Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Waiting Room

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...


Beth said...

This is awesome, Jen. I know who Nick Vujicic is too, and what an awesome reminder! God is SO good, and He has great plans for every life! Thank you for sharing!

Jen Currier said...

Isn't Nick SO inspirational, Beth??! It was so much fun to see him! oxox

grandma said...

That is so cool Jen...I am so happy for Nick and his wife, they are having a little boy named Kiyoshi who is due to be born soon, he has all his limbs too. Nick is so excited, can't wait to see him as a daddy...Jenn, I remember when you told me about Elijah's diagnosis and the uncertainty of what it would be like to raise him. Look at you now, God put this precious child in your care to raise and nurture unto Him, actually He gave you two, that is the same purpose for all us parents. You on the other hand have been given a child with a special need, and that need is YOU, CHARLES & CHRISTIAN, through sharing the life of Elijah, are chosen to open the eyes of humanity to a unique kind of love from a little boy not tainted by the ugliness of this world. The rest of us can only imagine that kind of love…Your family is always in my prayers. Not sure if you have seen this incredible story about a little boy named Philip…I so enjoyed it.

Philip’s Egg

Philip was born with Downs Syndrome. He was a pleasant child . . .happy it seemed . . . but increasingly aware of the difference between himself and other children. Philip went to Sunday School faithfully every week. He was in the third grade class with nine other eight-year olds. You know eight-year olds. And Philip, with his differences, was not readily accepted. But his teacher was sensitive to Philip and he helped this group of eight-year olds to love each other as best they could, under the circumstances. They learned, they laughed, they played together. And they really cared about one another, even though eight-year olds don’t say they care about one another out loud. But don’t forget. There was an exception to all this. Philip was not really a part of the group. Philip did not choose, nor did he want to be different. He just was. And that was the way things were.

His teacher had a marvelous idea for his class the Sunday after Easter. You know those things that pantyhose come in . . . the containers that look like great big eggs? The teacher collected ten of them. The children loved it whe he brought them into the room and gave one to each child. It was a beautiful spring day, and the assignment was for each child to go outside, find the symbol for new life, put it into the egg, and bring it back to the classroom They would then open and share their new life symbols and surprises, one by one. It was glorious. It was confusing. It was wild. They ran all around the church grounds, gathering their symbols, and returned to the classroom.

They put all the eggs on a table, and then the teacher began to open them. All the children gathered around the table. He opened one and there was a flower, and they ooh-ed and aah-ed. He opened another and there was a little butterfly. “Beautiful!” the girls all said, since it is hard for eight-year old boys to say ‘beautiful.’ He opened another and there was a rock. And as third-graders will, some laughed, and some said, “That’s crazy! How’s a rock supposed to be like new life?” But the smart little boy who’d put it in there spoke up: “That’s mine. And I knew all of you would get flowers and buds and leaves and butterflies and stuff like that. So I got a rock because I wanted to be different. And for me, that’s new life.” They all laughed. The teacher said something about the wisdom of eight-year olds and opened the next one. There was nothing inside. The children, as eight-year olds will, said, “That’s not fair. That’s stupid! Somebody didn’t do it right.” Then the teacher felt a tug on his shirt, and he looked down. “It’s mine, Philip said. It’s mine.”
And the children said, “You don’t ever do things right, Philip. There’s nothing there!”
“I did so do it right!” Philip said. “I did do it right. The tomb is empty!”

There was silence, a very full silence. And for you people who don’t believe in miracles, I want to tell you that one happened that day. From that time on, it was different. Philip suddenly became a part of that group of eight-year old children. They took him in. He was set free from the tomb of his differentness.

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