Addison Caroline turns TWO today.
It’s a blur; it’s a fast-flying dream.
In my first weeks of pregnancy with her, I told Scott, “It’s a girl and she has a HUGE personality. She will be a handful.”
He rolled his eyes.
But I was right. About all three things.
Zack made me a Momma. Addie made me a stronger woman.
After Zack’s DS diagnosis and rounds of therapists and tests and minor health issues, the decision to have a second child was infinitely more difficult than contemplating our first. What if s/he had DS? What if s/he didn’t? Which would be more difficult for us? What if Zack needed so much of our time? What if s/he suffered indirectly from Big Brother’s disability or teasing from kids at school or losing time to therapies and special schools?
And then one day, it just hit for us. We realized this was not about the What Ifs and the What If Nots. This was about baby coos; this was about being a family of four. It was about the idea that we two only children (sort of) always wanted a decent-sized family.
We got pregnant almost immediately with Addie. And she let us know she was the boss.
I spent four-and-a-half months with such severe morning sickness, I sometimes couldn’t make the 20-minute drive to work without having to pull over in tears. It was a pregnancy filled with much more discomfort than my one with Zack — my sciatica ached early on, my glucose was borderline and I nearly passed out a dozen times, she kicked and punched relentlessly and sat on my tailbone or up in my ribs the majority of the time.
But I also felt a strange peace during those months.
I would force myself to steal away to a quiet corner or amidst a Spring breeze alone for a few moments to just be. Be calmer, be wiser, be a fighter for myself, be a survivor, be a DS advocate, be a better worker, better leader.
Because of Zack’s DS, Addie was considered a high-risk pregnancy and so I saw a specialist for the first half of my time with her in utero. Just days after the New Year began, we trekked to an office 40 minutes away for a 4-D ultrasound looking for signs of DS and other severe complications.
The sweet technician waved the wand around a bit and smiled. “It’s a girl,” she said.
She must have thought we were crazy because we didn’t bat an eyelash. (OK, I miiiiiight have said an “I told you so” to Scott)
You see, the gender of the baby meant very little to us at that time.
I just want healthy, please be healthy, I prayed.
The technician could not say anything about DS markers and said the doctor would be in shortly. We waited some more. When you wait five months of a pregnancy to make sure your baby is healthy, a few moments shouldn’t feel so long, but it was agony. I was half in tears for those ten minutes.
We became a case study for the doctor’s entourage of young doctors-to-be, five white-coat-clad men and women who were brought up to speed on our situation and what we were looking for and… and finally, the words.
“I see no markers for Down Syndrome. It seems you have a very healthy baby girl.”
For a few days, that news was amazing. Felt like flying.
But then it wears off a bit. You see, Zack had ultrasounds during his pregnancy and nothing was ever caught in them. Who says they couldn’t miss something with Addie?
But I tried less worrying and more living. And weeks and months flew by until I saw her face in an operating room on May 18, 2012.
All that dark hair, I gasped.
And those eyes. Oh my God. She looked half-exotic. This darker skin, dark hair, big blue eyes.
And that scream.
She screamed for an hour. Impressed the nurses and Daddy. Mommy missed her already.
She is as much a contradiction to Zack as one can be, but at times the two of them seem deeply connected at the soul.
Zack is quiet, calm, solitary, loyal and so loving.
Addie is busy, louder, so active. She is not shy and she has no fear.
Zack prefers reading and playing pretend with animals and dolls. Addie is surrounded by six stuffed animals at bedtime but otherwise prefers building or coloring.
Her jet black hair has transformed into these long, soft locks of light brown, almost dark blonde wisps that frame her face. We’ve never cut her hair but get asked to this day if that’s a planned hairstyle. She’s always looked a lot like me, but lately is transforming into her own little person.
And she is beautiful. I may be biased. But from the first weeks at home with her, there are some mornings I get her out of her crib and just GASP. She’s just lovely.
(Until she tells you NO, dumps cat food, colors on the wall or… oh no, wait, she’s always lovely,right?)
LOVES: Bubble Guppies. Duckies. Cows (she looks for them on every car ride). Chi-chens. Pizza (just like her momma). PURPLE!
CURRENT SAYINGS: “Hi, it’s me, Addie” “____, where ARE you?” “I change diaper.” “I see ____” “I call ____ (usually Pop-Pop or Nana)” “Where go? I no know…”
The way she looks at her brother.
It floors me every time.
She looks at him with adoration and a great gorgeous love. Her eyes follow him and his activity. She accepts every dance invite (they hold hands and twirl in a circle) and when they’re working on different toys, she will sometimes stand up to see what he is doing or will call him over to look at her game. She accepts his hugs and squeezes, even the ones that land her on the floor accidentally.
She is helping Zack.
It’s not why we had her (someone asked us that once) but honestly, she guides him. She speaks new words and he mimics her within a day or so. She tries to take off her shirt or put shoes on and he soon does the same.
When she wakes up in the morning, she either asks for her friend Aubrey or her big brother. When we drop Zack off at school and it’s not her day to go, she cries, sobbing “Zaaaaaaa” in the backseat for ten minutes.
There are a thousand things I love about my daughter. But I love most the way she has moved me. The way she has changed my heart to make it big enough to love twice as much.
I hope you will always be strong and always be a fighter.
I hope you will always love your brother and make him a fighter, too.
I hope you use the potty regularly soon.
I hope you always eat as well as you do now. (Never trust everything your dad gives you — some of it WILL be hot!)
I hope you appreciate my efforts to put you in pink and do your hair.
I hope you always bring vivacity and excitement to the rooms you enter.
I hope you know I would fight anyone, I would destroy anything in your path with my bare hands, I would be your loudest cheerleader in whatever you choose to do or pursue. Forever.
I hope you know you will never be as loved as you are by we three.
She turns TWO today. And I am a sentimental, happy, excited little fool.
She is the spark.
And she is so, so lovely.