If I knew then what I know now…

Yesterday (May 8) marks the one year anniversary of the day we got “the call”. The call that confirmed our unborn baby has Down syndrome. Our Down syndrome day. The day our lives were forever changed. One year ago we thought it was the worst day of our lives – the ending of our life as we knew it. Truth be told, it was just the beginning. The beginning of actually living life. A second chance to appreciate the world and all that is in it. My eyes were opened (and looking quite scared I’m sure) that day in May. My heart was opened October 25 when our little boy was born. Oh we are so blessed. So, so blessed.

Please note, our lives are not perfect. Not even close. Although I try to remain upbeat and positive in this blog, we struggle just as any family does. But, our challenges are not because Eli has Down syndrome. We have more bills than we have money. Our car is in the shop. Our toddler decided to throw an embarrassing tantrum in the middle of the waiting room at the doctor’s office. I’m sure those “problems” are probably similar to half the population. It’s called life.

We went to the beach this past weekend. The same beach that we went to last year that helped cleanse our souls and pointed us in the direction towards acceptance. To read about that trip (and the sad, overwhelming few weeks leading up to it) check out my very first blog post – ACCEPTANCE. This trip, I spent a lot of time reflecting. I thought about the scared woman who cried so many tears after receiving that phone call. The husband who physically and emotionally checked out for a week. The friends and family members who offered their condolences. The baby that was growing inside me, completely unaware that we were all so devastated. It seems like a lifetime ago. Yet I remember it like it was yesterday.

If I only knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time grieving. I should have been celebrating. Rejoicing in the blessing that was being bestowed upon us.

If I only knew…
We are good enough parents to “handle” this. We can do more than we ever expected (and do it well!).

If I only knew…
I would be fortunate enough to meet a whole group of new friends, some who have become like a sister to me (and reconnect with many old friends throughout this whole process!).

If I only knew…
My baby will be cute. Quite possibly cuter than typical babies. 😊

If I only knew…
I will find strength in myself that I never knew existed. But, that strength will never compare to the strength I see from my child.

If I only knew…
Cody will be ok – even through four hospital stays, a host of health issues, doctor visits, and therapy all for his brother. He still goes to bed each night telling me he loves me and that I am his best friend.

If I only knew…
Eli will do things at an “age appropriate” level. And when he does fall behind on occasion, it is not the end of the world. (By the way – He rolled over for the first time this past weekend. He sat unassisted for the first time today!!!).

If I only knew…
Dreaming about his future is ok. He will have a future.

If I only knew…
Super heroes are real. My son proves it.

If I only knew…
I will love this child with every fiber of my being. I love him just as much as his brother (I really was once afraid I wouldn’t love him as much!).

If I only knew…
I will eventually forgive myself for the feelings I once had.

I took a bunch of pictures at the beach. Some of Cody, some of Eli. When Cody’s shadow joined him in a picture, there was only one. (I am referencing an amazing picture I posted in ACCEPTANCE). That shadow joined him in the flesh this time. I am still certain that extra shadow was his brother.

One year later I can tell you life certainly is ok. It is more than ok! Through our challenges and subsequent triumphs we, as a family, have made it through stronger, tougher, and more appreciative. Life is different. It is actually better than I could have ever imagined.
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