The main piece missing from my blog is an introduction. I know myself so fairly well that I rarely think about the fact that many of you do not know exactly how you ended up reading this at this exact moment.
My story, like everyone else's, came quite unexpectedly. In fact, our "stories" (at this moment I have "These are the days of our lives" popping in my brain: I work this way, quite sporadically, and I try hard not to do that too often here) are similar in that they do not even begin with us. Our "stories" begin with our ancestors. Who I am is hinged upon so many other events that my head spins just thinking about it.
What I can say is that my children are the product of Joe and I and this is our story:
Joe and I grew up 1.5 miles and 2.5 years apart from one another. I have 6 siblings and a still-married mom and dad and Joe has 2 siblings and a still-married mom and dad. We both have many sibling-in-laws and a couple of nephews and a few nieces. We have a good-many friends, hobbies, memories, and of course extensive relatives (my dad alone has 10 siblings!).
Joe and I went to bible school together, played for the same small-town 4-H softball team, and probably some other things that I cannot remember. We began dating in, wait for it...1995! Well, I'd like to tell you we have been madly in love since, but really we are continually changing and putting forth great efforts to glorify God in our marriage. Mistakes are made and forgiveness is given. We love each other.
This year (2011) will mark our 9th year of marriage. I might pull out some old pictures and post on our anniversary. I'm sure you'd love to see some colorful hair, lego creations (4-H project Joe helped me with), wedding photos, and more.
Joe and I have together managed to produce 3 boys! I love our boys and I love seeing Joe love them. Each boy has a little page so you can visit them there as well.
It is in our youngest that I found the most about myself. His name is Calvin. Calvin was unexpectedly conceived just a month or so after I finished nursing Nolan, our middle son.
It was Thanksgiving time in 2009 and the boys and myself went through a round of colds, Nolan was finally consistently sleeping through the night, and then we were hit with a stomach bug.
I remember Joe was out of town (he travels a lot for work) and was coming in late. I called him and told him it was my turn for the illness and that I had thrown-up so I was on the couch. Well, I felt really well the next morning. About a week later I felt like I was gaining weight and tired from the crazy month of illnesses and sleepless children.
I ran Grandma's marathon in June of 2009 and was obviously cut down on my mileage, I finished nursing (which uses calories), and I was back at work, so I assumed my body was just adjusting to everything and I was gaining some weight.
At one point I was telling someone about being tired and gaining weight and a light-bulb went off: "What if I'm pregnant?"! No, we just had Nolan! I went a few days and finally decided to get it off my mind and take a test. Sure enough. December 16th I found out I was pregnant!
Time went on and I had a 27 week ultrasound on May 12, 2010. The tech spent a lot of time on Calvin's heart. I did not remember that with the other boys. I even said, "it must be hard to see what you need to on the heart" but it was more of a question because something was different. She left us to "make sure she had the pictures she needed" and came back an HOUR later with a radiologist. I looked at them and said "I'm nervous".
They were not allowed to say much and what was shared was that there was something "different" with our son's heart. It looked like a small hole on top and a larger hole on the bottom. Well, that meant nothing to me because I did not know what in the world he was talking about or how the heart works and is formed. Quite frankly I thought he very well could die. I knew then how much I loved him.
I have learned a lot since that morning.
On May 20th, the day of my Grandpa John Sykora Jr.'s visitation, I met with a cardiologist at Children's in St. Paul.
I was there for hours and left in tears. I found out that Calvin had a Balanced Complete AV Canal heart defect (ASD, VSD, and mitral valve leakage) and that he had a 75% chance of having Down syndrome.
How that appointment went was this: nervousness, fear, grief, fear, grief, fear, and you get the point. At one time I asked the cardiologist if he was going to die and she said "I do not know yet". She did a lot of looking and asked "have you had genetic testing?" That was when I was really scared. "No, why?" "Because 75% of babies with this heart defect have Down syndrome."
I left that appointment with many feelings that I have journaled in past posts and will likely again in future posts. I keep these feelings close to me because I can remind myself where to put my mind and heart; they make me feel alive.
I am honored to share my journey with you. Calvin's diagnoses of Down syndrome and a Complete AV Canal heart defect are always close to the surface. I often reflect back a year, to a time when I did not know the true gift God had in store for me, my family, and my friends.