Today marks the two year anniversary of the one of the happiest days of my life and probably the most difficult and painful day of my life; today is Tera's 2nd birthday.
Last year's birthday was difficult because it had only been one year, she was sick, and it seemed as though the first year had gone by so quickly. This year was a little better, except that I didn't get to spend the day with her and we've just come off of one of the most stressful, exhausting months as a family.
So I found myself watching the clock in my car very closely this morning on my way to work waiting for it to change to 7:02. Throughout the morning I thought back to that day and what was going on at the various times and found myself tearing up more than once. My first thoughts were of course right after she was born. Holding her for the first time was the most amazing feeling and then we started making phone calls to let everyone know she had finally arrived. I thought back to our first visitors that day and how we hid everything from them, and to the second day when we finally told everyone. Mostly what made me tear up were the various responses from everyone.
I've said from the very beginning that what has gotten us through this is our family and friends and those first days are the best example of that. I thought about telling my mom that something was wrong but trying to assure her, and myself, that everything was going to be okay. I remember Tom's parents flying back immediately from Arizona and being reassured by my brother-in-law that just seeing her would set their minds at ease. I remember telling my dad and his lack of reaction because it just didn't matter to him that she was going to be different. I remember telling my sister who lives out of state and the catch in her voice when I explained what the health issues were that we were aware of and trying to be strong as I assured her she would be fine when I didn't really know that myself yet. I remember telling Tom's best friend and his wife and how the only thing they cared about was her health. I remember running into my uncle's arms in the lobby on my way up to the NICU to see her after he had just found out and how much he just wanted to see her. I don't remember telling a lot of other people because my incredibly courageous and protective husband took care of that while I was with Tera as she had been moved to the NICU overnight. I remember constructing the email to our family and friends that didn't know and the overwhelming responses I got. I remember one of my best friends and another friend from work taking on the task of telling my senior advisory and my department what was going on.
I remember all of the pain, anguish, fear, and questions along with the love, amazement, and joy at finally having our baby girl. I remember all of that, but I am constantly reminded of the people in our lives. The ones who don't hesitate to offer help when she is chronically sick, the ones there to reassure us that we will all make it through whatever we are currently going through, and the ones who are just always there for us to help us celebrate Tera's accomplishments.
Tonight, despite the snowstorm, we celebrated with a few of those people and despite the emotions, they were there once again to remind us she is a two year old first, and then a two year old with Down Syndrome. She had pizza (well we ordered pizza, she ate a few celery sticks and some pretzels) and cake and played with her best friend. And tomorrow is just another day (but this weekend is the party!)