Thursday, September 22, 2011

Grow Your Family Series: A Blessing in Surprise

Today's post comes from my friend, Taryn, who blogs over at No Such Thing as Normal.  Over the last few months, she has been a huge encouragement to me.  Her gorgeous family, though not "perfect" by most peoples' standards, is one of the most beautiful and perfect families I have ever seen. 

So before I steal too much of her story....

When Leah asked me to first write “our story”, I jumped at the chance. Or as my 5 year old says, “I jump in it.” You know, from that Direct TV commercial with the tiny giraffe? No? OK, I feel dumb ....Just YouTube it. Anyhoos, I don’t really know where to start, and though Momma tends to get lengthy, I think I should start from the beginning … stick to the basics. So here we go…

This is my story and I’m s-s-s-ss-ss-stickin’ to it.

Oh, and I’m going to “try “to keep it PG …Kidding. I don’t have a problem doing that. I promise.

“My name is Taryn and I am not an alcoholic”. That’s what I said in AA …The first and only time I went. I totally got reprimanded by every person in the room. I was 18 and I had gotten a DWI. Dumb. I know. But, now, I am a sober 33 year old who is married to Charlie, and have been for quite a while. Pre-Charlie, I was a heathen. No really, a real, live heathen. You know the kind … “stuff”, drugs, and rock-n-roll. Then, in 1999, God blessed the broken road and it led me straight to him …this green-eyed angel who rapped and moshed and promised to make all my wildest dreams come true …and everything was peachy …For a while anyways. We were married in 2004 and by 2006 we were parents. Lake was born in Plano, TX, at what we called “the fancy schmancy hospital”, because back home in Monroe, LA, nothing was this nice. Not even the “best” hotel. Being a mom was much harder than I thought. I mean, I didn’t go into this thinking all was going to be a breeze, but my son… he’s a lot like me. Overly sensitive and EMOTIONAL. (I secretly sorta love it) As for pregnancy, I didn’t have any trouble getting pregnant. It happened a lot sooner than expected but we were ok with it. Though, the pregnancy itself, did NOT agree with me… gestational diabetes. Ugh. Can I get a big fat BOO for that mess?

March 23 2006 -- After almost 24 hours on “the drip” to induce my labor, no baby… a c-section it was. Enter, Preston Lake Davidson! At 9 pounds 10 ounces, he was all of a toddler. Seriously, he was huge. I decided right then and there, Lake would be an only child if we didn’t adopt. I had always wanted a son, and a son I got. As a matter of fact, I just “knew” God would not make me birth another toddler… And He definitely would not give me a daughter… I mean, I am not “daughter” material. I mean really, I am not… or at least I didn’t think I was.

So we are Christians…. That is, followers of Jesus Christ…. And we planned to raise Lake to love Jesus as well. From the beginning we tried to teach him to look and listen for Jesus and know that Jesus is always with him. He is a smart boy, so he grasped this quite quickly. I have always prayed that he would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to the Lord’s call on his life. So when Lake was 3 years old, he went to south LA for a whole weekend to visit his great “Papaw Cooney” (short for you know what) and when he came home, as I was tucking him in bed that Sunday evening, he said to me, “Mommy, I want to pray that Jesus puts a baby in your belly and that it is a girl.” He had no idea that the Friday he left for south LA I had taken a pregnancy test and it was positive. So we prayed and I waited until I went to the Dr. to confirm before we told him. Lake was beside himself with excitement and just “knew” it was a girl.

Now, getting pregnant this time, was not “planned”. I mean, yes, I know what causes it… but we weren’t trying and we just “took a chance”. Up until this point in our life, we had never, not ever, not even ONCE taken a “chance” because I was adamant I did NOT want to bare another child. Apparently, God had other plans.

And as much as I did not want to be pregnant again, I REALLY did NOT want a daughter… So when the ultrasound showed that baby girl, I cried. I was so annoyed with God. I mean, first a pregnancy (Strike one!), then a girl… I mean, “Come on, God… strike two!” Ya know? But there was always that nagging feeling that these things happen for a reason… so I finally got on board and welcomed the little toot into my heart…. Reluctantly, as it may have been.

When the pregnancy took a left turn and I ended up on bed rest early on for extreme edema, I was sort of pleased…. I HATED my job. Literally, I cried every day. The swelling itself was no walk in the park. Oh the pain… but I will save you from my extreme complaining because once I get started complaining, Momma has a hard time quitting… Complaining is like drugs… it feels good at first. Then you just keep going, and going, and before you know it, you have vented for like, an hour or so ...So it’s just best I don’t start.

Then, at 36 weeks I went in for an ultrasound to measure the baby and schedule my c-section. To my surprise, this did not go as planned. Baby measured oddly smaller than she should have but my belly measured several weeks ahead of schedule. My amniotic fluid was more than it should be, so baby was actually “floating”. She had PLENTY of room. This alarmed the ultrasound tech, me, and my Dr. of course. I had already had gestational diabetes with the first baby, and a family history of diabetes, so I was told, “This could be your body telling you that you are indeed a diabetic.”

So the next week, I went in for another ultrasound. I was 37 weeks and my belly measured as if I was 48 weeks pregnant. I had to bold print that in case you missed that.

That’s frickin’ huge. I’m just sayin’ “It’s big” is all.

The baby was measuring 35-36 weeks and 34 weeks in her arms/legs/head size.

My amniotic fluid had almost doubled in a week… which is INSANELY painful for your stomach to grow that fast, that quickly. My Dr. explained that my uterus could not hold anymore fluid, that I was in danger of it actually rupturing. So we did an emergency c-section and baby was here the next morning!

March 24 2010 (the day after Lake’s 4th birthday) -- Enter, Lennon Vale Davidson! Baby bug was 7 pounds 3 ounces and beautiful.

She had a lot of fluid on her lungs so they sent her to NICU. During recovery from my c-section, the Pediatrician came in to speak to us about Lennon’s health… Down Syndrome, she had said. Down Syndrome (Strike three, God!) …. She kept saying it… Down Syndrome… and each time it was like a Hiroshima in my heart.

I just couldn’t accept it. What would Lake do? Is Charlie blaming me? Why won’t he look at me?! Was this because of all the ”stuff” I did in my youth… the drugs? This is all MY fault! And Lake… How is he going to feel about his sister and this state of “retardation” she is in? (I HATE that word, but it crossed my mind… ya know?) Would she be the sad lonely kid in school? Would she even have friends? The pediatrician filled us in on her “physical characteristics”… traits of Down Syndrome, she said... “A cleft on her ear, a Semian line on her hand, split between her toes, almond shaped eyes, flat bridge between her nose, broad belly, shorter limbs, smaller head….” I panicked. Dear God, was she a mutant?! I mean, I had seen her bundled in a blanket for all of 2 seconds before they rushed her off to NICU. I pictured her to look mangled. Fear set in and it set in good… that fear pretty much grew roots immediately. Then, questions filled my mind, and my heart exploded. I cried, “WHY?!” …but I knew why… Punishment. This was punishment for my sins. For all I had done in life. What kind of GOD does this? Ya know? I had to get some answers. This is NOT who I thought He was!

But then...

I finally saw her…. She didn’t look mangled. I could see the traits but they were so tiny in comparison to what I had pictured in my head. She was so tiny. So sweet, so needing her momma, and her momma was so needing her, to hold her, to love her, to tell her, “It’s not true, what they are saying about you.” So after 3 grueling weeks in NICU, they sent us home.

Lake was finally going to meet his baby sister… the one he had prayed for every night, for 9 months. “Oh God, please let him accept her.” I was worried.

Lennon seemed good and we would just “deal” with anything that came along in regards to ”the” Down Syndrome. By this time, I had had it out with God. I was so weary from 3 weeks of praying and seeking His wisdom… and His answers. I was NOT ok with it.

Day 3 at home with my new little 3 week old baby bug… and Lennon stopped eating …and starting turning purple. She went into Congestive Heart Failure in my arms that afternoon.

We rushed her to the ER and she was admitted to PICU immediately. Two more long weeks in ICU and I am wondering if I will ever really take her home. She was losing weight but they couldn’t feed her because of the fluid on her heart and lungs. By the time she was 5 weeks old, they transferred her to Ocshner’s in New Orleans to have open heart surgery.

I missed my son, I missed my old life.

I wanted things to be right again… to be “normal”. But, I could not shake this feeling that this was happening for a reason.

Once again, God and I had it out. This time, I actually allowed Him to speak.

After her surgery, I sat all alone next to her bed and wept ….all night I wept … she was under 6 pounds at this point and probably the most helpless thing I have ever seen in my entire life… except for me. I was pretty pathetic. That night, as I lay there, vigorously typing away at my first blog entry, I finally realized, through a still but constant voice, I was ok with the Down Syndrome. I was ok with it, because the thought of losing that little girl was way, way, way worse than any old stinky syndrome.

I knew right then and there, we were going to be just fine. We would take each day as a blessing and definitely not for granted. God really has a way of putting things into perspective, if we are willing to see it… It was just a little syndrome in comparison to the life of your baby. It seemed pretty small now.

After we were home….. We had to explain to Lake, a 4 year old, what Down Syndrome was. “Lennon has something that we don’t. ”It’s an extra something that makes it difficult for her to learn things that are very easy for us… like eating, playing, crawling, walking, learning“… We told him, “She is going to need lots of therapy and lots of love and encouragement and help. She is our little miracle.”

I think, when he saw the big wound on her chest, he finally knew just how sick she had been. He just did.

Something happened right then and there when he looked at her; he had the saddest look on his face. He finally understood what the big fuss was about, that she really was “cut open” and “her heart was fixed”. I think he really felt bad for this tiny little sweet thing.

He wanted to be helpy -helps-a-lot after that. He wanted to “teach her” or “do therapy” with her so she would learn to play with him one day. He prayed for her all the time and still does.

When she was 6 months old, we went to our first “Buddy Walk”. That day, Lake asked his daddy, “Why do all these people look like that? Different?” Charlie explained to him that they had the same thing Lennon does. They had Down Syndrome. Another moment of clarity for this little man. Lake had started school by this time, and had 3 special needs children in his class. He quickly understood that not all kids were the same. Some needed a little more help. He was beginning to understand that Lennon was still a baby, but that she just needed a little extra.

The older she got, the more fun he had with her. No one giggled harder or more than her. She could NOT get enough of Lake.

We made special time for Lake with just us, and every second we got, we would tell him, “Lennon told me a secret… she said she loves her big bubba.” He would get so excited and immediately love on her. We have always made it out to be that Lennon’s favorite person was her big bubba Lake…. Because it’s the truth.

Life after Hiroshima is almost ”normal” (If there was really a such thing)… She does tend to get sick a little easier than I would like… meaning a runny nose can turn into a trip to the ER if we don’t act aggressively. I had to quit my job to stay at home with her (take her out of daycare) and I can assure you I was very excited to do so.
God really knew I needed that. She has already had tubes in her ears …and 6 months later her adenoids came out.

Today, Lennon is 18 months old and has a really bad hair cut, thanks to her mother. She has learned to eat with her fingers; we work on textured foods.

She drinks from a sippy cup, a cup with a straw and she is a huge fan of strawberries. Lennon is beating odds every day… she is walking everywhere and getting into everything. Lennon does not speak, but babbles some words unclearly, and tries very hard to make sure she is heard. Lennon loves baby dolls, clothes, shoes, necklaces, purses and tea parties. Lennon is the craziest dancer I have ever seen. She is a total mosh pit rocker, like her mother and father.

Lennon thinks Lake hung the moon. They play chase, they “do therapy”, he feeds her, he picks her up, and he moves her out of harm’s way. He is, hands down, the best big brother… ever. She might actually be his best friend. She is definitely his biggest fan, and he knows it.

Lennon does not meet a stranger, and through her, I have met so many wonderful families I would never have had the opportunity of knowing. I see first hand, just how amazing this extra chromosome is…. It has definitely added the “extra” to our life.

Yes, I could whine and pine about the harder days, but to be honest, I don’t want to. God told Satan to have his way with Job because he knew that Job would never turn on Him in a time of need and despair. I like to believe that God trusts me enough to allow Satan to try and ruin a good thing. God restored to Job everything, and then some, and then some more. I truly believe that with this life, as long as I am looking for the good in it, and looking for God in it, I will be just fine… we will be just fine. It’s all going to work out for the greater good. I believe there is a bigger picture. I believe this part of my life is only a grain of sand. A single grain of sand in your eye can cause terrible pain, anguish and turmoil. But when you take out the sand, you will see that single grain of sand, compared to the whole beach… and we all know how beautiful a beach is. You will see, that He does have a plan for me, for us, and it’s a plan to prosper us, to give us a hope and a future.



Bumber's Bumblings said...

Love love love it! Just beautiful! Laughed and cried through the whole thing! Thanks Taryn & Leah! Love you both!

P.s. Leah, your comment thing is messed up.

Leah said...


tasmiley said...

loved it & i will have to share with my girlfriend who has a beautiful baby girl with downs as well & shes my little snickerdoodle & a miracle as well!! :)

Bella Michelle said...

Oh my goodness....your princess is just precious!!!! And your handsome prince...what can I say...he is a little man after God's own heart! THanks for sharing your story and sharing the blessing!