Thursday, October 25, 2012

MacKenzie at 3


Yesterday we celebrated your third birthday. You have now really, really left all babyhood behind and are without a doubt moving into the classification of kid-dom. How did that happen so fast? Mommy feels like it was just yesterday that we were welcoming visitors in the hospital to come see you and now you are an independent and strong little kid. At the same time, it is hard to remember a time without you. Not that we cannot remember life events before you were born, but we find ourselves looking at pictures or reflecting on different happenings and catch ourselves thinking "Where was Mac or Keegs?" and then shake our head realizing that you tikes weren't born yet! You are such an integral part of our lives and we love all the things we share with you.

Yesterday we took you to your check up at the doctor and I could not have been more proud of you. Your height was just under 40 inches and measured in at the 95th percentile. Your weight was 36 pounds and that placed you at the 90th percentile. Daddy and I were surprised at your weight percentile because you look so skinny and lean to us! You had your very first blood pressure check and you did very well sitting still while the nurse tightened it on your arm. You also had your first eye exam and did perfectly!!! The placed letter cards in front of you so you could point to which one you saw, but instead read every one off perfectly. You did all three lines with ease and have been deemed to possess 20/20 vision!!! The doctor was pleased with all of your progress and scolded Mommy for not telling her you had an ear was I to know?!? You never complained or fussed about your ears hurting. Mommy was a little concerned about your flu shot (in the arm) and your blood draw (with a finger poke), but I think you did better than Mommy does for all of those things. You didn't flinch for either one and you were absolutely riveted by the tech squeezing your blood into the vial for testing. Daddy and I always joke about you becoming a doctor one day, but maybe that really is in the cards! We tried really hard to explain what each procedure was before hand and I think it really helped you to understand the purpose and process behind each part of your visit.

As far as your birthday celebrations go we will post about that later, but rest assured that you had a wonderful time!

For your progress and milestones it is hard to pick and choose just a few to write about. You are starting to sound out small words and do great at memorizing words we see a lot. I love to watch you track letters and words with your finger to mimic what Mommy does when getting you to identify letters or sounds in a book. You are also doing great at remembering good chunks of stories and will sit and read or replicate the story to yourself or your sister. Mommy's heart melted when you and Keegan sat on the couch and you "read" the I'm a Big Sister book by Joanna Cole. It was like your own little reassurance to her about the baby coming soon. Your new favorite books are The Magic School Bus books. We picked up a few at the library and it is so funny to watch you sit and study all the pages as someone reads to you. You will sit quietly and furrow your brow to try and listen to everything that is written. It is fun to watch you go to the library and attempt to pick out as many books as possible in one fell swoop. I hope your thirst for knowledge and reading continues for many years to come.

You really enjoy playing outside more and more and we enjoy taking you on little walks around the block. You soak in everything we say and look for some of our "landmarks" as we walk. You love the houses that have out American flags and Texas flags on display in their yards. In general, you love flags! You also like to look out for water towers on our drives around town or to College Station. You have been asking us if people go swimming in the water towers and if fish live in there too. You seemed a little disappointed when we told you no, but cheered up at the sight of birds resting on top of the water towers when we drive by.

Speaking of birds and fish, your love for animals grows every day. You love all sorts of animals and will not waste an opportunity to see a live one or fake one at every chance you get. You will hold your toy animals delicately in your cupped hands and say "Awwwww, he is sooo little, he is soooo cute." You also like to see that they are all taken care of and will either find a suitable bed for them in the cushions of a couch or chair or in various boxes, purses, and other items. We thought you were anti-doll until you received a Rapunzel baby doll from a family friend for your birthday. Apparently you don't mind dolls if they have long, yellow hair just like you! You love to take care of her and play with her.

Dee and Doc took you recently and marveled at how much you talk! They said you didn't stop talking the entire way from Houston to College Station. I told them it was a good sign of how much you like them! You don't necessarily yammer on about nothing, but you like to get your point across and you like clarification. You want to know where the sun, moon, and stars are when we are outside or in the car. You like to know what people are doing or where they are driving. You ask about our family and friends and where they are at any given time. One of the things we marvel at is your killer memory. You can remember things we did up to a year ago that we haven't talked to you about ever! When we headed to the pumpkin patch this year, you remembered the rocking chair they had last year and asked where it was and if you could sit in it. I hope you can put that memory to good use.

Baby girl, I know there is much, much more I want to report on, but I have another post dedicated for later to list some of your favorites at 3. We just wanted to make sure you know today and every day how much you are loved and how much we have cherished the past three years with you in our arms. We marvel at the amazing creature you are and feel entirely blessed to be a part of your life. Thank you for making me a Mommy and Daddy a daddy!!!

Happy birthday with love,
Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


This is longish...and does mention termination...reader beware...

It took us a few months to get pregnant with Baby Raptor. Not long in the scheme of things (our hearts go out to friends and family who have had or are trying for much longer than that), but it did take a few months and it was disheartening to see negative pregnancy tests or to realize that the previous month had been unsuccessful. As we were trying in the third month, I remember really turning this over to God. It is something Matt and I have been trying to do for a year and a half now, turning things over to God and recognizing His sovereignty in our lives. So I prayed that God would work His will in our lives and that He was fully aware of what we wanted, but for His work to be done through us. How was I to know that He was working on us in such a larger way than we could have ever expected?

We were ecstatic to see the positive test. I think we cherished that secret for even longer than we did with the girls, it was so nice to know we had another little one coming our way. I love being pregnant and knowing that my body is performing an absolute miracle is amazing to me. I love being a part of something that is so much larger than I can control. In a way, I feel "chosen", chosen to be a vessel that nourishes and cares for a little life who is sacred. And my body has always worked for me before, so there were absolutely no thoughts otherwise in my mind.

I did have a very odd pregnancy dream early on that threw me off. Take dreams for what you will, but I find it interesting to think about this dream in relation to what we know now. I dreamt that I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who I could not have been prouder of that was then promptly replaced by a baby rabbit. I was mad, I was reeling from my loss, I was in practical hysterics. My nurses and doctor assured me that everything was going to be ok, that this wasn't common, but sometimes these things did happen. I angrily told everyone that I didn't WANT this, that I wanted my other baby back. The dream touched me so much that I asked my doctor to promise me that I wasn't going to give birth to a rabbit. She assured me that it wouldn't be the case. When I told Matt about it, he offhandedly suggested that maybe it meant the baby would be born with special needs. We both shook our heads at the thought...of course that isn't it...that wouldn't happen to us.

If you have read previous posts, you know what we went through from weeks 12-20 in waiting for our diagnosis. There were definite moments of "Why me" as if we were being punished. There were definite times that Matt and myself would compartmentalize and knew we couldn't fix or do anything about it so we shrugged it away. There were times when I went back to God and told Him that we were turning this over to Him even though part of me knew that, given the chance, I would jump in and hand mold this child to my liking, to my wants, and to my idea of perfection.

I cried at the research done that showed how many people, in our situation, make the choice to end the lives of their baby. Research suggests that, of the children (like our Raptor) who have been prenatally diagnosed with Trisomy 21, somewhere between 70-90% are terminated. The figures from what I can tell are actually closer to the 90%, but even 70% is outrageously high. I find it interesting that as I walked the Carenet Walk for Life this year, I knew I was pregnant. I almost made shirts for the girls that said "I am life" and one for myself that, at my belly, also said "I am life". My baby was alive! Even at 12 weeks, he or she was moving, responding, and looked like a human baby. And as devastated as we were to find out that T21 was even a possibility, we knew that this wasn't a mistake. We knew that he or she was not merely a "clump of cells". We knew that he or she could make contributions to society. We knew that he or she was not just something that needed to be taken care of. What scares Matt and I even more is the idea that this 90% could get even higher. Tests are out now that can diagnose T13, T18, T21, and a few gender related Chromosomal disorders with a simple blood draw. This means no invasive testing and it means earlier results. More and more women and men could glean the knowledge that their child has different genes at an earlier gestational age and could (and will) make decisions based on that. Furthermore, insurance companies have now started covering some of this testing under the label of "preventative testing". The only way to prevent these chromosomal disorders is to (a) not get pregnant in the first place or (b) terminate the child once the disorder is detected.

What if we just left these children alone? What a difference that might show in the makeup of our society. Imagine if these children were left to continue to grow in their mother's womb and either raised by their own parents or given to the couples that are on a waiting list to adopt children specifically with Down syndrome. If these children were given time to grow, how many would be in our elementary schools? Research has shown that at least 1,000 children prenatally diagnosed with T21 are terminated in England each year. The figures and data are more difficult to get here in the USA because of a number of reasons, but trends suggest that at least that many are terminated here as well. What astounds me even more is the fact that Down syndrome of 20 years ago is not the same Down syndrome of today. More and more kids with Down syndrome are being mainstreamed in the regular education classroom, more and more kids are learning to drive, going off to college, living on their own, and getting married (God I hope Raptor falls in love and gets married...I want to dance with my husband at each of my kid's weddings). Early intervention is showing that kids with Down syndrome aren't necessarily mentally retarded, many times it is a matter of learning delays or learning differently. Why then are these children being terminated? We did the testing so we would "know" if there were any issues that we needed to be prepared for, we have since learned that, at least with T21, there is no testing that can be done prenatally that will tell us that much about our child. Even though we know Raptor has an extra chromosome, that tells us very little about who he or she is and what he or she will be capable of. Why won't others realize this too?

Matt and I were discussing last night after watching this video about the termination "issue". We are sure that, at some point, we will be asked if we ever considered abortion. The easiest answer is "No, we never considered abortion". But the real answer is more complicated that that. When you are faced with something that seems like such a struggle, when you are faced with something that seems larger than you can handle, when you are faced with something that you did not want, you look for solutions. You look for a way to fix it. You look for a way to get around it. And, as discussed, the only "fix" is termination. And we realized that, so termination did cross our minds, but it was never, ever a consideration or possibility. It was a "fix" that we knew had such horrible repercussions that we would never give it room in our minds and in our hearts for more than a fleeting second or two. And, it was such a fleeting thought, we never had to discuss it with one another, we knew we would keep this child no matter what.

The video did bring up a lot of feelings we had though. The idea about Why us? The idea that this sort of thing wasn't supposed to happen to people like us. The idea that we were somehow better or more perfect than this diagnosis. But Matt and I have shifted our thoughts. Before we asked "Why us?" and now we are asking "For what purpose us?". We want to know why this baby has been placed with us and what we are supposed to do with him or her in an entirely new way. As the day we meet him or her rapidly approaches, we are excited and nervous for the moment. It has been a long journey and we have already grown so much in the past 22 weeks. We know that this child has so much to teach all of us and hope we can do him or her justice.

This summer

I had a blast with the girls this summer and am very happy to be continuing that time at home with them! We tried to do many things with them over the hot months, some of which worked out better than others...

Going on a little family trip to Galveston (previously posted about) was pretty good. We learned a few things about traveling as a family and overall I think the girls had a good time. 

We grew some Baby Raptor! This is what I looked like a long, long time ago. This pregnancy has been a little tougher. With all of the emotions of learning about our diagnosis, the extra hormones surging through my body, and the fact that my bones, ligaments, and joints are a little loose from having three in three have been a bit of a challenge. However, we are still very, very happy to be expecting this little one! 

We do a lot of reading and not much laundry in our house :) MacKenzie loves to read, she always has and that love has merely grown over the past few months. She has started reading more to herself and trying to remember what is on each page of her favorite books. Keegan is getting more into books, but she likes certain books only. We also go to the library somewhat regularly to check out new books, find Signing Time DVDs, and explore in a very well air conditioned environment.  

We did a lot of exploring and walking. This is at Dee and Doc's house, but we also have been exploring the Children's Museum (thanks to MiMi and PawPaw for our membership), we have walked a lot of malls trying to get Auntie Crystal to go into labor, explored some parks, and our own neighborhood a lot.

One of our favorite activities this summer was blueberry picking. We went a total of three times and really enjoyed it. The place we went was family owned, had a great price, and didn't mind how much you grazed while you picked. When we got home each time we would eat a handful or two fresh, then washed and froze the rest. I have been slowly portioning out the frozen ones so we might have blueberry muffins at least once a month until next summer when we can pick more!

In addition to these things we have gone swimming and to a couple splash pads, spent time with friends and family, and have just enjoyed ourselves in what was a fairly mild summer. I really enjoy and treasure my time at home with the girls and think they enjoy it as well!