out with the old and in with the...

2011 has been a crazy year on a lot of fronts for our little family. we've laughed, we've cried, we've rejoiced, we've mourned. and, like a lot of families confronted with coming to terms with the reality of Down syndrome in their lives, we've grown. a lot.

this time last year, i was afraid of the diagnosis. fearful that emma would need heart surgery in the very near-term. scared that she would not enjoy all that life has to offer.

she's 18 months old now. and she can walk with assistance. she communicates constantly. she speaks two languages, actually: American Sign Language and spoken English. emma eats heartily. she drinks out of a variety of sippy cups on her own now. she dances to music. she plays drums. she plays at the playground. she loves Gymboree. she is a daddy's girl.

she's not unlike any typical child i know. because, like typical children, she is also independent-minded and is proud of her accomplishments (she claps each time she learns a new word or masters a new skill like stacking blocks or putting things "under" something). she gets sick. she cries. she says no when she doesn't want to do something.

emma is multi-dimensional. she is not simple.

and, it's taken us a while to really grasp that. because, truth be told, when emma entered our world in 2010, we had a lot of pre-existing notions about what Down syndrome would mean for her and for us. 

in 2011, we learned to throw most of those notions out the window.

now, we realize the main challenge is building a community for emma that will embrace her and love her as we do - without reservations or discomfort.  we've found that to be so much easier than we ever believed in some ways, and in others, much harder.  in some instances, the folks who we thought would be participants in our lives - our daughter's life -  haven't.  yet, folks we didn't even know would be in our world, have appeared. and, truthfully, i think we've pulled away some not knowing how to navigate our new world.

at the end of the day, as i reflect on 2011, i know we're tremendously blessed. emma is loved so much by so many, it often renders me speechless. and, we are so grateful for all of those well wishes, kind emails and comments, and old and new friends.

so, thank you. happy new year. may 2012 be a blessed year for you and yours.

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