10 years ago I was pregnant and pretty miserable at this point. It was hot and I was huge. I was naive in thinking that I'd have this "perfect" typical little girl. She'd likely play soccer with bows in her (braided) hair, she'd ride horses like I did, she'd dance and be a cheerleader. Oh and on top of it all, she'd be an honor student as well....DUH!!! She'd fill in my gaps......boy just thinking that was the biggest mistake ever(with any child)! We'd have mani/pedi dates and lots of shopping trips to the mall together(this one came true, she loves to shop). My little, so called perfect, life would continue.
All I can say is the moment she was born my world stopped and did a 180. She was born and the labor and delivery room went dead silent. The thought of the silence gives me the chills to this day. I can still remember my OB's first words, "you have a very small baby". She was 8 days late and only 4lbs 8oz and 16.5 inches. All my tests had come back completely normal during my pregnancy, including my ultrasound, so this was completely unexpected. From the minute my OB said those words, I knew something wasn't right. Soon she was whisked away to the NICU and it was just my OB and I left in a very quiet room. There was a sense of dread in the air, not excitement or an ounce of happiness, and no one knew what to say or think. I remember being exhausted and falling asleep somewhere around 4am with her still in the NICU and waking just before 7am to our pediatrician coming in to talk to us. He mentioned they thought she may have trisomy 18(which turned out was NOT the case.). I had no clue what that was but it was clear it was bad, very very bad and VERY sad. I felt like I was waking up from a bad dream and like this couldn't be happening to me. Yet clearly, it was. A few days later we got the diagnosis that she had a very rare chromosome disorder(2q deletion to be exact) and really no one could tell us what to expect.
At the time of her birth I knew my OB and her pediatrician, as far as Dr's were concerned, that was about it. I'd soon come to know the world of GI doctors, endocrinologists, cranial facial doctors, neurologists, general pediatric surgeons, nurses, geneticists, physical, occupational and speech therapists(I may be forgetting someone but you get the picture). Overwhelming? Yes, very much so. I pretty much had the numbers to her pediatrician, Good Sam and Lucille Packard memorized and for the first 18 months of her life I would spend them mostly in therapy appointments for her and at doctors appointments. I would learn how easy it is for typical kids to do things and how unfair it was that she couldn't do them as easily. I would learn all about feedings, NG tubes, CT scans, MRI's and what it was like to sit waiting as surgeries were performed on her(the wait is GOD AWFUL BTW). I would learn that the beeping machines continue all through the night in hospitals and I would learn what each different beep on the machines meant. I would learn that some people might think I was doing too much and that she would be "just fine" and others may possibly think I wasn't doing enough. I would learn I needed my own therapy to deal with all of this and that Dan dealt with it all much differently than I did. I would also come to learn that Kendall likely saved our marriage, if not she DEFINITELY strengthened it and she likely saved me from myself too, in so many different ways. Most of all, I would learn that Kendall's spirit and smile, even at 6 months old and weighing only 8-9lbs, would light up a room and clearly she was much stronger than I was (nor ever will be).
It took me awhile but I knew I had to step it up as a mom or I'd end up failing her and spending my life very sad, lonely and depressed. As the years passed I watched her crawl, walk, run, start to talk and do many more amazingly awesome things. All milestones were met much later than other kids but it didn't matter anymore. I watched her personality grow and began to realize she's got a pretty great sense of humor and an even better and bigger heart than I had ever imagined. I also realized I was still learning a lot from her. Before I had her, I got pretty much everything I wanted in life. Some would say I was spoiled, but really it wasn't all handed to me, I worked my butt off for a lot of it. However, I was selfish and likely lacked some compassion and love. She was teaching me love and compassion without even knowing it. A few years later I had the boys, it was then that I realized she taught me to have way less expectations in terms of who they might be in life and to just enjoy them every day. That alone was such a HUGE gift. Don't get me wrong, I do have expectations of them in terms of how they treat themselves and others, it's not like I expect nothing of them in life. But, to just go with the flow and let them be who they want to be was a pretty great feeling. I was really just able to take in and enjoy how easy it was/is for Brady and Chase to hit each milestone, more than if I had never had Kendall because I now knew how hard it was for some to reach those milestones. I watched as she taught them compassion too, they probably don't even realize that's where they learned it.
The past 10 years were NOT easy and our lives are not perfect by any means. I spent way too many years being very sad about my ideas and expectations of who Kendall would be not coming true. What a waste of time being sad over that was, but it's part of life and grieving. I have now let most of that go because she has taught me that who she is now is SO much better than who I wanted her to be(wait isn't there a country song about that?). I like to think our family is very typical yet in some very non typical ways. In our family we love, argue, apologize, have overbooked schedules and likely don't eat enough home cooked meals just like many other families these days. However, we have been given the gift of Kendall who has taught us to slow down, don't take things(especially life) for granted, have compassion, love more(even when you don't want to) and most of all laugh and just keep going. 10 years has flown by and I am so proud that I was chosen to be her mom. Mostly I'm just completely amazed that God or some other higher power saw that I was good enough, strong enough, mentally and physically fit enough to be her mom, I would have never picked selfish old me. Yet someone did and 10 years later, I can see the reasons why so much more clearly. Happy 10th birthday( a bit early) Miss K. This family loves you and has your back forever and ever AMEN(another country song in case you're wondering).
And now for the photo bomb, you've come a long way baby!!!
|Introducing Kendall Elizabeth Graff, 4lbs 8oz and 16.5 inches|
|Kendall 2 days old, they had an IV in her head cause her arm veins were too small|
|We use to call this the fighter pic. Her fist was ready to fight and take on the world!|
|Just over a year old here, a couple weeks after major surgery on her head. I tried to pick a "tame" pic to show her scar and stitches.|
|Age 2 in Italy|
|K's 3rd b-day|
|Still age 3: Thank goodness the NG tube was short lived|
|Halloween 2006, Age 3|
|First Snow White sighting, Sept 2009, age 6 |
One of my favorites!
Age 10 pic to come. I'm not rushing these last few days of 9!