Soaking it up

I learned a tip from married friends just before my Wedding Day: Soak it all up, they said. Hit the pause button on your big day and look around and glue that moment to your memory bank before it’s over and you haven’t even taken the time to enjoy it.

I do it all the time, but especially recently.

The start of spring, the upcoming growth of our family from three to four, visits and surprises and all the ordinary moments too; I’m taking a lot more time-outs and I’m hitting Pause as often as I possibly can.

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My love for my son, my husband, my friends, my family has never been stronger. Nor has their love for me and my world.

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My Dad and stepmother came out to visit a couple of weeks ago and their whirlwind of a stay was just what the doctor ordered. Just to have them sleeping in a room in the hotel that I dedicate so much of my time; to have them sitting in our living room watching their grandson’s latest tricks.. it was so easy and comforting.

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My Dad’s magic as a grandfather is just incredible. Zack’s every move and giggle just lights him up from the inside out and Zack is so obviously comfortable and in love with his PopPop. I spent so many moments that weekend just willing the clock to slow down, begging myself to never forget these moments.

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And just a couple of days later, Massachusetts plates found their way in front of our home. My dear friend Nicole, who stumbled into my life in a study abroad program in South America nearly seven years ago, sacrificed most of her school’s break and traveled nine-plus hours to the country to squeeze in one visit with Zack before he became a big brother.

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It’s so easy to play host when she’s in town. She makes herself at home and never once feels like a guest; it always feels like she was meant to be right there in the room blowing bubbles with our boy and quietly observing the everyday moments of our lives. She just fits. It was a beautiful week, and a relaxing week and I felt myself drawn even closer to her by the end of her time with us.

And she takes great photos, which appeals to my always-got-my-camera way of life. (New photography business and corresponding blog/website on its way…!)

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And I thought to myself, Self, it just doesn’t get any better.
And then, me and Self were proven wrong.
With a surprise baby shower from local friends.

I thought I was going to a bowling banquet to support Scott. I dragged my feet. I almost faked contractions. And I was so dense that I still didn’t even put the pieces together until thirty seconds AFTER I walked in, saw some of our friends, noticed the Baby Shower signs and balloons… and had a girlfriend ask, “Were you surprised?”
(I was going to say yeah, this is the best bowling banquet I’ve ever seen…”)

Because it was a surprise, I didn’t even have my camera, but my friends have all promised me photos from the evening.

Just know this: Some of the most important people in my life were in that room and every single one of them have been there in some great respect during our journey these past two years. Some have struggled with us; some have learned from us; some struggle now; some pick us up before we even realize we’ve fallen. All love us.

I was so quiet the whole time, this I know. I just kept thinking over and over: “You lucky girl, you lucky girl, you lucky girl.” I just kept hitting that pause button to soak it all in.

The balance of not too much pink.
The gifts, the gifts, the gifts!
The most beautiful cake I’ve ever seen! (There’s a baby butt in my fridge!)
The nods from across the room. I-get-it; I’m-here.
The sharing of and passing back and forth of beautiful children; kids I hope Zack always can count on as friends.
The laughter.

And then I got in the car and squeezed Scott’s hand and cried the happiest tears I’ve shed in 20 months. Talk about full circle, baby.

Scott and I have shared a lot of special moments lately. Our friendship, our love, just keeps on growing. I keep hitting new peaks I didn’t know were possible, and while the realist and pessimist and girl-who’s-lived-it knows, it can all come crashing down. But I know that I’ve never been more prepared for it, never been as strong as I am now. No matter what happens, my support and foundation is just incredible. Not invincible, not cocky, just living.

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Today, Zack had his six-week follow-up from his surgery last month. It was short, it was sweet and it’s all over. One more checkmark on the list; one more sigh of relief.

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At my doctor’s today, I was told that a repeat C-Section is a pretty likely bet this time around; and that our timeline has just gotten bumped up to as soon as two weeks or so from now. Unexpected? Yes. Unmanageable? No. We’re ready to meet Little Miss and we would sell our souls to make her healthy and happy and to offer her the love and acceptance and support that so many have already given her big brother.

Bring on the obstacles; bring on the challenges. They are all gifts. They are all opportunities.

Our Down Syndrome journey has brought us down a path to people like Pam and Maddy with the National Down Syndrome Society who have been patient and helpful and loving as always; whose dedication to improving the lives of and advocating for children like Zack is a beautiful thing. This week, they’ve helped our family condense our two fundraisers into one. With their help, we’ve created a big of magic: a celebration of the more than $3,000 raised in these past 9 months and the goal of $2,000 more before Little Sister joins our family.

You can visit our new site and donate here.

And even more astonishing? Our family’s fundraising efforts have been featured as a profile on the NDSS Your Way website, visible here.

So we continue to soak in these last couple of weeks as a family of four; as two individuals so unbelievably lucky to be so loved by so many.

We will enjoy the moment, we will brace ourselves for impact incase the sky shall fall, and then we will turn those lemons into lemonade and drink, drink it all up.

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