Monday, September 5, 2016

Welcome to the Club

I've been watching Season 2 of "Born This Way" on A&E, a reality show about young adults with Down syndrome. It follows their everyday lives, showing their triumphs as well as struggles. Every single episode I shed a tear, whether it's when Megan expresses her desire to have babies, when Elena and her mom go head to head, or the love Cristina and her fiance' have for each other. I love Sean's parent's humor and they remind me of Jesse and I, plus my boys are constantly singing "Shake Your Booty" by cast member John. I can't help but look forward to my future with Ellie. I'm learning so much from the parents who have walked this path before me. I'm also realizing I have so much more to look forward to. 

On a recent episode, Elena's mom was talking to the other parents about how hard it has been dealing with Elena's fragile emotional state. They comforted her, reassuring her that they are all there to help her through it. Then Rachel's dad said something that really hit home for me, and the tears started flowing. He talked about being in "the club". It is so true. We are in a club we never dreamed we would be in (unless you are Jesse and I and you literally dream your daughter with Down syndrome into reality!) And now I can't imagine not being in this club. It's something amazing that is for sure.

Just a little over a week ago I hosted a mom's lunch for local families. The Down Syndrome Network Oregon graciously sponsored the event and we had a huge turnout. There was about 150 people including the kids, all at my house! It was amazing! There were children from 1 month old all the way up to 15 years old. I was in awe watching the moms connecting and sharing their stories. All of the kids got along as if they had been playing together for years. It was a "heart is overflowing" moment for me. I also have to make a shout out to my mother-in-law Julie, my mom, and my best friends Jos and Allyn for helping me put the event together! I couldn't have done it without their help. Also, Jos took over 200 photos for me. Here are a few from the day, I had a hard time narrowing it down so I apologize in advance for the photo overload!

Helper Extraordinaires! My Mama, My Bestie, My Mama-in-Law
Ellie and her new buds :)
Babies galore!
Iris loving the pool!
Two beautiful girls.
Paula, one half of the amazing DSNO founder duo!
Little Miss Sunshine.
One of my closest local mama friends and her beautiful family

I am leaving Friday morning for a two night trip to Dallas, Texas to see over 100 of my closest friends. That sounds funny doesn't it? But it's true. We are all moms to children with Down syndrome. We have been each other's sounding board through surgeries, struggles, delays, successes, GI issues (some of you know more about this than you'd like), and navigating services, inclusion and more. This event is put on through the DSDN and is called the Rockin' Mom Retreat. We will have 3 days and two nights full of laughs, tears and relaxation. The goal of the weekend is for the moms to connect, inspire, and recharge. To say I'm excited would be an understatement. Here's a few photos from last year's event in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

1st Rockin' Mom Retreat - 2015 - Minneapolis, MN

Elevator fun!
The late night crew!
There for each other. Always.
This is our tribe. As our children grow, we will have each other through every  milestone, whether locally connected or connected virtually. The future isn't scary or lonely when you have others who get it. Our kids may end up living together someday, like Steven and Sean from Born This Way. Speaking of Sean I get to meet his Rockin' Mom this weekend in Dallas! And I wonder who will be in the first "Rockin' Wedding", I have my sights on Mason and Ellie for that title. 

I don't know what Ellie's future holds but I do know as her mom I am not alone, and never will be. How is it that a little extra chromosome can bring together people who would have otherwise never met? I also can't imagine not having my now-best friend Jos. Our girls brought us together and I'm forever grateful for that. 

Sweaty BFF's but having fun!
Have you found your people yet? The first step would be reaching out to your local group for face-to-face support. If you click this link, it will show you the organization closest to you. We have the DSNO and NWDSA local to us here in Oregon, both are amazing organizations that provide so many resources to families. And if you are new mama, "welcome to the club", you will love it here I promise. When you are ready, please find us on Facebook at the DSDN and join one of our many private support groups. And remember, you've got this, and we've got you.

My song for this week is one that reminds me of my fellow Rockin' Moms. I love you ladies so much and can't wait to see many of you on Friday!

Count on Me - Bruno Mars