Introducing Jack Josef

Four days ago, on August 6 at 4:59 p.m. my husband Dave and I welcomed our first child and son. We are overjoyed and so very proud to introduce you to Jack Josef:

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Jack was born at 38 weeks 4 days gestation, and in true Jack fashion – wanted to make his entrance into the world one to remember.

The day before Jack’s birth I was a ticking time bomb. I literally spent the entire day sobbing. My mom called me, I sobbed. Dave called me from work, I sobbed. Jack had dropped into position at 31 weeks and by this point I was having the “I’m done with pregnancy” feeling many Mom’s experience in their third trimester. Although I had been uncomfortable for weeks leading up to Jack’s birth, I had not experienced such a rush of uncontrollable emotions – thankfully Louie was around to lick up all my tears before I drowned in them.

That afternoon Dave decided to lift my spirits by treating me to what would be our last date-night as “just us two”. We polished off too many servings of all-you-can-eat vegetarian sushi  and made our way to Canadian Tire to stock up on some final items before Jack arrived. It appears all the sushi left little room for Jack because as soon as I stepped out of the car I felt a pop in my abdomen. I turned to Dave to tell him something felt wrong (seriously, I thought my bladder exploded) but before I could get the words out – gushes and gushes of water began pouring out of me in the middle of the parking lot. Side note: this dramatic gush only happens in about 10% of pregnancies. Two 15 year old Canadian Tire employees looked at me with fear and horror in their eyes – I began laughing uncontrollably – super clean Dave grabbed whatever towels/blankets he could find in his car and lined his front seat before loading me in. Off to the hospital we went!

This is how we arrived at the hospital – I was pre-contractions – Dave was convinced I was a rockstar – we had no idea what kind of agony I was about to undergo.

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Since I wasn’t contracting, the hospital sent me home and told me to return when my contractions were four minutes apart. Within one hour, my contractions were four minutes apart – and let me tell you – contractions = not fun. I laboured at home for 6 hours before I found myself vomiting on our front lawn from pain. It would be a total of 17 hours of labour and one hour of pushing before we would meet the baby boy who had been living in my belly.

Since the arrival of Jack my heart has exploded with love in more ways than I can imagine. I’ve become even more obsessed with Dave, as I watch him transition into the most incredible father. This man was literally rubbing chapstick on my lips and giving me sips of water between each pushing cycle, he’s changed 99% of our sons diapers, and he’s up with me each and every night to help me feed our especially sleepy baby.

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We are so thankful for all of the support extended to us during our pregnancy and now, with the arrival of Jack. We cannot wait to share this new adventure in our lives with you.

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Pregnancy Update: 37 Weeks

WE DID IT!

Well folks, we did it! Today officially marks 37 weeks pregnant and we’re in the safe zone for delivery. New bets have been placed on when I’ll deliver (officially due August 16) and all to-do tasks are done! We’re ready!

Baby Stats

Baby boy has been measuring a week ahead of schedule and weighs (approximately) just under 7 pounds. He’s expected to gain half a pound per week until his due date. With three weeks left this could put him in the eight and a half to nine pound range. Pray for me.

Highlight from the Week

Bed rest is officially over. With an okay from my doctor, I was able to fulfill my maid-of-honour duties for one of my closest friend’s wedding this past (hot, hot, hot) Saturday. Baby boy was a champ and allowed me to party hard until 9:30 p.m. WOO.

Annmarie was a beautiful bride and her wedding left not one dry eye in the house. We’ve been friends for the last 16 years and to watch her marry the man of her dreams was truly a blessing. 20160723_204132

Mama & Baby’s Health

Yesterday morning I happily told Dave I hadn’t reached the “I feel miserable” stage of the third trimester.  Well, I jinxed myself and my body laughed at me. Everything and I mean everything started to hurt come mid-afternoon.  Getting back on my feet after being off of them for 6 weeks has introduced some new aches and pains but it’s nothing a good bubble bath can’t fix.

Overall, Pork Chop is doing very well.  He’s grown a little reputation for himself at the hospital as “the swimmer” (we’ve become well known from all of our visits). He’s always moving and grooving, making it difficult at times to take proper measurements – but a moving baby is a happy baby.

Cravings

Bring me all the watermelon and white flesh peaches!

New Symptoms

I really struggled with insomnia during my first trimester and it seems to have come back in full swing. If I’m lucky, I’ll score about 4 combined hours of sleep (between the tossing and turning and frequent bathroom visits). Despite all that I seem to be keeping my sanity and making it through the days fairly well with only one power nap.

I’ve also been experiencing loss of appetite and a ton of pain in my hips. Thankfully I have a kick-ass (and should I add, incredibly handsome) husband, who has literally gone above and beyond anything I could have expected.

On Saturday he offered to follow me around in an air-conditioned car while we snapped pictures outside for my friends wedding. He brought Popsicles, snacks and frozen bottles of water to ensure baby and I were well hydrated, well fed and avoided the dangers of the heat. Bless him.

That’s all for now – I expect my next post will be our birth story – so stay tuned and stay cool!

Thoughts on Pregnancy as it Comes to a Close

At this exact moment last summer my fiance and I were cruising down the highway with the windows down and fine wine sitting in the back seat waiting to be sipped on a dock at sunset – we were living the life. We were two mid-20 somethings in the middle of planning a wedding and buying our first home together. We had dreams about the life we were about to embark on as husband and wife, and a large part of that dream was to become parents.

This summer is a world different than last. Dave and I are married, we’re moments away from becoming “mom” and “dad”, and the spontaneous days of wine-filled weekends are only a distant memory.

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I’ts been a little while since I’ve put pen to paper…or keyboard to screen, if you will. I’ve been caught up in experiencing these new and different summer nights. Caught up in listening to crickets chirp at sunset, and sipping tea on the porch while my husband sips his caffeine. Caught up in anticipation for the arrival of our son. And most recently, caught up in my thoughts.

Pregnancy has broken and healed my heart repeatedly over the last 34 weeks.  It pains me greatly to admit that my pregnancy has been challenging and difficult but I have never carried my son without gratefulness, I have never stopped counting my blessings. My blessings extend beyond our son to our family and friends, who have rallied around us and provided us with an outpouring of love and support.

There have also been moments where people’s comments and questions have caught me off guard. Moments that have strengthened me and my ability to hold my composure when faced with great ignorance.

Although my pregnancy has been emotionally draining and although I’m scattering these words across a page while on bed rest due to an escape attempt by my son 9 weeks earlier than his anticipated arrival – I sit here in awe, in love and in wonder of the journey the last 8 months has taken us on.

From the moment two pink lines on a stick dissolved all my worries of ever carrying a child to discovering we were having son that may have a chromosomal micro-deletion, to tears we cried when we learned he was healthy and the fear that filled us when we learned he is impatient like his momma, to this moment right now, where I feel him roll and flutter and kick inside my body which has become his home. All of it has been surreal, humbling and life changing.

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Until my son started powerhouse kicking me in my ribs, squishing my lungs, and sticking his bum straight out of my belly, there were many things I hated about this miraculous experience.   I hated all the hardships we had to experience and I hated feeling out of control. However something has overcome me in the last few weeks. Maybe it’s the fact that my son could arrive at any moment or the lesson’s I’ve learned over the last 8 months – but I am so incredibly grateful for every lesson Dave and I have been volunteered to learn.

Last summer we thought we were living the life – but today, we are living our destiny. It may be without wine, it may be without spontaneity, it may be with my feet permanently kicked up and my child’s head so low in my cervix that I nearly cry every time I have to move, but this is where we’re meant to be. Every hurdle we had to cross – it was meant to be. Every tear we cried in fear – it was meant to be.

I really questioned whether or not I’d want to do this all over again, carry a child. Whether my 16x20 sunshine print yellownext pregnancy will be as difficult as my first – but one of my cousin’s wisely advised me that one day this will all be a memory, and my son will be my reality. I will hold him, I will love him, I will care for him, I will look at him in awe and know he is the reason I was able to survive. We know parenting will be filled with many more learning experiences that will challenges us, but as we grow closer to meeting the little boy who strengthened our relationship, strengthened our faith, strengthened our love for our own parents and grew our hearts, we grow more certain that he will be a force that will continue to better our lives each passing moment.

Pregnancy Update: Week 24 – Viability

Women live by milestones in their pregnancy and this week is a big one – 24 weeks is when a baby is considered to be viable, meaning if it was born at this time it has a reasonable chance for survival. The baby’s rate for survival will continue to grow at 2-3% per day until week 27, as baby continues to pack on the pounds and develop organ maturity.

Baby Stats

At 24 weeks I feel and look pregnant. This belly has officially popped. At least once a week someone will tell me how big my belly is and how gigantic they think Pork Chop will be (thank you by the way, both Pork Chop and I are flattered). All joking aside, Pork Chop has been growing in leaps and bounds and as of Friday weighs 1 pound, 6 ounces and is a little over a foot in length.

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Left: 11 weeks  Right: 22 weeks 

 

Highlight from the Week

At 24 weeks I’m able to tell the difference between the magic of pregnancy gas and the baby moving. And let me tell you, this kid loves to move. Pork Chop has literally turned my uterus into a dance floor and is constantly wiggling and kicking about. Not only has Dave been able to feel Porky’s powerful punches but we can actually see the baby move when we lay in bed at night. The baby’s movement has quickly made me love being pregnant. Keep in mind, pregnancy is demanding both physically and emotionally, so this feeling can change on any given day.

Each and every time Pork Chop gives me a nice big kick in the bladder, my heart literally explodes into a million pieces. It’s these special moments that calm my anxiety and make everything worth it.

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Louie has become very attached to me lately and is obsessed with his baby.

 

Mama & Baby’s Health

The active movement of the baby has kept me on my toes and landed Pork Chop and I in the hospital on Monday. Being a first time Mom I’m really not sure what to expect in a pregnancy and with all the high risk testing Dave and I have been through, I’ve been on high alert. Last weekend after a very active week in my belly, Pork Chop decided to take a three day hiatus from dancing. This stop in movement also came with cramping and with that, a very worried Mama. Although a baby’s movement isn’t consistent until 28 weeks, a quick call to Labour and Delivery validated my concerns. As soon as I shared my symptoms with the hospital, I was told to immediately head to the hospital’s prenatal clinic.

When I arrived at the hospital I became so overwhelmed with worry and the lack of parking that I sobbed in my car. Wooo, hormones! Once I was able to collect myself, I made my way to the prenatal clinic and was immediately hooked up to monitors. All of our records were transferred over from our high risk doctor and genetic specialist, and within fifteen minutes, we could hear baby’s very regular heartbeat on the monitor. I was soon released but had to return a few days later for additional testing.

The doctor’s at the hospital we’ll be delivering at have decided they would like to continue to monitor the small amount of fluid in Pork Chop’s brain but told us their concerns are minimal.

Cravings

Peanut butter and chocolate. I seriously can’t get enough of it, guys.

New Symptoms

Overall, I’m feeling great which is a big change from the first trimester. My emotions have started to balance out (I think a big part of this is being released from high risk care) and my energy is coming back in full swing. Three to four times a week Dave and I will spend at least an hour walking around our neighbourhood or a park. It feels great to get back into a routine and have enough energy to make meals for my man.

One symptom that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon is my dislike for meat. Most days I still border on being a vegetarian. In this regard, Pork Chop does not live up to their name.

Oh, and, my innie is now an outie, hollaaa.

Baby Purchases

We’re trying to keep baby purchases minimal and based on necessity. Although we haven’t made any recent purchases, we did set up Pork Chop’s nursery this week which still needs some art. Once our baby’s gender is revealed – in a month (yay!) – I’ll be doing a whole feature on the nursery, so stay tuned!

 

On Choosing Happiness and Celebrating my Husband on His Birthday

Today, is April 22nd, my darling husband’s birthday. A day I obsessively try to perfect as I attempt to make each of his birthday’s better than the last.

When Dave and I first met, I questioned whether our relationship would be lasting. We are opposite and contrary forces – yet, he compliments me, balances me and interconnects with me in a way that creates harmony in our relationship.  Through heartache and through laughter, through life’s great lessons and through unexpected moments, through our triumphs and through our failures, being his wife will always be one of the greatest honours in my life.

To share my life with Dave is a continual ‘pinch me’ moment I never get tired of. Each morning I wake up to him, my heart swells with love. I fill with excitement as I soak in his brilliance, his company and his kindness. My heart oozes with adoration as he anticipates the arrival of our child. My mind is in awe at his incredible way of understanding and processing the world. He is truly one of a kind.

People have told me that I’m lucky to have found Dave. Without denying truth, there are days I do indeed feel lucky. However, acknowledging that Dave and I chose one another rather than found each other through luck is important.  We built our relationship on a foundation of hard lessons learned. Lessons that once tore our hearts apart at the hands of undeserving individuals. It was only through those lessons and learning from past mistakes that we would be able to open our hearts to one another.  We learned to value ourselves and only give each other away to a person willing to love the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly in us. We learned to pick and choose our battles and to always respect one another, even during our greatest disagreements. Falling in love with one another was a decision our hearts made, but  giving our best to each other and making a continuous effort to have our relationship work is a mindful choice we make each and every day.

Davey, today I celebrate you. The man you are, the professional you are, the kind, caring and selfless individual you are. I celebrate the days you make me frustrated and the days you make me fall hopelessly in love with you all over again. Today, I celebrate your compassion and your support. Your way of comforting me when I’m nearly inconsolable. I celebrate your optimism, especially when it relates to our pregnancy.  Davey, I celebrate your love for your family and the love you have extended to mine. I celebrate your brilliance and your love of learning. Your sense of humor and your laid back approach to every day life. But Davey, most of all, I celebrate that you chose me to celebrate your remaining birthdays with.

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Happy birthday my darling. Though Dave’s Birthday-Fun-Day-Extravaganza will be a little less extravagant and a little more in tune with our current stage in life, I hope today makes you feel loved, honoured and celebrated.

All my love,

A

 

 

Reasons Why I Love Sunday

Sundays. You either love them or you hate them. They’re the wind down from the weekend and the amp up for the work week. For some Sunday is filled with dread of the week ahead but I have grown to love Sunday.  In between all the chaos of every day life, the chores and the commitments, the errands and the expectations,  Sunday becomes the perfect opportunity for unstructured family time.

Up with the sun and the birds, our Sundays usually begin before 7 A.M. With puppy’s head on my pillow and his feet in my darling husband’s face, I wake up and instantly know I’m where I’m meant to be. It’s those few moments in the morning that often become the most cherished moments of my day.

Reason #1 why I love Sunday: Waking up at home with my family. 

Although Sunday is a day for unstructured family time, it has also become a day of tradition. Since the early days of our relationship, Dave and I have loved treating ourselves to breakfast on a Sunday morning. There’s something about someone else making your breakfast and cleaning up the dishes that becomes the perfect way to start your day. Once we’ve sipped our final cup of bottomless coffee, we scurry home to grab the pooch and make our way to our next traditional Sunday spot.

By 9 a.m. on a Sunday you’ll find Dave and I walking the trails at our favourite park. A park my parents first introduced me to as a child when we used to spend our Sunday mornings together. I thank my parents for instilling my love of nature and zest for adventure. My deep rooted love of exploring is something I’ve been able to thankfully rub off on Davey.

“You know, when I used to think about what life would be like one day when I was a kid, I never thought I’d be walking trails with my pregnant wife and 10 pound dog in the early Sunday mornings. But I love this.

Reason #2 why I love Sunday: Living tradition. 

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Our mornings at the park allow Dave and I time to talk without our screens or gadgets. It’s an opportunity for us to reconnect with one another, listen to one another and truly hear one another. It’s also an opportunity to embrace our silly puppy in all his spunky glory.

Reason #3 why I love Sunday: Creating time for love and laughter. 

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Sundays belong to our family – our new, little and growing family, and our larger, love with all our hearts, made us who we are today family. It’s about creating meaningful moments that will get us through the sometimes difficult week we have waiting ahead.

Reason #4 why I love Sunday: Spending quality time with family. 

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Sundays are for relaxing and feeding our hobbies. It’s a day for me to plan my weekly entries for my blog, for Dave to rule the world (an Civilization players out there?) and for us to get in some snuggles. A day to be mindful and grateful about the blessings we have in our life.

Reason #5 why I love Sunday: Cuddling my sleepy pup (thanks to the big morning at the park). 

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Its a day for me to binge-watch my favourite teeny-bopper TV shows – currently hooked on Pretty Little Liars, cover our bed with clean sheets and fill our fridge with home made nutritious meals for the busy week ahead.

Sunday is about calming my mind and healing my soul.  Before I learned to go-with-the-flow of a Sunday, I also used to dread them by overwhelming myself with chores, errands and to-do’s. By focusing my time and attention on the important things in my intimidate world, I’ve been able to find balance between creating memories and managing our home.

This morning is Monday and I started my day but spilling an entire blender full of the banana chocolate peanut butter smoothie I had been craving on the kitchen floor. Remember my cute and spunky pooch? Well he got a stain on our brand new couch. And my husband was unable to zip me into my favourite dress.

Thank goodness for Sunday.

 

What do your Sundays look like?

 

 

 

 

The Results Are In…

Dave and I are overjoyed to share that our sweet little Pork Chop has officially been cleared of all genetic/chromosomal conditions!!!!!!

Of all the times I’d love a drink to celebrate, this is it but instead, we’re going to treat ourselves to a round of ice cream!

There are no words to express the relief and happiness (happy is an understatement) we feel right now, which is probably why I’m sitting here blubbering away as I write this.

It’s always so much easier to be positive on the flip side of things, but faith, love and kindness from others kept us strong. If you’re currently going through a shitty situation, we pray you can find some light in your darkness.

Peace & love,

Annie and Davey

An Odd, Yet Truly Heartfelt Letter to Baby Gap

Dear Baby Gap,

This thank you letter is probably unlike one you’ve ever received before. It has nothing to do with your staff or your customer service. It has nothing to do with the pleasant shopping experience I had darting around your online store. It does however, have everything to do with the joy a recent purchase brought me.

For the last seven weeks my husband and I have been going through the ups and downs of genetic testing. We are expecting our first child, and the wonderful pregnant glow that most women get to enjoy has been ripped from beneath my feet. With so many unknowns about our beautiful little baby, we’ve feared becoming “too” excited.

Last week I couldn’t resist splurging on adorable items at your store. I made my purchase with both giddiness and hesitation. In the week that followed my purchase, we continued to wait for our baby’s results. Today, we are still waiting.

Yesterday was one of the harder days for me. After a chat with our hospital, we were advised we could have another week and a half of waiting. Another week and a half of torment. Another week and a half of wondering if our little baby will be healthy. Then my husband walked in with a package.

Tearing it open, the contents inside brought immediate tears to my eyes. I envisioned my child, healthy and happy as can be, with their tiny little bum in your tiny little pants. I imagined the fall, with my child sitting plump in a pile of leaves, transformed into a little cub while sporting your adorable bear hat. For a moment, my spirits were lifted and I had, what I imagine, is the feeling of excitement most women have while experiencing a healthy pregnancy.

So here’s an odd yet fully heartfelt thank you, Baby Gap. Your clothing gave me hope. It gave me excitement. It put my husband and I back on cloud nine. You delivered exactly when we needed it, in a moment of weakness and tears. And we couldn’t be more grateful.

Anneliese

I’m Happy We Lived Together First

Living with a partner before marriage was something that was never on the table for me. Sticking to my good Catholic roots, I wanted a ring on my finger and an ‘I do’ before snugging in under one roof with my potential husband.

Then I met him.

 

11950229_10153254346748370_2023321734804309702_o First date – Circa October 2011

 He was charming, he was lovely and he was trustworthy. He was also adamant about living together before giving me my ‘say yes to the dress’ moment. I struggled with the idea of tossing my life vision out the window and compromising on my (and my famiy’s) beliefs. However, as we approach almost six months of married life – I’m so happy we lived together first.

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 Many couples seem to agree that the first year of marriage is the hardest. Coming out of your post-wedding bliss you are quickly thrown into a reality of combined finances, sharing personal space and learning each others good – or bad – habits around the clock. Marriage is all about compromise and as much as you try to sort out the kinks of significant compromises before getting hitched, they will constantly be thrown at you in all directions.

 How do we split the mortgage?

Who pays the utilities?

How do we decide on a fair and managed spending budget?

How do we split time between our families?

How much time do we spend with friends?

Who unloads the dishwasher?

The list goes on and on.

In shacking up with my husband while he was still my (serious) boyfriend we were able to settle out many of those kinks before tying the knot. And let me tell you – that year was hard. Between living together for the first time, adopting our first puppy, planning our wedding, dealing with family illnesses, and purchasing our first home, I’m surprised we made it to the alter still sane. We learned so much about each other and we able to sort out many of the unknowns many couples face in their first year of marriage.

We rented for a year to sort out our needs and wants: emotionally, financially and socially.

To even my surprise, we learned I’m a neat freak – so my husband has learned that leaving half-full cans of pop on the table, which the dog loves to knock over, is a big no-no.

We learned we love low key nights in, and like to dedicate certain days of the week towards time spent with family and friends.

We learned how to grocery shop and manage our budget.

We learned to give each other personal space to do the things we love.

We learned how to coexist and love each other for our quirks rather than resent them.

We learned that we for sure, most definitely, without a doubt want to spend the rest of our lives together.

I’m not saying this isn’t possible to figure out without living together first. What I am saying however is  my change of mind and acceptance to a different approach to marriage really worked in our favour.

We’ve been being married for a little over 5 months now and are a little over 4 months pregnant. I can’t begin to imagine jumping into a pregnancy so quickly after marriage if we hadn’t experienced our unwed year of living together. Especially as we face the ups and downs of genetic testing. I’m not sure we could handle our current situation quite so well.  Instead, our relationship is the strongest its ever been. The love I have for my husband has multipled in ways I could have never imagined. Paying a mortgage, blanacing work and family life, keeping house – they’re all part of a routine we’ve already figured out. Now, we just manage the unexpected things life is throws at us.

12465997_10153490952643370_2440820475165753421_oWedding – October 2015

 Although I’m sure my parents would have preferred we did things the old fashioned way, and although I’ll want to ensure my children understand the old school  type of respect to put into a relationship – I’m able to now appreciate the modern relationship.

At the end of the day a relationship is about understanding your partner’s point of view and making healthy compromises to make the relationship work. My husband understood and appreciated my perspective, while I understood and appreciated his. The combination of the two made for a comfortable experience where we both learned valuable things about ourselves and each other. I wouldn’t trade that unwed year for the world and truly believe it led to the success of our first year of marriage (thus far).

Did you live with your partner before getting married? Are you against it? Join in on the conversation!

 

 

Why We Need to Stop Referring to Babies as Normal

As seen on the Huffington Post.

 

What is normal? Well, according to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, normal is defined as usual or ordinary; not strange. In the same definition, Merriam-Webster’s adds normal is a representation of mental and physical health. In the concept of society, normal is defined relatively the same. Normal is largely based on how a person’s behaviour and appearance conforms with social standards. You are either “normal” and you fit into society or you are “not normal” and therefore do not. Until recently I placed little thought on the definition of normal and the injustice it serves for many members of our society.

It may be because I’ve been exposed to the sensitive nature of human normality, but I find fault in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defining normal by the mental and physical health of human beings. There is also fault in our society in the way we judge each other and categorize one another based on social norms. We live in a world that is so complex and filled with great difference. Differences that should be embraced and used as inspiration for kindness, generosity and understanding. A world where the term “abnormal” should only be used as a term to indicate results in medicine, not to define a human being. Even more so, not to define a fetus in limbo of a diagnosis.

It was only three weeks ago when my husband and I had our twelve week ultrasound with our first child. I watched my husband light up as he looked at the little life we created on a black and white screen. I clenched my husband’s hand with excitement, awing at our tiny baby’s nose. Little did I know I would rely on that hand only days later to be clenched as a result of panic and fear. In the days that would follow, we would anxiously be seated in our doctor’s office awaiting results we never anticipated to hear — that our baby had an abnormality.

 

The words used to describe this abnormality were as complex and scientific as they come. In medical terms, our baby had a thickened nuchal translucency. In more common terminology, the condition placed our baby at higher risk for genetic differences such as Downs Syndrome, and congenital heart defects. As quickly as the words left the tip of my doctors tongue, the tears were streaming down my face. I locked my eyes on my husband and plowed through an entire box of Kleenex as our doctor explained the tests we would have to undergo, doctors we would need to see and risks of our pregnancy. There were few words that stuck with me during that conversation.

We were sent home with a copy of our ultrasound. The top of the paper stamped with urgent in big, red, block letters, and the bottom of the ultrasound using the word abnormal to define our little 12 week baby.

In the days that would follow I would search the Internet to find expectant parents in a similar situation. To my surprise baby forums were flooded with parents whose baby had the same abnormality. The majority of mother’s discussed the tremendous amount of heartache they went through, only to find out that their baby would be born “normal.”

From the few people we shared this heart breaking news with, many wished us well and hoped that our baby would be born “normal” rather than healthy — and each time someone wished our baby be born normal, my heart ached. In one sense, I understood that their intentions were well-meant, but in another sense it was clear that if my child was born with physical or mental differences, my child would not fit into society’s definition of normal. In combination with the serious complications and medical issues that come along with Downs Syndrome, society viewing my child as “not normal” was not something I was ready to accept.

A team of genetics counselors prepared us for the worst possible outcome. We were forced to place value on the life of our child, and the value they would have in our world. I continued to imagine our little baby, who my husband and I created through love. A baby with innocence and purity. A baby who I loved without even meeting and continued to love despite the differences he or she may have.

After a grueling two weeks our baby’s DNA testing came back low risk for trisomy related chromosome conditions. Before we had a chance to breathe a sigh of relief, we were told a second abnormality was found and we would require further genetic testing. My heart aches for my husband and I as we face this new path of unknown, but my heart also aches for the families who will become the statistics we fear. The family who will have to integrate their beautiful child into a society with a closed definition of normal.

If you know a family member, friend or coworker in a similar case of limbo, please do not tell them you hope their baby is born normal. Rather, substitute normal with the word healthy. It may seem like a small request to make but it means a world of difference to the people living this situation. The word normal is a shitty reminder that it’s not just good enough to be born healthy.

To everyone who has ever felt like they never fit in, who has ever felt like they were not normal, know: what makes you different makes you beautiful. Embrace your difference. Our world is a beautiful place full of many beautiful people. Placing a standard or status quo on what makes a person normal in our society masks the true beauty of all of our differences.