Saturday, July 28, 2012

I Do!

I am linking up with Love and Marriage today,
with a post that was published on the day Brian and I celebrated our five year anniversary.

I always love sharing our love story.

For this precious little angel to become "Our Dream Come True,"

I first had to find my dream come true.

It was a perfect guy meets girl love story.

Brian and I met at an uber romantic spot, Bryant Denny Stadium, of course.

He had me at Roll Tide, y'all!

We met at the first Alabama football game of our freshman year.
It was a day I will never forget.
September 6, 2003.

Brian was supposed to go to the game with a date,
but fortunately for me, that didn't work.
And out of 101,000 seats in that stadium,
I sat beside the man that still makes my heart flutter.


All of the wonderful memories I have during college include him.
He was the one who continually challenged me, encouraged me, complemented and complimented me.
The one I sat with in the kitchen floor talking to until my alarm signaling the morning sounded.
The one I dreamed about life with.
The one I cheered for Bama alongside. We booty bumped and fist pumped, and left hoarse and exhausted, and even more in love.
The one who walked me to class, holding my hand, which no boy other than my daddy had ever done.
The one who left flowers and notes, just because.
After sweeping me completely off my feet during our college years, he popped the question, I said "seriously?!?!"

We got married on July 28, 2007, shortly after we graduated. 

I never thought I could have loved him more, until he became a daddy.
The way he loves Baker, and leads our family in the Lord is incredible.
Many men would have fretted with Baker's diagnosis, but not Brian.
He treats Down Syndrome, like he would a skinned knee.
We still go on. We press through. We carry each other.
And we love walking this blessed road, thankful to share this journey together.

Brian has taught me so much about love and trust and faith.
He is my best friend,
the one I love coming home to each day,
the one with whom I want to spend forever,
and so much more (but that's for his ears only, this is a family blog).
I Do,
over and over and over,
I Do!

 "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." 
Psalms  118:24

Monday, July 23, 2012

Handsome Boy!

I'm a happy mama! We finally received our newborn pictures, and they are
to die for!
 Brian and I have already discussed building more walls in our home to house all of these beautiful pictures of our darling boy.

You'll soon see why!

Thank you, Amber, for creating pictures we will forever cherish!

Love those lil lips the most!


Our little family has been blessed in such a MIGHTY way!

These two...I just can't get enough!

I can't pick a favorite.
Which one do you like the most?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Welcome to the Club!

Our family has been welcomed with open arms into the most incredible club! We have gained access and been granted VIP status. The only admission requirement was welcoming our most precious little angel into this world, and the benefits are lifelong friends along for this amazing journey.

Parents of other children with Down Syndrome, who are now some of my closest friends, have called, emailed, and visited eager to share resources, words of encouragement, and their miraculous success stories. We've shared ice cream and tears, laughter and prayers, celebrations and truth.

One of my favorite verses a dear friend shared is found in the ninth chapter of John, "As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'" (emphasis added)

Andrea, Meredith, Denise, Deana, and Betsy, you have made the past ten weeks especially joyous! I am forever indebted to you. You have a servant's heart and willing spirit. You are great friends and wonderful mothers. I am so thankful for each of you!

From your newest and proudest members, we are so grateful to have been welcomed with open arms into this fabulous club!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Emotions, for me, are like waves. Some are so big, they pull my feet right out from under me and leave me fighting for breath. Others are soothing, comforting, rafts upon which I find comfort and solace.

The emotions I have experienced upon learning of Baker's diagnosis have been no different. From the dark December day we learned there was a heightened chance of our child being born with Down Syndrome, to this cheery July afternoon, emotions have abounded. What began as fear, uncertainty, trepidation, bitterness, and worry, intense worry...emotions so strong, they pulled me under, drowning me, have transpired into joy, unspeakable joy, a wave begging to be ridden.

For me, fear lies in the unknown. How will Baker's kindergarten classmates accept him? Will he share his daddy's passion for the outdoors and be able to hunt and fish and do all things boy? Will he drop a love note in his crush's locker? Will he be sent to detention for shooting spitballs at the ceiling? Will I get to see my son wait for his bride at the end of aisle? Will he make me a Nana? Will he? Will he? Will he? All questions a mother asks herself as she anticipates her child's future. When I think about these things, these things that pale in comparison to the one dream I should have for my son, then I worry, then I am sucked under by the crashing waves. 

But when I trust God with Baker's life, He reminds me of my one responsibility as Baker's mommy. It has nothing to do with his life on this Earth and everything to do with spending Eternity with my son. When I focus on raising my boy to live a life glorifying his Father, then I have peace. The worry disappears, and I have faith in God's plans for our lives.

Grab your boards, folks, cause that's a wave worth catching and riding all the way to the shore!

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Friday, July 13, 2012

Baby Giggles

Baby giggles are the greatest!

There's no way you can see a baby, especially this sweet baby, smiling and not break out in a ridiculous Cheshire Cat grin.

Try, I dare you!

Just. Can't. Take. It.

Oh my!

How do I do it, you might ask?

 Like any good mother would, of course. I resort to making up silly songs, dancing, and making a complete and utter fool of myself.

And I may or may not have resorted to a little Sir Mix A Lot...hey, it worked for Ross and Rachel!!

All in the sweet, sweet name of baby giggles!

My Lil Roly Poly

Tummy time is important for all children, but especially so for children with Down Syndrome. Each of Baker's teachers, doctors, and therapists preach on the importance of allowing Baker to spend time strengthening his core muscles so he can develop more control. While it is terribly difficult to put him down (I just love snuggling him close), we are spending increasingly more time each day playing on the floor.

Bake really likes that it helps hold his hand in place so he can suck his thumb!
Using the boppy is a great way for Baker to strengthen his arms too. Strong little booger!

This activity mat is great for floor time. Thank you Trey and Ashley!

Starting at 4 1/2 weeks, our little one began rolling over. He now does it between 4-6 times each day. Many people say this is due to hypotonia, which may be partly true, but I think it's because he's mine and he's pretty spectacular! Each time we lay him on his belly, he considers it his personal mission to roll over and is oh so proud of himself when he does. Wanna see??

Please note: It is advised that you have your sound muted. As I am sure many moms would agree, once you give birth, your voice raises an octave and words that were once spoken with such poise and clarity, are now embarassingly distorted.

See. Pretty spectular, right?

That's my boy!!

What an incredible milestone! I am so proud of our sweet Baker!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Two Months and 1 Day

It's hard to believe it's been two months...
Two months since I first kissed your rosy cheeks,
Two months since I first breathed your sweet scent,
Two months since I first peered into your precious almond eyes,
Two months since I first felt your tiny fingers cling tightly to mine,
Two months since I first fell captive to your pouty lips,
Two months since I first cuddled your perfect body,
Two months since I first felt my heart beat outside of my body,
Two months since you first made my dream of becoming a mommy come true.

My how you've grown!

June 11, 2012

July 11, 2012

From the top of your head,
to the bottom of your tiny toes,
and all the sweet spots in between,
your mommy loves you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

These boys...

At the hospital,

and at home,

Wide awake,

and fast asleep,

Fully clothed,

and nakey nakey,

these boys have captured this girl's heart.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

For This Child, We Have Prayed: Baker's Birth Story

My husband, Brian, and I had been praying for a baby; trusting in God to provide us with a baby to love after a devastating miscarriage and several months of trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant. I will never forget that Wednesday morning in September. After my alarm went off, I went immediately to the restroom to take a pregnancy test, got back in bed, and prayed over the results with Brian. After two very long minutes, he went to the restroom to read the results; his face aglow as he proclaimed news of a baby on the way! Oh what joy! We held each other and cried, overwhelmed at the faithfulness of our Father to answer our prayers.

Over the next few weeks, we shared our incredible news with excited family and friends. Everyone celebrated the arrival of Baby Bell with us!

In December, I received a call from my doctor with the results of our quad screen. Usually I talk to his nurse; however, this time it was him on the phone. He prefaced the results with an uncharacteristically muted tone. He skipped the usual small talk and got straight to business. He began, "Often these results are not accurate; in fact, many times they offer a false positive. With that being said, your child has a 1 in 6 chance of being born with Down Syndrome." I have no idea what he said next. The words resounded in my head. My whole being was consumed with this news. My husband was not home, so I sat in my dark, quiet home, and cried. Cried for the unknown. Cried for my hopes and dreams for my baby. Cried for my little boy or little girl and the cruelty of the world towards people with special needs. Cried, and pleaded with God. Cried out in prayer, because that was all I could do.

We were referred to a specialist for a Comprehensive Level II ultrasound to check for the physical markers for Down Syndrome. Our eyes were glued to the monitor as the specialist checked for a fold in the neck, absence of nasal bone, length of femur, echogenic intracardiac focus (bright spot on the heart), among others. In the midst of those findings, we learned that Baby Bell is a Baby BOY Bell!! I have never seen my husband smile so proudly, as the doctor highlighted the very obvious male anatomy. "That's my boy! That's my boy!" exclaimed the delighted daddy to be. Of the major markers, our son had one present: an echogenic intracardiac focus. (This, we learned is present in children born with and without Down Syndrome - not a very reliable marker). None of the others were found as they scanned our little boy's perfect body  and watched him wriggle and squirm and suck his thumb for his mama and daddy to see. Oh how our hearts were filled with joy at the realization of our baby's gender, perfection of his little body, and decreased chance of our son being born with Down Syndrome.

With those results, we threw out the possible diagnosis, and chose instead to focus on the upcoming arrival of our baby boy. We had a blast pondering the best name to suit our little blessing. We decided upon William Baker - William after Brian's father, and Baker after mine. Our son would be named after two men we love dearly, who have so positively influenced our lives. We sent puzzles with his name to family and friends living out of town, inviting them to put the pieces together to figure out his oh-so-perfect name

The rest of the pregnancy was filled with joy as we were showered with love and gifts to prepare for our little one's arrival. We had frequent ultrasounds to monitor the spot on his heart, which suited us just fine! We loved watching our Baker Bell flourish into a beautiful baby on the monitor in the room we became so comfortable in.

Then, to our surprise, on Friday morning, May 11, contractions began. Not the Braxton Hicks I had come to live with. Real, live contractions! Like the ones I saw in the movies. I denied the onset of labor, as I was only 36 weeks and 4 days. It wasn't time! I hadn't nested! I had left my desk at work in shambles! None of that mattered; God had planned for us to meet our baby boy on May 11.

It was a long day, it was a good day; second to saying "I Do" to my husband, it was the best day! Labor progressed slowly, but at 11:30 that night, the doctor uttered the words we'd been anticipating, "Let's have us a baby!" We called our family back in to pray together. We prayed for Dr. C., who we have grown to love and regard as part of our family. (A little side note: Dr. C. wasn't even on call that Friday night; but had taken such an interest in our sweet baby, he proclaimed only weeks earlier that he would deliver him, no matter what, and he did). We prayed for the nurses and for the health and safety of both our baby and me as we were approaching the final moments of pregnancy. We said our goodbyes, and gave hugs and kisses for the last time before becoming a family of three.

Our family walked out at 11:40, I started pushing at 11:45, and William Baker Bell arrived at 11:46. And what a sweet arrival it was! Love at first sight! My heart grew so full as we locked eyes and he was placed on my chest. Oh, he was beautiful, and he was ours. After some time as a family of three, the nurses took him away to meet the anxious grandparents, aunts, and uncles eagerly awaiting his arrival, and then to the nursery for some obligatory tests.

The next few hours were a blur. Nurses coming in and out to check my vital signs. Hushed whispers of suspicions of Down Syndrome. Family hovering, too excited to leave. Us exhausted, a long day of labor behind us.

They kept Baker in the nursery for so long, too long. He finally made his way back to us at four o'clock in the morning to say a brief goodbye before being taken to the NICU. When we saw him the next morning, he was just as beautiful as I remembered; his tiny body covered in cords, tubes protruding from his nose and mouth. My heart ached to hold my baby boy. I celebrated my first Mother's Day sitting by his side, stroking his sweet angel hands; unable to hold him or see his eyes because of the Bili lights for severe jaundice. On that day, our suspicions were confirmed. We received the results of Baker's chromosome analysis, showing that he had been born with Down Syndrome.

We shared the news of our little one's diagnosis and comforted them with these words:

"We celebrate his health, as many babies born with Down Syndrome are born with serious health complications. Praise be to God that our baby's heart and other major organs function beautifully.

While the results of this test were somewhat of a surprise to us, they don't surprise our Heavenly Father. Just as He knows the number of hairs on our baby's head, he knows the number of chromosomes in his body. He knows our baby boy, and He knows us. This is part of His perfect plan for our lives. Psalms 139:13-4 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Baker is wonderfully made by our Father, who does not make mistakes. Brian and I were chosen, specially, to be Baker's  mommy and daddy, and for that, we say, "Rejoice!" What an incredible honor for us to be chosen to love and care for this sweet baby boy.

Please don't be sad for us, as we are not saddened by this at all. This is the child for whom we have prayed so diligently. 1 Samuel 1:27-8, "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord." He needs not be labeled by a disability, rather, the only label he needs is, "ours." We love our baby boy more than we could have ever imagined. He is strong. He is beautiful. He is loved.

I cannot wait for you to meet our little Baker Bell! He has stolen many a nurse's heart all over this hospital. They all sneak into the NICU on their break for a glimpse of our little angel baby. I warn you, it's love at first sight! Unspeakable joy! His little expressions keep us snapping our camera and claiming, "That one's my favorite," only to have a new favorite in the next minute."'

Maybe I was lacking the boldness I am now striving for. Maybe the joyous feelings of Baker's birth far overshadowed any diagnosis. Maybe saying it out loud would make it real. Whatever the reasons, I could not bring myself to utter the words. I did not tell people in person or over the phone; rather I resorted to sharing this news through writing, using the mask of email. And I am so glad I did! The responses that flooded in from family and dear friends were strength in my weakness. Each person offered encouragement, allowing God to use them in a mighty way. Spoken words can be forgotten. Conversations fade. Even carefully chosen words become a distant memory. But the written word, at least these written words, cannot be erased. Those letters, Bible verses, and personal testimonies are so precious to me, forever etched into my being. I will always cherish the power of the words shared with us on that unforgettable day.

After nine long days in the NICU, we brought our little home! We are human, and I will admit to moments of weakness, but the strength our God has given us overcomes. We are thankful for our gift, our precious blessing in the form of a bitty boy named Baker. We are more smitten today than we were yesterday or the day before. He is our love, our dream come true!