Sunday, February 27, 2011

Party Like It's 1999

Austin's 1st birthday was a huge success! We are beyond blessed to have such amazing friends and family.
Here's how the party went down...

A HUGE thank you to Lari for the fabulous Superman cape! Austin loved wearing it and playing with it. We love it too...I may borrow it from Austin to wear from time to time, it's THAT cool.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday, Austin!

Dear Austin,
Happy 1st Birthday, sweet boy! I vividly remember the day you were born and it seems like yesterday. It was a year ago that you came into the world by an emergency C-Section. Your daddy exclaimed, “he’s beautiful!” I had to stay in recovery for a while and all I could think about was holding you. I was finally able to hold you about an hour ½ after you were born. I instantly felt a love like never before. There wasn’t any mention of Down syndrome that first day, but the first doctor that checked you out said further testing would be a good idea…just to be safe and due to my quad test. He said you looked great. The second day in the hospital, you opened your soulful eyes and looked directly into mine. At that moment, I just knew. I knew you had Down syndrome. I didn’t tell anyone at the time. A few doctors thought it was a possibility, but said they couldn’t be for sure. 2 ½ weeks after you were born, we were informed that you did, in fact, have Down syndrome. I was scared that the world wouldn’t accept you and love you like Daddy and I do. The beginning of our journey was difficult and there were days when I didn’t quite understand God.

Daddy and I have chosen to embrace your extra chromosome. We wouldn’t have you any other way. You have the BEST personality. You’re always on the move and rarely sit still. Sometimes I wonder if I feed you enough because I know you burn tons of calories due to the fact that you’re ALWAYS moving. As much as you love to move, you’re typically very content just sitting with your Daddy and watching T.V when he gets home from work. Daddy and I describe you as “feisty.“ We love that you’re feisty. You came into this world to do amazing things and I’m certain your “feisty(ness)” will work to your advantage.

God gave us our most perfect blessing when he gave us you. You’re a beautiful boy with a beautiful soul. Your life IS worth living. You’ve accomplished so much this year and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you! You’re blessed with amazing grandparents, family and friends. Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you and love you more than anything.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Thank you

At this time a year ago, I was miserable HUGE and swollen. Little did I know, Austin was getting ready to make his grand entrance in a few days.

I think I’m in denial that my baby is turning 1! It’s been such an amazing year. We’ve had so many beautiful experiences that we otherwise wouldn’t have had.

The day we received the results of Austin’s Karyotype, we were also waiting for some of my former co workers to stop by and see Austin for the first time. Jessi arrived first and I remember my phone ringing shortly after. The minute I heard Dr. C’s voice on the other end, I just knew. She asked me if Ryan was there and suggesteted I put her on speaker phone. She explained the results and said that Austin’s Karyotype results confirmed that he does have an extra #21 chromosome. She said a few other things regarding chromosomes, but I honestly can’t remember. At that moment, my heart sank. It’s what I knew all along, but this made it official. And that hurt. I didn’t cry at first. I had so many questions, but yet I couldn’t manage to get any of them out. Dr. C was very compassionate with her words. Not all doctors have the gift of compassion, but she does. I remember her telling us to just hold each other. After we got off the phone, I saw Ryan’s face. He was in shock. That's when the tears began falling. Ryan rarely cries, but in that moment he was crying because he felt like there was no way to ever tell Austin "there's something wrong" with him. He's perfect in our eyes and an extra chromosome wasn't going to change how we felt about our son. Still, we hurt for him. Jessi, of course, heard the entire conversation. She happened to be holding Austin while we were on speaker phone with Dr. C. You would think someone in her situation wouldn’t know what to do. Jessi is one in a million. And true to her sweet nature, she immediately took Austin to Ryan. She knew he needed to hold him. She hugged and comforted me. I don’t know if Jessi will ever know how much it meant to us that she was there. Ryan was crying his eyes out while holding Austin. It’s a situation that should’ve been awkward, but it wasn’t. She needed to be there and I fully believe God put her there at that very moment for a reason. To this day, Ryan still talks about how comforting Jessi was in those moments of shock and sadness.

Casie came over next and I answered the door…trying to hide my tears. As we were sitting there, I broke down and that’s when I told her, “we just found out Austin has Down syndrome.” She, too, was comforting and we will forever be grateful for that.

Shannon sent me the sweetest email that day: “Austin is so lucky to have been born into a family with so much love for him and each other. He has been blessed with the best parents in the world who would do anything for him. Austin is a beautiful baby with so much to offer this world. I can tell by his calm personality that he loves to be around people.”

I called my best friend since 4th grade, Katie, and let her know the official news. Katie was in shock, but she remained positive and has researched so much about Down syndrome so she can better understand it.

I called Neele, Austin’s God Mother, to tell her the news. She was in shock, as well. She explained to me that she loved Austin no matter what. And you know what? That love is mutual to this day.

Amy called me the next day. She explained that she loved Austin and Down syndrome wouldn’t change that. Her words were exactly what I needed.

Thank you- Jessi, Malinda, Casie, Katie Saldana, Amy, Shannon, Katie, Neele and Donna.

I know these girls may never understand how much they impacted our lives during such a difficult time, but they were so comforting. Most of them knew about my quad test and my fears during pregnancy. You truly know who your true friends are in times like this.

As corny as it sounds, their love and compassion will forever be etched in my heart. We are so incredibly blessed. All of our friends have been incredibly supportive. You know who you are: ALL OF MY FAMILY!, Ryan’s Family!, Hunter and Amy, Candice and Jason, Jeremy and Amber, Justin, and Nikki, Barbra B, Chelsea and Hunter, Lou and Mike, Lari and Lisa, Shaunda, Kim, Faust family, Howard family, Billington family and SO MANY MORE! I’m so sorry, I know I’m forgetting some people, but please know we are so thankful for your support during this past year.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Got Faith?

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, but before I get to that…you should watch this:

We have an army crawler! Ryan and I were ecstatic, as this is a huge milestone that Austin worked very hard to achieve. Austin’s OT says he needs to work on strengthening his tummy muscles and he’ll be crawling all over the place in no time.

As most of you know, my husband is a balanced 21/22 carrier. We have an increased 5% chance of having another child with Down syndrome. We also have a 47.5% chance of having a typical child. The other 47.5 chance is that we’d have a typical child, but he/she would be a balanced 21/22 carrier, just like my husband. When you’re looking at the numbers, it would seem that the risk for Down syndrome would be relatively low considering the other two percentages. However, the odds are about 1:20.

Upon finding out the results of our Genetic Testing in June, we decided that we would use In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) with our next pregnancy. This would select embryos that have the “correct” amount of chromosome material. Only a single cell has to be removed to tell if an embryo has too much or too little chromosome material (unbalanced chromosomes). They will also be able to tell which embryos have balanced chromosomes. Here’s the deal: By only transferring those embryos that have balanced chromosomes, we would increase our chance of having a successful pregnancy and decrease the chances for miscarriage or the birth of a child with a chromosome abnormality.

"Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
-Matthew 17:20

The more we’ve thought about the procedure, the more we’ve struggled with it. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t having another child any time soon. However, this is a huge decision that will take a lot of thought, prayers and time. We want to be prepared. We struggle with the thought of IVF because it can almost make us seem like hypocrites. How can we say that aborting babies with Down syndrome is wrong, when we’re having a procedure done to ensure we do not have another baby with Down syndrome? That 90% + rate of termination for prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome hurts my heart more than you could ever imagine. When I think of how wonderful Austin is…how much we love him, I just feel like those whom have terminated are missing out on so much! And they don’t even know it.

Would IVF make my husband and I hypocrites? I don’t know…I go back and forth. I may offend some of you by saying this, but Down syndrome isn’t exactly something you “strive” for when you think about starting a family. We didn’t ask God for a child with Down syndrome, but we are so grateful that he gave us one. From Austin’s head to his sweet little baby toes…there’s nothing I would change about him. We chose to embrace his Down syndrome. It makes him who he is and we love who he is! Some people chose not to embrace Down syndrome and terminate their pregnancy. Would we NOT be embracing Down syndrome if we chose to do IVF with our next pregnancy? I don’t know.

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.”
Matthew 21:21

As you can tell, this is a huge struggle for us. Do we want a genetically typical child with our next pregnancy? Absolutely. Shouldn’t we have Faith that God is going to give us exactly what we need? God meant for us to have Austin and we certainly NEEDED him. Then part of me wonders: Could we handle 2 children with Down syndrome? And then I think that certainly God wouldn’t give us another child with Down syndrome…but what if HE thinks we need another child with Down syndrome? We don't think we need another child with Down syndrome, but who are we to question God? Certainly God will give us a child without Down syndrome? Right? Remember what I said about telling God your plans? It's an exellent way to make him laugh.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
Hebrews 11:1

I also think about our future child. There’s 47.5% chance that he or she would be a balanced carrier. Even though I’m not the balanced carrier, part of me would feel guilty because he/she would have to face the same struggles my husband and I are facing when it comes to having a child.

So many thoughts…so many thoughts. Ryan and I are going to continue to pray about this. No decision has been made and we’re thankful we have A LOT of time to think and pray about it. Your prayers would be appreciated too :)

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
-Matthew 14:31

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I love being a mom, there’s no doubt about it. Sure, I get frustrated when I don’t know what’s bothering Austin and I’m often severely deprived of sleep. However, I wouldn’t change anything that comes with being Austin’s mom. Being a mom to a child with special needs has brought on an entirely different meaning to milestones that most parents take for granted.
When we went to the grocery store on Saturday Austin sat in the basket like a big boy…for the first time! My parents bought him one of those cart covers in August and we tried it out. He wasn’t ready at 6 months, so I decided to just put it away until he was ready. He still cannot sit longer than 30 seconds independently. Due to Austin’s insane separation anxiety, I HAD to take him to the grocery store with me. And I had to get a lot, so the stroller was out of the question. Much to my surprise, he sat in the cart pretty well. He slides and leans to the side at times. Between my big purse and his jacket, he sat in the basket like a pro. HE WAS SO HAPPY TOO! I could feel the tears coming as I watched him smile because he could actually see me while we were in the store. Luckily, I managed to distract myself with the shopping list in my head and controlled my happy tears.
While Austin is still working on sitting independently, he’s almost to the point of sitting up on his own when he’s on his back. YES. I know it’s crazy…it’s like he skipped a step some where along the way. I hate to break it to him, but he has to master sitting on his own before he can sit up on his own. I really do try to focus on what Austin is doing, rather than what he’s not.
Austin eats ANYTHING and EVERYTHING you put on his high chair tray. He prefers to feed himself. Cheerios, Gerber Crunchies (think puffy cheetos), gold fish, waffles, pancakes, etc. The kid loves to eat. Our only issue is that he stuffs too much food in his mouth at once. Oh yeah, and he double fists his crunchies. We haven’t had any choking because he actually eats is pretty fast. But still…not a good habit, so we’re working on “one at a time.” I believe we’re pretty much over the jarred baby food. I’ve just been pureeing fruit, veggies…pretty much everything. He loves it! The only jarred food I do still have to buy is the meat. He’s very picky about meat.

The weather has been CRAZY lately. We were iced/snowed in from Tuesday through Friday. We were definitely going stir crazy. This gave us time to work on decorations for Austin’s SUPERMAN birthday! I’m not even close to being finished, but here’s a sneak peak:
Location is marked out for privacy purposes, obviously.

His 1st Birthday is right around the corner. It doesn’t even seem possible. This year has taught me so much…about life, faith and myself. It sounds corny, but I’m forever changed because of Austin. And it’s all for the better. He’s taught me so much. Those previous 25 years aren’t even comparable verses what I’ve learned during the past year.

Now, If I can just fix Austin’s separation anxiety…we’ll have it made. Let me know if you have any tips.