Strength for the Climb

My blog is a personal journey of the blessings I have been entrusted with and the strength I have been given to make the climb. I invite you to follow along as I write about faith, family, and Down syndrome.

Siblings & 47 strings



Six weeks ago, Jack joined our family.  He is such a good baby.  He is so content and a great sleeper at night.  I am still holding my breath that he could surprise us...as he was keeping a secret from us for 9 months :)...he could become a needy baby...but so far...a rockstar!

I thought it would be fun to fill you in on how Jack's big brother, Luke, has been and while on the topic of siblings share just how much Jack has impacted our siblings and fill you in on the best sisters slumber party ever!!

While I was pregnant with Jack I was literally chasing Luke around.   I would bring him up to the rink to see the hockey guys, watch the games, and see Dad coach.  I don't think he stood still for one second to watch the game.  He loved climbing the bleachers and running the stands at least four or five times throughout a game.  I really wondered how I would keep up with two boys!  One thing that did stop Luke in his tracks...the Zamboni!  He loves the Zamboni...I mean what kid doesn't?  Well not only does he love it, he asks us to pray for it!  At our meals, we ask him what who we should pray for and he responds, "Zamboni".  If we don't pray for it, he reminds us that we should!




One of the first things I thought of when we were told Jack had Down syndrome was how this was going to impact Luke.  While I was pregnant, I envisioned the two of them sharing a room, playing and competing in everything, and being best friends.  How would this change things?  How would Luke respond to his brother?  What will it be like when they grow up and when people say unkind things to Jack or about him?  Will he be proud of him, protect him, love him, and be patient with him?  I cried thinking of what I wanted for Luke.  But what I have come to realize is that Luke will never know anything different.  He will always know Jack for Jack.  I told Chris that I had cried thinking about how I had been so excited that they would be two years apart and all the things I thought they could do together.  I asked, "With having a younger brother, do you hurt for Luke that he won't have the same experience you had of having your younger brother to push you, motivate and encourage you, and be your best friend?"  Chris explained to me that his feelings were different.  He said, "God might have designed Luke to not need that type of motivation but to realize that he can be motivated to do those things FOR his younger brother.  That might encourage him to work hard because if Jack can't do those things, he can do it for him.  This might teach Luke to not take things for granted and understand that Jack will have to work harder to accomplish things that are easier for him."  When I had asked Chris if he had cried since leaving the hospital he told me that he had not.  He continued to say that he tries to focus on the fact that Jack is our baby first, and that he is not going to underestimate anything that he can or wants to do.  "I am not going to limit him to anything just because he has Down syndrome.  If he wants to try something, let's give him every opportunity to help him."  Just this week, Jack rolled over and gave me a smile.  Guess Dad's perspective is just what we all need.  

Thank you God for giving me such a strong man.

                                            

Luke will wake up and ask where baby Jack is, help him with his pacifier (even when it's not needed), show him his cars, give him hugs, and try to play catch.  He even has tried to give him a high five, not so much on the hand but on the head, (nice way of putting it) and Jack isn't so fond of it.  The transition has gone pretty well but Luke is definitely showing us his need for a little more attention.  :)

I was thinking of the conversation that we will have with Luke someday, explaining how his brother was born with an extra special chromosome.  How do you explain that in the best way?  I know it will be a hard conversation to have with him but I am thankful to a Mom that created the best children's book explaining to her older son that his sister was born with a 'special code'.  I absolutely love this book and so grateful for a tender way of explaining to others how our precious gifts were created.

47 strings: Tessa's special code.


On the topic of siblings...Chris and I have the best ones!  I can just imagine Uncle Andrew in the backyard yelling and hollering at Jack to run to first base as he hits a bomb over the bushes and watches it sail!  If you know Andrew, he's a kid himself.  He has a love for kids like no one else.  He can outlast any kid in a wiffle ball tournament, basketball shoot out, card game, kick ball, bags, anything...he will play until the Mom of the house says, "Andrew, you need to go home."  I know that both Luke and Jack will be taught the best lessons in play, competition, fun, compassion and craziness from Uncle Andrew!

After we had Jack, my brother, Jon, told my sister that Jack is exactly what our family needed.  "He is going to teach us so much and bring us even closer as a family."  My brother and his family live in TN and we only get a chance to see him a couple times a year.  Jon is one of the most loyal people I know and has a heart of gold.  He cares deeply and I have seen that in the phone calls and texts and his desire to know how I am doing, daily.  At times when Jon has experienced difficulty I have tried to be an encouragement to him, but honestly he has encouraged me through his perseverance, hard work, and love for others.  I know that Jack will have a special relationship with Uncle Jon, wrestling with him, cracking jokes, and admiring his work ethic.

My sister is 9 years older than me and although that's almost a decade, we are very close.  She is my best friend and one of my biggest encouragers.  Most of my life I have followed exactly in her footsteps.  We shared a room together until she moved to college when I was in 4th grade.  We would stay up late, I would listen to her conversations with friends about boys, tag along to sporting events, and was in awe of her ability to braid my hair, her blue eyeliner, and big bangs.  She is so beautiful, inside and out.  Of all the memories as kids, the best slumber party happened three nights after Jack was born.  Suite 3 at St. John's hospital.  I called her and told her I needed her to come up and stay with me.  She laid next to me and heard my fears, prayed and cried with me, and loved on Jack.  She told me that God was going to do amazing things through this baby boy and reassured me that He has a plan.  I just reread her texts that she sent me and it said, "Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.  Your baby Jack has changed us all."

Even when I couldn't feel it about myself, her confidence in me and encouragement meant the world to me.



One of my friends shared the cutest video of a little girl named Ace and her brother Archie.  Archie has Down syndrome and his proud sister wanted the world to see just how special he was.  Dressed in their best, Ace explains to the world on Down syndrome day how much she loves her brother Archie.  If you have a chance check out this cute video...don't forget to watch it to the end...and grab your kleenex.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ_i3yioHlo

I know that Luke will be the best big brother to Jack.  Just what God planned for him.