Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Highlights and Lowlights

Here are some highlights and lowlights of the past week:

Hmmm...let's start with lowlights and then end on a good note (Can you tell I am a "bad news first" kind of gal???)


1) Getting a call from Taylor's school last Thursday that she had a fever...I had to pick her up and have her miss her Fall festival at school )-:

2) Taking Zach to the ENT in South Charlotte in Friday, and waiting for one hour and forty minutes before even seeing the dr.-good times!!

4) Getting another call from Taylor's school on Monday that she threw up at lunch (after her feeling fine all weekend)

3) Sitting in the Dr.'s office waiting room Monday afternoon for 1.5 hours with a packed waiting room and many of them wearing masks!!

4) Phillip having to be out of town in Knoxville while I had sickies at home.

5) Taylor ridding her body of the hotdog she had eaten for dinner on Monday night-note to self: don't listen to your four year old when she says she wants a hot dog for dinner and she has already thrown up her lunch!!! Way to go mom!


1) Speaking at Oasis about the fruit of the Spirit KINDNESS...and encouraging us all to practice INTENTIONAL acts of kindness, in Jesus' name.

2) Being the recipient of an intentional act of kindness when Mary called me and asked me if I wanted to leave Zach with her when I took Taylor to the dr. on Monday. Those three hours (dr's office and Target-getting prescription filled) could have been much worse!!

3) Getting a free manicure at the Honda place when I went in to get some work done on the car last week.

4) Having coffee with Heather Dooley, who I love but don't get to see very often

5) Going to the Down Syndrome mom's night out with my friend and neighbor, Christi, and thankful for the people God has put in our path who are walking this same road!

6) Zach is officially "helmet free",as of yesterday! He was a trooper wearing that for 23 hours/day for 5 months!! And no, I won't miss the smell! (-:

7) Finished a great book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan-was very challenged by it! (possible blog on this some other day!)

8)Having Miss Peggy come to our house today so I could get out!! Worked on a talk this morning (Lies College Women Believe) and had a blast.

9) Sitting here right now, drinking a pumpkin spice latte, in Barnes and Noble , and writing this!

10) Oh, and how could I forget- I was crowned the Homecoming Queen at Trader Joe's last week!!! Put my name in a drawing and got THE phone call a few days later "Mrs. Howard-you have won the drawing to be the Trader Joe's homecoming Queen!!" I got a $25 gift card and my picture taken in a sash and a crown (brought back sweet memories of being the homecoming queen in high school!!!, not really!)

More highlights than lowlights- that makes for a good week!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One year ago...

A little over a year ago, on October 14.2009, Zachary Cole Howard was born!! I will never forget that day, or the day after that, when we were told news that would change our lives forever.

I remember the night that Zach was born, all I could say was "he is just perfect!" The following morning, the neonatologist at the hospital came into our room. Phillip was in the bathroom at the time so the doctor began making small talk with me...I think he was talking to me about sports, if I remember correctly. Phillip came out of the bathroom and Dr.Payne then said he had something he needed to tell us. He said he thought that Zach had signs and physical traits that he believed to be Down Syndrome. At those words, Phillip began to sob and I just stood there, in complete shock. Phillip sobbed because at that moment, what he had thought to be true for the past ten or so hours since Zach was born, had just been confirmed. You see, Phillip knew right after Zach was born by looking at him that he might have Down Syndrome. I did not notice a thing (a blessing for sure). In fact, Phillip was in the bathroom researching Down Syndrome on our computer when Dr.Payne came into the room to give us the news.

Dr. Payne continued to talk and gave us reasons why he thought Zach might have DS, but his words sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher (wah wah wah wah wah) to me at the time. It felt like my body went completely numb at that moment and I could not process a thing. I felt no emotion...I really do think I was just in shock.

Wait...Zach is perfect,God? Now what does this mean? The room stood still. Dr. Payne began to say that he knew we would be great parents for Zach and he could tell we were great people. What? He didn't know us at all-what was he talking about? And what is Down Syndrome anyway? My mind raced to the people I had worked with in high school as I had volunteered for Special Olympics. My whole body felt heavy and I felt like I had just been hit head on by a Mack truck.

I didn't cry. Phillip and I hugged and Dr. Payne said he would come back later with some more information and some numbers of people to call. He also said the chaplain from the hospital would come in and see us. Huh? That doesn't sound good!

From that point until we left the hospital a day and a half later, there were many phone calls made and many people came to be with us. I cried as each person walked through the door. I began to feel such intense sadness and grief. I couldn't eat, I could barely talk, and I just felt so sad. But why?

As I look back now, 90% of the sadness seemed to originate from fear...fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of losing life as I knew it, fear that I would not be able to handle this. I grieved for what I thought life was going to be like with our new baby boy. I grieved for our future.

But an amazing thing happened before we left the hospital. Though the tears, through the prayers, through the body of Christ coming alongside us like never before...I received a peace from God. I began to feel in the depths of my heart the realization that this did not surprise God. He knew that Zach was going to have Down Syndrome. He chose us and our family for Zach. He wanted us to be his parents and him to be our child. This was not a mistake. Zach was perfect in God's eyes and he was God's perfect child for us and our family! My first reaction still held true-Zach was perfect!!

Now to fast forward one! Zach is now one and that day in the hospital, though it can still bring me to tears thinking about it, seems like a world away from where we are now. Zach is a bundle of love and he has a way about him that is infectious to all who meet him! He is laid back, giggles a lot, is making so much progress and is a joy to all who come in contact with him.

Down Syndrome does not define me, does not define Zach, and does not define our family. Our journey is one that is different than we had once expected, but it is a good journey and we are growing through each day. I have been so blessed by the community that has come around us and have seen love extended to us in ways I have never experienced before.

So, one year ago, our lives changed, but now I can honestly say that our lives have changed for the better! Thank you, God, for loving our family enough to entrust us with your precious angel, Zach. Happy Birthday (almost one week ago) little man!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Buddy Walk

On Sunday, October 4th, we did our first "Buddy Walk" at Freedom Park. A Buddy Walk is a walk to raise money and promote awareness about Down Syndrome. I remember very clearly last year coming home from the hospital after Zach was born, and receiving an email from a friend in Florida telling me she had just done a Buddy Walk there. I was like "a Buddy What?" I did not know all the lingo yet!! (and still don't)

So, as a newbie to the Buddy Walk this year, I did a few things...set up a website for donations, emailed some people about it (not a whole lot because I did not want to seem like a bother to people), and got a team together to do the actual walk. The walk is supposedly one mile around the lake at Freedom Park but it felt like a very short stroll at a snail's pace because of all the people who attended!

I arrived with my family and felt a bit like a stranger in completely new territory. Other people seemed to already know what to do-where to go to sign in, where to get t-shirts,where the bathrooms were!! I felt a bit overwhelmed. There were hundreds of people there...many with Down Syndrome and so many who were there to support them!

Our "team", which was affectionately called "Zach Attack", arrived and we participated in some of the park events before doing the actual walk, which began at 4pm. Our team picture is posted above (minus Ashley and Mike Thompson who were not there for the picture)...Then we began the walk, with hundreds of other people, all there for one cause! It was quite a sight to see the people stretched out all around the lake as the walk began.

Please note Ashley (far left and very pregnant in this pic!!). She gave birth to her baby girl, Maddie, the following day!! I think it was the Buddy Walk that did her in-ha ha!!

The afternoon as a whole was an encouragement. It was encouraging to see all the DS families out there and the friends who supported them. It was encouraging to have MY family and friends there, and it meant a lot that they would give up their afternoon to show us their love and support.

I have already decided that NEXT year, I want to double the size of our team!! I won't be the newbie next year and therefore it won't feel so overwhelming, and I want to continue to do whatever I can to support my little angel with DS.

Who knows...Zach might even be awake for the walk next year!!!!