A view into the life of a family who encountered a different future than expected, but has become all the richer for it.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Healthy Heart

I took Victoria to the cardiologist this week because I noticed her sweating a lot last week, even while in a onesie. I just wanted to be sure her oxygen level was okay and that she was doing well in her recovery since we are not scheduled to return to the cardiologist until October.

The nurse checked her blood pressure and oxygen level and both were wonderful. I was relieved! Dr. Mayer then came in to take a listen to Victoria's heart. He said there was no "gallop!" He mentioned prior to her surgery that her heart beating sounded like a horse galloping. So much blood was swooshing around in her heart that the gallop sound was very distinct. He said her heart sounds wonderful and he was really pleased by her healthy appearance as well.

During our visit, Dr. Mayer said we could discontinue her blood pressure medicine. This means that Victoria is no longer on ANY medication for her heart! Praise the Lord! He also told us that her wound looks to be completely healed and that we could start picking her up like a "normal baby" (under her arms)! We have been scooping her up for so long that I'm sure I'll still be hesitant about picking her up under her arms!

What a praise! To go to the doctor for concerns and then to be told she is doing fantastic ... wow! We are blessed to have such a good God who has healed our little baby!

PS - Victoria is now 5-months-old and has gained more weight, which is also a praise. She now weighs 11 lbs 2 oz. I know this seems small, but this is the biggest she has ever been in her little life. All of her doctors seem very pleased with her weight gain and expect it to continue.

PSS - My mom is the beautiful lady holding Victoria in the photo you see above!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bumbo Butt

Victoria had a visit from a physical therapist and vision specialist this week. They both had very good comments about how she is doing. We felt encouraged. I've been given different "exercises" to do with her over the next few weeks to prod her on to develop further. One thing I've started doing is sitting her up in her Bumbo.

Here is a cute photo of her in the Bumbo. She still needs a little help to sit up because she is so small (I fill the front of the Bumbo with a folded towel) and does tire from sitting too long, but she is doing great nonetheless!

We couldn't help but take a photo of Natalie getting her butt stuck in Victoria's Bumbo (that sounds hilarious to even say!). If you know anything about Nat Nat, she cannot stand being confined. This was NOT a fun moment for her!

Other exciting moments in the Messick household...

Natalie had a sweet little moment with Victoria while laying on my bed that I wanted you all to see. She is a kind little girl who loves to give lots of kisses!

I took a photo yesterday of Natalie's hair. She is getting some cute curls in her hair. She definitely takes after her mother (who straightens her hair to look cool!)!

Elyssa and Natalie have a little horse that a friend gave them about a year ago. They haven't played with it lately so getting it out to play with today was really fun for them. Elyssa pushed the button that made the horse sound like it was trotting and neighing. Since Natalie didn't have a horse of her own, she just did the motions with her own little body. She acts like she is trotting and when the horse neighs, she shakes her head. Too cute!

Finally, we have taught Elyssa to hold a towel in front of her face and change facial expressions each time she takes the towel down. We started out doing this to her for laughs, but she quickly tried to imitate us. Here is a sample of her facial expression talents!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Playing Around

We've had some fun moments lately with the girls and we've seen them all really develop some personality. Here are a few great photos that we've taken in the midst of just "playing around."

Here is Mark with Natalie and Elyssa. Wouldn't you just love to have Natalie's eye color? Elyssa was obsessed with putting a quarter over her eye. We don't know why, but you just go with it, right?

Another wonderful photo of Natalie was taken one morning as she was about to eat some Fruit Loops!

Here is Mark's mom, Mary Hazel, with Victoria. I told Mom that I liked her new outfit. She looked really pretty in it!

Elyssa and Victoria definitely look like sisters with their dark hair and pretty eyebrows.

Awe! Elyssa gave Victoria such a sweet kiss!

Finally, I have to share a photo and some funny video that makes me laugh out loud each time I view it. I had some Doritos last night and Elyssa and Natalie invaded my plate. They ate more of my chips than I did (which, in the end ... was probably good for me!)! At least Elyssa had a "clean nose" in this photo! Okay, why does Elyssa remind me of my sister, Shana? I guess because Shana use to make such crazy faces in photos when we were growing up!

In this video, Elyssa got mad that Natalie stole her chip. Elyssa is really starting to develop a "country" accent. Listen to her say "chip."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dealing With Fears

I've always thought of Elyssa as a very brave child. She is the social butterfly of our family. She jumps off of furniture and climbs on things. She tries new foods. She just "seems" brave to me because she usually adjusts to things well. Starting 3K last week and also moving up in her Sunday School class (to the 3-year-old class) has created some interesting situations for us to deal with and they both involve fear at the root.

In Elyssa's Sunday School class, she is learning even more and getting to do really cool crafts that keep her mind and hands busy. She is definitely enjoying that part of her new class. However, there is a new aspect to her class that I believe she will, one day, really enjoy. They have an "assembly" time where all of the classes on her hallway come together. They sing and also have a small puppet show. Would you believe that of all the kids in the assembly, Elyssa is totally afraid of the dog puppet they use to tell Bible stories? The puppet's name is Theo and every week he learns all sorts of great things about Jesus and the Bible. She is just really afraid of him. So, therefore, I have terrible feelings of guilt because I send her each week to this room to confront a dog that terrifies her. I am praying that she will quickly overcome her fear and enjoy her assembly time. We have a few puppets at home that we will begin using to help explain that Theo is only a puppet and not a "real" animal. Hopefully, this will help.

Our other situation involves her new 3K class. On Elyssa's first day of school, she came home telling us she was afraid of a lady. She wasn't referring to her teacher, but we just couldn't figure out who she was talking about. We thought, initially, that she may have been referring to a possible gym teacher that maybe talked loud to get the kids attention. We were just grasping at straws to try and figure out who she may have been talking about. Mark walked Elyssa to class on Friday and while passing through the lunchroom, they saw a new female custodian. Elyssa clamped onto Mark's leg for dear life. He finally knew who she was afraid of. This new custodian has of all things, Down Syndrome. Isn't it interesting that she is afraid of a lady that has what her baby sister has? We know that she doesn't recognize it in her sister now (and may not for a long time), but it sure is interesting to find this out. Mark let Elyssa's teacher know about the situation and her teacher will be really keeping an eye on Elyssa. Her teacher has been so sweet to comfort Elyssa during her fearful moments. Elyssa's teacher, will begin talking about how everyone is different and hopes this will help the children understand that differences in people are good things. I had ordered a calendar this past summer, after Victoria was born, that is specifically of Down Syndrome children. I will bring out that calendar today and begin showing Elyssa the pictures of the children. I want to remind her that the lady she sees at school was once a child just like the kids in the calendar. She was once a baby like our own Victoria. Who knows, maybe Elyssa's teacher can use my calendar, too, while talking about differences in people.

It's interesting how God puts you in situations sometimes that you don't anticipate coming your way. It forces you, again, back to His arms to ask for His wisdom and help. It reminds you that even though you thought you could, you really can do nothing in your own strength.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

First Kiss

Victoria leaned up to kiss me tonight, or I want to believe that is what she was doing! We took a little video and wanted to share it with all of you! She is a strong girl! We are proud of her!

First Day In 3K!

Elyssa officially started 3K today! I woke her up right before 7am and got her all dressed for her first day with Mrs. Bonnie. The rain outside had all my girls sleeping especially hard, so Elyssa did not wake up on her own today. But, she roused pretty easily and was excited to go to school.

I had prepared all her bags last night so today would be an easy and quick departure. Good move on my part. We will just have to continue that routine each night!

I had Elyssa take her photo by her backpack before she left today. She posed that way all on her own! Can we say cheesy? She is just a little model!

I'm anxious to pick her up and see how she made it through her first day in 3K! I'm sure she had a ball!

PS - First day update: Elyssa had a good time, although, she was a little shy and sat in the teacher's lap during lunch time. This afternoon she was quite tired and said that she didn't want to see Mrs. Nobles anymore! Ha! I think that was her way of saying she didn't want to go back to her new school and missed her old Mom's Day Out class. I know this is normal. It might just take a few days of adjusting to new people and things. I'm sure by next week she will really look forward to her new class.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Orientation Day

Today Elyssa attended her 3K orientation with Mark and me. We took a few photos from the morning.

Here is Elyssa right before leaving the house with her new backpack on. She's into making funny faces now when we take her picture!

Here she is with me in the sanctuary right before orientation started.

Here she is in her classroom. Okay, I did get a little teary-eyed!

Her name was posted several places in the room and it was fun to point out to Elyssa that her name was on an apple and also on Clifford's bone. How cute!

Elyssa took a photo with her teacher, Mrs. Bonnie Nobles. We've heard great things about her and think Elyssa will love being in her class. We already know Bonnie from church, so it's an extra-special blessing for Elyssa to have her as a teacher.

Wow, how time flies! We already have a little one in pre-school!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dedication Day

Today was baby dedication (and Victoria's 5-month-birthday!) and Victoria was among the twelve other babies dedicated at our church. She looked beautiful, wearing the same heirloom dress that Elyssa and Natalie wore at their baby dedications (Thanks to my Integrity Music friends for that beautiful dress!!!).

We were reminded, again, through this wonderful ceremony how blessed we are to have Victoria Jayne. She is such a special gift (along with her sisters!) and we recognize that each and every day.

Here is a little video from the dedication. Our "special" baby, Victoria, just had to try and sit up to see what was going on. I still am amazed at her strength and can hardly wait to see what she does in her life. I think she'll teach us all a thing or two!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Special Visit

We were blessed by a visit from Mark's sister, Karen, today. She just arrived in town from California last night. She is great about coming into town at least once a year. Of course, the past three years she has really had a reason to come see us! We've had babies all three years!

Mark's parents also came to visit since Karen is staying with them. They ended up buying Elyssa a sandbox today, which she LOVES! She always wants to play in the dirt, so this is right up her alley!

Here are a few more pictures from the day!

Karen with Elyssa and Natalie.

Karen, O'Neal and the girls!

Karen and Victoria.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Free Ride

I love to watch kids play. It's interesting that they turn toys into all sorts of things by use of their imagination. It's especially neat to see my two girls finally playing cute together and turning our baby doll stroller into a stroller just for them. No matter that they are WAY to big to even be trying to sit into the stroller! It's just plain fun!

Here is Natalie strolling Elyssa around.

Elyssa returned the favor and strolled Natalie around.

Victoria isn't old enough to stroll her older sister's around, but she is making strides nonetheless! She was sitting against my legs the other afternoon and I let her grab my fingers. On her own, she pulled herself forward toward me. It was the cutest thing. She just had to be close to her mama (or either she was trying to tell me she wanted to nurse!) I have really been amazed by her strength and determination and believe that this is a sign of wonderful things to come for her!

What a lovely pair!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Little Bit Of Comedy

Some of you may remember my segment called "What Is With?" that I wrote while at UAB in the middle of some pretty insane circumstances. Many commented that they enjoyed the humor I had in the midst of those hard times. Well, you might be glad to see that humor come back in my segment for today called, "How Depressing Is It?" Here we go!

1. How depressing is it when you notice gray hairs growing in your eyebrows???

2. How depressing is it when you see brown spots appear on your face after THREE pregnancies? By the way, this photo is NOT Mars from space. It's my face!

3. How depressing is it when you start to see crazy veins on your legs?

4. How depressing is it when your hair color starts to grow out a little and you see how much gray is REALLY growing on top of your head?

5. And finally, how depressing is it when you flex your arm and you cannot even see the muscle that is flexed for all the fat hanging down on the underside of your arm???

Of course, there is hope for the arm issue once I really get serious about losing baby weight, but for the other things, I just cover them up the best I can and say with as much enthusiasm as I can muster ... "Welcome old age!"

Monday, August 4, 2008

Am I For Real?

Recently, I was asked an interesting question. The inquiry came from a friend of a friend. The question was, "Are you for real?" I thought that to be an odd question at first. After all, I feel like I've bore my heart and soul out in my blogs. This question happened to come from another mother of a Down Syndrome girl older than my own. I guess she may have thought I had dealt with Victoria and her "issues" better than she expected I would. I was a little surprised to know that someone actually thought I had done well emotionally through the past few months when, at times, I felt like I was falling apart.

I openly admit that I have cried more and harder in the past few months than I think I have in my entire life. I openly admit that my brain has been on major overload more than I thought I could handle. I have seen the verge of insanity and I think in my heart that the Lord kept me from falling over the edge.

Nothing is harder than feeling out of control. That is exactly where my life has been. Even last night after going to church for a morning AND night service for the first time with Victoria, I felt majorly stressed out last night. And, after having a very stressful day, I was only to be awakened three or four times during the night by a screaming 1 1/2-year-old who couldn't find her pacifiers in her bed (Okay ... I really don't know what is worse ... a child who sucks fingers or one who is addicted to pacifiers!).

Life is really trying at times right now with three young girls. I just know that I pray a lot and ask God to help me bear through it. I've learned that God isn't just there during the "bright spots" in our life, but He's there during the most difficult times. As times are challenging in the day-to-day living, I have to think back on all the Lord has done for us in the past few months. I have to say, "Okay, Lord. If you can save my child from death, surely You can keep me sane each day with the pressures I encounter." I have to trust that God will give me what I need when I need it.

I'm thankful for a Father who holds me in His hand and reminds me that He loves me. He reminds me that He has me exactly where He wants me ... caring for my beautiful gifts from Him. What a privilege that He thought I could handle all He has placed on my plate. I just take each day as it comes and praise Him for helping me through it. I know eventually, as my girls grow, that things will get easier in some ways and harder in others. It's a cycle that continues. But, I'm sure as they grow, I'll think back to these days and almost wish they were here again!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

At The Beach

Mark's parents have a beach house at the Gulf and we spent the past few days there with them. We had a really nice time, even though it was a very short stay. I'm sure the girls enjoyed some different scenery since we have been home a lot over the past few months because of Victoria's condition.

Elyssa especially loves the sand (and dirt)! Here she is laying in it.

We went to the zoo one day and enjoyed seeing all of the animals. The girls really loved it and Mom was great to stay with Victoria at the beach house while we had our fun outing.

Victoria rolled over for the first time on Thursday! I tried to get it on video, but the best I could do is get a photo of her on her side. Trust me, she did roll over and we were all excited!

Natalie is NOT a "heat" and "beach" person so far. She is just happy to stay under the house (or in it), where she will not get too hot. We believe this is due to her sensitive skin and hope she grows out of it.

Natalie wore her hair in pigtails for the first time and was extra-cute!

Mark's brother, Dendy, and his wife, Janay, had their 2nd little girl while we were at the beach. They live in Foley, so we stopped by to see them at the hospital on the way home. They named their little girl Mary Katherine Messick. She is a cutie and had a head-full of hair!

The past few days were a lot of fun and we feel so blessed to have access to the beach whenever we want to go there. Hopefully, in the near future we can take another trip over there!