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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chubby Cheeks

When Victoria was born, probably the most visible sign of Down Syndrome, to me, was her thick neck and chubby cheeks. She didn’t have a “normal” slim neck like most babies. I have to admit that her looks bothered me. My other two girls were relatively “pretty” (or so everyone said) when they were born and Victoria definitely looked “different” to me.

I remember the hospital photographer coming into our hospital room on the third day of our stay at Women And Children’s Hospital asking if we would like a picture taken of Victoria. I always told Mark during my pregnancy that I never wanted us to treat this baby any different than our other girls. I planned on us having her photo taken in the hospital and I also wanted to purchase a “baby plan” with our regular photographer to document her first year of life like we did with Elyssa and Natalie. I wanted her to know that we were proud of how she looked and who she was. But, as I sat in the hospital room still stunned about her having Downs and feeling in shock about her looks, I questioned if I’d want those hospital pictures after all.

We, of course, agreed to have the photos taken and Mark and I both thought they turned out horrible. (I’ve attached her hospital photo for you to see it.) From the proof we couldn’t tell a whole lot, but we knew that was as good as it would get with the amateur quality of the picture and photographer. We decided to purchase a package and were totally dissatisfied with the pictures once we saw them in full size. I remember crying when I saw the pictures. I could barely look at them.

We debated giving the pictures to family once we got home and spent more time looking at them. We eventually took a picture of Victoria with our own camera and sent that out with our announcements. We thought we did a much better job of getting her photo than the hospital photographer.

As I look at Victoria now, I see a beautiful child. As I fed her today and held her over my shoulder to burp her, I couldn’t help but snuggle up to her chubby cheek. The cheeks that I once could barely look at, I now love. I receive comfort as I feel my skin next to hers. I feel ashamed that at her birth I didn’t initially feel love for her and judged her by her looks and disability. My prayer for her is that as she grows up, people will take time to know her. I want them to see what a sweet and beautiful girl she is in the inside and get past what they see on the outside. There is a lot to love in this special gift. May others not make the mistake I made and judge too quickly what life will be like with her.

I think as she grows, I will always love snuggling and kissing on her chubby cheeks. I think God gave her those cheeks to remind me that no matter how “ugly” and “unattractive” I look in my sin, He still wants to snuggle His face against mine and let me know He loves me no matter what, too.

Thank You, Lord, for chubby cheeks!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Messick Family,

I have never been so emotionally moved reading about a child from a parent. Out of curiosity I am fascinated by reading about the effect a child with any disability has on a family. I am 16 years old and attend North Mobile. I guess that's why it "hit-home" so much...just being around your wonderful family...not neccessarily that I know another child with down syndrome. In this particular blog, your honesty shook me up. When you referred to not being sure if you wanted the pictures from the hospital or not...I knew that if I were in your sitution, I would feel the same way. Which I know would be wrong, and I believe that if it were any other person writing their thoughts and feelins for their child on something like this...they would have simply left that part out. But you did not. You might not think so, but I see that as being brave, too. Because, anyone that reads that could say.."I can't believe she went as far as to write something like that..especially about that poor beloved child." But you were brave enough to write what you were really thinking...to maybe even give courage to other families going through what you are. You never know who this could reach, someone desperate..in need of hope..and of encouraging words..that you offer in your blogs. As I was reading about the part I mentioned earlier..about the photograph..I started balling my eyes out. I can't even imagine what you guys are feeling..and going through. And I hope that one day God will give me unnatural strengths that He has obviously given to you. I'll be praying for you..and baby Victoria. God bless.