Monday, June 18, 2012

This time around (part 2)

So again...this will be long...but it is good to get it down... Before we got this kind of a risk factor I said I would never in a million years get an amniocentesis this early on in pregnancy. I told myself and my friends that the risk wasn't worth it, that it didn't matter to us, that we would be fine in any situation without it. I shook my head at people on message boards that talked about going through the procedure for peace of mind. I even asked Dr. Norton if we should go ahead and have the 12 week testing done because I was quite certain I would never have an amnio. All of this changes when you get a risk factor of 1 in 5. It was like eating of the forbidden fruit and once we had that knowledge of that possibility there was no turning back, we had to continue, we had to know. I continued to research until the end of the school year which pretty much coincided with my first Maternal Fetal Specialist appointment and a possible amnio. For as fast as the school year had flown by, for as fast as the school year usually passes by, once faced with this news the days dragged on in an endless barrage of "Come on...can we please get to the end". Instead of excitedly packing up my classroom and doing end of the year procedures, I fretted and worried and talked Petey's and Matt's and a my Mom's ears off about all the different possibilities there. I looked up more and more and went back to researching a bit about Trisomy 13 and 18 because the genetic counselor let me know that honestly we cannot rule anything out yet although it does seem less likely. I thought about things I never thought I would worry about. With Trisomy 13 and 18 Matt and I would have to decide whether or not to sign a DNR (do not resuscitate) and if we should go ahead and find out the gender in order to have a little bit of time to bond with a baby, a name, and have an outfit ready for the hospital. We began to think about how this might impact our little family if a baby even had "just" Down syndrome. We always thought we would have four kids, but with a possibility of one having special needs would we go for a fourth. We thought about how this might affect the girls and decided, laughing, that they would both love the baby and be all the better for it, but MacKenzie would work hard on articulating why our baby was special and unique when faced with adversity and Keegan would probably just get mad and punch someone in the face. We thought about being placed into a label and how we would handle that, how our friends, family, the community might treat us if we became the family that had the kid with Down syndrome. We mulled over our names and pondered if those were the best possible names for a kid with special needs. We thought about ourselves...were we prepared to take this on, could we raise a child with special needs, would we be good enough. I struggled. A lot. Plain and simple, I did not want this diagnosis and I resigned myself to going ahead and accepting this as our fate. I couldn't hope for normal chromosomes and get let down when we had an extra one somewhere. I closed off my heart to a "mail order perfect" baby and felt, deep down like this was going to be our new reality. Our appointment with the first specialist could have potentially given us some answers. I remember saying, "I don't know what would be worse, finding many indications of what was wrong and getting our diagnosis or not finding anything out and having to still wait for information". We were becoming used to the "Sorry we don't know and we are going to have to wait and see" answer. Our Genetic Counselor even apologetically informed us that they couldn't get our insurance company to pre approve the procedure even though it is termed as medically necessary, we would have to take a leap of faith that they were going to help cover the costs at the end of the day. What an extra frustration on an already tense time for us! When we met with the Maternal Fetal Specialist we first had a Level 2 ultrasound to measure everything on the baby. I think instead of holding my breath only until we saw the heart beat, I held my breath until the whole procedure was over. My palms were sweaty, I was nervous, and had wave after wave of pregnancy and nerve induced nausea. Every time they took a measurement I either thought to myself, "Wow that looked pretty good, maybe we have a chance" or "Man, they are going to lay out the bad news on us any minute". I only knew what half of those measurements indicated or said, but I was 505 sure we were ok and 50% sure we were looking at a probably diagnosis. Our ultrasound tech friends told us to look for a smaller neck measurement, hands being open, and the long bones in the arms and legs being proportionate to our due date. They said all other markers that they look for that contribute to a "forecast" of Down syndrome or other abnormalities would be hard for us to tell on the screen. The doctor finally let us know that for the most part the baby looked excellent. The neck measurement, which he termed "impressive", was still large, but hadn't grown over the past three weeks which was a better sign. The organs looked good and Raptor had a good heart and measuring decently limbs. He asked if we wanted to know the gender to which we both exclaimed our No! There was one teeny tiny little marker that could indicate a correlation with Down syndrome and that was an Echogenic foci. We are very familiar with these as Keegan had the bright spot on her heart as well. I immediately wrote this off as being non information because many, many babies of all types have this. The doctor then told us that he couldn't really tell much. He would be surprised if Raptor had Trisomy 13 or 18, but couldn't really give us anything else to go on. It was more hurry up and wait because I couldn't even have the amnio done that day as we were not far enough along in the pregnancy. So we went home, waited some more, researched some more, worried some more, and as much as we could focused on other things. We spent time with the girls, with family, with friends, and with each other. At my 16 week appointment the following week Dr. Norton again gave me a hug and reassured me that as long as Raptor didn't have a heart condition that our hospital was more than equipped to deliver a Down syndrome baby and if they did have to transfer me to another practice better equipped to handle a heart problem it would not be until much later in the pregnancy. She assured me that if by some small chance Trisomy 13 or 18 came up that she would help us do anything we could to deliver our baby and have some time with him or her. She let me know that unlike the Genetic counselor and Specialist who have to, by law, discuss termination with me that she did not do terminations in her practice so I was safe from having to have that discussion again. We discussed that if the baby does not have Down syndrome that we will need extra monitoring later in the pregnancy and I would be looking at twice a week appointments from about 30 weeks on. I walked away confident that I was in good hands and God pushed me a little bit further with a phone call that afternoon. I had been in contact with my Labor and Delivery nurse from Keegan for almost the past year. I had been curious about her thoughts on nursing programs and thought it might be something to look into. I also, honestly, wanted to be in contact with her from time to time. She was the best possible nurse I could have had with Keegan and I felt empowered by her assurances and when you feel empowered by someone in a loving and strong manner, you want to be in contact with them. I had sent her an email to update her on Raptor and the problems we might be facing, she asked me to call her work number and, finding some available time that afternoon, I did. It was an amazing phone call. I found myself fully embraced by this woman I had known basically for 12 hours. She understood me and was able to speak to my heart in a way that few had so far. She cried with me on the phone, she assured me that I had her support, and she told me some very profound things, both about myself and about life in general. She reminded me that it is a myth Christians have that "God doesn't give us more than we can handle." She reminded me that God absolutely puts more on us than we can handle, if He didn't give us more than we could handle then we wouldn't need Him. She understood that I was struggling at this time, that I felt more than I could handle, and that it was so hard to have joy and sorrow in your the depths of your heart at the same time. Once again, I walked away from an encounter with her empowered. I knew when she delivered Keegan that she was meant to be in our lives...I told Matt, I told anyone who would listen that she was meant to be our nurse...I thought I was crazy (and I very well might be), but in this case I was right. I have her assurance that she will help me navigate whatever medical terminology and baby medical needs we might have and hopefully she will be there to help deliver this one. Another little gift God has placed in front of us...a long time ago, but a gift nonetheless. Fast forward to amniocentesis. The nauseous nerves came back up and bubbled inside me with each moment that drove near. We met with Genetic counselor and went over what tests we wanted ordered. Because of difficulties with our insurance company we made the difficult decision to forego the FSH test that could give us preliminary results about three possibilities in two or three days. We had resigned ourselves to have to wait it out and wanted the full spectrum of information all at once. We ordered the full chromosome analysis and a microarray that would tell us pretty much everything they could tell about Raptor's chromosomes. Because of some things that sometimes show up on microarrays we both had to do blood draws which was bittersweet. In pregnancy a women gets very used to having blood draws done for a vast number of tests needing to be done so...yay...more blood. On the other hand...for the first time in all of our pregnancies, Matt had to go through it too! We then told our Genetic counselor that because the results were due back the same week as my 20 week appointment with Dr. Norton that we would just wait for her to tell us in person if that was possible. I had this sickening image of the girls being tired and hungry as I rushed us through a packed HEB and receiving the call with very important news about the Baby. I didn't want to receive that information on my own, I wanted Matt there to hold my hand, I wanted it to be in person, and I wanted my Doctor who really has earned that right from our perspective to be the one to let us know about our Raptor. We will only have to wait a few days extra, we have a day that we are pretty sure we will find out, and so we are calm about this for the most part. The ultrasound today gave us no new news. The baby is still proportionate and has no huge indicators of anything wrong. The spot on the heart is still there which made it difficult for the doctor to see part of the septum in the heart, but we knew that we were going to have to go to a fetal echocardiogram anyways to look at the heart in more detail. We did get one refreshing piece of news, the neck measurement has decreased in size from 5.5 mm to 4.2 mm which is not only good in itself, but also with the fact that the baby has grown 5 and a half weeks since that measurement was taken so it brings the measurement ratio down a lot. It doesn't change our risk factor, but we take comfort in the fact that Raptor has less of a thick neck. The amnio went perfectly and I was told I was the only patient they ever had who laughed during it being done. They do not numb you up for the procedure and it is a very odd sensation to feel a needle going through your skin, through your fat, through your muscle, and into your uterus. It hurt a bit, but I practiced my natural childbirth relaxing and avoided looking at the needle at all costs. I am still a bit sore now, kind of like a stitch in your side from running. I have been on "couch potato" rest all day and should be good to go tomorrow. We know that preliminary testing is a personal decision. We have friends that avoid it at all costs wanting a peaceful and stress free pregnancy and we have friends, like us, who go through with it to know and prepare. Despite the stress, the worry, the tears, I am glad we have the opportunity to know before hand. If I am going to have to release that image of the perfect baby I have in my mind, the baby who has no struggles and no worries, the baby who truly doesn't exist no matter what number of chromosomes it has, I would rather do it now than at delivery. If I have to have pain and strife and anger at this pregnancy, I want it now so that I can be done with it and move forward. I personally, do not want to be the mom who is shocked at delivery with no warning of what might be coming. I want to know now for so many reasons and I am so grateful for modern medicine that helps us know these things ahead of time (if we desire). I am beginning to readjust and reattach myself to Baby Raptor already. I pulled out two newborn onesies from our bins to look at and love on for awhile. I resumed petting and rubbing on my ever expanding baby bump. I washed all of our nursery bedding and began to get excited about organizing things for the baby (I know it is early for nesting, but this is about me being able to do something for the baby that I can control). I prayed to God for me to fall head over heels in love with this baby and that in the meantime He might love the baby enough for both of us. That God would surround this baby with such loving feelings that any anger I felt did not permeate into his or her delicate self. I played Casting Crowns "If We Ever Needed You" on my iPhone on my belly so baby could know that I needed God to help me through this. I listened to "Bring on the Rain" on rainy days so I could calm myself and just soak in and process this huge spectrum of feelings I had. Matt and I re-decided on names and "argued" about whether or not I should paint a mural in the nursery. Matt has been amazing and supportive through this whole process and I hope he knows how much his quiet strength has meant to me. He felt a little bad when I told him how good my conversation with my nurse went and I assured him he has been exactly the man I needed him to be and that my nurse was the kind of woman I needed her to be. The internet research continued and still does. I read facts that there are children that have Down syndrome who are higher functioning that children who have autism. I took this information as a reminder that we never know who our children are going to be and what needs they might have. We can only do the best with what we are given and hope it's enough. We can only work to help ensure that potential is reached and that they do their best in most situations, whatever that best may be. I was reminded that there are so many possibilities for all of our children in this day in age and I will have to work hard to make sure all three kids get what they need. I have been reminded that having a child who has Down syndrome does not define our child or our family and I keep telling myself that it could be could be way worse. While this is not a diagnosis we hope for, we know it is a possibility. In fact we know it is about a 20% or 1 in 5 possibility. We know that either way this Baby is going to have some extra monitoring and doctor appointments later in pregnancy (I have had 7 appointments so far and have at least 6 more in the next 12 weeks alone). We know that extra chromosome or not, this baby will change our lives because all babies do. We know that extra chromosome or not, this baby has taught us a lot already...about others, about ourselves, about the state of this world, and about patience, acceptance, emotions, and strength. We have learned a lot about friends and family. Unexpected people who bring you meals, come to spend time with you, who patiently remind you they are praying, who tell you they love you and the Baby no matter what and who tell you how beautiful and glowing you look despite the stress you feel. We are thankful to those in our lives who have reached out, those who have said and done exactly the right things, and those who have tried. We love our Baby Raptor. We patiently await two and a half weeks from now to look at the picture of his or her chromosomes (hopefully we remember to tell Dr. Norton to cover that gender chromosome up) and to find out more about what Baby needs from us!

This time around (Part 1)

I have struggled with writing this post for weeks. I will go ahead and warn any readers that this is long and could get a little emotional...or "hormotional" since there are so many hormones involved. Reasons I struggled with the post are numerous, but I think a lot of it boils down to the fact that I struggled with how I was taking in and processing everything that has happened. And as difficult as this may be to write, I don't want to forget how I am feeling through it all, so here we go... Our pregnancy with Raptor began very much like the first two. We were trying, found out together by pregnancy test, kept it a secret for a few weeks, then slowly began telling family and friends through the end of the first trimester. My mom guessed over the phone, and both Matt's parents and my Dad and Debra were told with matching Big Sister shirts for the girls. We marveled at how blessed we already were and very much looked forward to more blessings coming our way. As mentioned in a prior post, I have been very nauseous this time around and attributed that to both being pregnant for the third time in three years and being busy taking care of school kids and my own precious ones at home. Fast forward to my 12 week appointment- This appointment includes an ultrasound and an optional blood test to look for indicators of chromosomal abnormalities in the Baby. Matt and I have always taken advantage of it and really look forward to seeing the Baby on the ultrasound. Because Matt's work has been so hectic he was unable to join me, but my mom came for a peek at the Baby. Looking back, one of many blessings that she was there with me and I was not alone. I very much looked forward to this appointment that week because I had a rough day at school the day prior. Nearing the end of the school year is always difficult and the day before was one of my worst days teaching ever, exponentially made worse by pregnancy hormones. My mom and I get to my appointment and wait for the Ultrasound tech to call us back. When she did, we walked into the room where I was prepped for the procedure and held my breath like I always do until I see that tiny, miraculous little flutter of a heartbeat. Once I see that I am always able to enjoy things a little more. The heartbeat was quickly found and was busily pumping blood to Raptor's body just as the heart should do. The tech worked hard to take all the measurements needed because Baby Raptor was not cooperating...imagine that...we have a stubborn baby on our hands. I briefly noticed at one point that she typed in "nasal bone not seen" and made a mental note to ask Dr. Norton about that. We were given pictures of the little one and sent out to the waiting room to be called back to see the Doctor. A quick blood pressure measure, weight taken, pee in a cup, and blood draw later (where the nurse laughingly asked "Why?!?" when I told her we went natural last delivery), Dr. Norton came in to ask how everything was going. When I asked her about the comment on the ultrasound machine she explained that because of Raptor's positioning they were unable to see the nasal bone, she was sure it was there, but because of the nature of the testing they were doing, they have to indicate that on the paperwork. We proceeded with the appointment and towards the end, she just stopped. I remember she looked at me and seemed to process a bit in her mind. She commented that she didn't want the blood work to come back inaccurate and would check to see if the Ultrasound tech could look again to see if Raptor had moved a bit. We excitedly went back again where the Tech, begrudgingly I might add, looked and easily found the nasal bone again. This time though, she took a few extra measurements at the base of the neck and sent us back to Dr. Norton. When Dr. Norton came back from looking at the second scan, I could tell something was different. She sat down and told us, yes the nasal bone was present, but they were now concerned about the size of the nuchal translucency. Our measurement was not just large, but significant. In fact, they look for less than 2 mm and our baby had a measurement of 5+ mm. I reeled as I took this all in...not knowing what it meant, Dr. Norton continued. She said that this would definitely impact our risk factor for chromosomal abnormalities and we would probably be seeing a specialist when the test results came back. She explained that this could be nothing and it would go away, or it could be a cyst that would need to be addressed, or it could be an indicator for trisomies. At this I stopped her and hesitatingly asked her, "We are talking about Trisomy 21 correct, we aren't worried about 13 or 18?" She indicated that no, all of the trisomies were a concern. With that I lost it and began to cry. Trisomy 21 is Down Syndrome and as all readers know can have a lot of positives and negatives as far as special needs go. Trisomy 13 and 18 however are much less known about because they are, for the most part, incompatible with life. Very, very few babies that have the extra chromosome on 13 or 18 survive to be born, much less for more than hours after birth. As I cried, Dr. Norton explained a few things about when we might expect results, that she would personally call us, and asked if I needed anything. She gave me a hug and told us she was sorry for the unexpected news. If my friends and family weren't sure of how much I love Dr. Norton...please know...she is amazing. I talked with my mom in the parking lot and told her how much I didn't want this to be the case. I called Matt on the way to pick up the girls and told him how much I didn't want this to be the case. I told our friend Crystal as I picked up the girls how much I didn't want this to be the case. So much was going through my head...we could lose our baby...our little Raptor...the baby we hoped for, prayed for, tried for, and rejoiced over. We could have a baby with special needs which meant a whole new game plan for our family. The baby could have heart problems, would probably need physical and occupational therapy, and at some point would probably need speech therapy, and would need all sorts of assistance that I wasn't sure I was ready to give. There could be absolutely nothing wrong with baby and I could be stressing myself out over nothing. I was reeling and eventually, with the exception of crying spells for the rest of the day, I began to feel a little numb and detached. That day, I know I detached myself from Raptor. I wanted to protect myself just a little bit. I wanted the assurance that everything was going to be ok, but because I couldn't have that I needed some sort of shield around me. I felt like I was in a fog because I didn't know how to feel. Was it ok to be mad? Was it ok to be sad? Was it ok for me to pray and beg for a "normal" baby? Nobody wants their baby to be born with special needs, but it is because, deep down inside we want our babies to be able to accomplish everything and to never struggle. This seemed like a pretty good assurance that there would be struggles everywhere. About a week later I got a phone call from Dr. Norton. She told me that my blood test results were in and we had my risk factor for chromosomal abnormalities. To explain the risk factor a bit better, it is like looking at a weather forecast. Under the conditions given in a weather forecast (barometric pressure, currants, temperature) x% of the time rain or shine has occurred. Under the conditions in a pregnancy (hcg hormone level, papp-a blood test, and nuchal translucency) 1 in ___ number of babies have been born with chromosomal abnormalities. Normal risk factor for my age is close to 1 in 1000. After getting my blood test results back Dr. Norton told me that my risk factor was 1 in 5 for Down syndrome. If I hadn't been sitting already, I probably would have fallen to the ground. I knew our results were going to come back high risk, I knew we would have extra testing, I knew we would be considered to have needs this pregnancy, but I believed that our results would come back 1 in 100, 1 in 60 at the most. A 1 in 5 risk factor seemed like a sentence to is not a diagnosis, but how does someone my age go from a 1 in 1000 risk factor to 1 in 5?!? Again, Dr. Norton has been fabulous and has said all the right things at the right time. She explained that Texas Children's would be calling me to set up a few appointments, we briefly discussed the possibility of an amniocentesis, and she let me know that as far as we could indicate I wasn't at an increased risk for Trisomy 13 or 18 (which was relief). I was unable to reach Matt and because I was at work I crossed the hall (during our off period...again a blessing that I was able to field that call during my off period) to talk with Petey, my beloved friend from work. She let me cry, she let me be mad, she let me feel what I needed to and wanted to feel. She didn't tell me things were going to be ok, but she did tell me that things were going to work out. Funny how a few words change the entire meaning of a discussion. It has been funny reaching out to others and telling people what has happened with us so far. Responses have been varied. It has been frustrating to us when people tell us that we are a part of God's special plan. This is frustrating in multiple ways...what it boiled down to for us is that we were fully aware that we have been and will be a part of God's plan. We recognize and submit to God's sovereignty in our lives. But just because we submit to His plan does not mean that we aren't able to feel distress in moments like this. We believe that we are absolutely entitled to feeling angry and devastated at this potential news. We really felt like people who only respond to news like this by talking about God's plan were taking away from the emotional hardships that we needed to face together and to get through. We felt like their reminders were simply that, a reminder that we are little and we are being petty by expressing dismay at God's work. And it felt like because others were quick to dismiss our sadness or frustrations that they weren't allowing us to tackle this issue, to climb this mountain, and to get to a place where we needed to be. We fully realize that people are at a huge loss for what to say in moments of crisis and so we aren't mad at anyone. That being said, good responses were found too. Family and friends told us they were there for us, that they would be praying for us, that they loved us and Baby Raptor, a handful of beloved people came out and told us "Wow, this sucks that you are going through this" which I loved because there were many moments that I felt like this sucked! I just wanted to enjoy my pregnancy to relax and anticipate those first kicks and to dream about who this baby was and who they would become. I felt like I couldn't do that because I could only worry about getting to my next appointment. And to top things off I felt like with a risk factor of 1 in 5 I might as well prepare myself for having a baby with Down syndrome. So of course I began to research. Google is a wonderful and a terrible thing. While there is some pretty scary information out there, for me it was calming to learn more about what could be going on with Raptor. It made me feel normal when I read about other people who had the same reactions we were having. It made me feel normal to read the birth stories of women who found out at birth about their child having Down syndrome and how quick the denial and questioning sunk in until they had to face their new reality. It made me feel less crazy that I was still feeling morning sickness because I read that with the high hcg hormone level I measured it was like having the hormones of a twin or triplet pregnancy (and trust me, with as many ultrasounds as we have gotten, there is only one baby in there). I began to read things that made me laugh and smile, reading about parents who have worked hard to love their babies for their individual selves and not for their diagnosis. I have read about progress made in caring for and long lasting health for people who have Down syndrome. I have read about children and adults all over the spectrum who have accomplished a great many things. I have also read many, many things that make me cry and make me scream and make me sadder than any Down syndrome diagnosis could. There have been no stories about kids who have Down syndrome that have made me as sad as the termination rates for this diagnosis. The scary facts about pre delivery diagnosis deserve a post all it's own. All I will say here is that for Matt and I, termination has never, ever been a consideration in our mind. We have never entertained the option of changing our pregnancy status even with a terminal illness consideration. We wanted to know so we could prepare. We wanted to prepare out hearts and our minds and to be ready to love whoever was growing in my tummy for exactly who he or she was. Our next steps were simple enough, I met with a genetic counselor who went over many of my questions and worries. The best possible option for us was to do an amniocentesis. The genetic counselor really felt that it would give us the most information about the Baby so we would have less lingering questions at the end of testing. The counselor comforted me the most when she said, "Something is going on with this baby, it's our job to figure out and monitor what it is." I realized that, for some reason, Raptor wanted us keeping tabs on him or her and what Baby Raptor wanted, Baby Raptor was getting... Our next step is a long process and I want to process what has been written so more to come...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baby Raptor progress

So we are almost 17 weeks along with Baby Raptor. This pregnancy has been crazy different from the first two, but there are real and legitimate reasons for that which will have to wait for another blog post. We don't know the gender, nor will we find out until delivery so it is not because we are having a boy rather than a girl...or maybe we are...we just don't know! I have felt much, much more nauseous and tired with this one than the older two. Basically from noon to 10 at night I am trying to fight off puking everywhere...and it has gotten worse over the past couple of days. I will say that although there is only one in there, my hormone level count (Free beta hcG which is the "pregnancy hormone") is as high or higher than many twin pregnancies. We are still super excited to be pregnant and couldn't be more thankful for another go around at this. I just have to keep reminding myself that at most I have 23 more weeks of this and if I deliver early like I did with the girls then I should have slightly less than that. 23 weeks of nausea does seem a little intense, but I will get through it one day at a time avoiding the foods that are definite no-no's (donuts, salmon, some shrimp, and oddly enough...watermelon).

Here are some progress pictures...three kids in three years lead to extra early baby pooch!

Baby Raptor at 8 weeks 

Baby Raptor at 12 weeks

Baby Raptor making his or her presence known at 16 weeks

Keegan Joy

Keegan's vocabulary is exploding all over the place. You have to spend some time with her to know what she is saying, but she definitely gets her point across. She is into everything and everyone else's business. I like to talk about her being a leech at group get togethers. She will convince everyone to pick her up, give her treats, snacks, and drinks. This past weekend I know she drank at least three capri suns, ate two small bags of chips, and had two popsicles because of her conning others into giving her food. She can be pretty intense and that swing both ways. People ask us if things bother her (hot pavement on her feet, certain foods, etc) and we make sure to laugh and tell them that Keegan never has any problems telling us when something is wrong. She is playing more and more, both on her own and with her sister and it is fun to see how she interacts with the world around her. She loves babies, stuffed animals, and purses or bags. She also just simply likes being around others and will often lay down on the floor or next to someone cuddled up and watching what goes on around her. Thank goodness the 7 teeth she was cutting all at once have, for the most part, broken through and hopefully that will cut down on the drama that Keegan has been feeling. We sure do love her no matter what kind of mood she is in!


MacKenzie is turning into such a little girl. She analyzes and observes everything, she has definite preferences, and it just simply fun to hang out with and spend time with. She loves to be read to and likes book that are above her level to be read to her. She loves certain songs like the Fightin' Texas Aggie song and the "Porch" song that are on one of my c.d.s in my car. She likes picking out her outfits, bows, hairstyles, and food and really loves to help make said food when she can. She often thinks about others, tells us how much she loves them, even when she hasn't seen them for awhile. She is playing more and more with Keegan and teaching her things/being a big sister to her/bossing her around. I just marvel and this child who was in my belly just a short three years ago and who she has turned into already. I guarantee you that she has already exceeded my expectations and is more than we deserve.

Funny things she has said recently:

"Mommy, come up stairs, I am done with my nap, ready to watch Signing Time, need a snack and some milk." When that didn't work she called out, "Mommy come up stairs, I want to give you a big hug".

"I love Elsha, she is so cuuuuuute, she has yellow hair."

"That's just the air conditioning, I not scared, it not hurt me."

Putting a purse on her arm and pretending to leave the room, "Bye, bye. See you later"

Funny things she remembers and comments on:
That Santa "lives" at Chick Fil A and he gave her a candy cane.
That a bug landed on her cheese and tried to eat it one day.
That she saw a beetle in the parking lot at Kroger and it didn't bother her.

I just want to remember these moments forever and treasure each one!