I love this month. I love that there is a whole month dedicated in bringing focus to the things that we are truly thankful for. This year, I have so so much to be thankful for. As I reflect back on the days and months throughout the past year, at the very top of my list of things that I am thankful this year is Bernadette.
Why am I thankful for her?
I am thankful I am the one who carried her for 9 months in my womb, while she was being knit together, perfectly formed. I am thankful I am the mom who got to welcome her into this world and celebrate her arrival. I am thankful I am the mom who gets to tuck her in at night, kiss her forehead and ask Jesus to hold her close. I am thankful I am the one who has witnessed firsthand miracle after miracle in her first year of life.
There are countless reasons why I am thankful for her.
The one that I am most thankful for is her diagnosis.
I’m wondering what you are thinking right now. What is going through your mind as you read the words, I am thankful for her diagnosis. How could I be thankful my daughter has Down syndrome? I am here to tell you that I am so incredibly thankful for her entire being. Every little part of her including her extra chromosome.
Do you want to know why? I have said this a million times. I didn’t know how much I needed Bernadette in my life until I had her, until those first moments my eyes met hers and through the tears and weeping I knew that God had given her to me for purposes beyond my comprehension.
If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know my story. You know where I started throughout the pregnancy. At square one. With no knowledge. I felt unequipped and the least bit prepared to bring home a baby with Down syndrome.
But there I was, my husband by my side, two other little girls eagerly anticipating the arrival of their sister. And we did it. She came into this world with fight written all over her tiny blue body. As I witnessed those first moments, I could feel it in my bones. God was already using her to change my life, in ways that He was choosing to do through my daughter.
If you spend any time with Bernadette, you will see quickly that there are so many reasons it comes easy to love her. She has the greatest smile. Her laughter warms your insides. Her eyes are the most perfect almond shaped eyes I have ever seen in my entire life and looking into them makes it feel as if time has stopped for a moment.
But it’s more than that. It’s more than just her. It’s ALL of her, every part that makes her uniquely her. It’s the way she learns things. It’s the friction between the struggle and the success, where when success happens, the struggle is celebrated.
There is so much I am learning. So so much. Having her in my home means I get to experience it all right in front of my very eyes, on a day to day basis. I get to see that she is more alike than different and that she is not defined by her diagnosis. I also get to see the importance of setting her up for success and knowing that the hard work we put in will come to fruition.
She has taught me about what it truly means to be brave. To stare straight into the face of death and say “God’s got this, no matter what.” She is the bravest person I know. She has endured so much. And yet, she comes out stronger every single time.
Her remedy for a bad day is being with the ones she loves the most. As close as possible. She snuggles in and you can feel her sadness melting away.
The milestones she hits are celebrated to the fullest. I know the work that has gone into getting her to those milestones and there is much reason to celebrate when she gets there. She radiates pure joy when we are celebrating her as we clap and cry at how amazing she is.
I’m thankful that I have been given the opportunity to see life differently. To take a step back and to realize the beauty within something the world views as different and uncomfortable. And there is, so much beauty wrapped up in one tiny little being.
There is so much to be thankful for in the community it has brought around us. First, our community of friends and family that have been with us for a long time, enduring harships and doing life together. Our relationships with them have deepened and I find myself in tears of thankfulness as I think of how they have been there for us, through the good and the bad and everything in-between. And then there is this whole other beautiful community of families that have kids with special needs. There is such an immediate bond with them, one of understanding, patience, and so much love. Whether that be the online community I have been so grateful for or even the people in town that I have been having the privilege of getting to know at various local events.
The hard days we face, we face together. We come out stronger. We find ourselves celebrating even greater, with more shouts of joy and plenty more tears. Being together though, that is where I find encouragement. With my husband, with our other girls, with our strong community that stands behind us and with us, and together with Bernadette.
*** onesie from A lil Something Extra
***Use code Bern20 for a discount at checkout!
Here is a link to some other bloggers I follow who wrote beautiful words on being thankful also: