Saturday, April 27, 2013

one month appointment

I had a few things I was going to post on this week...siblings & slumber parties, everybody matters, how we decided on Jack's name, etc...but all of that came to a halt when I brought Jack to his one month appointment yesterday.

One month.  I couldn't believe I was going to his one month appointment.  Staying in the hospital for almost the first whole week made that one go very fast.  But I can't believe how the last four weeks have flown by.  I think with all the appointments and all the traffic of visitors and meals, we haven't had a chance to sit down yet.  The crazy weather and delicious meals have not helped in shedding these baby pounds, I think I eat as frequently as Jack does...every three hours! :)

I had the car all packed up.  After the appointment at 9:30, Jack and I were headed to Nana and Papa's house to meet up with the Poppe's for a weekend in Luverne.  I couldn't wait to get to my parents and see family and have my Grandma meet Jack for the first time.  I sent Luke off with Chris to go to Gramma and Grandpa's and Jack and I were enroute to the appointment.

The first part of the appointment is always filled with weight, length, head circumference, and temperature.  I was surprised to learn at his first appointment that they have a specific growth chart for children with Down syndrome which I have come to really appreciate.  I know in the future there will be a lot of comparison with the 'typical' child his age, but to know that his growth is among other children with Down syndrome is comforting.  I am grateful they have so much data and research for his diagnosis that it won't be another thing that we will be reminded that he might be behind in.

Dr. C had come in and we got a chance to go over the past couple weeks.  "How is he eating and sleeping?"  "How is Luke adjusting?"  The basic questions and then onto..."Let's take a look at him."

As I laid him down on the table he immediately noticed how large his belly was.  "Is his belly always this descended?  Does it usually look like this?"  I responded that he had just ate and that I had thought from past conversations that children with Down syndrome usually are floppy and have a little larger belly.  I don't know when I thought I heard that, but at that moment I think I thought I might have made that up in my head.  I am sleep deprived but as he kept pushing on Jack's stomach I was starting to wonder what he was looking for.  Should I have noticed this?

"I would like to get an X-ray and ultrasound of his stomach.  Do you have plans for today?  I would like you to go to Children's and get this done as soon as possible. "  My plans of leaving to go out of town flooded my mind but at that moment didn't matter.  Children's.  I got a sinking feeling in my stomach.

After getting the orders written up it was confirmed that they could get us in at 2pm.  I sat down and called Chris.  Emotions filled my voice as I told him that Dr. C wanted to get his abdominal area looked at again and that we needed to go to Children's hospital.  I was scared and frightened by what they might find.

I was just saying to Chris the day before that I found myself not asking God every hour (or minute) for strength, that I was feeling more hopeful.  The days were getting easier and that I was moving toward the acceptance stage of the reality of Jack having Down syndrome.  As Dr. C came back and told me what the x ray and ultrasound would look like my eyes began to fill up with tears.  Here we go again.  Was I getting too confident in my own strength and I thought everything was fine.  Saying, "Thanks God...but I've got this."

" don't have this...I can carry this for you."

As I drove to pick up Chris I called my sister and just cried.  Cried because I was scared.  I was scared for Jack, scared for what they would find, and scared because I had fallen in love with this little guy.  I told her that when they did all these tests in the hospital I didn't know him very well.  This past month I had learned so much about him, cuddled him, fed him, bathed him, changed him, loved him and now I am scared for him.  I let my heart love him and now they might tell me that there is something growing in him that could take him from me.  "Okay Lord, I accepted that he has Down syndrome, but now this?  I can't take this?"

" don't have to...I can carry this for you."

Matthew 11:28 
Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."


I hate going to Children's.  I am grateful to have such an amazing hospital so close to our home.  I know that we are very blessed to have one of the best hospitals in the US near us for the best care for our little guy...but I hate being there.  I hate being there because I know most families that are there are because their child is sick.  My heart hurts for every child and family there because there is uncertainty if their child is going to be healthy (again).

We laid our 8 pound baby on the metal table as they strapped his little legs down and I held his arms above his head.  He cried as the x ray scanned his belly.  It was quick and seemed painless but again I felt like it was surreal to have my baby laying on this table.  Now onto the ultrasound.  The only ultrasound I have ever seen done is on my pregnant belly.  The technician put the gel on his stomach and looked around for the specific organs.  I couldn't believe that seven weeks earlier I was having the same thing done on my own belly, with him inside.

We waited for our Doctor to call with the results.  The radiologist told us that they needed to get one more x-ray and then we should have more information.  Our Doctor called after the second x-ray and said that nothing came up on either of the x-rays and ultrasound.  That his belly was filled with gas which was causing it to be so descended.  He suggested going to the gastroenterologist and also have him tested for aspirating while eating.  But nothing serious.  Nothing but gas.  Really just gas?  Lord, is that your way of saying...I do need you every hour for even things like gas?  ;)

While we waited we were so comforted by the prayers being prayed for our little Jack and the encouragement that we were given.  There is power in prayer.  I read something that was shared with me during this moment of uncertainty...I hope you are encouraged by it as much as I's a reminder of God's love for our children.

"Your children are precious to Me.  Even more precious than they are to you.  I have entrusted them to your care to raise for Me.  What you invest in them is an offering to Me."                           -roy lessin

I need Thee every hour...

Friday, April 19, 2013

need You now...


So to be completely honest on how this week has gone...two words have been causing me to have a pain in my upper back and made me have to inhale and exhale slowly to just keep breathing.

Denial and Guilt.

I'll start first with the denial and tie it into the guilt and how each of them come and go through my mind numerous times throughout the day.  My mind...that is my biggest battle.  From other Moms that have been in my position, I have been told my thoughts are completely normal.  I am thankful that I am not alone in these feelings.

When people see Jack for the first time and know he has Down syndrome, a typical response is, "He doesn't really look like he has Down syndrome.  Are they sure?  He doesn't have many of the physical features.  I don't see it Carissa."  Honestly, I have had SO many people say this to me.  So from early on, I would look at him and think, maybe they are wrong.  I told Chris when we got home from the hospital that I felt like someone was going to call us and say they were wrong.  I was thinking, oh my goodness, I started this blog and told everyone that my child has Down syndrome and he doesn't have it.  What am I going to do now?  How do I tell everyone that?  When Chris told me on the night he was born that they "thought" he had Down syndrome I keyed in on the word "thought."  I was waiting for the phone call.  It never came.  I wouldn't say I am the best listener at times but I started to question what the doctor had said the day he came in and said that the results came back and confirmed he had it.  My best friend was standing next to me as we listened to him and last week I had to ask her if that is what she heard.

A surreal experience was pulling into the Children's hospital and being at the Down syndrome clinic two weeks after he was born.  15 days earlier, I would have never thought we would be jamming our weeks full of appointments and learning an abundant amount of information on Down syndrome.  Sitting with the Genetic counselor and sharing our family tree, including information on pertinent health  backgrounds from each side, was not what I wanted to do.  Then she pulled out the print off that said it clearly, infant was found with an extra 21st chromosome.  There it was.  There was no mistake.  The diagram she showed after that of how the chromosomes line up was a blur because of the tears that filled my eyes.  My baby really did have Down syndrome.

So onto the guilt.   A mother's guilt is real, it's deep, and it can steal so much of who we are.  I experience a mother's guilt with Luke but never as much as I have these past three weeks.  My personality plays right into this and I know it is not helpful to anyone.  I think of all the things I should be doing, what books I should be reading, the exercises I should be having him do (I am aware that he is only 3 weeks old ;)...but mostly what I should NOT be feeling.  Now knowing that he certainly does have Down syndrome, I have looked at him and instead of seeing my baby, I have just thought of Down syndrome.  I am thankful that these thoughts don't steal all of my time with Jack, just flow in an out occasionally.  I find myself just wanting to hold him, smell him, listen to his sounds, and watch him sleep. I cry thinking that I am missing some of this baby stage because my anxiety and fear of the unknown is stealing my joy of being with my baby.  If I miss this stage, I will eventually have guilt for missing it.  I feel the guilt when I bring my child somewhere and cry when telling someone he has Down syndrome, knowing a few of my friends that have had a miscarriage, deal with infertility, or lost their sweet baby.  My heart breaks for them and I feel selfish.

Chris reminds me that we need to take every thought captive.

Romans 12:2
...but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  

I believe there is beauty here.

A few months ago I shared a song that I absolutely love.  It reminds me that each person is on a journey filled with many hills and valleys and the desire to cry out to God.  I do know that this song captures my heart at this very moment.  Need You Now (by Plumb).  Let this song move you like it has moved me.  I am confident that God will give me the strength to just keep breathing and confident that He will stay right beside me.  Because I have a baby that needs me now.

"Need You Now (How Many Times)"

Well, everybody's got a story to tell
And everybody's got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there's beauty here
'Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on
I can't let go, I can't move on
I want to believe there's meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Though I walk,
Though I walk through the shadows
And I, I am so afraid
Please stay, please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

How many times have you heard me cry out?
And how many times have you given me strength?

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Nail salon and NICU


Wow, where have the past three weeks gone?  I can't believe how quickly the days go and I am very thankful for such a sweet baby in Jack.  I would like to thank you for the encouragement we receive daily!  It carries us on the low moments and I am so excited to say that yesterday was the first time in three weeks I didn't cry. Might be that my hormones are getting a little bit back to 'normal' or that I continue to be hopeful and encouraged for the future.  Being the controlling person I can be...I have never been more challenged to TRUST and truly rely on God to ease my anxiety about the unknowns this journey will take us on.  I have told many people that when I reflect on my life so far, I have realized how He has woven each thread in my life and brought good out of every circumstance.  If you have a moment, please listen to Sarah Groves' song...He's Always Been Faithful.  We had this song as a part of our wedding slideshow.

So, onto the angel in the nail salon.  Again, God reveals how He orchestrated this meeting, on an average Monday morning.  It makes me realize how many times we go about our own business and don't acknowledge people in our presence and I have to ask what God could teach us through a simple conversation.  If this interaction did not happen, we might not be snuggling our baby at this very moment.  So let me rewind to that Monday morning...

After another night of off and on again contractions, I was ready for a pedicure to distract me from the pain that was coming and also acknowledge that I probably wouldn't be getting one anytime soon after the baby arrived.  My Mom, Caitie, and I met up around 11 o'clock and I picked out the best OPI color, Pink Flamenco!  As my toes were drying I started to feel the contractions coming on stronger, I paced the back of the salon and took some deep breaths.  I had noticed a woman getting a manicure that kept looking over at me and smiling.  This is not unusual when you are pregnant.  A pregnant belly is a manget for older woman to smile and ask questions.  :)  After meeting eyes with this woman I told her I can not have this baby in the nail salon.  She said, "Actually you could, I am a labor and delivery nurse.  Where are you delivering at?" I responded with the name of the hospital and she said she had just finished her shift there.  She told me that if I was to have the baby this week (which she confirmed that I looked close at that point) that she would be there.  She had just had foot surgery and told me that she probably wouldn't be my nurse but she would definitely look for my name when she was working.

Now fast forward to Tuesday noontime.  We had the morning filled with a doctor's visit, family visits, and the news of him having Down syndrome was settling in.  Although we still didn't have much information on his physical condition.  Jack was still in the baby warmer in our room.  I had asked Chris what his emotional state was at that point and he said he was so unsure of what he was feeling, if our baby was going to be okay, if he was not going to make it, just a sense of confusion.

Diane, the nurse from the nail salon saw my name on the list and came down to visit our new baby boy.  She came in knowing that Jack had Down syndrome and said, "You grieve the baby you thought, and you love the baby you were given.  I came down to meet your beautiful baby."  At that moment, looking over him in the warmer, Jack started choking.  He started gagging for air.  Diane immediately asked who our nurse was, told Chris to push the nurse button, turned Jack downward and started firmly patting his back, then paged the NICU and said the word STAT.  She told us to pull the cord and her firm pats turned into forceful blows.  Flashes of my first aid training came flooding through.  If you have ever been trained in it and then see it done, it is very frightening.  Jack was turning blue and a hue of purple.  We stood there in silence as three people from the NICU ran into our room and tried to get Jack to breathe.

He was taken to the NICU for monitoring and do some tests.  They brought both Chris and I back to sit with him.  I was emotionally numb and felt at that point that I was going to throw up.  I remember sitting in the rocking chair and thinking to myself, I don't want to be here.  I can't do this.  I said to Chris, "I just need to go lay down.  Are you okay if I go back to the room?"  Again, Chris stayed with our baby and watched as they stuck tubes down his throat and did numerous tests on him.  When he came back I could see it in his body he was broken.  Tears streamed down his face.

After a couple hours in the NICU, the Neonatologist came and talked to us about Jack's abdominal scan. They had put a tube into his stomach to make sure his esophagus was okay, that his digestive tract was working properly, and that there wasn't a blockage.  It was confirmed that everything was perfect, that he was choking on fluid from being in the womb and could not breathe.  His echocardiogram came back normal, like a typical newborn.  No heart defects. 40-60% of children with Down syndrome are born with congenital heart defects.  Jack was explained to us that he was a healthy newborn...with an extra chromosome.

Diane was not our nurse.  Diane was just coming to say hello.  Diane met me the day before because she saw I was in labor.  I talked to her for 10 minutes and now she was saving my baby's life.  This is not by chance, she was an angel.  Taking a moment to reflect, oh how I am thankful my parents taught us kids to be personable, acknowledge others, make a new friend, and realize God can speak to you through others even when you are not expecting it.  God taught me something really big that day...never underestimate when and where God can show up...and that I need to get more pedicures! :) So who are you going to acknowledge today that you might not have taken the time to before?

                                                                           Proverbs 19:21  
                                         You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tuesday call and divine friendship


Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  

Tuesday morning came.  After Jack's birth on Monday night I was so tired from the surgery that I actually slept.  I can't even recall that first morning's feedings as I was so out of it. However, that morning my hospital phone rang.  In a world of cell phones it seemed odd that my hospital room phone would ring.  It was my doctor.  When I heard her voice I just sobbed.

I chose this doctor after much research of who was the best of the best.  If you know me, I will do everything to research and find out what I can do to set up for success in most areas of my life.  After a recommendation to the clinic she works at, matching her to being one of the top doctors in the metro area for women, my insurance covered it...I called the clinic in 2010.  She is a go getter, demands excellence, and she has a school of boys of her own at home.  She loves to run and you almost need to have your running shoes on when talking to her because she talks so fast.  She loves her patients.

Nonetheless, she started the conversation saying, "Carissa, how are you? I am here for you.  I am not going to say I am sorry because this is your beautiful baby.  But I do want to share with you something a patient of mine said to me years ago.  You don't need to feel bad about any of the feelings you are having.  That you need to grieve the child you thought you were going to have.  You need to grieve the life you thought your child would have.  I would like to connect you with a family that went through this same exact experience. They didn't know throughout pregnancy that their baby boy had down syndrome, and went through all the feelings you are having right now.  I am going to come see you today."

It felt like the first time I could exhale.  The first time I could allow a LITTLE bit of the guilt to go away.  I could be weak, I could say I didn't have it together.  I could cry and say I was broken.

What happened next is where God continues to reveal Himself.  I emailed my coworkers at the school I teach at and explained to them that we delivered Jack, that he was born with an extra chromosome, and I boldly asked for prayers on our new journey.  Within twenty minutes of sending that email I got a message from one of my coworkers.  She wrote, "I just got your email.  First of all congratulations on an absolutely beautiful baby boy.  Second of all...I know all too well the emotions you are feeling right this minute.  Please, please, call if you can.  Anytime.  I would love nothing more than to connect with you as soon as you are ready.  I know that God has His hand in all of this.  He always does.  Please give that sweet little angel a hug from me-he now has a new 'auntie'."  My coworker has a son with Down syndrome.  In her next message she said, "Turns out we must have the same OB, because Dr. K called me right after I got your email.  I knew it had to be you that she was calling about."

My coworker gave birth to her second child seven years ago.  A baby boy that has Down syndrome and they also did not know through their pregnancy.  I work in the same building, have had numerous conversations with her, go to the same church, and have known her for the past four years.  I had no idea that she went to my doctor, my doctor had no idea that I worked in the same building.

In this past two weeks, this relationship has gone from occasional conversations in the hallway or classrooms to a divine friendship that gives me strength and hope of what the future holds.  Her son is a fun, loving, joy filled seven year old that was so excited to meet our new baby Jack.  On Easter Sunday, they met for the first time and I can only hope that Jack grows to be just like him.  His Mom came over this last Saturday night to talk with me after my breakdown on Friday night.  I asked her every question I have been wrestling with and I praise God for this woman.  Thank you my friend!

I don't believe that any of the events that happened were a coincidence or luck, I believe that all of the things that have unfolded were constructed by God's perfect plan.  I know this and believe this yet my heart still hurts at times.  I have my low moments throughout the day and nights.  I cried all night this past Friday.  The things that get me the most is when I look too far ahead into the future. Will Jack be able to talk, will he be able to establish friendships, will he graduate from high school, will he live with us forever?  I am reminded by many people to take one day at a time but when I allow my mind to wander that is what gets me the most.

On his birth day the devotional that Chris reads daily from InTouch Ministries was titled Breaking Free from Worry.  It states that most Christians will claim to believe that the heavenly Father cares for us and His promises are dependable.  And yet far too many keep right on worrying.  That is me right now.  It goes on to say that worry is a corrosive poison that eats away at our trust in God.  It finishes with reminding that scripture teaches that God knows all our needs, concerns, and desires but still commands us not to worry.  He wants our trust and if I allow Him, He will prove that the worry was unnecessary.

Tuesday, the 26th,  was one of the hardest days of my life.  It was also Luke's 2nd birthday.  The next post I will write about what happened later that morning when the angel from the nail salon came to visit and Jack's stay in the NICU.  Stay tuned...

Monday, April 1, 2013

The climb just got a little steeper...

John 9:3 "but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

So as you can see I have not used this blog since 2011. This also was a personal blog that I never shared with anyone. I am not the best with words and putting my thoughts together but hopefully you can hang with me through this process. I am scared to be so vulnerable with my feelings. I have come to realize that this might be the best way for me to share about the CLIMB that just got a little I will start with a recap of pregnancy #2 and how one week ago...our lives changed forever.

In early July we found out we were expecting baby #2 which happened to be exactly the same time of year that we got pregnant with Luke, our first son. At the first OB appointment we found out that this child's due date would be March 22, 2013...four days before Luke's 2nd birthday. I went late with Luke and was induced and delivered him five days late on March 26th, 2011. The short summary is that I felt great through this pregnancy. I loved being active with running (until 5 months), swimming laps, and walking. At 20 weeks we got to see our little blessing and were told he is very healthy, has a healthy heart, blood flow, measuring good, and that it was a boy!! At about 32 weeks I was measuring smaller and only had gained about 20 some pounds. My doctor ordered an ultrasound to check that he was doing good and again he got an 8/8 on the ultrasound. At 39 weeks he was again measuring about 37 weeks and I was told that I would probably just have a smaller baby. Honestly, I never thought of anything because I felt that if there was something, it would have shown up on the 4 ultrasounds I had with the heart, lungs, etc and nothing came up.

So...on to ONE of the hardest parts of this journey. The delivery of Jack. I still can not talk about this without crying. Labor pains started Friday evening, coming on and off. Then Saturday night the contractions were about 5 minutes apart and at 2am I called the doctor. The doctor on call wanted me to come in and get checked. Sunday morning we drove to the hospital and they said I had dilated to a 4. My contractions were very far a part by that time and I said I would rather go home and labor longer at home than be here for days. On Monday, my Mom, Caitie and I went to get a pedicure and the contractions started again. I told everyone in the nail salon that I couldn't have this baby here...only to hear from the lady next to us that indeed, she was a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital we were planning to deliver at! Her name is Diane and she is very significant in our story in the days to come. Only God could construct this you will read in a later post. The afternoon was filled with pink toes, contractions, and Pannino's! I called Chris that afternoon and told him that he needed to come home as they were coming every 3 minutes apart.

(Before I go too much farther I will say that I love the hospital that we went to and will hopefully deliver more babies please don't take the events to follow as something that I hold anyone responsible for or ill feelings about)

We got to the hospital around 4pm and as I checked in, the nurse that was there for us on Sunday became our nurse until that evening at 7pm. I had progressed to an 8 and was so excited that soon we would be meeting our baby! My doctor was off that evening and her partner in the practice would be delivering our baby. She came in around 7pm and introduced herself. She said, "I came early, going to have my dinner, and then I will be back soon to deliver your baby!" I asked her, "Do you think we will deliver before midnight? Our son has a birthday tomorrow, so I was curious if they would be born on the same day." Ten minutes of talking and she glanced over at the monitor and the baby's heart rate dropped from 130s to 70. They moved me from side to side, put a cord on his scalp and nothing changed. She then said, "I am so sorry to tell you this, but we have to do an emergency c-section." Chris was sitting on the nearby couch and canceling his classes for Tuesday as they were unhooking my cords and pushing me out the door. I looked back at him and all I could say, "Chris, please keep praying." I heard them say, "We will be back for you."

As I stared at the ceiling in the surgery room, tears streamed down my face. They put a mask on me and told me that when I wake my baby will be here. I asked them, "Can you please go get my husband?" They said, "I am sorry he can not be in here." I just cried with fear. I overheard them say the patient has a necklace on. I was wearing one of my most cherished gifts from Chris, my tear drop Cross necklace on my neck. God was with me.

I awoke to a woman calling my name. They said the baby is here and is downstairs with your husband. I asked if he could come to me. They said no and explained I needed to recover for at least another 30 to 45 minutes. I just laid there and cried. This is not what I had envisioned for my delivery, this is not what I had 'planned'.

While I was recovering these events were happening with Chris, Jack, and my Mom who was awaiting my return. I share this because my heart breaks for them as I can't imagine the feelings they were having. They never came back to get Chris for the delivery. They didn't tell him that he couldn't be with me. The doctor said she couldn't have him in there because Jack's heart rate was so low. I still have a hard time thinking of him being alone in the room. My mom was at our house and I had told her to come later as I probably would be laboring for awhile. She missed me by 10 minutes. She sat in the room when they brought Jack to Chris.

The Nurse practitioner came in with Jack and asked him,  "Are you aware of Trisomy 21?"  He said, "I am not sure what you are saying?"

"Were you aware he could have Down syndrome? We believe he might have Trisomy 21 because of some of the characteristics he is showing. But we aren't sure until we take some tests. Low muscle tone, smaller weight, his swollen eyes, ears.  As she left, "Well, just enjoy your baby."

They asked him to come to the nursery so they could check Jack over. He stayed with him for an hour and half, with this baby that an hour earlier was in my belly, and now told this child was his and has Down syndrome. He sat in the chair staring at the baby as the nurses near him talked in the background. He said he couldn't even hear what they were saying as the world had just become a blur. My mom watched from outside the nursery at Chris as he stood over the baby crib. While she waited, she was asked by two Bethel student nurses if they could do anything for her. One of them had recognized Chris because he teaches at Bethel. They sat next to my Mom, on each side, and prayed for Jack, Chris, and I.

Chris said that in 7 years of marriage and 4 years of dating this was the first time he just couldn't call me or have me around to go through this with. We were both alone and longed to be together. I can't express to you how much I love my husband. He is such a solid, hard working, disciplined, faith filled man that I respect with all that I am. To envision him peering over this crib in such confusion and patiently wait to see me brings tears to my eyes. I love him so much.

Around 9:45pm they brought me back to the room and when they rolled me in I saw Chris holding our baby. He brought him over to me. I looked at him and I can't tell you exactly what happened after that. I know that I heard Chris say that they "think" he has Down syndrome. My eyes filled with tears, and I just called out for him. I just balled as I held my new baby in my arms. My mom came in shortly after and I expressed my honest emotions at that point. "Mom, I hope they are wrong."

Chris and I immediately prayed over Jack and as we did with Luke when he was born. We prayed, giving our child back to God, knowing each of them were His to begin with and that each of them are a gift from God, specifically for us.

It's hard to leave this post with such raw emotions of my initial feelings about the news of Jack having Down syndrome. I will continue to share with you the feelings that followed the next few days, the NICU visit, the nurse from the nail salon, the day I fell in love with my baby boy, picking his name, my doctor's call and the divine friendship that would unfold with my coworker, the amazing ways God reveals the purpose of choosing Chris and I to raise Jack, my slumber party with my sister and Jack, our family and friends responses and how that has lifted and encouraged us, big brother Luke, and so much more as we journey this road.

I will end with how I started. This climb just got a little steeper...but I can confidently say that I would NEVER want to do this with anyone but Chris. He is such a rock to me. He said through tears, "Carissa, it's not IF we experience trials, but WHEN we experience trials, consider it pure joy." One of our wedding verses in October 2006 was Romans 1:11-12.

I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.

Only God knew how much this verse would mean on March 25th, 2013. I am so encouraged by my husband's faith in God and his ability to encourage me through this climb. I love you Chris.

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About Me

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The name of this blog was inspired by Kristin Armstrong's devotional book, Strength for the Climb. I am a midwest girl married to a handsome, hardworking, God-fearing man and the mother of two boys. My eldest son, a social butterfly that has enough energy and excitement to make anyone tired and a personality that will make you giggle with laughter. My youngest son, can cuddle like no other, and his eyes will speak right to your soul. Both of my sons have taught me more about God's grace and goodness. We are blessed to have an extra chromosome in our family as our sweet Jack was diagnosed at birth with Down syndrome. With that, I am reminded daily to trust and rely on God's perfect plan on this journey called life. I am a child of God and grateful to my Heavenly Father for His continued blessings, guidance, wisdom, and most importantly for saving my soul.