I saw my Ob/gyn today. I know that seems like I'm opening with just too much information, but I mention it because I haven't seen her since my postpartum check up after Elijah was born. (Please don't do the math. I'll just admit that it has been a little longer than it should have been since I've seen her last.)
The last time I saw her I was raw with emotion from giving birth. I was fragile after enduring Elijah's one week stay in the NICU. My Ob cried with me through our diagnosis. She prayed with me at my bedside when Elijah was born. She left her own family in the middle of the night to come and deliver my baby boy. She went above and beyond in her care for me, and I know it's because she's a Mom too. One of her sons is even named Elijah.
Today brought back a lot of memories. When you get a pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome, people tend to remember you. Even when it's been way, way too long since your last appointment. I had my full check up, but my doctor was dying to know about Elijah. It's hard for my face not to glow when I talk about Elijah. He is...cute, sweet, loving, clever and full of personality. I can't help but smile when I talk about Elijah. My doctor said, "You should write a book, Jennifer." And so I said, "Actually, I am going to. Someday I'll send you a signed copy." It was so good to see her and to give her a hug, but I couldn't help tearing up on the way home. I'm not even entirely sure why. I think it has a lot to with the diagnosis experience being so traumatic. I'm so far on the other side of that now, and it's all okay. Elijah is better than okay.
An interesting thing happened today while I was in the waiting room for my appointment. A quadriplegic man and his beautiful, pregnant wife came in and took a seat in the waiting room next to me. I recognized the man right away, although I didn't immediately recall his name. It was inspirational speaker Nick Vujicic. At one point his wife looked at me and smiled and shortly after, I caught Nick's eye and he smiled. I wanted to say, "Hey- I know who you are!" I guess if you're a man with no limbs, people tend to remember you too.
The reason I know who he is, has everything to do with Elijah's diagnosis. My friends and family were reaching out to me as I struggled with what it would mean to have a child with Down syndrome. I received countless poems, quotes, links and videos about inspirational people and situations...all about having special needs. A friend sent me a You Tube video of Nick Vujicic. His story is amazing. It is about overcoming the obstacles, clinging to God and "getting back up again" when you fall. I remember crying my eyes out when I listened to that You Tube video. I think I even felt like I "got it"...which is completely embarrassing now. Certainly a baby's diagnosis of Down syndrome isn't like having no limbs...right? Or is it? Nick's parents wondered if he would ever be able to do "normal" things. Would he ever hold a job or get married? Now, he is a successful inspirational speaker and author who tours the world sharing his message of hope. He is married to a beautiful woman (who has all of her limbs, by the way) and is expecting his first child, as I discovered today. I know there were a lot of people who more than wondered what could possibly become of a kid with no arms or legs. Much like people wonder what could possibly become of a intellectually disabled person with Down syndrome.
Seeing Nick today in the waiting room reminded me that anything is possible. We are the only ones who put limits on ourselves. I spent a lot of months worrying and Googling about what the possibilities for my son could be. Now that I'm 2 and half years into his life, I'm learning to enjoy the ride. I know that Elijah has a strong spirit and a contagious smile, and I have no doubt that he will overcome many obstacles. One day he may even be inspiring others to "get back up again" too...