5 years ago today Jon and I walked into our 3 month pregnancy doctor's appointment, cocky and excited. An hour later we left with news we hadn't anticipated, tear-stained cheeks, and black and white ultrasound pictures of the most adorable blob baby that would ever exist. Our bubble had been burst, we thought. We spent the next few hours contemplating what our future held, absorbing the news, and keeping the faith that we would make the best of any situation - all while going through airport security, surviving a 3 hour flight, and making our way through the Atlanta airport to see my parents on Christmas-eve-eve.
There were prayers that day - for when life hands you a curveball, I turn to God. The "less than 1 in 5 chance that your baby has Down syndrome" diagnosis on that day - we knew. We absolutely knew in our hearts it was our child definitely had "it."
And we didn't know what "it" was besides vague stereotypes.
We did not consider abortion, although it was pushed on us, and over 90 percent of people in our position go that route. As such, we did not even really consider an amnio - because we would not do anything with the information, why risk our precious daughter's life?
And a month later, we found out - it would be a daughter. A little girl I had always planned to name Lillian after my beloved grandmother - a girl who would grow up with her strength and her heart and her humor and her dance moves, for sure. (And she did.)
But on that day - 5 years ago today - our vision of our life was just a little broken and we quickly put it back together into a new beautiful picture.
And wow. The past 5 years have been AMAZING. I don't use that word lightly, although I do use it all-the-time when talking about my gorgeous daughter.
We knew it 5 years ago and I am certain to my core today: she is no accident. She is not a mistake. Her little body was created with an extra chromosome in such a purposeful way. I egotistically sometimes think it is to make my life so much brighter, but her purpose is so much greater than that: she was put on this earth to show the world how amazing God's love is. I feel certain that she walks closer to Him than most (even though she has a hard time sitting through mass!).
And along the way, it has been the greatest adventure of my life. The things she has opened my eyes to. What she notices, what she appreciates, what she learns, what she accomplishes. The hearts she touches, the places she loves, the people she reaches out to.
Down syndrome is a part of her but I don't see it as a negative. I am proud of it, proud of her.
I wish 5 years ago that we hadn't shed a tear. I wish we had fast-forwarded a month to feel her dance in my belly, the same crazy moves as my grandma. I wish I could have seen how beautiful she was a year later on her first Christmas, and the way she looked into my soul when I held her. I wish I had understood that, while I formerly loved Disney, that I would LOVE Disney after watching her experience it through her eyes. I wish I had seen her living overseas like a true Kiwi, loving all the playgrounds on the beaches, and adjusting to the laid-back lifestyle. I wish I had seen her completely loved by the women of a remote Fijian village I wish I had seen how cute she looks in hats, and how her favorite color would be pink, hands down. I wish I had seen how adorable her hair would look braided, and when I do it in a special style, that she'd run to the mirror and give herself a look like "I know I'm hot stuff!" I wish I had seen her loving Broadway musicals more than any person ever has. I wish I had heard her contageous laughter, and her cheeky grin when she's trying to get away with something.
But after that day, I did get to appreciate all this. I've watched relationships grow with her cousins, true friendships develop with so many children, a strong bond with her daddy and her grandparents. I've watched her first ballet recital, and her ride a horse every week last year. I've seen her made-over at the Bippity Boppity Boutique and charm every princess at Disney World (but of course she prefers every prince). I've watched her learn complicated choreography and song lyrics for the purpose of performing Zac Efron's or Meryl Streep's latest movies. My girl is AMAZING.
But the best part of her - is not our wonderful adventures or her complete beauty or her passion for life. But it is instead, the 10 minutes we spend together every night before she falls asleep. When we lie in her room, talk about her day, discuss the next day's events, sing silly songs, hold each other's hands. When we say our goodnight prayers. When I sing "You are my sunshine" and Lilly belts out the lyrics loudly along with me. When we have our tender moments, me and my girl that I've raised since she was a little piece of nothing in my belly. And most nights, if I'm lucky, I wipe s0-grateful tears away during the process.
Lilly is amazing, and I am so very lucky. I wish I had read this, 5 years ago today.