The last year was lonely for me. Even before Ben was born, I knew that my world would be shrinking. Some good friends moved away and I was going to have a baby. I stepped away from MOPS leadership temporarily and anticipated a time of adjustment. It was time to concentrate on home and family.
I did NOT anticipate extra doctor appointments, therapy, and pumping for a couple of hours every day! The kids and I spent a lot of time at home, in front of the TV or computer ... and I felt like I was surviving and reacting to events instead of being intentional.
Many of the people that we saw on our trip are people that I called when I had a hard day. They listened and prayed and encouraged me from afar. These are the people that were our friends and support when our first baby was born; they've watched our family grow from two to three to four, and now to five.
Jo and I were close friends throughout college, and we've continued to be phone-buddies since graduation. Kindra and I used to trade babysitting when we each had one child. :)
While I was online this year (during all those hours of pumping), I found some wonderful resources about Down syndrome. The first connections I made were through babycenter.com. They have forums for all sorts of parenting situations, including a group for parents of kids with Down syndrome. It was great to read other people's thoughts and questions and answers. I followed some of those women to their blogs, where I devoured birth stories and diagnosis stories and felt not-so-alone. I even emailed some women personally.
Two of the women I "met" live in Chicagoland. Chris is very involved with her local Gigi's Playhouse, a Down syndrome awareness center. She invited our family to come for a visit while we were in town. It was GREAT. Of course, it's the one activity we did that I didn't really take pictures of. Here are a few.
Chris gave us the grand tour, and then she and I had lunch together while Emmett and the three kids played at Gigi's. It was so good to meet her in person. We talked about breastfeeding and pumping and schools and speech and labor and delivery stories.
www.gillianmarchenko.com, and I'm a big fan. We attended the same church (at different times), she does a lot of writing and speaking to moms, and she has four kids (two have Down syndrome). I sent her a creepy stalker email, and she bravely agreed to meet me. :)
Unfortunately, we only had one morning available and her family was on vacation most of the time we were in the area, so we didn't get to meet in person. Maybe next time!
That was Day 7 of our trip. I promise to speed up the rest of my vacation posts so I can get back to just posting about life.