Thursday, March 24, 2011

An Honest Post...

This post has been on my heart & mind for sometime.  I'm just finally brave enough to share it.

All the time people tell me I'm amazing...
but am I really an amazing Mom?


I'm just a Mom.  I love my kids as much as my heart can possibly love, all in very different ways.  They are all unique, special, beautiful, and they all have so much to offer.

But do I lack patience?  Yes. 

Do I lose my temper and yell?  Yes.
Do I get grouchy?  Yes. 

Do I play with them as much as I should?  Do I do enough therapy with Ollie?  No, there is always room to improve, and I try my best.

Do I try hard to be a great Mom to my kids every day?  Yes.

I'm just a Mom.  The fact that Ollie has Down Syndrome & that Jade & I still wanted her isn't amazing.  It's part of being a parent - loving your child no matter what.  It's my job to love and protect her.  It's not shocking or amazing or special.  It doesn't make me a better Mom than anyone else I know.  I wouldn't change a single thing about her for the world.  What is amazing is that 9 out of 10 people abort babies like her.  Why?  I just don't comprehend that part.  Do they think it makes their life better, or that her life would be less than perfect - less than worthy?  Her life has extreme worth to not just me, but my family and friends too.  I can't imagine that in a group of me and ten peers that I am the only one that would keep my baby.  I just can't understand removing a gift like Ollie from my life.

In this journey I have a lot to learn.  I am learning that people are incredibly insensitive, and offensive about my daughter, but they don't even know it.  They try to be nice, but since they aren't living this life, they don't know what is inappropriate to say.  I have to keep on my happy face, and I'm good about that because nice is what I am, but it does bother me a lot.

They say things to me like "Are you sure she has Down Syndrome?  She doesn't look like it."
Yes, I am sure.  She has had chromosome tests.  She has characteristics of Down Syndrome.  However, she is a member of my family.  Of course she looks like her brother and her sister.  She came from Jade & me, so yes she looks like us.  That's not unusual or surprising or weird.  It's just like having any other baby, they look like your family.

People think because she is so pretty and they can't see the Down Syndrome, that maybe she has a "mild case."  Well there are not mild cases.  It's not like a cold where you are kind of sick.  You either have Down Syndrome or you don't.  No one, no doctor knows what her mental capabilities will be.  We hope and pray that it mildy impacts her life, but it could severely impact her life as well.  We will not know until she develops and grows.  However, we will work hard with her to reach as many milestones as possible for her.  No matter what her cognitive abilities, Jade & I will love her dearly and take care of her.  She's our child no matter how old she is. 

She is constantly referred to as a "Downs baby."  I can't explain how or why that is so offensive, but it is.  I don't like it at all.  She is a PERSON with Down Syndrome, and it doesn't define her.  She will tackle a lot in her life beyond her chromosome count.  Please don't call her a Downs baby.

Don't use the words "retarded" or "Mongoloid".  They are terrible, and that will make me mad.  You wouldn't use the N word to a person of color.  So don't use similar words about my daughter to me or around me.  Those words are outdated & completely insensitive.

My daughter won't "Max out at 3rd grade".  No one knows what her mental capabilities will be.  No doctor has ever said that all people with Down Syndrome plateau at 3rd grade levels.  That is just ridiculous and again uneducated.  They all have different capabilities just like me and you.  We all are different.

I write about my family because I know how my husband and I feel about my family.  I know all the facts, I go to all the doctor appointments, and I know best for my family.  Through this process there was an online article written about my family and published in my local paper.  The facts were inaccurate and the author has never met my family.  The intentions were meant to be nice and prayerful, but the facts were so wrong - I was devastated.  I blog because I have a HUGE family.  This blog makes sure that everyone is on the same page.  They all can come to one place and know exactly how Ollie is.  I also live in a small community, and have lived here my entire life.  Almost everyone in this town knows me, or multiple people in my family, and this community has been amazing when it comes to supporting our family.  This blog keeps the rumors to a minimum because the facts are here in black and white.  It cuts down the miscommunication in a huge way.  I also blog for a journal - so I can read back in my life and remember what I felt like.  I also blog so maybe someone else in my similar situation finds comfort in my family.  That they realize this life is livable, it's not terrifying, it's full of joy, love, faith, and hope.  So they aren't as scared as I was after our first level II ultrasound.

Sorry if this is a bit of a rant, but it was something I need to get off my chest.  It's a real, honest post about my life today.  Until you live this life, you don't understand.  I was guilty of all the things above, but now I know better.  I just know better.


  1. Annie,

    Being the mom of a son whose is 25 and has Down Syndrome, you have hit everything dead on...Down Syndrome does not define our children. It's just one facet of who they are. And not anymore than them having a laid back personality, blond hair and blue eyes, being left handed, etc. So I always said that Sean was a child first, who just happened to have Down Syndrome.

    As for people commenting about her appearance or lack thereof...I know that they do it with a big heart. That they are hoping that your beautiful little girl doesn't have a disability that could possibly limit her potential. I don't think they mean anything mean-spirited by it. I just think they would love for Ollie to have unlimited potential and she does, just not in the "ordinary" way. She has the potential to show everyone so much love, she has the potential to bring a smile to everyone she meets face, she has the potential to show them compassion and understanding. Yep, that little doll has all that "potential" and so much more.

    Don't believe that for a minute that Ollie will be "so limited" by having DS, cause she won't. She is only limited by the people around her. Society has come a long way from the day 25 years ago when I had Sean, but it still has a long way to go. There is hope for our kids. There are endless possibilities and we just need to tap them. Believe that Ollie can go to the moon and if she misses, at least she will land in the stars.

    It is our job to educate the misinformed, the uneducated about our kids. To show them by example rather than word, how our kids need and deserve to be treated. It's a tough job and one we "shouldn't" have to do, but we will because loving that child and their extra chromosome, compels us to.

    I will continue to follow Miss Ollie's path as long as you write about her journey. Hopefully others will too and become enlightened along the way.

    Take care. Try not to dwell on things that are beyond your control and make a positive impact on the things that you can.


  2. I really want to encourage you that honest posts are good for you every once and a while. My blog is more honest post then not and I should possibly move away from a lot of them.

    I really hope that I have not said anything that was insensitive.

    I really believe God has used this blog and your story to soften my heart. Through your blog I have also read many other thought provoking stories. You are a blessing to me Annie.

  3. I'm with Dee on this - you have hit the nail right on the head here. And AMAZING post! For someone so new to this journey, you've got an incredibly sage insight, which is really inspirational!

    I, too, wonder about those 90% who choose not to have their children with a prenatal diagnosis. I hate to judge, but I can't help thinking that they're bad parents for not loving their children unconditionally. That's quite a test of someone's humanity, but an accurate one, I think. Being a parent is the most important, most fulfilling thing I have ever done in my life. I'm not any different than any other parent, although I like to think I'm one of the lucky ones who has had this amazing new world open up to me.

  4. Although we have never met, you my dear are a fabulous person {which includes: daughter, sister, wife & mother - your BUSY!}. I wish we could all be warriors and block out what others say, but words still hurt. Each and every child is fearfully and wonderfully made by God. For people to put a label on one because of an extra chromosome is just as you put it, "misinformed & uneducated".

    Every child should be showered with love, it doesn't matter if they have glasses, silly hair, freckles, a magical chromosome or the chicken pox.

    Keep bloggin' gurl - you have a voice, and people do listen!

  5. Annie, you have used your blog in such a wonderful way and I have learned so much from reading it. I do think when someone says something that is mis-informed you should quietly correct them so that they can learn too. I love Ollie and I have never even met her or held her...I can only imagine the love you feel towards her.

  6. It is unbelievable in this day and age with so much information at our finger tips that there are so many uneducated, ignorant folks. If you don't know the facts, please just don't say anything. That's how I feel. I'm sorry that someone had the audacity to write about you without at least asking you first. To me, when there are kids involved, you should always ASK first. I think you are an amazing mom because it is clear to anyone that comes here to read that you love your babies and you try your hardest. No one is perfect. No matter how hard we try. I wish you the best and hope that with each generation people will gain more knowledge and acceptance.

  7. Even when trying to be supportive, people will say the wrong thing. Perhaps one of your jobs in this process is to gently educate.

    Times have changed. What was appropriate years ago is not now. It takes time for people to re-learn. You may be a part of that learning process.

    You have a lovely family! I have enjoyed reading your blog posts. Keep 'em coming! :)

  8. When we know better, we do better. It's best to deal with it with kindness. Most do have good intentions and just want to be supportive. I know I was guilty of a couple of these before Ollie. She is ours for a reason. Part of that may be to change stereotypes. Love you.

  9. i,m so sorry your heart is heavy with all this,it is so difficult when people want to be supportive or say the right thing but sometimes it is hard to know what to say.What i do know is i see your sweet Olie for what she is a beautiful perfect creation made in his image,a little blessing that will face challenges but who will live a beautiful meaningfull life because of who our lord chose for her parents.That sweet girl is beyond blessed to be able to call you mama.

  10. All I know is Ollie is super wonderful and I cried hard when she finally got here. Now all i wanna do is hold her, kiss her, show off her pictures and occassionally rub her belly to help her poop.

  11. You ARE an amazing mommy - not because of Ollie, but because of ANNIE - it's who you are ! You have an amazing mommy and therefore became one.

    I understand your journey... I'm on a similar one. It's not easy, but it is who we are. We have both been blessed with these challenges. One of his doctors once told Jacob that he had the ability to change lives, really change them, with his outcomes. He is setting precedents and so is Ollie. I for one have never known a parent with a child with DS and now thanks to you, I read a bunch of blogs about them ! I've learned so much and have ENJOYED so much about the love and joy in your lives.

    You ARE amazing, Annie - an amazing person, living her life and sharing her joys and her hardships. Thank you for taking us along for the ride of a lifetime !


  12. Annie, I agree with your Mom and Marlene. Perhaps part of your journey is to educate those who are insensitive or rude. A gentle, loving correction could be a blessing and eye-opener for them. I can understand that it's difficult, but living is growing. Having read your blog for about a year now, I know you have the heart, knowledge and capacity to make a difference to those who don't get it.

    Much love,

  13. This has been my favorite blog post by far. Very honest and I can tell it's coming from a sincere place, I just really appreciate that (not that you were looking for or need MY appreciation).
    I'm excited to see Ollie grow up.

  14. Good for you for being so honest. Ignorance is not an excuse to be insensitive. But it takes strong people like you to speak up and say "that is not ok." And it takes a lot of courage. And as for being an amazing mom, you are. None of us is perfect. That's not what makes an amazing mom. What makes an amazing mom is sticking up for our children, doing what's best for them, loving them unconditionally and "trying hard to be a good mom every day." So wear the title proudly!

  15. This post was amazing!! Its funny cause some of the things you wrote in here I have been wanting to write about so my friends and family could read about it! I think people need to hear these things and this post will educate a lot of people. Each of us Moms who are brave enough to be honest and open with things like this are helping to change the world for our children!
    Again, GREAT post!!

  16. Annie, one of the things that drew to your blog in the first place was your honesty and lack of fear of telling the story of your life with all it's bumps and bruises. I love that you yell at your kids and that your kids say funny/inappropriate (only to stuffy adults) things. Your beautiful home is exactly that, a beautiful home where children will grow up happy and much loved by two parents who are committed to and love each other.

    We can all use sensitivity training at one point or another and your post is a good reminder to all of us that sometimes our well-intentioned advice or comments can sting.

    We may not all be able to relate to having a baby with DS, but most of us in our lives have experienced prejudice, ignorance and insensitivity when it comes to something or someone in our lives. Thanks for reminding us to live with grace.

    Ann {{Ollie}}

  17. You are beautiful and amazing and you have 3 beautiful angels and I love hearing about them all! Thank you so much for sharing!

  18. xoxox
    i always wince when i'm pushing a squib-filled cart in walmart and a stranger...someone who has no idea what my house looks like or how often i utilize 4 letter words on a daily basis...looks at my children and congratulates me for being a great mom. i hate it when they gasp the question, "how do you do it?" or pat justin and i on the back and let us know what 'special people' we are. i KNOW their hearts are in the right place, but i don't hate it any less.
    i think it's because it implies that my children are difficult to love...or difficult to care for...or difficult to be seen in public with...and nothing could be farther from the truth. i think it's because they're unsolicited words of encouragement. and encouragement is usually what kind people respond with when they've felt pity. and it stings that people would see my children and respond with pity when it would be so much more appropriate to respond with joy or laughter or gratitude for the tiny smiles they're sure to be receiving when they step over to peek at my squibs.
    so i smile, and fake a happy "awww, thanks" and think to myself how impossible it would be for me to breathe if i didn't have the cart full of perfection in front of me. i thank god i don't have the weight of pity on my own shoulders when i see others who are blessed with similar wonders in their own carts and wink at the secrets we know that so many have yet to learn.

    a wink to you and kisses to each of your lovelies...

  19. Annie, you and your family are so loving from everything I have read on all the blogs from you and family, don't ever doubt you do the best you can at any given time. Your Ollie is a blessing and always will be just like her big sister and big brother! I have a great niece that is 6 years old and she has been the brightest light that's been lit for our family! Any child of God deserves to be given a chance to be loved and to give love, that's what Ollie will show the negative nancys of the world! Stay strong and keep leaning on your faith and family!

  20. It is unfortunate that so early in your journey as a parent of a child with special needs have you already discovered the cruel realities that we are faced with in society. It is also equally amazing that you can write about it so eloquently so soon after Ollie's birth. You are a strong mama, and you have an amazing family to support you. Despite the very clinical and "perfection-seeking" world we live in, I am glad to "know" another one of the 1 in 10. Can't wait til summer when the possibility to meet exists!

  21. You ARE doing an awesome job, and Miss Ollie has already changed the world in her own way, just by her simple existence. With this post you are continuing to be real and educate people...besides keep everyone informed and journal your day to day. Yes, we all have our "off" moments, but I really feel strongly that you're an awesome person and I'm proud of you. (I kind of like your parents too.) Just continue to embrace DO have something special and different and wonderful in it's own way. It's all in how we look at things!

    Big Hugs....

    Cindi Ann


    This made me think of you and Ollie so much, I saw a news show with Lauren and she can drive, and is very smart. Everyone one is different and has their own capabilities.

  23. She is a little bundle of perfection. We've talked, and we've already made plans for her future with Aunt Maggie. Her hair and nails will be more beautiful than yours ever were! And she'll come home telling stories of the crazy ladies who got pink hair.

  24. What a beautiful, lovely and loving post about your life and family. It touched me and I am better for having read it.

  25. Yes, Yes, Yes. Times a million. I love your heart, Mama. You are right on the money. Keep ranting. :)

  26. Hugs to you, You were very open and honest, and we all go through days like this. God will bless you for honoring him and not aborting Ollie. She is such a sweet precious doll. I will continue to pray for you and Gods wisdom and guidence.


  27. Amen sister! I totally agree with every single thing you said. Isn't it amazing how one little bean can put everything into perspective in an instant?

  28. very humble to say you are not an amazing mom! I think you must be very amazing just by reading your blog. Beautiful words from the heart!

  29. great post annie...i had so many people say the EXACT same things when maggie rae was born. 'are they sure? she doensn't look like most down's babies...she's so pretty' and it always hurt like they were saying a child with down syndrome couldn't be beautiful. and i remember all the of the 'awwww's and i'm so sorry's' ...and i want so bad to say i am sorry for you because you don't get to go on this journey, to experience all of this wonderfulness, to feel closer to GOD than you knew possible. but we are here to put our beautiful girls out there to help show everyone how our wonderful this ride can be :)...(and hopefully help change the minds of that 90% that just doesn't know what they will be missing...)

  30. Annie
    Being a special education teacher one of the first things they taught us was that every child was a child!! they were not learning disabled child, educable mentally handicapped child or even a downs child, they instead were a child with a learning disability, child with cognitive disability or like you said a child with downs syndrome. That is definitely one of my pet peeves, though many people make this mistake.
    I don't know what it is like to have a child with a disability, but I do know that the children I teach are like my own children and I treat them like my own children with the exception of spankings and it does hurt when you hear the comments of some people who don't know. All of these children can learn and are talented in their own way!
    I truly believe some people don't know what to say in situations and want to help you feel better by saying comments like they have, not realizing your feelings.
    When I started reading your blog, I was amazed at all that you had blogged and how great it is to have something like this to go back to, heck I don't even have all my baby books filled out. I believe you are a wonderful mother and Jade is a wonderful father. After reading your blog and finding out Ollie was born with downs syndrome, I thought to myself she is one lucky baby! She has been born into a family that has an abundance of love to give! I think both your family and Ollie have truly been blessed.
    You will have many days you need to rant and you deserve those days(I don't think you were ranting at all). You are only one person and you have three children you are a WONDERFUL MOTHER!
    Loved the blog.

  31. Amen and amen and amen! We have seen so many of those as well with Brett...he doesn't have Downs, he has William's Syndrome, but people stereotype so many kids with disabilities. I agree with your mom...most people mean well. I do know that our family, and I know I, am different since Brett. It makes you so much more sensitive to kids with a disability. God has changed our's for the good!

  32. this is a beautiful post, and so insightful! You really got it right. As a mom I don't think we can help but have our feathers ruffled when hearing the words downs child or the R word, I don't think that will ever change. I really don't but what will change or I should say Grow is our love for our children, and that will be the light that carries us through those moments, when we have to rise above to protect our children. You rock btw.

  33. We have never met....but, I think that you ARE amazing....for all the reasons you give. I believe that any mother that loves her child and gives all for their benefit is amazing. You would not love your child any less if they had diabetes, birth mark, etc. They are your child. Each and everyone is truely a gift from God. I appreciate your honesty and your boldness. That makes you pretty amazing in my book. Not that you have a child with Downs...the mere fact tht you are a mother doing what a mother does.


Thank you so much for your kind words & support! I love hearing from you & read each and every comment you leave for me! ~Annie


Related Posts with Thumbnails