I’ve been thinking a lot lately thanks to Hannah’s rapidly approaching first birthday and the thinking is stirring up those crazy emotions from last year. It’s all stuff that I don’t want to talk about because when I talk about it I cry and I don’t want to shed any more tears for 2015.
This time last year we had no idea what was coming. While we were busy folding tiny clothes and anticipating more snow, Hannah was resting up to make her debut and change our lives forever. Some days it feels like the year flew by. I grasp on to the details of those first weeks with Hannah, trying to hold on to them like a kite being sucked into a tornado. I try to remember the faces she’d make when nursing, the warmth of her tiny hand on my chest when she napped in my arms, and the adorable sigh she’d make after sneezing. Other days the details are remarkably clear. I can still hear Hannah’s cries when we drove her home from the hospital and the sound of her heavy breathing during tummy time. I can see the look in her eyes the first time she made real eye contact with me.
I’ve been thinking about the day, shortly after the miscarriage, that I sat in my car sobbing and praying. I begged God for a healthy baby and in exchange I would gladly suffer through a miserable pregnancy. I would have gone through Hell for another chance to be a mom. I’ve been thinking about when people asked me if we wanted a boy or girl I’d say “It doesn’t matter as long as he or she is healthy.” Now I cringe at the term “healthy baby,” I know that real Hell is watching your child suffer, and I know better than to barter with God.
I’ve been thinking about Hannah’s perfect, beautiful birth. How “trying to push” turned into real pushing and twenty minutes later I had our daughter on my chest. And twenty minutes after that our world was shaken. I wish I could go back to that day with the knowledge and peace that I have now. I wish I could go back and enjoy every second, give my whole self to Hannah, instead of being scared. I wish I could relive those moments of doubt without wondering if she was or wasn’t doing something because of Down syndrome.
A year ago I never thought we’d end up here. I never thought having a child would change our lives quite like this. Hannah’s extra chromosome has added more to our lives. More doctors and appointments. More uncertainty and unfamiliarity. More awareness and compassion. More amazement and beauty. Hannah introduced us to a whole new life, a new community, and taught our family more than we ever anticipated learning in a year.
Hannah made me a mother that I did not expect to be. She made me tougher, yet more empathetic. She showed me that we can do hard things. I wish she knew what a strong girl she is and how amazing her little body is. I wish she knew how proud we are of her. I wish Hannah knew how extraordinary she is.