Sherri has been itching for me to put down my thoughts into words for a while now. So here goes, from Daddy's perspective…
I consider myself a pretty conservative, quite guy. I’m not too outgoing or outspoken and don’t take too many risks. My life has mostly been “standing outside the fire”. The riskiest thing I had probably ever done was to ask out a blond haired, blue eyed, small town Pi Ep sorority girl. Things were going great, beautiful wife, daughter, home, and a great career. Living outside the fire was working out for the most part. Then there was a two minute period on 12/28/09 that threw me into the fire…
The day seemed to be going pretty smooth for the most part - Baby crys, cut the cord, sherri holds her, hugs & kisses, then the nurses take her to clean her up. I snap some pictures. Every thing seemed normal. Calm and cool. Then maybe I remember 1 or 2 extra bodies in the room, nurses I guessed. Warming up. At that point I felt I should go out and let the family in the waiting room know everyone was doing good and tell them the name, Macy Lee. When I returned to the room I knew something was up, as the doctor was at sherri’s bedside and Sherri seemed concerned. The heat picks up. I remember quickly getting around the doctor, to her side, and hearing her say they think Macy has Down Syndrome and they are calling another doctor to confirm. It was at that point I felt like I was standing inside the fire. In those few moments, it’s hard to express the thoughts and concerns that flew through my head…”please no...why…what did I do? She looks just fine.” The other doctor came in and Macy was brought to us. As she showed us some of the signs ( the single line on the hand, slanted eyes, lower ears), my heart sank. The emotions that I felt after this confirmation was sadness, disappointment, pain, confusion… Yet I vividly remember that these emotions did not last too long. I looked to Sherri, tears in her eyes, holding Macy and remember both of us saying in some form, that “We still love her”. I remember constantly telling myself, “She’s my daughter and I still love her. Nothing is going to change that.”
The sadness and disappointment quickly turned to love and compassion. One of the greatest moments was when they brought back Macy after she had been cleaned up and she began nursing with Sherri almost instantly. I was so glad for Sherri that there was no struggle in making that connection. Once again Sherri provided a glimmer of hope and happiness in a confusing time. The outpouring of love from friends and family was amazing, but not surprising as we know the caliber of people that you are. Before getting Macy home we experienced a transfer to Children’s, checking her heart, keeping her temps up, etc… This all was an emotional rollercoaster that was excruciatingly exhausting. Although I know Sherri was tired, she always looked amazing and stayed strong. In the end, we came home with a healthy baby girl who has Down Syndrome. At that point my emotions seemed to constantly switch from happiness to not sadness, but to concern for the unknown. Questions that I had no answer for. No one had answers for them. This was the hardest part for me, but its getting better. I’d say that I really only felt sadness, disappointment for only those first moments when we first found out about her diagnosis.
The hardest thing now is keeping my mind from racing to the future and worrying about the unknowns? I’d say that 90-95% of the time I feel pure happiness and joy with Macy, but it’s that 5-10% that when it hits, it sometimes rocks me to my core. On some of those trips from the hospital by myself to get things from home, I simply cried for most of the drive. Some weeks it’s just 1 day that I even think about Down Syndrome. And some days it’s 5 minutes out of every hour that I’m thinking about it. It’s in that 5-10%, that I realize we are not “standing outside the fire” anymore. All along the way I’ve felt that the “burning” is decreasing and mostly due in part to Macy’s amazing Mother. The happiness, joy, excitement, love and sheer optimism that Sherri shows inspires me. Whether it’s her latest photo shoot with the girls, a blog update, hearing her recaps of Super Mom’s coffee’s, or just watching her smile and enjoy the company of Macy, it amazes me at the amount of love that she has to share. I know she does have her “burning” times too, and I can only hope that I can be as much of an inspiration to her as she’s been to me.
I was recently reminded that one of, if not, my favorite song growing up, has a video that was actually produced as an anthem to special needs children and the obstacles that they will face in their life. I remembered this video growing up briefly, but had forgotten about it. Garth Brook’s Standing Outside the Fire video depicts a teenager with Down Syndrome who chooses to join the regular track team instead of the Special Olympics and documents the challenges he faces. God has an amazing way of providing strength in ways that you would never notice. I’ve loved this song my whole life and all along it has been preparing me for things yet to come. It’s amazing how many times I’ve felt myself standing outside the fire and been too scared to get burned. Yet now, this “Fire” that some would perceive as being in front of us, somehow doesn’t look like a fire to me, but just the warmth of the love we have felt and our life and the things we have yet to look forward to. Sherri & Macy have taught me so much, the first being to not be afraid to get burned. “Life is not tried, it is merely survived, If you're standing outside the fire.”
As I constantly think back to that night, the pain becomes more beautiful everytime I go there. That's right, BEAUTIFUL. If I could go through that evening again--even the rawest, most painful parts--I would, in a heartbeat. It truly changed me, allowed me to stand in the fire and, in the end, we get Macy. How cool. Thank you, Sherri. Macy is the luckiest girl in the world to have you as a Mommy. Happy Mother’s Day! I love you.