Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 In Review

2011 brought us many memories!  Kennedy's arrival into our family was by far the best part.  Our year had its ups and downs and a flood of emotions, but through it all we came out stronger than ever. 

We kicked off the year with a celebration for Kennedy, before she even arrived!

The anticipation of Kennedy's arrival brought about much excitement!

 By far, the most wonderful thing was Kennedy's arrival.  With her arrival came a lot of emotions - joy, happiness, fear, and an overall sense of unknown.

Bringing her home from the NICU was also one of the high points of the year!

We had many beach vacations!  This one was before Kennedy's heart surgery.

Kennedy had open heart surgery, and she rocked it.  It was by far the scariest and hardest day of our lives, but in a matter of days, she was back to herself.

As we always planned, we took lots of vacations.  Some of them even involved fake grass.  One of Kennedy's favorites.

We started many traditions.  One being our annual trip to Hilton Head.  It's hard to believe that next year when we go we'll be going as a family of four!  

We celebrated Kennedy's first Halloween, and she was the cutest pink elephant around!

We did a lot of partying.  Kennedy likes parties.

We have so many happy memories as a family of three! 

We shared our favorite Christmas traditions with Kennedy!

We started new traditions that will live on for years to come!  One of them, baking cookies on Christmas Eve.

And our little princess was in her glory celebrating her first Christmas!

We are so thankful for our wonderful family and friends who have provided so much love and support through the year.  I'm also so thankful for the new friends that I've made, both locally and online.  I'm looking forward to the start of a new year with more memories and the addition of another child to our family!  Let's just hope that 2012 also brings a little less stress. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

To Test, or Not To Test?

That seems to be the question  I'm hearing a lot since we announced our pregnancy.  It's also a hot topic on all those pregnancy message boards you see.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, it's something like 90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome prenatally are aborted.  This is truly heartbreaking to me.  So when I saw the title of a post on my message board the other day, I cringed and considered not reading it.  Instead, I prepared myself for the worst and figured that I would set out to at least try to educate these women about how wonderful having a child with Down syndrome is.  And that they are truly more alike than different.  I was shocked to see that with the exception of one or two responses everyone said that having a child with Down syndrome would not have an impact on their pregnancy.  Of course, I was heartbroken at the mere mention of termination, but mostly it brought tears to my eyes at how many women realize that all children have value, and how wonderful children with an extra chromosome are.

I respect each woman's decision to follow through with prenatal testing or not.  It's a personal decision that's only right for each family.  Many of you probably know that we opted out f all screenings with Kennedy, and that we were surprised by her diagnosis when she was born.  It was a very emotional time for us, and at first I regretted that we did not know.  Not because it would have changed the outcome for us, but it would have helped to be prepared mentally.  We knew nothing about Down syndrome, local resources, etc. and there was a lot of fear.  Once my midwife mentioned that had we known prenatally I would have been risked out of their care, I was immediately glad that we didn't know.  As much as part of me would like to be prepared this time, just to avoid the shock factor if we were to have another child with Down syndrome, it's not a risk I'm willing to take.  We will once again be opting out of all screenings.  Yesterday at our cardiology appointment the physician brought up the question of a fetal echocardiogram to rule out any heart defects.  After discussing with her, this is also something we will be opting out of.  Kennedy's defect is associated with Down syndrome, and Dr. Nardell is confident that if Kennedy didn't have Ds, she also probably wouldn't have had the AV Canal Defect.  Because small defects, that often resolve before birth are quite common, and would risk me out of my midwives care, the cardiologist is in agreement with me, that the echo isn't a risk that we need to take.  If there are any concerns after the baby is born, or if I want that peace of mind, she'll be happy to see him/her and do an echo. 

This is the best decision for our family.  I've already found it to be somewhat unpopular with people have asked.  I've seen a lot of shocked faces when we explain that we won't be doing any testing or that we didn't have genetic counseling before conceiving again.  Kennedy is a blessing to us and our families and our little ray of sunshine.  We are far more prepared for having a child with Down syndrome now than we were with Kennedy, and if that's God's plan for us once again, then we gladly accept.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Diagnosis: Perfect

I'm way too tired to be blogging tonight.  But I was also way too tired last night.  I swear, one of these days I'll get back into it.  My goal for tomorrow is to write a serious post.  One that I've been working on in my head for several days, and I am determined to find the time, long before midnight, to sit and do it.

In the mean time, we had Kennedy's appointment with the cardiologist yesterday.  Three months ago when we were there, the doctor was slightly concerned by the elevated pressures in the right side.  Not concerned enough to think anything was wrong, but he said they wanted to watch it.  Needless to say, I've had some major anxiety leading up to this appointment, but I was also happy that we'd be seeing our normal cardiologist again, since she recently returned from maternity leave.  Dr. Nardell was THRILLED with Kennedy's progress.  Said she's doing amazing and that her echo is perfect.  No concerns what so ever.  What a huge relief this was!  Of course, Kennedy was happy to have Dr. Nardell back and was acting like a total ham through the whole appointment.  Showing off all of her skills and her big cheesy smiles while stuffing her face with cheerios.  Silly little monkey.

And with that, I'm off to bed.  I promise.  Serious post tomorrow.  And I'll take a few pictures to include as well.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Kennedy's First Christmas!

I think it's safe to say that Kennedy's first Christmas was wonderful!  Unfortunately, around the time Santa finished dropping off presents, Kennedy also came down with the sniffles.  Christmas Eve was the first night of less than adequate sleep for us.  But, despite her cold, she made the most of Christmas day and had a lot of fun tearing into all the wrapping paper.  However, about 10 presents in, she lost interest in the paper and really just cared about the toys.  Needless to say, mommy and daddy ended up opening quite a few gifts.  I think it's also safe to say, Kennedy is a little spoiled (just in case you hadn't figured this out yet.)  Since she wasn't feeling great, we decided to forgo the Christmas dress and just let her hang out in her pajamas all day.  

I won't put off what you're all waiting for.  Here are some photos from our day.

Santa ate almost all the cookies Kennedy left, as well as most of the milk and coffee.  In exchange, he left a novel and a house full of presents.

This should happen to me EVERY day!!

Kennedy's first instinct while unloading her stocking, was to chew on the tags.

I love this bear mommy!

Am I supposed to eat this mom?

Opening the first gift of many.  There was a lot of paper eating going on in our house yesterday.

I know this is almost as big as me, but I can handle it mom!

I'll eat my way through this paper.

Look Mom!  I got more clothes!

Daddy took lessons in opening from Kennedy.

Hey mom, how come you don't make me bows like this?

I'm pretty sure I could have bought 700 slinkies and she would have been just as happy!

I'm over paper mom, let's play with the toys.

Does this mean I get my own iPhone now?

I love Christmas mommy!

Daddy surprised Kennedy with a special engraved jewelry box.

Mom this one is really big!

Someone bring on dinner. I'm sleepy.

We ended the night watching the Disney parade as a family.  It was a great end to the day, and probably the most TV that Kennedy has watched in her whole life.

Okay, okay.  So I thought that the parade was the end of our day.  But Kennedy had other ideas.  Despite not feeling well, she found the energy to stay up until almost 10pm playing with her new toys.

It was a great day, full of memories and new traditions.  I wish Kennedy had felt better.  She definitely had a good Christmas and lots of fun, but didn't have as many smiles as usual.  I can't help but think about how every Christmas will continue to get better and better as we add traditions and Kennedy grows up.  It's hard to believe that next Christmas we'll have TWO babies.  I think I'm going to have to figure out something different for Santa.  I'm not sure that he'll have room to leave gifts for two kids, in our family room. 

I'm crossing my fingers for a better nights sleep - last night was definitely one of the worst.  Hopefully Kennedy will wake up feeling much better...especially since we have Early Intervention AND a cardiology follow up tomorrow. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I cannot believe that it's Kennedy's first Christmas.  WHERE has the past year gone?  Last year at this time, my husband and I were on the couch, watching Christmas movies, and talking about how much different this Christmas would be.  And boy is it.  This year, we're watching Christmas movies, and frantically wrapping the last 20 gifts, after a day full of activities (and wrapping.)  Fortunately Kennedy is still young enough that she can sit and play while wrapping is going on, and she has no idea.  In fact, she was happy to help.

We are so blessed this Christmas.  We have an amazing little girl.  She's happy and healthy, and I truly could not ask for more.  We've endured challenges and fears over the past 10 months, that we never thought we would face in a lifetime.  It made the start of all the Christmas traditions with Kennedy that much more special.  Seeing her face light up each time the Christmas lights are turned on makes me want to keep them up all year.  As she gets older, and we continue to add to our family, I'm sure that we will continue to add new activities and traditions to the holidays. 

Amidst the craziness of the day, Kennedy and I took some time to bake cookies.  Kennedy (safely) sat on the island, and helped.  Today was the first time I realized just how thankful I am for a big kitchen.  Kennedy had a great time - she played with the rolling pin, the cookie cutters, the sprinkles, grabbed clumps of dough, and got into the canister of flower.  I hope Santa doesn't mind that she was chewing on the cookie cutters in between me using them.  I really did mean to wash them.  But in between trying to prevent her from throwing flour everywhere and from diving off the counter, I *may* have forgotten.
No mom, I wasn't eating the paper.

Okay, maybe I was.

It doesn't taste THAT great.  But it's fun.

Daddy you are so silly.

Let the baking begin!

I'm going to check out the cookie cutters mom.

Let me help you roll the dough out.

This is pretty yummy mom.

Do you need more flour mom?

Can we make cookies again next week?

And Miss Amanda says I don't use my hands enough.  If she could only see me now.  I just don't do it for her.

If I bite this long enough, I bet I'll get the top open.

Santa's coming!  Santa's coming!

I can't take it anymore!  Is he here yet?

Mom, why can't I have cookies more often?

This is really yummy.

Can I have more?

No mom, I'm not tired yet.

I'm gonna stay awake until Santa comes.

Well, she didn't quite make it until Santa came.  But she stayed up to read The Night Before Christmas, and she's tucked in bed with her Christmas pajamas on.  Most of the gifts have now been placed under the tree.  Santa may or may not have gone overboard this year.  Next year, we'll be doing this for Kennedy AND her little sister or brother.  I can only imagine that it will be twice the fun with two little ones.  And uhh...we may need to think about moving Christmas to a bigger room by the looks of the tree.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my readers and their families!  I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday.