful!

As I reflect on the last 6 years-starting the 7th today-there are things that make me sad, things that I would want for her that she may never get to do, BUT she is such a joy! We enjoy every minute of her life. We do have to do things differently from a "normal" child, but even with "normal" children, we do things differently! She is strong-willed but very loving. She has come such a long way and we are so proud of her. She has been such a blessing to my life and I thank God everyday for her. My journey in life has been changed but I just try to face each day with prayer and thanksgiving-isn't that what we all do? I am going to try and include a poem about going to Holland, that is written about having a special needs child. I hope you will read it and enjoy.

Would I change Jessica, if I could? That's a hard question to answer. For her to be able to do things that she may not be able to do, yes. For her to lose that loving innocense that she has-no way! Anyway-that is a question that God answered 7 years ago. Jessica was put here for a reason and when I see the way that most people love her and take up time with her-maybe that is part of her purpose. I know she makes me stop and smile at little things that I probably use to overlook, and she makes me thankful for all the little things that I know I use to forget! I have learned that we have to take what God gives us, be thankful and find a way to make it be a useful part of His Church and this world.

Sorry this has been so long. Hope you all have a great week-end!

Welcome To Holland
Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Jessica's 7th Birthday Party!

I'll post more about Jessica on her birthday-the 11th.

The Last Pictures of Christmas!

What a Week-end!

We had a great, exciting and long, but so enjoyable. Don, Jamie, Laurie, Louise and "Dirt" and Leigh all came down Saturday morning. They got to our house around 2 and we had lunch and then began to open gifts. Every year we try to plan a day, sometime during the Holidays, where they can all get down here and we can spend some time together. We had a great time and lots of fun. Of course, as usual, Jessica was the center of attention. Don and his family don't get to see her that much, and Karen's family doesn't really want to give her up! She is in popular demand, and most of the time doesn't even care! We exchanged gifts and did lots of visiting. Louise got Electronic Catch Phrase, so we played that for probably an hour or more. It was fun and it was really fun for all the fam to be playing together. It is hard to keep everyone around long with teen-agers and girls coming to town that want to see friends that they haven't seen in awhile, but we did pretty good. Louise and Dustin ,"Dirt", and Leigh spent the night at our house so we got some extra time with them but they had to leave Sun. right after church and Don, Jamie and Laurie are staying a few more days. I'll try to post pictures later.

On Sunday afternoon, we had Jessica's birhtday party. Her offical birthday is Jan. 11, but we wanted Don and his family to be able to be apart of it this year. Don, Jamie, Laurie, Karen and all her family-including Walker's girl friend, Katie Colson, Nana and Papa Walker, Nana and Papaw Holton and cousin Heather were all her.
Ka-Ka (Karen) had made a Care Bear Birthday cake that was delicious! Thanks, Karen! And gifts galore were brought. By the time the party was over, Jessica was exhausted--too tired to sleep. You Moms with little ones know what a pleasant time that is...but we made it through the afternoon and went to church in Quitman. We left after church and came straight home and put the birthday girl in bed, before 8:00. She has to be ready to get up for school on Monday, so now the holidays are really over...School is back in session!!!!

Sorry this was so long, I'll try to post pictures later.