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Uncomfortable…Part 2

Ok…so first I have to apologize.  When I wrote the blog earlier today I was angry and upset.  It hurt me to see people treating my beautiful girl differently.  After having a long discussion with the big kids and my hubby…I understand the situation more.  I don’t think the library was just full of mean moms today.  I do think Jana made them slightly uncomfortable, but not in the way I took it.  If I look back to before we got Jana, I’m sure there were numerous times I made a mama of a special needs child feel the same as I did today.  Most people are unsure on how to even start up a conversation with a SN mama.  Do they bring up the disability?  Do they try to ignore it?  Ask questions?  Don’t ask questions?  There is always a fear of offending someone.  That’s whats pretty amazing about kids…they will come right out and ask, and then fully accept the answer.  Why do we loose that child like innocence?  I’d love for a mama to ask me questions about DS!  I’d be happy to share all I know and explain what a blessing Peanut has been to us.

Today wasn’t a learning experience for Peanut…it was for me!  I have to gain a tougher skin.  I need to be prepared for Jana to sometimes be the outcast.  I have to be there to smile and brighten her world, when things seem to tear her down.  I need to remember that no everyone is comfortable with difference.

To end your night, I wanted to share this video that was shared on IG.  Its kinda funny…but so true!!

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Uncomfortable

This morning I took Jana to our local library story time.  There were about 1-13 other little ones ranging from 1-5 years old.  It was her first time attending so it was a lot of new things to experience and see.  Also, she was the only child with special needs there. IMG_9089

We arrived early and she got to “read” a few books and play with blocks while we waited.  The other kids seemed to know each other already so they all played together.  She sat near them and watched mostly.  When the teacher started the class they opened up with two songs and unfortunately for Jana, everyone clapped afterward.  (Remember, clapping throws her right into a meltdown!)  I was able to take her to the back of the room and calm her down.  We returned and listened to the teacher read Dr. Seuss.  After the story the teacher had the kids play with a parachute.  You remember this in school right, each kid holds part of the brightly colored parachute and the shake and lift it.  Jana LOVED it!  She giggled and got excited each time they raised it high over her head.  Then it was craft time, they made party hats in honor of Dr. Seuss…Jana didn’t really care about this.  But enjoyed sitting with her “cousin” (our good friends daughter) and watching the other kids.  Her favorite part of the event though was playing with a box of bright colored scarfs.  Something she’s done in IMG_9095therapy multiple times.  This is a great sensory game and honestly, just loads of fun 🙂  All in all I think Jana had fun. IMG_9107

So why did I title this Uncomfortable?  Well, as I was sitting there with all these families around, I noticed something, non of the other mamas asked me about Jana.  I never even got a “She’s so cute!” (Which btw I get constantly) I never got asked how she was.  It seemed like we never really even got acknowledged.  Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a total loner here.  There were two families I knew and they were happy to see Jana there and the teacher asked me a ton of questions about her therapies.  But I just couldn’t shake the odd feeling I kept having.

At lunch I discussed this with my hubby.  I thought maybe I was looking into things too much or I was just uncomfortable.  His answer was “Most likely Peanut made them uncomfortable.  They didn’t know how to respond to her”  He reminded me, usually when we go to events like this, it is with her Infant & Toddler therapy program.  There are other kids with special needs around.  The parents are accepting of all kids who are “different.”  It’s usually a safe place.  Other than church, she doesn’t really have play time with “typical kids.”  Is this what we have to get used to?  Will my daughter just have to accept that at times she might not even get acknowledged because something she was born with makes others uncomfortable?  I think that’s kinda crappy!  She shouldn’t have miss out on things because others don’t know how to handle it.

I mean really!  Its 2017!!  We live in an age of IMG_9103information!  People all over the world are fighting for acceptance.  But yet, someone who is “different” than the norm makes people uncomfortable?!  Guess what people, if my daughter plays with your child, I promise, they will NOT catch Down Syndrome.  They will however, catch a friendship with a beautiful, intelligent, loving little girl.  They will learn that outer appearances are not what makes someone special, but what’s inside that does!  They will learn that God has a special plan for kids like Jana and they are lucky to be able to cross paths with kiddos just like her.  Parents please, I am asking you, don’t raise your children to be scared of kids who are different.  Teach them that differences make our world brighter and better.  You won’t regret opening their world…I promise.

 

 

 

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Daddy Post – Don’t Be Discouraged

IMG_8916I remember not to long ago our family was picking up some food at a local Jack In The Box. Our kids noticed a homeless man sitting a block away looking around. Our kids asked if we could buy him some food and give him a cupcake we had picked up at church. We purchased the food and I walked over and handed it to him along with the cupcake. He said thank you and looked in the bag and appeared disappointed but simply smiled. As I drove away I looked in the rear-view mirror and remember watching the man stare at the cupcake and toss it in the bushes, look into the bag of food and simply tossed it aside. I was upset, not simply about the money that was just thrown away but of the mans actions.

One of the reasons why we started our blog was to share our story and hopefully encourage others to look at adoption as an option. Due to special circumstances with our adoption we were not allowed to share personal information or images of Jana until the adoption was officially finalized. We were always hesitant of sharing information, posting pictures etc. I was very cautious as the over-protective daddy that someone would try to take my baby away or the court would change their mind. I was so over protective that people would ask to hold Jana and I would smile, say No and walk away, and this was at church! As time has passed I would like to argue that I have learned to relax about this but I am sure Jen would tell you a different story (shh…. Don’t listen to her). I have always been very cautious about what we post, what images we share, what information we provide about her personal story and our adoption because of my personal paranoia and fear that someone would try to take advantage of that information.

Despite my personal fears we have always prayed that through our story that mothers who are considering an abortion would see that there are alternative options and families that are willing to take in their babies as part of their family and love them unconditionally. We have prayed that families that are unable to have their own children will see that there are plenty of beautiful children simply waiting for someone that is willing to open their home. We have prayed that families would be willing to open their homes to a baby or child born with a disability and experience the love and joy that Jana has brought into our lives.

IMG_8933I share this because this past week we were contacted by one of our followers on Instagram apologizing for not being able make a financial donation to Jana but stating that she would like to donate a few hair-bows. We were very touched by the gesture but also confused because we had not made any requests for donations or money. Although we have faced some health concerns over the last year we have been very blessed to be surrounded by family, friends, amazing church family and Pastor who have been supportive to our family. Nonetheless we were very touched by this offer. As Jen communicated further we realized that although we had not made any request for assistance for Jana, someone else had. Someone else was using our Jana’s images to request financial assistance. We were later notified by others that they had also seen Jana’s pictures and had assumed that she was having more serious health conditions that required financial support. Jen and I were devastated and I was angry. Someone was taking advantage of my baby’s situation for his or her personal gain. Remember that overprotective father who would not allow people to hold her in church, well, he was mad. Jen and I quickly notified our followers in an attempt to clarify any confusion, provide reassurance that Jana was doing well and request additional information about the account or accounts using Jana’s information so that we could have them shut down. To this date we are still waiting further information and clarification so that we can take the proper actions.

As Jen and I discussed this further we came to a realization. Although we have been blessed and have a support system in place to help us, others do not. There are families out there who need the added support, support from extended friends, and use sites like gofundme.com to obtain the necessary support to help pay for treatment and other things. Unfortunately, there are also people out their who are simply looking for another way to make a quick dollar, take advantage of others situations regardless of what emotional pain it may cause.

I started this blog by telling you about our experience providing food to a homeless man for a reason. I am not asking for praise or sympathy. What I learned from that experience is that I am not responsible for the actions of others. I am responsible for my actions. I believe that I have been called to help those in need to the best of my ability and I want to continue to do that as long as I am able. What I am not responsible for is their reaction. If I am able to provide a meal, a few dollars, clothes then I will continue to do so. What that individual chooses to do from there is their choice to make.Image.png

I will continue to share our story with others because I know that just as Jana has touched our lives and affected so many around her she continues to do that through her images and smile (although we are adding a watermark now 🙂).

For those of you who are in a place to help others please do not let a situation like this discourage you. Although there are jerks out their that are willing to take advantage of others. There are also people like Ricky Mena @rickymena www.gofundme.com/spidey4kids or Hannah from @hannahshappybundles http://www.gofundme.com/hannahs-happy-bundles who give of themselves every single day. They use the gifts and talents that God has given them to bring joy to families and children battling for their life and they need our support. Don’t allow something like this to discourage you from sharing and blessing those that are truly in need and need our support. I have been touched and encouraged by many of those families and the stories of those that give of themselves to reach others. I truly believe that they fully understand what scripture means when it tells us that “it is more blessed to give then it is to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Again, to our extended family I say thank you. To those out their giving of themselves daily to bless others I say God Bless you and our prayers are with you.

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Guest Mama – Valentina

This week I am honored to introduce you to Alexandra.  She is a beautiful mama who reached out to me a few months ago.  Her baby girl Valentina was born with Down Syndrome and unfortunately a lot of other health issues.  Alexandra hasn’t been able to share her story completely yet, until now.  I am so grateful that she trusted me to help bring Valentina’s story to you. 

Not many understand what you feel. Everyone feels something different when they have to say good-bye to their baby. No parent should ever have to bury their child, but sometimes you just have to.

I was very much jealous of the new moms, having their baby’s around the time Valentina was born. It did not seem fair at all. They give birth, they have visitors at the hospital, they go home, they take tremendous amounts of pictures of their newborn. Social media made it worse; you begin to envy them. Then you have to learn how to turn away from it or look at it in a new perspective. I do not remember when I stopped being jealous of others, but it did happen without me even realizing it.

My first time being a mother, was being a mother to a sick child. I believed we both suffered, but I suffered more…because I had to witness what my daughter endured. A baby, a small baby, after one day of being old…has surgery. The next surgery happens forty-eight hours later, an emergency. surgery at that. I remember why that happened. Ugh. The third surgery follows a week after that. Only one week with no surgery, but of course there were obstacles. Your newborn has to be transported to the children’s intensive care from the NICU, because they find blood clots. A few days later…machine becomes faulty, causing your baby’s heart to stop and having to be revived. The scariest phone call at six in the morning ever. I forgot I was recovering from a caesarean. That week goes by, but the beauty of that week, was seeing my baby open her eyes again after so long. Understand she is incubated, and under heavy medication. Fourth EMERGENCY surgery, we were told the chances are very very very slim. I honestly believed that when the doctor left the operating room, she was going to come back with the worst possible news ever, but no! I got another day with my baby. Surgery five comes along to finish up surgery number four work. A few days after that reality sets in. I learned within a one week time span, my daughter being incubated, was her being on life support. If she were to be off it, her heart will slowly stop beating. She was living because of a machine, the machine was assisting her. She was strong through all that though. My daughter did fight very hard, but at the end I felt as if she were fighting for me and her father. Fighting for us to realize that she is meant to be with our God. Those five weeks we had her…her father and I kissed her, hugged her, held her, smelled her, washed her hair, combed her hair, read her books, played her music, told her stories, and always told her we love her. I hardly ever left her side and if I did, I felt guilty.

I had to find a new strength within myself that I never believed I had. In doing so, I felt the dedication and determination to still provide the best I could ever provide to my baby. Even though she was incubated, she had a G-tube in her stomach for her feeds. She was being supplied her nutrients and TPN, but there was an occasion or two she was able to have breastmilk. Those were one of many happy moments. I pumped everyday, up until the very last day I had with my sweet girl. In five weeks I was able to store 498 ounces of breastmilk, which I donated to Mother’s Milk Bank in MA. There were many times I wanted to give up, because i just knew she was not going to have my milk, but I could not find myself ultimately stopping. Pumping, was my hope that my baby will come home. I have endured the horrors of pumping. They promote the beauty of breastmilk, but not the hard work that comes along. Being a milking cow was not easy, but it was my hope.

Five weeks, thirty-seven days of happiness, sadness, and stress. Will I do it all over again? Yes, yes I would. I had my baby in my belly for thirty seven weeks. I saw my baby. I held my baby. I kissed my baby countless amount of times. I learned a lot in those five weeks. My daughter taught me her strength, and I had to be just as strong. I tried not to break down in front of the nurses or doctors, because I simply did not want to be bothered with a social workers. So much occurred in such a short amount of time, I honestly cannot believe I experienced it. I admired my husbands strength too. He was there day and night, and still working his full time job. I know he was exhausted, but he loved his little girl. I know he loved her more than me, he would not admit that of course. My husband and I married AFTER our daughter passed away. We felt we needed to be united as one, and be a strong family. We were told many times, many of those who are put in our situation, do not make it. My husband and I surround ourselves with love, and we made sure our sweet girl knew of it.

We both learned from the beginning we had to be strong and fight. We had to have faith. It is so hard to have faith when you cannot see it, but if you allow to fall back on God, faith will always be there. God never left our side; we may have here and there…but He never left our side. He guided us every single step of the way.

I mentioned my husband and I had learned from the beginning to be strong and fight, well that is because we learned while I was still pregnant at twenty-two weeks that our daughter had a heart condition (AV: atrioventricular canal) that required open heart surgery, we also learned that she had Down Syndrome, which is very common for these babies to have a heart defect. I honestly hated myself after. I only say this, because when I learned of the results, I became selfish. I prayed for the doctors medical report to be wrong, and that my baby was going to be healthy. I was scared while being pregnant. The society we live in is so scary, I did not want people to mistreat my girl. I automatically wanted to protect her. I thought me knowing of her having Down Syndrome was going to mentally prepare me, instead it taught me, even while being in denial, that I had to be strong. I had to enjoy my remaining weeks of pregnancy with my baby. I could not let the countless amount of appointments bring me down. It was almost taking a toll on me, that I took control and cancelled so many of them! Of course my OB had to explain the what if’s, but I knew she trusted my instincts.

Just know that we (family and friends who knew what was going on) prayed hard for our girl. Heart remained strong, her having Down Syndrome was not a problem, she was born with a completely different condition that is apparently also “common “ in Down Syndrome babies…imperforate anus…no anal opening. At first I thought it was funny; I tried to have a sense of humor during the difficult times. Her having this condition, caused the many surgeries. At first everything seemed okay, but something else was wrong.
My daughter became septic. When exactly? I do not know.
Her heart remained strong.
Down Syndrome what?
Imperforate anus what?
Hello sepsis…Good bye sepsis.
At the end of it all. There was a miracle. It was not what I wanted exactly, because I wish my baby was here on earth with me.
Her soul was too beautiful for this earth.
She belonged with God.
I felt her soul was no longer here on earth, when she took her last breath in her parents arms.
Yes, my husband and I decided that enough was enough.
My baby was tired, and she fought hard for me, her dad, and herself.
It was time that we all had some peace. It hurt for a very long time, and everything felt like a dream, and sometimes it still does.
What can I say? I am human, you think these things. You question our God, and then you feel guilty for questioning Him; well at least I did.
My God was by my side anyways. He knew what I was going to say or do.
He wrote both our stories.
My daughter’s story is beautifully written.
I will still cry here and there, like I said I am human.
I will always love her. I will always miss her.

I am currently pregnant with her little sister. I was scared at first, but I am also leaning to enjoy this pregnancy day by day.
That is another day for going into details about being pregnant after infancy loss.

Valentina Faith Mejia. My favorite girl.
I will always celebrate you.
I know your presence is around me always.
I love you.

-Alex

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Guest Mama – Meet Olivia

I am honored to introduce you to Marina.  She is a beautiful mama with the most gorgeous girl named Olivia.  Olivia is so full of life, happiness and strength.  I’ve loved watching her grow through her mama’s Instagram feed.  She comes from an amazing family and I am so glad to share just a small bit of who she is with you!  Btw…this post made me break down in tears…so good luck IMG_20170303_201003_387🙂

I love her. I love her so much. When I look at her I speak my thoughts out loud. I tell her how beautiful she is. I squeal when I can hardly stand how cute she is. I’ll scoop her up and squeeze her and smother her in kisses. I swear that her sweet baby smell still releases endorphins in my brain. I think she’s so amazing and so beautiful and so utterly wonderful. This is what I think and feel everyday that I’m with her. And when she’s sleeping or I’m away from her, I miss her and that is what I think about.

IMG_20170302_094606_347Sometimes when I take her places I’ll notice people staring. In that moment I can’t help but imagine what they see. Her little bald head, no eyebrows, no eyelashes. Her little ears, the way they curl in, one more than the other. Her almond eyes. The way they turn up as if an artist over exaggerated their slant. Her teeth, the way they are more crooked than most toddlers. Her tongue, the way it tends to peek out of her mouth more often than not. For a millisecond I can see what they see and my heart feels heavy and beats like thunder. They see ‘imperfection’. They see a child that not only looks different because of Down syndrome but appears to be ill because she has no hair from the Alopecia. It’s a double whammy. In those moments I want to scoop her up and run. I want to turn and yell “Don’t stare at my baby!!!” But I don’t. I manage to control myself and steady my hands and my heart. I manage to adjust my eyes too. Then when that moment passes, when they walk away or better yet, smile, then I can see her again. I can see her clearly. I can see what God sees. My perfect girl. I see her beautiful round head that smells so good. I see her beautiful eyes that twinkle and dance when she smiles. I see her rosy cheeks that are soft and sweet. I see her tiny rosebud mouth and her gorgeous smile. I see her adorable ears that are so kissable and work so perfectly. I see her delicate and doll like button nose. I can see her satiny smooth skin and how perfectly pink it is. Then she takes my breath IMG_20170221_211618_978away.

How could I possibly be so fortunate to be her mommy? What good things have I done to deserve her? She brings us so much joy. She makes us laugh everyday. She makes us do and say a thousand ridiculous things because we’re all so crazy about her. We take such pride in every new word she speaks and in every accomplishment no matter how.small. When she carries her baby doll and kisses it, I want to cry at how tender she is. When she wraps her tiny arms around my neck and presses her soft cheek against mine, I’m sure this must be heaven. My daughter is smart, my daughter is beautiful, my daughter is kind and funny. My daughter loves music. My daughter loves animals and coloring. My daughter loves exploring. My daughter loves popcorn and going to the beach. My daughter loves long car rides and reading books together. My daughter rocks a hair bow like no other. Most importantly, my daughter loves people. My daughter will IMG_20170218_094816_315smile the sweetest smile at the biggest, ugliest, grumpiest, smelliest, foulest person she meets and she will exude genuine love and acceptance with every ounce of her being. My daughter is a blessing and my daughter is way more perfect than I could ever wish her to be.

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Heart Warrior

When Jana was born she had two defects in her heart.  One PDA (In PDA, abnormal blood flow occurs between two of the major arteries connected to the heart. Before birth, the two major arteries—the aorta and the pulmonary (PULL-mun-ary) artery—are connected by a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus. This vessel is an essential part of fetal blood circulation)  The second was a ASD (A “hole” in the wall that separates the top two chambers of the heart.  This defect allows oxygen-rich blood to leak into the oxygen-poor blood chambers in the heart. ASD is a defect in the septum between the heart’s two upper chambers (atria). The septum is a wall that separates the heart’s left and right sides.)   Last year she had a full ECHO and EKG done to monitor these defects because surgery was not needed at birth.img_8755

Yesterday we had to do the ECHO and EKG once again…

First of all, whoever thinks getting a toddler to lay still for over an hour to do the ECHO is CRAZY!!!  Seriously, I can’t keep this child still for anything!  Except…yesterday 🙂  We had to leave our house at 5:30 am in order to take the 2 hour drive to Rady Children’s Hospital.  This meant, Jana got taken out of bed, and put straight in her car seat.  She stayed asleep till about 6:30…normally she is up around 8:00.  So that right there messed her whole schedule up.  We arrived with her favorite move (HOME) downloaded on our IPad, as well as a few episodes of her favorite show (Kazoops!)  We img_8750got checked in and they put the monitors on her chest and tummy.  Then, asked us to keep her still for the duration of the test!  For the most part she did stay img_8747still…even fell asleep for about 30 min!!  It was probably the most I’ve snuggled with her in a long time!  But around the 50 min mark, not just Jana, but mama and daddy were fed up and ready to move around!  Luckily they were able to view her heart as well as main arteries in her neck and lower chest area.  How she did it, I img_8757have no idea!!

It was now 10:00, and time for the EKG.  This LUCKILY is a very quick procedure and she is allowed to at least sit up.  They hooked her up to what img_8756seemed like a hundred wires and the test itself took about 2 min!  Our girl was going strong.  She hadn’t thrown a single fit and was still being her adorable self.

Finally it was time to see our Cardiologist.  The last time Jana saw him, she was smitten 🙂  We’ve said he is her favorite doctor because he is the only one img_8751she has ever flirted with.  Unfortunately, by the time she got to see her McDreamy , she was sound asleep 😦  But that just meant, mama and daddy could talk to him a little less interrupted.

img_8758 So what did the test show?  Well, her PDA has completely fixed itself.  That means, that is no longer an issue and can now be left alone.  Then came the pause…..  Her ASD is currently open about 6mm, that means it is letting blood flow into the right side of her heart.  Meaning, the right side is slightly larger than the left.  If left untreated, this can cause serious health issues.  So a surgical procedure will be done next summer to fix this issue.  They will be going through her main artery in her leg and hopefully be able to fix it without fully cutting her open.  He feels waiting one year will help her vessels grow a little.  Currently they are roughly the size of her pinky, and the instruments he needs to use are just about the same size.  Obviously that is an issue!

So this summer she will have a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy then next summer her heart surgery.  Which means, I have a full year to stress and freak about my daughter having heart surgery!!  Ugh!!  I am honestly trying to stay positive about it.  Our situation could be much much worse!  We are very grateful for our babies health but it does not make surgery any easier.  It is scary, it is stressful, but it is needed!  Our girl is a warrior and I have no doubt she will amaze all of us during these surgeries.  I trust that God’s had is watching over her, giving her the best doctor’s for the job, and will see her through it all.  I just need His help a little more to deal with the extra worries.       

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A moment to never forget

2-24-1Ok…I’ve mentioned it before, but truthfully, before Peanut, I was always very uncomfortable around special needs people. Well…sometimes even scared. Today Peanut had therapy at our local Center for Exceptional Children. She was walking down the hall and blocking everyone’s path. This young man was trying to pass by. He was about 18 or 19 and he was special needs. I couldn’t tell you what his disability was, but I can tell you he had a massive smile watching Peanut go. We moved her to the side and his mom went past first. He stopped and held out his hand for me to shake. I smiled and shook his hand, he then raised my hand and kissed the back of it. No words, nothing else. Just another smile and he walked away. Now let me ask you, why in the world was I ever uncomfortable around people like that?!  Yes, special needs individuals are different. But they are different the most amazing ways!!  So full of love, compassion and strength.  Worth so much more respect than the world gives them.

This young man probably won’t remember me.  He probably didn’t even think what he did was a big deal. But I promise I will hold on to that moment.  He made an impact on my life quicker than most people I even have conversations with.  If I didn’t just stop and look at him, and not his disability, I would have missed this opportunity. 63def18c4d59a139e6804055810bff8e

Next time your out, if you do run into a special needs individual, just say hi!  Don’t ignore them or shy away because you are unsure of what to do.  Open your heart to the possibility of something amazing!  I know you wont regret it!!