Megan and I met back in ’99 at Frontier Ranch, a summer camp located in the Santa Cruz mountains; we later crossed paths when we were both on staff with Young Life, but most recently have connected through the blogging world. And here’s the thing, friends: she is the real deal. I love that she uses her blog, My Stubborn Little Miss, as a platform for advocacy, compassion and truth. Megan now teaches Special Education, which she’s done before he had her own child with special needs. She lives just outside Washington, DC with a pretty awesome husband and a hilarious and troublesome toddler named Ellie. Visit her today!
Before I got pregnant, before I was even married, I would think about my future, theoretical children, and dream about what I wanted for them.
Girls do that. I don’t think I’m unique.
Of course, once I learned I was pregnant, those thoughts became more specific, and I couldn’t wait to find out if we were expecting a boy or a girl so my dreams could take on a more solid form.
I dreamed we would have a child who was attractive, smart, funny, athletic, successful, loving, giving, wise, and important, among other things.
I dreamed big dream for my unborn child, of happiness and joy and high achievement. I never said it out loud or even would have admitted it to myself, but I assumed my child would be a superstar at everything – early to walk, and talk, and read, and succeed.
When I was eleven weeks pregnant, I thought my dreams might be over. At ten weeks, some abnormalities showed up on an ultrasound. At eleven weeks, I underwent genetic testing (CVS) for my tiny baby. We learned she was a girl, and that she carried an extra copy of the twenty-first chromosome, a condition we know as Down syndrome.
My world crashed down that day in August 2011.
I prayed a lot. I cried a lot. Ellie was also prenatally diagnosed with a heart defect requiring open heart surgery at five months and a GI defect requiring surgery at one day old.
I couldn’t seem to reconcile this health nightmare with my spoken and unspoken dreams.
Fast-forward to now. I still have a list of things I desire for my child, and not all of them are different than my original list. I want Ellie to be:
Encouraging. Loving. Loved. Faithful. Caring. Passionate.
Those are all character dreams, true to my first dreams for Ellie, and dreams that aren’t hindered by disability. They’re also dreams lived out among other people.
The people that surrounded my husband and I upon Ellie’s diagnosis were friends from our church involvement. They cooked us meals, encouraged us, and threw me a baby shower. Ellie’s earliest interactions were with people who fought traffic into DC on weeknights, stood by her bedside, and told her she is loved. Her introduction to this world was rough, but she learned how to love and give from day one. One of my friends came to the hospital on her way to a camping trip with high school students. Another friend ran a fundraising marathon in Ellie’s honor. They showed us love with hands and feet.
I want Ellie to contribute to her community in the ways she’s learned from our friends.
I want Ellie to be a helper, not always one receiving help. I want Ellie to learn that giving is beautiful.
God is allowing my prior dreams to come true in Ellie, but he’s refined those dreams down to the most important pieces. And every time I give up on a dream for my girl, she proves me wrong.
The surprise blessing of Ellie is the community she’s given me. Apparently, a lot of really awesome women have kids with Down syndrome, and I’ve made friends all over the country who embrace my family for exactly who we are.
What dreams do you have for your kids? For yourself? And are they dreams that benefit other people as well? If so, what can you do to put your child in a position to learn the importance of community now?
Thank you, Megan. Would you like to write a post about how your community has made the difference in your life? Message Cara today! Otherwise, help Cara’s writing continue to grow by becoming a fan of Be, Mama. Be on Facebook, or by heading the Home page, and clicking on FOLLOW button in the left-hand column.0