The night supper was late

Scott and I joke all the time how amazing it is that I haven’t given anyone food poisoning yet. I mean, barely a year ago, Scott was the primary chef and parent in the house and I was managing a 30-person team 65 hours a week.

And now, I manage to feed us somewhat-edible meals, clean, run two businesses and sometimes shower.

Last night, supper took longer than I thought it would, and so we found ourselves with this awkward not-part-of-our-routine half-hour when Scott got home from work.

And we lived a weekend’s worth of love and laughter in 30 minutes on a weeknight.

We had ourselves a little fake food party, all four of us, down on the hard dining room floor. I drank a teacup filled with an apple and a waffle and Scott had the most delicious slice of pizza, complete with olives, croissant and french fry.

We snuck in a ticklefest just as the oven timer started to ding.

I had barely finished my last bite of food when my son hopped down from his chair and held out a hand. Pointing with his right fingers at the TV, playing music, he bowed down.

“Dance, Momma?”

He looked like a little prince.

So I gladly accepted.

Dishes sat on the table and Addie and DaDa watched us like we were crazy, but my little Z-Man and I twirled and clapped and stomped together. A slower song came on and he reached those arms up, up, up, and we rocked back and forth together in a little circle in our living room.

After Addie and DaDa joined us for a crazy little dance party, we needed to start winding it down and get ready for bed.

But first, Zack, who had left the room, came running back in to where I was, tugged on my hand, and looked up at me with those smiling dark blue eyes.

“I wuv you, Momma.”

I’m so glad the supper was late.

You’re FOUR!

 

I don’t know if it’s more difficult for me to accept that you’re four years old or that I’ve been a mother for that long.

Zachary, you made me a mother. It’s the most amazing title I will ever own. I am forever grateful to you and to this beautiful, crazy, amazing world for bringing you into my heart.

It’s not the motherhood I imagined.

Because it’s better.

 

You bring love and joy to all who meet you. Tough little bullies melt when you become their friend. Boys who were just getting yelled at by your teacher then bear hug you in the hallway just minutes later, calling you Zacky. They are so excited when you enter the classroom. I know very, very few people who actually bring light to those around them the way you do already. Imagine when you’ve mastered speech and communication? We will all be incredibly blessed to feel your love in other ways.

 

I will never in all of my life forget how my heart felt the first time I saw you. An operating room is not the typical place to meet the love of your life, but there you were, those dark grey eyes meeting mine as a nurse held you. You were big and quiet and you spoke to me with those eyes.

Just a couple of days later, the twinkle in your eyes turned out to be a sign of Down Syndrome. I sat at the edge of my hospital bed that night and stared at you, brushing the top of my hand along your forehead and hair and trying to wrap my brain around the news. And then, without warning, your eyes just opened up and twinkled up at me with a half-smile. We would be OK, we would be OK, we would be OK.

And that was that.

 

You are not Down Syndrome. You are not special needs. You are not even a “special” child… you have tantrums, you are strong-willed, you sometimes don’t listen and you sometimes push your sister. You are an almost-four-year-old. My almost-four-year-old.

In recent weeks, your speech is taking off. We’re hearing two and even three-word sentences here and there; you’re responding to questions and communicating needs and wants. I don’t know how to describe what that means to us.

 

You love the waves on a beach. It’s about the only time I see you truly fearless and completely uninhibited. You hold an adult’s hands above your head and leap in the air with a shriek with each crashing wave.

 

You’re so loved at school. In a couple of weeks, we have to say goodbye to this school and these friends and part of me aches. These teachers and your classmates have embraced you so beautifully and adore you so much. Their love and your growing knowledge and confidence have cemented the fact that yes, you can achieve ANYTHING and everything.

I have been incredibly touched by the friends who have come forward in the wake of our announcing our relocation. The one thing they all keep telling me? How sad they are that their children will not have a chance to grow up so close to you and with you; to have a chance to learn about the love you bring into this world and the lessons you can teach kids and parents alike. I can’t wait until you understand what a huge and beautiful thing that is; what a light you are in this world.

 

When we were visiting relatives in Asbury last month, you kept running to a nude framed sketch in the one room and yelling, “FALL DOWN!” We were all in hysterics. You were so concerned about this woman laying down on the wall.

 

Due to your little sister’s screaming at bedtime, you’ve gotten the “Big Boy Bed” in the Playroom at bedtime. The other night, I laid next to you and you said, “Sing!”

Sunshine?, I asked.

“Sunshine,” you smiled.

So we sang our song, “You are my sunshine.” You grin from side-to-side at that last “a-waaaaaaaaay.”

“Star?” you asked.

Twinkle?, I asked. You nodded.

So we sang Twinkle, twinkle little star.

And you put your arm under my head and patted my hair.

When we were done singing, you simply told me “Night-Night” and gave me a sloppy kiss on the lips.

 

 

Some days, I look at you with fear and ‘what if’s in my heart. But those days are few and far between now and I’m tougher and better at pushing scary thoughts (heart problems and low life expectancy and college and marriage and speech and mainstream school, oh my!) far, far away.

Most days, I look at you with pride. A pride that swells so much it all but suffocates me via love. I never knew these feelings existed. And I certainly had no idea that a 40-pound, four-year-old Little Man would be the one to bring those feelings into my life.

 

I will fight for you every day of my life with every bit of knowledge and power I can muster.

 

Z-Man, I love you. I love you as much for who you are and what you do as I do for what you make me and how you change me for the better.

I love you, I love you, I love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 


20120612-145553
untitled shoot-055 untitled shoot-081 untitled shoot-074 DD Wedding (1 of 52) DD Wedding (48 of 52) Adventure (54 of 96) Excursion-338 Excursion-281 Excursion-521

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A letter to my littlest love

Dear Baby Z, (Version 2.0)
Hello, my darling. Momma loves you.

Your daddy and big brother and I are going to see movies and pictures of you today and I wanted to write you a letter before we “saw” you for the first time.

You see, the very good doctor is going to be looking for things that are wrong with you.
But I already know that you’re perfect.
You could have three eyeballs or 12 toes or a large heart or a small heart or a sick heart and you will still be loved with all of my heart. You could be a little boy or a little girl and I’ll love you all the same.
You could have a name like Down Syndrome attached to your world. And guess what? Momma will love you and will do everything in her power to give you the best possible life, bigger than anything you could ever dream.

I need to start by apologizing to you, dear baby. You see, I’ve been unfair a few times. Aside from the Cokes I drink on long days and all the Mexican food I put you through a couple of months ago, I’ve also spent way too much time thinking about all those things above. I’ve spent more time wondering if you would be “okay”, knowing it didn’t really even matter, rather than talking to you, rubbing your little home and meeting you in a quiet, pensive place. I’ve sung Christmas songs since mid-November and have blasted Eminem too many times for your innocent ears to hear.

But do you remember the first time I told you I loved you? The day we found out you were going to be in our world, that September day that seems so long ago? I meant it then, but it’s grown in four months and, some days, I just want to scream it from the roof, even if I’m afraid of heights.

You have so much love waiting for you outside of that squishy place you’ve been calling home.
We have a house that we have made our own, with nooks and crannies for you to play and hide in and plans for a really lovely nursery we hope you’ll enjoy. You have a backyard and a great little quiet town with neighbors who will always wave “hello” when we go for a walk. You have three kittens who will tolerate petting and tail-pulling (although you’ll eventually get yelled at for that one) and two puppies that will keep you giggling when they go running past you.

You have a Daddy who is one of the funniest people in this world. He makes your Momma laugh all the time. He’s a little too manly for kisses and hugs sometimes, but never too macho to sneak in a back rub, a pat on the head and a whispered “I love you” when he thinks no one is listening. He loves sports and his little yappy doggy and most especially you, your brother and your Momma. He listens to a lot of country music and does a fierce imitation of Shania Twain on karaoke, but we love him just the same. I don’t believe there’s a better Daddy in the world.

And you have the world’s best Big Brother. Zack is going to be about 22 months older than you. I hope you two will be best friends forever. I hope you will help each other and love each other; call each other when you’re older and living apart and watching the stars together in the backyard when you’re kids. Zack may have a tough road ahead of him and I hope that you are patient and understanding and supportive. These things already have and always will get our family through the toughest times. There may come a time when you’ll have to show Zack how to do things, even though you’re younger than him — I hope you don’t mind, and I hope that you’re a great teacher! And there is a chance that you and Zack may have a lot in common, and if that’s the case, your Momma and Daddy will be ready. Your brother already has a very sweet, snuggly personality and has the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.

I wonder what you’ll be like.
But I don’t plan any big plans for you. It’s not fair. To anyone.

I have dreams. And sometimes, I have nightmares where I worry about you and your brother. I cry a lot for you and I haven’t even met you. But I cry out of love. And lately, I’ve been laughing a lot more than I’ve been crying.

You have a lot of people waiting to meet you… friends and cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents all over the country just thinking happy thoughts for you and eagerly anticipating your arrival this spring. There are a few people who you’ll never meet; people I will tell you about all the time; people who loved you before they ever knew you; people who will always be a part of your life.

But for now, my love, relax and enjoy the ride. Sometimes I walk too far and drive too fast, but I’ll try to keep things comfy for you.

I can’t wait until I meet you.

Oh, these cuddles

Z-Man came down with a bit of a stomach bug; his first real one, too.

When I came home from work last night, Scott looked exhausted and said he and Zack had both lost their cookies a bit. Sorry, honey, I feel bad for you, really I do, but the poor Little Man!

Needless to say, I ventured into a screaming boy’s room many, many hours ago, to find a truly disgusting sight, one blonde-haired boy sitting in the middle of it all looking oh-so-happy to see Momma in this crazy war zone.

I scooped him up, cleaned him from head to toe all the while humming to him. Once he was all tidied up, I set him down, cleaned the space formerly known as his room, (I’m pretty sure we have to burn it in order to get the smell out of the house), and finally, oh finally, I could do what Mommies were made to do in situations like this.

I  wrapped him in a soft, fleece candy cane blanket, held him in my arms in the recliner in the living room and just rocked him. At 4 a.m., it was a caress on my hand with his soft little fingers. Within minutes, the petting stopped, the breathing grew deeper and two little fingers stayed wrapped around one of my own for several long beautiful moments.

We stayed that way for hours, until Daddy and the puppies woke up to start their day. All the while, I just sat there thinking about this handsome child in my arms. The hair that is so blonde, so silky, so shiny. The little ears that hear me whisper “I love you,” imagining the day my own ears will hear those same sweet words from him. I thought of holding him like this all those many months ago when he was just an infant with a rough cold. I thought of how he would fall heavy in my arms during feedings those first few weeks and of our incredible journey in that time.

And as his chest rose up and down over my own, I thought of his little brother or sister inside of me, thought of the Big Brother Z-Man would be, the impact this younger sibling would have on his life and all of the colds and stomachaches and earaches and injuries and sad times to come. And how each of those offers a chance to grow stronger and to fall into the arms of someone they love… hopefully their Momma though.

It’s what I thought being a Mom was all about; it’s why we put our bodies through what we do; it’s why Scott and I aren’t suffocated by thoughts of Down Syndrome or diagnoses or special tests. It’s because we have cuddles and snuggles and cries and laughs.

We’ve been referred to a specialist doctor for my pregnancy and go there Jan. 3. I feel like we’re being shaken loose because of Zack’s diagnosis and Baby Z 2.0’s chances of a diagnosis. I feel betrayed. I wonder if Baby 2 will always be the younger sibling of a man with Down Syndrome; I wonder if my heart can handle judgement and pre-conceived notions.

To me, I’m carrying another opportunity for snuggles and cuddles and early morning Momma days and mid-evening clean-ups. Because that’s what it’s all about. But I know Scott’s right when he reminds me that the doctors have to think about heart defects and “what ifs” even if he and I choose not to. So we’ll start the new year with a trip to a doctor I never wanted to see. But it comes with a nifty 4-D ultrasound and answers to very important questions…

… like pink or blue?

… Alfonso or Esmerelda? (My father-in-law’s picks of the week)

… Love with all of my heart or love until the end of time, no matter what? BOTH.

I wrote a Thanksgiving post that had pictures and funny stories and warm, mushy feelings about family and friends.

And then I deleted it somehow and couldn’t get it back.

So, just know that it was a great week last week and that I’m thankful and happy and oh-so-content.

And now I must go spy on a blue-eyed boy who’s got me wrapped around his finger. Even if the finger smells like puke.

It’s a Mommy Thing.

Zack’s got friends in low places

(‘Cause they’re all babies, yo. No redneck references here, I swear, although I’m sure many of their parents would be darned proud of the country song reference. Others are 100 percent mortified and will never let their babies play with The Dude.)

Zack’s social calendar is much more impressive than both of his parents’ put together and I’m sure it’s going to be like this at least through his mid-20s.

We have guy friends and lady friends, older friends and newer friends. We even have a birthday buddy and two friends with the same first name!

Through all of them, Momma and Daddy now have a dozen or so spectacular people in our lives, too. The babies share their drool and exclaim an “aghhh” or two now and then, but we parents raise our beers and talk about colors in diapers, nap schedules and pet peeves of the week.

Because of our location, it’s between 20 and 40 minutes to visit any of them or for them to visit us, but we all do it willingly, excitedly and lovingly, sometimes bringing gifts of coffee or much-needed pearls of wisdom. And did I mention the cute babies? And love, definitely love.

The funny thing is prior to six months ago, only one of these couple was SERIOUSLY in our lives on a regular basis and only another was a couple we would call acquaintances. Our babies have brought our crazy, fun group together, for better or worse, and the group just keeps on growing, too.

My Mom Friends are fantastic.(I love you all)

Some give me such hope and such great ideas — they just make parenting seem like the easiest thing in the world. They and others also share the darker secrets of motherhood — those times we moms need a time-out away from our babblin’ bebes, the scuffles with in-laws, the exciting ups (someone’s pregnant!) and the devastating downs (nothing gives strength quite like a sympathetic and/or ticked-off Momma) and the difficulty in being a working mom (we all are).

It’s not to discredit the dads, too, but really I don’t see them as much as the guys. When the two (or more) couples get together, it’s usually a quick segregation by gender. Scott tells me their talks are usually about power tools, golfing or some similar combination. Apparently Dads deal by talking about the stuff they can no longer talk about, haha. The manlier, the better.

And something has to be said about having a “playdate” with infants. I mean, the chances of both babies being awake at the same time is slim enough, although that gets easier as Zack gets older and is awake longer. But then to have them both with clean diapers and not hungry or cranky at the same time — that’s just one of those Super Mom moments where you feel like you have successfully climbed Mt. Everest — without a Sherpa. Oh, and you want to get a photo of the two together? Sure you do. Good luck. Arms are flailing, one baby is rolling, another has spit up coming out of his mouth and oh, look, just in time for the click of the shutter, here comes a meltdown!

But I snap away anyway, because I never want to forget these moments — these first friendship connections — connections that will hopefully last Zack a lifetime.

Let’s start with the ladies first, shall we?

Little Gabrielle “Bree” came into the world as a Christmas Eve present to her mommy, Meghan, and so many loved ones. I met her for the first time last week. Bree is so sweet and quiet and just a beautiful, beautiful girl. Meghan has already adapted so well to being a Mom, despite only being out of the gate for six weeks now. I’ve had six months and I’m just now starting to feel like I know a thing or two about my lil man.

I really enjoyed being teammates with Meghan eight years ago. (WOW. Old Moment, please hold. OK, it’s passing…) BUT I NEVER would have imagined that we’d be in touch all these years later, let alone living 20 minutes apart with babies born in the same year, talking about our favorite baby bottles and formula preferences. I have a feeling Meghan and I will be having a lot more playdates (and Momma dates, too!) in the future, too.

(And aside from Zack literally grabbing Bree’s pants with his one fist when we put them together on the floor for a photo-op, I’d say their friendship is off to a swell start.)

 

 

Zack was much more shy when it came to meeting Miss Hailey for the first time, perhaps because she’s an older woman. I’m not sure, but I do know that ever since that afternoon (far too long ago — ahem, calling for a get-together again, soon Hailey’s Mom!) Zack has perfected the “shy smile,” which he reserves almost exclusively for around women (or girls). It consists of a quiet giggle, a turn of the head and covering his smile up with both of his hands, all shy-like. It’s hysterical.

Hailey didn’t have much time for Z-man during their first encounter. I mean, first of all, she’s like three months older than him. At this stage of the game, she might as well be a cougar. She’s also far too busy crawling, and from the looks of things, trying to figure out that walking/standing thing. The girl is quick and I think she might just go straight to running and her Mommy and Daddy are going to be left in her trail of dust trying to keep up.

Hailey’s mom Krystal is another one who I probably never thought I’d be hanging out with — but it really, really works. We are both members in the My Mom Died Club, which is a really crappy club to belong to — unless you have someone else in the club with whom you can share your really crappy missing-mom moments. We’ve already messaged each other at random times just to let the other one know that that day was a little rough. It’s so nice to share that, because it really and truly is one of those things that I don’t think anyone outside of the club would understand. It’s amazing what bonds you together with people.

 

 

I have to give a quick shout-out here to another new lady friend of Zack’s who we haven’t had the privilege of meeting yet — Miss Madilyn. Madilyn is the naughty, naughty almost-three-month-old girl who gave her parents quite a fright by arriving WEEKS premature when they were home in Georgia for a baby shower around Thanksgiving.

She’s doing great now, though, and I know her parents — a dear, dear couple we met on our honeymoon in St. Lucia in 2009 — are so grateful for this new blessing in their lives. We share a wedding day, were part of each other’s memorable honeymoon and now have had our first babies born in the same year. This is a remarkable family and we only wish we didn’t live so far away from one another. (They live in Texas now). I can still remember that after only barely knowing the two of them for a matter of days, when we came across each other in one of the pool areas, the topic of when we were going to have babies came up… and I just can’t help but smile thinking how far we’ve come in that time.

[I stole this photo from Victoria’s Facebook and I will probably be in huge trouble for doing that, so everyone please tell them how absolutely adorable their baby is!]

 

 

And then there are the boyz. (They’re so cute and will all be up to SO much trouble someday that I just feel the need now to add the gangsta “z” to that word).

 

Another new addition to the group and the youngest of its members is Owen 2 (we know two Owens now), who perhaps we should refer to as Owen G.

Lil Owen G. was born Jan. 9 and is the handsome lil son of Scott’s old friend Mark and his wife Jodi. We went to Mark and Jodi’s wedding last year and there was so much love — and fun — in the air that I doubt you could find anyone who didn’t have a great time. I hung out with Jodi a time or two last summer, when my stomach was about four feet in front of me and the thermometer was broken because of the record-setting heat. We exchanged pregnancy stories (she was in the easy part by then!) and grew closer. I was checking Facebook like a maniac for baby updates from her early last month and was so excited to learn about lil Owen’s arrival.

If you’re a mom, don’t ask Jodi how long her labor/delivery is, because although she’s a sweet girl, her answer will probably tempt you into punching her.

And Owen’s little blue eyes (at least for now) are so sparkling and sweet, I could just stare at them forever. I met him for the first time the other day and oh my goodness, that Baby Fever hit me hard!

 

While we’re talking about Owens, I should mention Owen S., or our Owen 1. He was born two days after Zack (by induction, hmrph, another lady you might want to hit when talking about birth stories, haha!) and outweighed our dude by at least half-a-pound.

I share a LOT with Owen’s mommy Reva and I know Owen’s daddy Bret and Scott LOVE finding an excuse to leave us for an hour or so (usually it’s a trip to get dinner or something along those lines, but I can’t help but wonder if they try to take the long way home). Bret and Scott grew up together and were in a slew of sports with each other, but I don’t even think they had a close friendship like this until just recently. And while I’ve known Reva for several years and even went to her wedding a couple of years ago, we were never very close until our boys came into the picture. (While I hid from the temperatures last summer by basically sitting inside the air conditioner, Reva would call me up to see if I wanted to go to a state park or a local lake… or other things outdoors. I always declined and I hope she realized it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with my melting body).

Zack and Owen are hysterical together. On one visit, I swear to you, it was like they were having a conversation together, “goo”ing back and forth with pauses in between. And this weekend, Owen army-crawled his way OVER Zack, who was like totally in his way.

I love watching the two of them together.

 

 

 

 

David and his family are some of our newest friends. David is another naughty preemie who gave his parents quite the fright a couple of months before Z-Man was born, but we love him anyway.

I’ve known David’s mom for a few years through work. She’s one of the assistant DAs in the county I cover and she’s always been so kind and sweet to me, which is more appreciated once I watched her tear through some defendants in court cases. I’m glad I’m on her nice side! It’s funny because I never realized how much a premature baby requires extra care (like Early Intervention) and so much worry from his parents. Brandi and I have really bonded over that whole dont-have-the-baby-experience-I-was-expecting angle that’s been thrown at us in the last year. I think it’s definitely made us stronger, dont-mess-with-my-babies mommas. And better people, too. Her David is doing so great and after our last visit with them, I really kept saying to Scott just how unbelievably healthy and big he seemed. He’s come a long way and it looks like things are going so well for them now.

And in talking about David you can NOT forget about his big sister Lexie, who loves chasing our cats, (sort of) playing with our dog Izzie and her toys and being a big help, like offering toys to Z-Man and helping to set the table before dinner. She just turned three, so happy belated birthday to a great big sister and really funny girl!

 

 

And last but not least, our Birthday Buddy Chase. Zack and Chase, the news boys, first met in utero when their mommies, both news reporters (Angie works for the local TV station) were interviewing the now-Governor of PA, Tom Corbett. I can still recall the “whoa!” exclaimed by the candidate when he walked in the door and was greeted by the two of us, maybe two weeks from the lil fellas came into the world.

Then, after my two and a half days of labor, with all due respect, Angie is probably the last thought on my mind. I figured she had a few more days to go and maybe I’d hear about it on Facebook when I was home recuperating. Until I had Zack, had someone post the info on my Facebook wall and had a message within MINUTES from Angie saying our boys were born on the SAME DAY, less than half an hour apart (different hospitals). It was insane.

Naturally, we had to get the birthday buddies together immediately. That first visit from Angie and Chase (who has so much handsome, stylin’ dark hair it’s just groovy) was quickly followed by another one. And we try to get the boys together every month for the birthday photo together — and some catching up for the Mommies, too. I love this friendship, I love this friendship, I love this friendship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that about covers our littlest friends — for now. I’m sure there will be more in the coming weeks and months and years, but I don’t know if anything will touch this first group. These boys and girls whose birth stories I know as well as my son’s; whose doctor’s appointments and hospital visits and complications and worries are as frightening for me as it would be if Zack were in their place. They are soul friends, sharing a timeframe and a proximity in age and location, but whose births have brought my entire family a safety net, there to catch us when we fall. We will happily return the favor anytime.

We love you all. You make this crazy journey a little easier on the hard days and a lot more fun on the mediocre days. I’m excited to see what the future brings.