We are the Stow Family and this is our story. Our lives are blessed by Love, Joy and Hope. Follow our sometimes interesting stories on loving our two boys, exploring parenthood, and celebrating a little extra - two parents, two boys and an extra chromosome!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Some Pictures

Dearest Malakai,
Here are some pictures of this week!

I managed to get a picture of a small smile... not your wide-mouthed smiled that I adore, but something at least!

Also, Caden came to visit today and I can't believe how your face lit up and your movements became so excited when you two were next to each other! I am sure you two are going to be great friends!!

I love you madly my angel!

You are all my Reasons for Being,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Counting our Blessings!

Dearest Malakai,

I haven't written you a long letter in such a long time - testimony to how busy you are keeping me!!

Well, you are really doing new things every day almost! You are now not only smiling more often, and talking to me all the time, but you are also reaching for - and holding onto - things! I never knew I would get this excited!

I cannot for one second imagine why anyone would consider you anything less than perfect! I look at you in my arms as you fall asleep, your little lips curled into a content smile, your eyes tired from all the activity and learning you've done that day and I ask myself how anyone could look at you as anything less than amazing and wonderful and perfect? Then I remember you have an extra chromosome... and rather than my heart sinking (like it used to... I must be honest), my heart flutters and expands a little with pride. I am reminded again to look past the obvious, to see the possibilities of the human spirit, of the perfection of the Creation of Life. Like any other typical child, you are unique and special and filled with needs that I am truly blessed and honoured to meet.

Malakai, you are my teacher. You are my path and my light. When I fall down sometimes and wonder what will happen next, you bring me back to myself, back to the beauty of Simple & Abundant Blessings.

You are all My Reasons for Being,

Friday, October 24, 2008

What's in a word??

Dearest Malakai,

You have discovered your voice today! What a conversation we had this morning! You are blabbing and gurgling and pulling all sorts of faces!

This is a short entry - just wanted to show our friends and family how gorgeous you are when you decide to have a conversation first thing in the morning!

I love you my angel!

You are all my Reasons for Being

Monday, October 20, 2008

Great-Granny and Great-Grandad Stow Visit

my serious little man!

Dearest Malakai,

This weekend your daddy's grandparents came to visit - you are their first great-grandchild and they were so excited to finally meet you!

Here are pictures posted of you and them today!

You are making me so proud my angel! You have discovered your hands... and your mouth!! You constantly stare at your fingers and anything that comes near your mouth gets a bit of a lick... yum yum!

We also met Joyce today! She is the nice lady that will be working with us during the week! Mommy really likes her and thinks that she's going to be very very good with you - yay!

Otherwise, we have received our first Summer Rains this weekend - what a beautiful thing to see! The garden is a super-duper bright green colour now and all the dust has eventually settled!

OK babes! I love sooo much and I will take pictures this week of all your new discoveries and post them soon!

You are all my Reasons for Being,



Sunday, October 19, 2008

National Down Syndrome Day - October 20th

Dearest Malakai,

I know that I usually write you on this blog, but this time I wanted to write a letter to all those people out there who may be faced with a diagnosis of Down Syndrome (or know someone who is) and are facing the same uncertainty and fear that your dad and I faced when we discovered you have 'designer genes'!

I don't know everything about Down Syndrome, but I do know the following:

You may be absolutely devastated and will need to mourn the 'loss' of the child you believed you would have. You may be faced with many scary health concerns - heart failure, hearing loss, loss of sight, low muscle tone, feeding issues etc etc... Your doctor may or may not be compassionate and caring... And through this all you will need to come to a place of peace and acceptance.

I don't know everything about your experience, but I do know the following:

I have been blessed with a baby boy who takes my breath away when he gazes up at me with his grey-blue angel-eyes. I forget every day that he has Down Syndrome because he is simply my baby boy - Beautiful, Loving, Eager, Growing, Strong, Wise, Serious, Funny, Darling, Amazing. Yes, he may face challenges in the future... but so does every child. Yes, he may have 'special needs'... but so does every child. Yes, he may reach his milestones in his own time... but so does every child. In our experience there is no 'settling' for 'not perfect' child - he is our miracle.

In the Worldwide Down Syndrome community, there is a story told by Emily Perl Kinsley called "Welcome to Holland" - here it is:
By Emily Perl Kinsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. Michelangelo’s David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around… and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills… and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

In CELEBRATION of all those beautiful souls out there - all those babies, children and adults that I once looked straight through... that I now seek out wherever I am... here is a inspirational story called 'Always Reaching' written by a father of a child with Down Syndrome:

From the STL DS Newsletter
by Matthew’s Dad

Every time I see my son, I reach for him.
It doesn’t matter if he rounds the corner 4 seconds after I have seen him last, or if I am picking him up from school and have not seen him for hours…I reach for him.
I can be 1 foot away or 100 feet away…I reach for him just the same. I reach for him with my arms, with my eyes, with my heart.
I wonder sometimes what I am reaching for.
I have seen this in other people when they see my son.
My family, my friends and perfect strangers. They all reach for him.
I see the same movements, the same gestures, the same need to hold out their hands for him. They want him to come to them, some know him and some don’t. Some call his name and others just motion for him. But they all seem to want him to come.
For a moment, you can see his spirit reflected in their faces. I watch the smiles grow across their faces with a fullness that is unavoidable.
When he falls into their arms (which is what he does to everyone), I see a momentary peace envelop them, and their eyes close, they pull him in and they experience what I call “The Joy of Matthew”
He gives it to you. He wraps you in it. He wriggles and squirms and mashes the love into you. If you did not know what to expect, you may be surprised and find yourself amazed at the feeling, overwhelmed at the emotion he carries with him.
I am lucky. I get to hold him all the time.
And I have been able to think about that feeling and where it comes from and what it may mean. I think Matthew is a window through which we see a pureness of emotion… pure happiness, pure sorrow, pure joy and pure love.
Despite what some may think, our special children are closer to God than we are. We see so much in them that we lack. We wish quietly in so many ways that we could be more like them. And when we hold them, if just for a moment, we feel closer to God.
That must be why I am always reaching for my son.
That must be why they all reach for him.

This has been a very long post in honour of National Down Syndrome Day - but I hope that it has given someone the hope, the acceptance, and the peace that they need in a time that may be very very hard.

It will be ok. It can only be ok (there is no other option). Love is like that!

Life is short (but oh so sweet) - grab it with both hands!
From Kai's Mom

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The hint of first smiles...

Dearest Malakai,

I haven't written you in a while my angel! You have been keeping mom busy!!

You are growing bigger every day and your personality is starting to show more and more every day... you are quite a serious little man! You stare alot, taking in every little detail around you! You have also started smiling for us... which is so great... but only in the mornings when you are fresh and rested... I so look forward to mornings now!

The South African summer has hit hard this week and I am sure you don't know what to do with yourself in this heat... I try hard to keep you cool, but I think it's still very hot for you! Soon, you will be able to put on your swim shorts and spend time in the jacuzzi with dad!

This week, you had a photo shoot with Granddad Dye (my dad)! He is smitten with you my boy! He came to visit today and together you watched Baby Einstein Neighbourhood Animals - I think he may have enjoyed it more than you!! But of course this is because he loves you so much!

OK my angel, I love you soooo much and can't wait for tomorrow morning's smile!
You are all my Reasons for Being

Monday, October 6, 2008

Our Baby Therapy Center Visit

Dearest Malakai,

Today was our first visit to the Baby Therapy Center - you had such a busy day and you were so good my angel!

We met three very nice ladies, and your dad and I were very proud when you were so friendly and happy to have the ladies play with you! We answered all their questions as best we could and we then waited in another room for their evaluation. We weren't worried... we never have been my angel! After about 10 minutes they were able to tell us that at this point, you are developing very well and there is no need for intervention in any area...

"Intervention mommy?" Yes my angel - that's a really big word for playing! One day you might find it difficult to do certain things, such as sitting and crawling and walking and talking - or you may not (that is also an option!!). So, if you are finding it difficult to do something, these ladies invent fun games to help you and me learn how to do whatever it is easier!

"That's nice mommy" - yes it is my boy!

But for now, everything is fine and we will visit the ladies again in 6 weeks time - looking forward to it!!

Otherwise, I have decided that all the special people in your life will be part of a little photo-shoot so that we can introduce your family to everyone! Our last portraits were of your great-granny (your daddy's granny) and of your aunty and uncle (my sister and her husband-to-be)!

You are all my Reasons for Being,

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Newborn Shoot

Dearest Malakai,

Mom, Dad and you got to be on the other side of the lens again this past weekend! The last time we all got together like this was when you were still in mommy's tummy!

Thank you so much to Arno and Anja for taking these pictures - they are stunning and will forever give us the gift of these memories, this time in our new family, this amazing little person that we have been blessed to bring into the world and take us on this awesome journey!

You are all my Reasons for Being,