Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Light in this Life

I have felt this tugging at my heart recently.
That's the best way I can describe it.
This feeling like there's more for our little family of three.
It's sorta scary.
If you know me at all, you know I am a planner, a scheduler, a doer.
I like lists.
I organize my grocery list by aisle,
my closet by colors and then by seasons.
It's bad, definitely embarassing, but it's me.
This tugging, while unsettling, is encouraging.
For a while, I didn't feel it at all.
I was complacent in my walk with Christ.
I was what the Bible describes as a lukewarm Christian.
Content with where I going,
doing what I was doing,
saying what I was saying,
living as I was living.
I was loving life and I didn't want a single thing to change.
And then it did.
And I loved the change.
I loved the change so much.
The change in the form of a little bitty baby boy.
My sweet Baker.
 Arriving three and a half weeks early.
So very cute, so very loved, and so very much mine.
Maybe it's because Baker was born with Down Syndrome and I knew I would come to need the strength and love of Jesus more than ever before.
Maybe it's because I became a mommy and realized the impact my life had on another.
Maybe it's because I saw the love Christ has for His children in the moment that angel baby was placed on my chest and I knew I would rope the moon and capture all the stars in the sky just for him.

Whatever the reason, that complacency was replaced with desire,
a burning desire to be a light in this life for the kingdom of Christ.
I hear a lot of things about why Brian and I were blessed with the gift of Baker.
In their encouragement, and need for words,
people have offered us many reasons why this is the path God set before us.
Some of it, I believe.
Some of it, I smile and nod in appreciation at the gesture of kind words.
I have my own thoughts.
Ultimately, I think about the many verses in the Bible that reference God using whatever means necessary to bring glory and honor to His name.
For that, I am grateful.
For the opportunity to show others the love and faithfulness of our Savior,
through our son, I am honored.
The same people that can attest to my need for organization, and schedules, can also attest to my tendency to only share what I choose to ensure people maintained a certain opinion of me. I filter my words, my attitude - rarely letting people see troubles or fears. I didn't even tell my very best friends about the suspicion of Baker being born with Down Syndrome.
I filtered.
But then I didn't.
I felt a tugging.
I felt like God was calling me to share.
Be a light in this life.
So, I started a blog.
And through this outlet, I seek to share, encourage, witness, and love.
I pray daily that someone will visit "Our Dream Come True" for a sneak peek at our precious boy and be blessed, will seek to know the love of Christ in a greater way. I also pray that I live out what I write. It's easy to say one thing, and do another when faced with the stresses and fears and temptations of this world. Through my words and actions, I pray I will be a light in this life.

I think there's more than just a blog for our little family of three.
I don't know what it is, but I know God has big plans for us as Baker's parents,
and for our sweet Baker Boy to be a light in his life.
I can't wait to see what's in store!

If you came hoping for a sneak peek of our little, but instead got the rambling of my heart, check back tomorrow.
You'll LOVE them!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Wishing for the Weekend

I am so, so guilty of wishing away the week in hopes of the weekend.
I think it's because we are so rush-rush on weekdays,
while the weekends, for us, are filled with family and friends and fellowship and fun!
And are completely void of alarm clocks and emails and deadlines.

Saturdays and Sundays are pretty much perfect.

Our weekend captured in Instagram photos:

Boy loves his daddy's hat.

Yes, we are still wearing Christmas jammies in January.
Don't hate.

Baby's got his blue jeans on.
Look at that lil booty!

This boy.
He's mine.

The 'rents came Sunday to play with the babe,
and I got to spend my afternoon at the lake with these two.
We didn't leave as dry as we arrived.

Each day, I find myself uttering "it's almost Friday," or "only two more days," or something disgustingly similar.
My goals this week:
Love each day.
Pray with someone each day.
Celebrate each day.
Be a blessing to someone each day.
Find something unique to do each day and make a memory doing it.
Write a note to someone each day.
I think I will always look forward to the weekend,
I may even wish for it.
But not so much that I miss opportunities throughout the week.
Opportunities to be a blessing to someone.
Opportunities to make memories.
Opportunities to celebrate Mondays and Fridays, and all the days in between.

Here's to weekends, and weekdays alike.
May our everyday be a special day.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Favorite Things Friday

This is how Baker sleeps at home.
And that's because my little social butterfly will not sleep at school.

My King of Catnaps is now King of Will Not Nap.
It makes for short evenings.

He is currently going to sleep around 6:30
in the evening and sleeping for almost 12 hours.
I know, I know, I am supposed to enjoy this.
Celebrate this.
Be thankful he's sleeping.
Blah. Blah. Blah.

And I am.
A little.
But when we don't get home until after 5:00
and he's asleep by 6:30.
Cue sprint in the door, throw the babe a few bites of butternut squash,
bathe, lotion, powder, diaper, read,
sing one and a half stanzas of a favorite song, rock and
before you know it, it's "Bye, Bye Bake, see you next day."
It's tough stuff.
I know my tune will change when he's up every 17 minutes throughout the night.
But for right now, a little less chit chat to that adorable little 6 month old in the neighboring swing, and a little more nappy nappy is the song I'm singing.
There are definite perks.
Holding a sleeping babe - I'm convinced there's absolutely nothing better.
In his sleep, Baker has full-belly, body-shaking laughs.
He is the best snuggler.
He takes these big, deep breaths. Breaths that breathe security, peace, comfort.
I like this.
Him knowing he is safe in my arms.
Spending time with my biggest love.
We have just started a devotional together - The Love Dare.
Time with one another in God's word.
Praying together.
Sharing together.
I guess I can change my tune a little.
My sweet friend, Patti, shared a book with me today.
Karen Kingsbury's Let Me Hold You Longer.
It's a poignant reminder of the preciousness of a child's life.

I'm sure, like all stages, this one will be too short-lived.
And I have promised not to rush a single one.
I will cherish each one.
Celebrate each one.
Because each one is a gift.

Baker Boy, we'll just call you Rip.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Gift

I started writing this post as a journal entry.
An outpouring of my heart.
A confession of my weaknesses.
An attempt to seek prayer and encouragement.
Then, it evolved into something else.

Instead of letting this be about me,
I hope to make this about something greater, about children.
A gift.
If you are a parent, or plan to become a parent,
I hope to provide you with a glimpse of hope and encouragement.

If you are new to this blog,
my son Baker, who is now eight months old,
 was born almost four weeks early with Down Syndrome.
You can read his birth story here.

But don't stop there, read through other posts.
Read about his first time eating green beans,
and giggling,
and rolling over.
Read about the way my heart has grown since becoming his mommy.
Read about the challenges, the emotions, the joys.
Read and learn and share in our gift.

Today is Sanctity of Life Sunday.

A day to honor life.
All lives.
But for me, it is a day to honor my Baker.
A gift.
I hope today, or this time next year,
or the year after, it will be a day of honoring your gift, too.

Did you know that the experts are predicting that in a matter of years,
Down Syndrome will be extinct?

Not because scientists have found a cure.
No, because medical technology is so advanced that doctors are detecting it earlier and earlier and an increasing number of families are making the decision to abort babies with a chance of being born with this disability.

The New York Post reports, ninety-two percent of pregnancies receiving the diagnosis of Down Syndrome end in abortion.

Many statistics I can brush off as just a statistic,
but this one,
this one breaks my heart in so many pieces.

I think back to that day when we learned of the heightened chance
of Baker being born with Downs,
I think back to that day in the genetic counselor's office
where we were encouraged to abort Baker.
They were insistent on doing an amniocentesis on that date
because any later would be too late.
I think about the feeling of Brian's hand in mine.
I think about the feeling of warm tears streaming down my cheeks.
I think about the rough fiber of carpet digging in my knees
as I called on the face of God.
I think about lying on that ultrasound table and
hearing the pride in Brian's voice when the doctor
confidently announced a baby boy.
I think about the feeling of walking out of that office,
without an amniocentesis and very much with a baby.
I think about that cool December air and Brian
uttering "Baker" in barely a whisper just to see how it felt.

I think about the peace,
the perfect peace,
that let me know God is bigger than a disability,
and He is and would always be in control.

Today, my heart is torn.
I am hopeful that my story, along with many others out there,
 will provide encouragement that having a baby,
even especially a baby with a disability brings joy at the utmost,
unspeakable joy.

That, yes, there are trials, and there are struggles,
and there are financial burdens, and time constraints.
But even more, there are celebrations, and woo-hoos, and
smiles, and love, and answered prayers.
And gifts.
Oh, the gifts.

I pray for mothers and fathers today.
I pray they will recognize the sanctity of life, all life,
and will trust in the Lord with their children,
a most precious gift.
To provide for them and meet their needs.

Jehovah Jireh, my provider.
He can be yours, too.

These are verses I have written on my hand,
scribbled on Post-its galore,
etched on the walls of my heart.

They are strength in my weakness.
They can be yours, too.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts....
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55: 9, 11

"As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.
'Rabbi," his disciples asked him,
Why was this man born blind?
Was it because of his own sins or his parents' sins?'
'It was not because of his sins or his parents' sins,' Jesus answered.
'This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.'
John 9: 1-4

"My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness..."
2 Corinthians 12: 9

"Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
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

"Now to Him, who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine,
according to the power that works within us."
Ephesians 3:20

Friday, January 18, 2013

Favorite Things Friday

I had a brief moment today where I, in the words of a dear friend, freaked my freaked.
I went from total panic to sheer exhilaration.

It is not atypical for Baker's high chair to look like this.

We combine eating with occupational therapy with entertaining the babe so I can have a fighting chance of getting supper on the table before breakfast is served. 

Today, I was feeding Baker a cup of yogurt, and we were practicing raking and picking up items. 
Namely, the dice, mesh thingy resembling a pacifier (that I would buy over and over and over again), 
colored squishy balls, and stacking cups. 
I turned to the counter to scoop another scrumptious bite of yogurt, and I turn back to see six black uniformly stacked dots on a die staring back at me from INSIDE BAKER'S MOUTH! 
Yes, a die. 
Yes, in his mouth.

First thought - well, no thought, just mommy mode full speed ahead. 
I jerked that thing out of his mouth so fast you could see cartoon worthy dust in my tracks. 
And then mommy mode in another form kicked in. 
I slowed down long enough to realize my Baker picked up that cube, 
that little bitty thing, and put it right into his mouth.


Y'all, this is what we've been working on. 
But Baker has never carried anything that small to his mouth. 
Bibs, yes.
Cloth diapers, yes.
Chunky Baker Boy thumbs, yes.
Pacifiers, no.
Puffs and yogurt bites, no.

Not even Sophie the Giraffe.

The fact that he first picked this up off his tray, 
then carried it without dropping or throwing it all the way to his face, 
then placed it in his mouth. 
I'll say it again, 


We take for granted the motor skills this requires.
All of the different muscles that work in unison to create this action. 
After "freaking my freak," I spun my boy around the kitchen, 
shook my groove thang, 
let out some serious "woo-hoos," and "get you some, Baker Bell"s! 
Baker was quite confused, but played along seeming to enjoy his mama's craziness.

Cue "Hallelujah Chorus."

Celebrations, y'all.
We do it lots 'round here.

On this Friday, this is my favorite thing.
Celebrating milestones.
Singing and dancing.
And "get you some Baker Bell"-ing.
And shaking my groove thang.
And Baker smiling knowing he has done something so big that made his mama so 
happy she acted quite like a complete nut.

Happy Friday, friends.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

'Sippi Snow

We have been watching the weather all week.

For the most part, it has been cold and wet and totally ick.
For like seven days straight.

No wonder Christina and Meredith are so tempermental. 
I felt very much like a character on Grey's living in Seattle,
aside from the whole doctors saving lives thing.

Talk of snow in the south has had me glued to The Weather Channel
and hanging on Al Roker's every single word.

Last night, we went to bed with plans of going about the next day as regularly scheduled.
I completed my lesson plans for tonight's course at the University and prepared all of the materials for a trainer we were hosting for professional development at school. I peeked at my phone a few times during the night to see if the local news station had released any new information regarding the weather and school closings. The decision was finally made shortly after six to delay school until mid morning. Then the snow and sleet got more intense, and they called off school completely for a
(Thanks Leah, I totally stole that from you).

I may or may not have done a happy dance that involved hoopin' and hollerin' and actin' a total fool.

Brian still had to go to work, but I was in hog heaven spending this snowy Thursday in front of the fireplace watching the fluffy flakes fall with my itty bitty.

I love the view looking out my kitchen window.
The bales of hay,

and this little red barn,

and this charming old fence.

Don't tell Baker, but I crept out during nap time to play with Harley.

These two are from a snow day three years ago.
Pup dog loves the snow!

We didn't spend much time outside, as Baker has started running a low-grade fever. 
But I had to capture memories of our boy's first snow. 
So I snuggled him up tightly and out we went to enjoy the snow flurry shower.


Here's to many more cold, wintry days made warmer with coffee and fires and family and fun.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Adventures

As of tomorrow, you can call me Professor.
Adjunct Professor, that is.
Beginning tomorrow, I will embark on a new adventure. I will continue in my current role at the elementary school, but will also teach a course, Reading for College two days a week. I am super excited! This has been a personal and professional goal of mine forever and am so thrilled to have the opportunity to educate at the university level.

In other new adventures, this boy is on the go!
Can not, will not stay still very long.
He plays in the bouncy seat, only to move to his high chair, to the floor, to the rocking chair to read a book, to his swing, and then repeat.
No wonder my house looks like a tornado!

Love this little busybody SO much and am thankful for exciting new adventures with my little and big loves.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Roll Tide!

Yes, that would be my big boy sitting up all by himself.
Go Baker Go! 
McCarron and Lacy weren't the only Bama boys showing out yesterday.

"Mommy, Mommy!
Did you see me!
Look what I did!!"
Boy was so proud. Me too.

Be still my heart.

I was proud of all the Bama boys yesterday.
This one most of all.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Weekend Shenanigans

And by shenanigans, I mean totally shenanigan-free
and totally lazy and totally fabulous.
Or, as the cool kids say, "totes fab, y'all!"

Friday was a doozy.
After a lovely Christmas vacay lasting fourteen blissful days,
we returned to the real world.
Bake at school and the grown ups at work.
By 11:00, I was longing to scoop up my little and rush home to our recently established routine, which was free of any routine at all.

Friday night, Brian and I went on a date.
It had been so long since we had gone anywhere, just the two of us.
We love outings with Baker; but, it was nice to listen to real music on the drive, not have to carry multiple bags on each arm, and have conversation at a normal adult volume and in an appropriate-for-public-tone. My mommy voice is a tad annoying to anyone over the age of 12 months. And I smelled good. Instead of being perfumed with spit up, or Boudreaux's, I smelled of soap, and lotion, and perfume (that lasted all of five seconds after we picked up Baker - but that's neither here nor there).

I'm not gonna lie. I checked my phone 118 times to see if I had missed a text about him. I knew he was fine. But you know me, worry, worry, worry. Too much worry!
It was a great night with my biggest love.

Baker may or may not have slept in our bed Friday night to make up for our time away.
A day and a night is just too much!

Saturday was rainy and cold and ick. Brian went hunting, and Baker and I stayed inside and played and napped.
Glorious day!
I heart Saturdays.

During his naps, I watched Three Men and a Little Baby and Three Men and a Little Lady.
I heard Tom Selleck is up for making a third.
And I, for one, would be totally up for this.
And in honor of this potential movie,
Brian and I are singing Baker to sleep tonight in true Three Men and a Little fashion.

"I hate to leave you, but I really must say, Goodnight Sweetheart. Goodnight!"

Thursday, January 3, 2013

His Letter

This video highlights a couple, Jennifer and Heath White, 
and their little girl, Paisley.
It was featured on ESPN's E:60.
When they found out Paisley would be born with Down Syndrome,
the husband, Heath White, was adamant his wife abort her.
Now, he couldn't imagine his life without her.
While we don't share many of the same viewpoints, I can empathize with their fears.
After watching, I felt compelled to write a similar letter.
But before doing so, I looked back at the journal I kept along my journey to become a mother. I read all the letters I wrote to Baker, before I even knew he was going to be my Baker. I contemplated sharing them with you, but they are raw, emotional, personal. And while I try to share details of our life, that's a sacred time I think I will keep tucked away in my journal.
The first is dated January 5, 2011. It was written just three weeks before I would miscarry.
I have another written October 27, 2012 when I was eight and a half weeks pregnant with Baker. The next one to him was written on December 21. That was the day I received the phone call with the results of the quad screen. That page has tear stains smearing my writing.
There were several others.
Words of longing.
Words of joy.
Words of hope.
Words of love.
Words that take me right back to my favorite maternity jeans, fluttering and quickly-blossoming belly, and the taste of citrus evidencing my insatiable craving - navel oranges.
Letters are good. Writing is good.
I see why Heath chose to write a letter to Paisley.
I haven't written a letter to Baker since we brought him home from the hospital.
Rather, I have been living out my love letter to him.

So here goes,
a letter that I will share with him,
just like the many others I wrote along our journey.
A letter that shows our love for him, our unwavering desire for him.
His letter.
My Dearest Baker,
I never knew my heart could love in such a way,
until I became a mommy, your mommy.
Your daddy and I prayed for you long before we met you,
and we pray for you still.
Before you were born, we prayed for a baby.
We never knew God would give us such an incredible little boy to love so much.
We pray we will be godly parents that teach you
most importantly, to love the Lord,
to put the needs of others before your own,
to respect others, and in turn, respect yourself,
to stand up for what you believe in.
When I look at you, I see what I want to be.
I see a little boy with a big heart.
A heart that loves life.
Oh, how you love life.
You love reading, and playing, and listening to your daddy play the guitar, and you even love your mommy's singing.
Your smile is contagious, infectious.
Your laugh, your words, your entire being exudes joy.
I see a little boy with a big fight.
Never once have I seen you give up.
You, my sweet boy, are my hero.
You take each day, each struggle, each difficulty, and you strive, and you work, and you overcome it.
You have just enough stubborn in you to surpass all expectations,
regardless of the many hindrances in your way.
You grunt, and you get red-faced, and you get mad.
Boy, can you get mad.
But, you stick with it - whatever it is.
And you do it.
And you love it.
And I love it, too.
I see a little boy with a big spirit.
You want to make other people happy.
When you see me smile, you continue doing whatever it is,
just to keep me smiling.
Oh, how I love this about you.
I see a little boy with a big influence.
You, in your short seven months,
have touched more lives than I could ever dream.
I am a better person for being your mommy.
People gravitate towards you.
They pray for you, they love on you,
they hope and fight and work alongside you,
to make sure you know you are special.
Baker Bell, don't you ever forget that.
You are special.
And not because of an extra chromosome.
You are special because God made you.
And He made you just right.
And I am so, so thankful that He gave you to me.
Your mommy and daddy love you.
To the moon and back,
from your head to your toes and all the sweet spots in between,
with our whole hearts,
we love you more than you will ever know.
Your family, your friends, your teachers, your therapists, even people you have never met, love you.
You are our answered prayer, our miracle, our fighter,
our dream come true,
our Baker Boy.
I love you forever,
Your Mommy

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Speech Therapy Take One

Baker had his first session of Speech Therapy today.
He had a wardrobe malfunction as we were entering the rehabilitation facility, so it's fortunate I had a change of clothes. Oh, that boy.
I am always so pleased with his therapists. They do such a wonderful job disguising work as play for Baker.
Ms. Dawn is his Speech Therapist and is the bomb dot com.
She is the same one who conducted his Barium Swallow Study a few weeks ago.
They made a lot of silly faces.

Had a little chat, where he told her everything he knew.
That took a while.
Took a break for a snack.

Drank out of a big boy straw.


And then kicked back with a nice, cool drink.

I left refreshed, encouraged, and educated.
Baker is currently in the 6-7 month range in some objectives, and 7-8 months in others. I am so proud of the progress he's making and look forward to seeing the strides he will make as we more intentionally engage in activities to encourage this development.
As the therapists always do, she gave me so many ideas about the things we can do at home between therapy sessions to promote eating, drinking, speaking, object recognition, and using sign language fluently.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Year Our Dream Came True

Two thousand, twelve was the year of dreams come true.

I had the opportunity to attend a conference for educators right after I found out I was pregnant with Baker. The guest speaker was a National Teacher of Year recipient. She was a phenomenal teacher with a powerful message - all of the students we teach, no matter how bratty, or smelly, or snot-nose are someone's dream come true.

I hadn't told a soul in the auditorium that I was, in fact, carrying my dream come true. I teared up during the presentation as thought about how long I had been dreaming of my sweet Baker Boy.

I thought back to my childhood caring for Lucy, my favorite Madame Alexander doll. She was my baby. And as only a four year old little girl, I was her mama. I fed her, changed her diaper, read to her, taught her ABCs and 123s, rocked her to sleep. I imagined she was a real baby and I was a real mommy.

Lucy was soon replaced with real, live babies. Sisters and brothers who needed me, as their big sister to teach them how to play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" on the piano and cook brownies in their Easy Bake Oven, hold their hand as they crossed the street, read Three Little Pigs umpteen times before finally drifting off to sleep alongside them in their baby bed.

 As my friends and I played pretend, they were Miss America, or Reba McEntire, or a teacher, or a doctor. But me, I was always a mama. I named my babies, all four of them. When we played pretend. I always had four - two boys and two girls (the me today has a wee little bit of a panic attack at the thought of four babies).

Then I got married to the love of my life. And we talked about babies. We discussed who they would look like. Would they have my brown eyes and long legs, or would they have Brian's beautiful smile and olive complexion? We discussed possible family names, and where they would go to school. But we were having so much fun just the two of us, we decided to wait a little longer. We still hoped for a baby. A little Bell Boy, or a mini-me.

Dreamed and wished and planned and prayed.

And then, our prayers of a baby, our dream come true, were answered.



Two thousand, twelve.
The year our dream came true.

May two thousand, thirteen be your year of dreams come true.
Happy New Year.