Love is Love

This is my Pride.  It took a lot of years, but then this lady happened and suddenly everything made sense.  I was no longer ashamed or worried about what people would think.  The door opened to a world where love is just love, and families and just families, and I get to spend every single day with this woman who makes my life so much better than it ever was without her.

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Which Mom Am I?

When your child has a special need, regardless of whether it’s a developmental disability or a medically based complexity, parents want to champion these issues: to bring their knowledge and experiences to people so that we can educate and bring awareness to what makes our child special.  My problem is that I don’t know where to put that focus.  Am I a “down syndrome mom”, or a “heart mom”, or an “adoption mom”?  Lately, I’ve been finding that I really want to do more, but if I’m going to choose one area to throw my voice behind, how do I decide which mom I’m going to be?

One of the problems we have in just picking one, is trying to fit in.  I’ve mentioned it briefly before, but we don’t always know where the best place is for us.  We’re lesbians who chose to adopt, as opposed to trying to concieve our own biological child – a little more rare in the adoption world, where the saying is that “you come to adotion through loss.” That wasn’t the case for us – we always knew that we were going to adopt and were excited about that fact.

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We chose to adopt a child with Down Syndrome, in fact, leapt at the chance to adopt a child with Down Syndrome.  We often feel that some people are confused by that choice; in fact, we had one adoption worker who asked us directly, “you know that you could have a normal child, right?”.  We (well, Jess more than myself) had experience with Down Syndrome that helped make it an easy choice.  We knew that having a child with DS, along with the challenges, would bring us incredible joy.  But, for other DS parents, this wasn’t their experience and it’s hard for us to relate to the grieving/acceptance that they had to work through, and I think it’s hard for them to relate to us as well.  We love being a part of the DS community but sometimes it’s easy to feel a little like outsiders.

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Medically, as far as we’re concerned, Lily’s heart is actually a miracle.  I remember, so clearly, sitting in the small room with Lily’s surgeon and him confirming the PVS diagnosis with us.  He told us that our life was going to go one of 2 ways: 1) This was just how her veins are and she would have no other issues.  He quickly followed by saying he really didn’t think that was our road; or 2) The veins would close up completely and the disease would be fatal.  He couldn’t give us a timeline or any more information but that was it.  I remember, sitting for hours on my phone, trying to find ANY information I could about PVS and just being bombarded with the same sentence in every report: “PVS is extremely rare, progressive and usually fatal.”  But we’re here, 2.5 years later and Lily is winning.  Her CHD is the scariest part of our life, but when compared with other heart warriors, we’re actually so lucky.  Her original diagnosis of an AVSD and Coarct are common in kids with DS and the surgeries to fix those issues have held out and her heart – if you look at just her heart – is amazing.  I sometimes feel a sense of survivors guilt when it comes to being a “heart” mom because she has been doing so well.

The other issue is that with Lily, all of this is so interconnected that it feels impossible to seperate them and just focus on one. In my head, I compare her journey to a party. She started at the Down Syndrome Party (guests included low muscle tone, delayed motor skills & speech but a serious love of dancing) and that came hand in hand with her original heart conditions; her heart brought her PVS to the party; the PVS may have asked the Cardiac Arrest to come along or it just decided to crash the party to create some havoc, but it brought it’s groupies: HAI (hypoxic-anoxic brain injury) and CVI (cortical visual impairment).  Suddenly, they are all in this one gigantic room and you just have to shrug your shoulders and start handing out snacks.

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For this week though, National Down Syndrome Awareness Week, this is where my heart going to be.  The Canadian Down Syndrome Society has an amazing campaign going this year that highlights 14 (7 pairs) of people who truly celebrate Down Syndrome.  I’ll try and highlight some of my favourites over the week, but if you’re going to start anywhere – start with Max and Libby (who personally sum up exactly what kind of relationship I want Lily and her siblings to have).  As well, make sure you check out the CN Tower on November 4th as it’s shines blue and yellow to celebrate this amazing week!

Lastly, because it’s been a while, I just thought I’d share a little love from Lily and Gus.

Thankful

With all of the social media that surrounds us, it was impossible to miss people discussing the things they were thankful for this weekend.  Everywhere I looked people were sharing tidbits of their lives and celebrating the small things that make them so fulfilling.  So while I’m a few days behind, here is my list for this year:

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1.  My Wife

I may not always be the wife that I hoped to be.  I can be selfish and lazy and the one who has to live with the consequences is Jess;  If I do anything different in the next few years, it will be to make sure that the actions in my life show Jess just how grateful I am that she is here with me, loving me in spite of myself.  There is nothing I love more than watching her and Lily spend time together – watching them giggle and make funny faces at each other.  I used to be worried that I would be jealous of the fact that Jess is the stay-at-home mom and the bond that would grow between her and Lily, knowing that their relationship would be different than the one that Lily and I will have.  But, it has turned out to be the exact opposite: watching her being an amazing mother to Lily just makes me fall in love with her over and over again.  I’m just thankful that she keeps me around to be part of that.

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2. Our friends

We are so incredibly lucky to have the friends that we do in our life.  We don’t have peripheral friends – we have in your face, sitting in our living room while we clean up Lily vomit, stay for dinner and then the rest of the night, pop over on a random Sunday evening, friends – we have family. I have been constantly overwhelmed by how much love and support they give us and how they are just always there.  It doesn’t matter what we need, they give it.  They give it even when we don’t know what we need.  Between MeMa, Chocolate Auntie, Randalls, Telly’s, Steve’s, Charlie’s family, Birthday Twins, Work Girls, and the people who know that a CD of ABBA songs is the best gift ever, our cup runneth over.

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3.  Healthy Lily

This one is self explanatory, but I need to emphasize it: it has been more than 2 years since we’ve had any hospital stays.  For a girl with 1 working lung, a repaired heart, who relies on a g-tube, has funky vision, a brain injury & Down Syndrome, this is a miracle in and of itself.  It’s one that we are aware of every single day of lives and we never take for granted.  Every time I walk the halls of Sick Kids, I say a little word of thanks that we’re not living there again.  I see people walking around with their red parent badges, who are living on food from the Terrace Cafe and I ache for them (and their back and necks – the pillows are awful!).  Every time another doctor tells us that Lily is doing better than they ever expected, I know that were are in the midst of something incredible.  And while things are not perfect – eyes need to be fixed, it turns out that she officially has a genetic abnormality that leads to deep vein thrombosis (although we could have told them that 2 years ago),  and you know that pesky one lung thing always weighs on our minds, we are thankful for each day that she is healthy and strong.

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4. Community

We are so lucky to be part of a community of parents that openly celebrate Down Syndrome.   Jess and I often speak about how we don’t always fit in places because we chose this life: we knew Lily had Down Syndrome and knew what that would mean for our lives.  For other parents, the diagnosis often happens at birth and they are left to grieve for the child they expected to have.  It’s an incredibly difficult process to go through but what emerges is actually awesome.  These parents come out of their grief, roaring with pride.  They embrace this unexpected life with so much passion and grace.  They come together and support one another, regardless of how different their lives were before.   Last weekend we were fortunate enough to be part of a photo shoot for Circle 21‘s annual calendar.   While it was originally supposed to be outside, the weather did not cooperate and we ended up in one of the co-founders living room.  As I sat there, literally in the middle of 15+ kids with Down Syndrome all running around, I realized that it’s impossible to contain the kind of raw joy our children possess – the laughter, the giggles, the dancing, the openness – it was a room filled with the very best parts of our children and, not for the first time, was I so thankful that this is our life.  And the very best part of that, was that what I was feeling was echoed in every single pair of eyes that I met when I looked around that room.

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5. Family

Lily knows love.   Jess and I know love.  Our family has been shown love over and over again and it’s impossible to doubt.   My nephews beg to see her, run to her when she comes into a room and are more gentle with her than with anyone else.  It’s as though they instinctively know that she may need to be a little protected, and the love they have for her is so incredibly pure that it actually makes my heart swell.  My sister, who is my heart and soul, and her husband, love Lily like she is their own.  I will never, ever, forget the night that my brother-in-law stayed at Sick Kids with Lily, just holding her and rocking her and keeping her safe so that I could just have a little bit of rest.  I actually stood and watched him at the door before I came back in the room because it was such a perfect moment to me of knowing that there are people out there who love Lily with so much of their hearts.  Between grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins who beg to come over and see her, I know that she will always be surrounded by love, she will never know what it’s like to not feel accepted and cherished.

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Today, specifically, I’m thankful for hot sunshine and cool breezes that make walking the dog an experience and not just a chore.  I’m thankful for chocolate chip pancakes for dinner and salted caramel hot chocolate after a long afternoon at Sick Kids.  I’m thankful for good books and a good nights sleep and the fact that I get to wake up tomorrow, and everyday after that, living this incredible life.

One Year Later

In our first year of life with Lily, we celebrated every anniversary we could think of: the day we got the phone call, the day we met her, the day she had her first overnight visit, the day she came home for good, the day of her heart surgery, the day of her cardiac arrest.  All of these culminated on September 19th, when we stood, surrounded by our amazing support system, and watched as the judge signed the papers that told the world that Lily was officially ours and today we celebrate the anniversary of that amazing day.

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If you’ve heard me speak about Lily’s adoption, then you’re aware that Jess knew that Lily was ours from the moment we opened her file and started to hear about this incredibly tiny girl.  I was more cautious, more fearful of things not working out, so while I hoped, I wouldn’t let myself believe that it was real….until the day we walked Lily’s foster mom’s house and all of my protective armour dropped away and I fell head over heels in love.

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For any prospective adoptive parents out there who are afraid that they won’t be able to love a child who didn’t biologically come from them, I beg you to not let that be a factor in your decision.  What I felt for Lily that day, from the moment I laid eyes on her, is what every mother feels the first time they see their child: a love that is beyond any description, any words.  It is a love that it absolutely and completely pure.  It is steadfast and strong and can not waver.  It encompasses everything that you are and takes over your mind and your soul.  I had been so afraid that I would never experience what my sister, my family, my friends had described to me but when she was handed to me and I drank her in, all of those fears melted away.

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So, when we celebrate the anniversary of Adoption Day, this is what I’m truly celebrating: that I have a daughter who, in a matter of seconds, changed my life, and my entire self so completely.

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For Keeps

I think the title says it all. As of 2:15pm, the judge signed the papers and officially said that the mom’s and I belong together for keeps. We all know that it’s really no different then it was yesterday, but it feels a little bit different. I have their last name!

I was incredibly lucky to be surrounded by the people who made this adoption all possible in the first place. Obviously the mom’s and I were there, but we were also joined by our adoption worker Mary, Gramma & Pa and Grandpa, of course my cousins Ollie and Thor along with so many other people who have been our biggest supporters over the last year and a half – Steve, Jason, Telly, Rita & Thano and Madison. And then, we the three people, Auntie CC, Theresa and Cathy (MeMa) who put their names on the line and told CAS how they thought the mom’s would be great parents and how they deserved the chance to love a kid like me. If they hadn’t done that and done it so well, then maybe none of this would have happened. For that, I know the mom’s are so so so grateful (and really, how could they not be – they got me out of the deal!).

It was a pretty amazing day all around, but something very surprising happened while we were in the court room that took us all by surprise and made the day even more incredible. We all filed in the room and the mom’s and I sat up at the front. It took a minute for the judge to start talking, and he started by welcoming us all there and telling us that adoption days are the happiest kind of days because they get to help create a family (he didn’t really need to tell us that). But then, he went on and told us that my adoption in particular was very happy for him because he was the judge who was there when my birth parents made the hard decision to let me be adopted because they wanted me to have the best home possible. He’s the man who really made it possible for the mom’s and I to be together. He told us that he remembered when my birth parents came in and he felt really lucky to get to meet me in person and get to see with his own eyes that I found a family who loves me so very much. He said he doesn’t always get a chance to see things come in a full circle and this was special to him. I know the mom’s agree with him and if I could speak I would tell him that he doesn’t know how right he is. Today, I feel pretty loved.

Where I Leave Off

One last mom post tonight before Lily returns and tells you all about her “re-birthday” party, her trip to neurology this week and our big plans for the rest of the summer. But until then….

Most of you know that Jess and I are very different – sometimes as different as two people can be. While undoubtedly frustrating in certain situations, it comes back to reward us in the most unexpected ways and I realize that it’s a gift. Today, was one of those days. Today, I opened my email and read this:

July 14

I remember everything.

Every single detail of that morning.

You woke me at 4:00am. I tried to put Lily back to bed. Twice. I held her for about 20 minutes and then lay her down each time. She would last about 15 minutes before she would wake up screaming. Finally, around 5:30, I went to the washroom and you came in. You spilled Omeprazole all down my leg, and we laughed about it. I had no clean clothes, so medication-soaked clothes were what I was stuck with. I took Lily downstairs and swaddled her to put her in the stroller. Immediately, she was asleep. I walked for about an hour and a half before she awoke. She woke up screaming. I walked down Plains Rd. in front of my old elementary school holding her while she screamed. I jokingly told her, “Lily, if you don’t stop crying, I’m going to strangle you”. I would come to regret using that phrase shortly. I finally put her down in the stroller and started walking quickly home. I decided then that I would let you sleep for another couple of hours before we took Lily to Sick Kids. Something was very wrong. As we walked down our street, she fell asleep again, and I noticed a neighbour’s unusual flower in front of their house. That crazy purple one that is round and has antennae all over it. I stopped the stroller and took a photo with my phone. Stopping woke her up. I picked her up with my left arm and brought the stroller in with my right. I left the stroller downstairs and brought her upstairs. She was absolutely alive at that point.

When we got upstairs I took her from my shoulder and went to put her down on the change table. Her face was white. She wasn’t moving. Her eyes were closed. I tried to shake her awake, and then tried yelling. Obviously, neither worked. I screamed for you. I said the baby wasn’t breathing and that you had to call 911. I yelled twice, and you were there, handing me your phone. I was holding Lily face-down in my hand and had slapped her back. I still didn’t know that she was dead. I told the 911 operator, “My baby is not breathing”, but I actually kind of thought that she still was. You had her on the change table when the operator asked me if we were doing CPR. I said, “We can’t do CPR, her sternum is still open”, when you corrected me and said, “Her sternum is not open, don’t tell him that.” And I told him, believing with everything that I am that I was right, “We can’t do CPR – her sternum was just closed because she just had an AVSD repair, and we are still not allowed to even pick her up by her arms.” Then I thought about what it may be and said, “The AVSD was complicated by chylothorax, and she has several plural effusions around her lungs and heart, so she’s going to need a chest tube. Can paramedics do chest tubes? There must just be too much fluid. They’re going to need to insert a chest tube”. As I was speaking, all I could imagine was you doing a chest compression and Lily’s sternum snapping and you pulling out her heart on your two fingers. I truly (although, wrongly) believed that doing CPR would do more harm than good. The dispatcher asked me to open all the doors and put the dog away, all the while repeating, “There is so much help coming. Just hang on. I have so many people coming to help you. They will be there so soon.” And they were. The firefighters arrived first, parking two trucks across O’Connor, and blocking traffic in both directions. I was outside when our nosy neighbour from across the street popped her head out of her house to ask if everything was okay. I just said, “No” and walked back inside. I couldn’t even deal with what was going on upstairs, so I did the next best thing which basically involved me hyper-ventilating at the bottom of the stairs. I quickly composed myself, and went outside, only to have you go running past me to the paramedics that had just arrived, and telling them that the firefighters needed them upstairs – now. One went up, and right after that one of the firefighters came flying outside holding Lily stretched out in front of him to the ambulance. You looked at me and said, “Go! I’ll meet you at Sick Kids”, so I did. I still didn’t think that she was dead. There was a cop blocking off the top of Northbrook at Cosburn, and we sped around the corner over to Coxwell, and down to the hospital. There were people outside to meet us – just like on ER. I got out first and when they pulled the stretcher out of the ambulance, I saw what I hadn’t been able to grasp earlier – she was dead. They pulled the stretcher out, and the paramedic was straddling her, doing those chest compressions that we had been so terrified to do. In that moment all I thought to myself was, “Oh my God. She’s dead. They don’t do chest compressions if you’re not dead. She can’t die first.” I was escorted into the hospital by a cop and as soon as we were in the room, a child life specialist was by my side. Apparently, when your baby dies, they don’t like to leave you alone, so I had this lady following me and interrupting my pacing while I was trying to phone and tell you that we weren’t at Sick Kids and to not go there. You weren’t answering your phone, which was stressing me out more, until finally the lady said to me, “Look, I am very concerned about you right now. You need to sit down – please”. So I did, and tried calling you again – and felt your phone vibrating against my leg. I had used your phone to call 911, and just put it in my pocket. The Dr. that brought Lily back to us is a marvelous woman that we had previously met, and once she had a pulse I see Dr. P. looking at her face and saying, “I know this girl. I know that I have seen her here”, before scanning the room and making eye-contact with me and saying, “I remember you – you’re the adoptive mom”, and leans back down to adjust something on Lily. One of the nurses hands me the pajamas I had put on her to take her for a walk earlier – my favourite ones with reindeer. You arrive and I tell you what the child life specialist (and now a social worker), have told me (which, is unfortunately not much). After Dr. P. has called Sick Kids and made sure that Lily is stable, she walks over and hugs me. After she leaves, I notice all the police in the room. And there are LOTS. I lean over to you and say, “Crystal, do you think that all these cops are here because they think that we did something to her”? The social worker hears me and says, “Oh, no, no, no. This is just what has to happen.” That calms me, because I can’t imagine the rage I would have if someone actually accused me of intentionally hurting Lily.

When it’s finally decided that we’re going to Sick Kids, I decide I should go home to get some stuff, let the poor dog out, and take my car to meet you and Lily at Sick Kids. When I asked the one policeman (that ended up staying with us all day) if I could leave to go home in a cab and get my car, he actually laughs at me and tells me that he will drive me home. On the way, he kept saying things like, “I can drive you guys to Sick Kids”, and, “If you need, we can give you money for a taxi home”. This is when I realized that he didn’t want me to drive, but probably also didn’t want to argue with me if I was going to disagree.

When we got home, two cop cars are outside. I go upstairs and head right to Lily’s room. On the floor is the electrode pad for the AED, and the rest of her room looks like a disaster area. Her mattress is upturned, furniture is moved, and it is just a big mess of dis-array. All I can think is, “What the hell did Crystal do? Why on earth would she have moved all this crap?” On my way back downstairs I decide that I probably shouldn’t drive, and have my policeman take me back to East General. When we get there the Sick Kids transfer team is getting ready to take Lily, and you and I get into the cop car. After getting in the car, our officer goes over dispatch and says, “Good news – our baby girl is okay. Stats are stable and we are transferring her and her parents to Sick Kids now”. The dispatcher comes back on and first I hear some cheering before she says, “We are so relieved to hear that. Can we offer you any assistance?” I have no idea what this means, but he says back, “If there’s anyone in the area that can help, we would really appreciate it.” She tells him that she’ll, “see what she can do”. We lead the ambulance (both of us had lights and sirens on), south on Coxwell to make a right on Danforth. We are cruising at a good pace, until we start to hit the traffic at Broadview, and I realize the light our way is red. We end up driving on the left side of the street and all I hoped for was that people in the opposite directions would stop; however, I realized then that there was a cop standing in the middle of the intersection keeping it closed. Before we were even through it, that cop is back in his car, speeding off in front of us. This happened at every single intersection along Bloor until we hit Bay, and then all along Bay they were holding intersections. None of them even knew Lily or either of us, but here they all were wanting to make sure that she would stay alive. By the time we got to Sick Kids, there were four other cop cars around us, taking turns driving ahead to intersections that weren’t already being held. We slowed twice for jay-walkers, but not once for a car being in our way. When we arrived at Sick Kids, again we had an entourage waiting for us to whisk us up to PICU. And thus began the longest 44 days of my life (and probably yours).

I remember everything.

I will be your memory.

Happy Lil-Aversary!

One whole year.  Guys, it’s been one whole year since I came to live with the mom’s.  It’s been a crazy, whirlwind of a year, but I think overall it’s been pretty amazing.  I feel so lucky to be living with my mom’s but really, I think that they might be the really lucky ones.  They keep talking today about how much I’ve grown, how big and strong I’ve become and how I’ve come so much further than most people thought I would last August.  The mom’s and I were talking about doing a big dinner/party to celebrate my anniversary but in the end we decided to have a really big party in August – to celebrate everything: my adoption, our family and mostly that I’m here, kicking butts and taking names.  Life is good.

So Long, Farewell…

A mom post tonight….

I know that there’s been a higher ratio of Mom:Lily post’s lately and I promise she’ll be back in the writers seat soon, but just one more for now.

This was our first mother’s day – our first, real, mother’s day.  We had a few people celebrate with us last year, as we knew right around the holiday that Lily’s birth parents and Children’s Aid had picked us to be her family, but this was the first year that we got to wake up in the morning, look at her all wrapped up in her black and white blanket made by her cousin Connie, and celebrate being her mother.  It was an amazing feeling.  One that I’ve wanted for such a long time.

(Lily didn’t really make this cookie, but our amazing friend Cathy did and it’s just one of the reasons we love her in our lives)

But this mother’s day, like many others past, is tinged with sadness.  Obviously it was our first mother’s day without Jess’s mom and that was odd.  Just this time last year, we had decided that for future years we would bring both of our Mom’s together for the day so that we never had to choose between them.  Sadly, life chose for us.  Life this year, just in the past few days, also decided that it was time for my Aunt Gail to leave us too.  This has left a hole in me that I haven’t quite figured out how to fill.

I wish that I was a talented enough writer to really explain to you what it was like to grow up in our family.  Many of you know that my mother is one of 17 siblings, which in today’s society, is a huge huge number to wrap your head around.  But beyond the strength of my grandmother to raise such a huge family in less than ideal circumstances, what amazes me most about them is how close they are even with such a huge age difference between them.  We were never the family that only saw each other on holidays, we were constantly in and out of each other’s lives.  I always say that I was raised by The Aunts, the women who were either related by blood or marriage, who set the most amazing example of how to be great mom’s – there are characteristics of each of them that I hope to bring to my own version of motherhood.  I love them all, but at the same time, what’s been breaking my heart is that Gail was mine.  Now, with 16 Aunts and Uncles, it also means that I have a LOT of cousins, and so maybe calling her mine (especially when she had her own son) is a bit selfish but I always felt that it was true.  It was her lap that I would crawl into when we were all sitting around the table talking – I would play with her rings and be amazed that her fingernails were so long and were real.  I loved watching her style her hair or put on her make-up.  I loved going to visit her at work and was so proud that she was my aunt.  When my friend Adrienne and I went out to PEI to visit when we were in university, I was thrilled when she pointed out how alike Gail and I were – that we tapped our fingers and the table the same way, that we both had ridiculous laughs that usually ended in snorting or that we both tried to make people feel at ease by making jokes – usually lighthearted, somewhat inappropriate and often self-deprecating.

Like everything else in life, it’s with a loss that we realize how much we truly loved.  Knowing that she’s not here leaves me feeling empty and not sure how to share that with anyone else.  I know that so many other people are missing her as much I do, or even more, but for now it just feels like my own grief, one that’s not ready to be shared.

3 x 21: Our Favourite Number

A mom post tonight…

Just over a year ago, our adoption worker Jacquie, came to sit with us and go through our adoption preferences.  Generally this is a long list of questions to help the workers decide what kind of child would make the best fit for your family.  This list isn’t an easy one to get through and a lot of the questions really make you stop and think about what you’re willing to take on as a new parent: would you parent a child with mild motor delays? Would you parent a child who had been exposed to drugs or alcohol during pregnancy?  Would you parent a child who was conceived out of rape?  Jess and I had spent a lot of time prior to this meeting talking about the kind of child(ren) that we would be open to and to be honest, there wasn’t a lot that would scare us off.  We had talked a little about adopting a child with special needs, and I was particularly open to children with medical needs.  But it wasn’t until Jacquie asked the question, “would you parent a child with down syndrome,” that everything started to fall together.

Jess, in her previous line of work (previous to being the lucky mom who gets to hang with Lily all day), worked with adults with special needs and has always loved adults with down syndrome – they are her special favourites.  So, when Jacquie brought up the possibility of a child with down syndrome, Jess actually got excited.  It took me a little bit longer to come around to the idea.  My hands-on experience with special needs until that point had been teaching a few integrated swimming lessons and spending two weeks working at the camp our friend Cathy’s (better known in Lily’s world as MeMa) respite company hosts for their clients every summer.  I knew that I could handle it, but I didn’t know if it was a life that I wanted to fully embrace as my own.  But I agreed, during that meeting, that I would be open to hearing about kids with down syndrome if there were any they thought might be a match for us.

And then we got the call.  Less than a week after our meeting with Jacquie, she called us and told us that she was almost certain she had a wonderful match for us.  She started to tell us about a tiny baby girl, only 3 months old, who was born with down syndrome and a heart condition.  She knew that she had hooked us both: down syndrome AND a child with medical needs.  We met a few days later in Jacquie’s office and we started to read this child’s file.  Before we had even finished reading the entire thing, we were already smitten.  We knew that she was just this tiny little fighter who needed some grown-up’s on her side to love her and nurture that already so brave self.   Without even seeing her, we were already in love.

And that was how we ended up with our little girl with down syndrome and we couldn’t be happier with where we have ended up.  There are certainly days that are tough; days when it feels like we’re never going to see the developmental gains that we want to; days when we worry about what life will be like for her in school; days where we worry that life will be cruel to her because of this extra chromosome.  But those days are easily weighed out by the other days: they days when we watch her in amazement as she learns something new; days when we fall in love with her beautiful almond shaped eyes; days when we are shocked at how she just keeps rolling with the punches and still gets stronger and smarter, despite her setbacks. Lily wouldn’t be Lily without that 3×21 – it’s her cute chromosome, her dancing chromosome and her “I can make my tongue into a triangle” chromosome.  In this house, it’s our favourite chromosome.