On this day, exactly one year ago, I birthed our youngest into this world. How can that be? In ways it feels like just yesterday David was driving me to the hospital speedily as the contractions intensified. I was so ready to meet this baby that was already rocking our world. In other ways that feels like worlds ago because so much has happened in this past year.

To sum up our year, it’s been one that I would have never expected. The pregnancy alone was not enough time to prepare for what was ahead for us. And by God’s grace we didn’t know. Had I would have known all that was in store for us especially in those first few months I probably would have hidden under my covers for awhile. A LONG while.

The memories are bittersweet. So much pain in the midst of so much beauty. I look back and see so much growth that has taken place in myself, yet somewhere along the way I also see where I have lost myself. Not in a negative way. There is just a sense of searching of where do I fit into this world right now.

My life changed a year ago when we welcomed Bern into the world. I didn’t know it then, at that very first moment she was layer ever so briefly on my chest. I instantly fell in love with my little redhead. She was absolute perfection, and I couldn’t even believe that she was finally hear after much anticipation.

Heart surgeries came and went. Appointments began dominating my schedule, along with the weekly therapies. Our day to day life completely changed. But we did it. I fought through cold and flu season and continued on. I found myself thinking we just have to get through this or that and we will be fine.

And then, I started realizing we were coming up to her first birthday. That in and of itself is a reason to celebrate, added in all the things we have just lived through, that is even more of a reason to celebrate.

But I also started thinking about the year anniversary marks of things that we will be coming up on shortly after her birthday. Her first heart surgery, her second, finally leaving the hospital, her first Christmas, her next hospitalization, RSV, weaning off the ng tube… There are a lot of one year anniversary marks coming up for her.

Yes, it is exciting to see how far she has come. But it is also painful. The memories I have, they hurt. No doubt God is healing my mama heart, but the memories are there. It’s both beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time. It’s the inner conflict of mourning and dancing.

I find myself at this crossroad. I want to remember all that we have been through. I never want to forget what the Lord has done.

But when will it become less painful to recall those memories to mind and talk about them? It may never become painless, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because I can sit here today and tell you from the bottom of my heart, God has taken that sorrow and used it for His glory. The words I type in this space are born out of that grief.

The memories will always be there and yes there will still be plenty of days that I will just cry and cry thinking back to what we have endured. God knows what this mama heart experienced, what my eyes saw, what my ears heard.

I also know now that I am on a journey of finding myself too. Who am I as a mom of a daughter with different abilities? As a mom of three littles? As a wife? Sometimes I feel as if I am the keeper of the schedule. We probably all feel like as moms from time to time. It’s not a bad thing to be but how easy can it be for me to put myself on autopilot as we go from therapy to therapy, from gymnastics to doctor’s appointment. I don’t want myself to get lost shuffle.

I am coming out of the just getting through mode. Not an easy place to be. At times, depressing. Because I start to realize the pain that is buried deep inside my heart. Pain and experiences I have been unable to process. It’s overwhelming.

Like I have said before and I will continue to say, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Not even now looking back at this past year. Bernadette is exactly who God has created her to be, born with heart defects and an extra chromosome, all of it. She causes me to see things differently, to feel things deeper, and to really and truly trust that mama bear instinct deep within.

The holiday season is fast approaching. I was sharing with a friend how upsetting that is for me because it’s also cold and flu season. She gently encouraged me to make this season one filled with memories. This year is all about redemption.

As God continues to heal this mama heart and bring me on this journey of fully embracing the roles He has called me to, I want these next months to be exactly about that, redemption. I will shout Bernadette’s worth to all who around, but I also want to make memories with her and her sisters. I want to watch God bond our family over the next several months even more so. I want to be in a place where we are thriving as a family and not just in survival mode like this past year has been. I want to continue to be in the front row seat as I watch God miraculously transform my heart.

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  1. What a blessing she is to your whole family!! Thank you for sharing your life with all of us!! I now have three people in my life with Downs and each one Is beautiful and such individuals I’ve learned something new from each one. Thank you for sharing her with us..

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