Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Worthy of Life... Worthy of Celebrating. HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY MYLAH!

"No Regrets for Choosing Life for our Trisomy Baby" 

I have no regrets. None. If the hands of time were to turn back again, my decisions would be the same. 

Today we celebrated 3 years of LIFE. Life that some were so sure would never come to be. Life that was deemed as unworthy and incompatible. Death was guaranteed though her heart beat with the rhythm of God's favor. 
3 years ago, I was facing an abundance of emotions. Those emotions have since changed. Sadness became happiness, worry has transformed into an eagerness to learn, anger manifested into passion for advocacy in speaking for those who have no voice, and fear increased strength in me I never knew I had. 

3 years ago, we were so unsure. We didn't know if we would get to celebrate milestones or be proud of accomplishments. We were not sure if "normal" was going to be something that we lived daily. It was hard during those times. We wanted to stay positive and faithful, but worry and negativity were sometimes right in our face. If things did not go as planned, we had an idea of how those plans would play out, but the young lady at the funeral home told us we would not need them.  As time grew closer, fear grew stronger, faith increased higher than before. 


Then GOD blessed me with my greatest joy. The happiest memory of my life. While we were fighting for her life on the outside, she had been fighting on the inside. Fighting to live. fighting to breathe, fighting to see what this world was made of.  She didn't know how cruel this world could be.. or maybe she did. GOD sent her completely prepared. He gave her favor to travel her journey. He equipped her with the resilience that only a child like her could have. He knew her in the womb and it was my womb that he placed her in. He hand picked us for one another. When one of us was down, the other was there to continue on in the race. Never looking back, only forward. Never giving up, but pushing against adversity. 
When people spoke negatively it only made us stronger and more determined to prove them wrong. 

GOD never left our side. He was there before we even started to travel this bumpy road. He knew the detours of this journey and had the road mapped well in advance. Even when we wanted to go our own way, he put us back on the trail that led to HIM. 

In the last 3 years, I have loved, prayed, cried, laughed and smiled more than ever before. I have learned what it means to Live for today and love unconditionally. 

My Dearest Mylah, 

I didn't know what was in GOD's plan for me. In you, he blessed me with joy, love, faith, strength and courage. My life is better because of you, I have purpose and hope that never fades. You have taught me so much more in the last 3 years than this world could try and teach in a lifetime. I never knew the amount of love one could give to another until I had you. 

You are the strongest person I know. Your smile makes all worries and concerns I have go away. I admire your determination and courage and I thank GOD for blessing us with each other. 

Mylah, thank you for never giving up on me. I hope you know I won't ever give up on you. 

Love your mommy. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

#Countdownto3

We are on our way!!! I cannot believe how fast time flies! It seems like just yesterday we were told to prepare for death and here we are almost 3 years later, preparing to celebrate LIFE. 

LIFE. 

LIVING. 

LOVING.

Still Breathing. 

Heart Repaired. 

Still Beating.  

Smiling. 

Laughing. 

GOD. 

Nobody. 

But. 

GOD. 

HOPE Renewed. 

Faith Restored. 

Peace Fulfilled. 

We are Blessed!




15 days...... 





Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Million Ways to Help!

Today at work a discussion about GoFundMe pages was brought up.

This new "crowd funding" seems to have taken off.  I remember when I first became aware of GoFundMe I thought it was a pretty cool idea.  What a cool way to raise money or help support a family or cause.

Now, not so much.

I recently became aware of a page that was created by a young lady who carried a unborn child that she said had been diagnosed with a number of medical conditions and abnormalities.  She wasn't someone I knew personally, but we shared a few mutual mom friends.

What I witnessed from this mother was abuse of what these pages stand for.

I was disgusted by the constant requests for "help" and endless posts on her FB page to the link of her GoFundMe account.  When I noticed that her goal amount more than doubled I was infuriated and her explanation was not convincing or justified. I became privy to some information about this young lady using other individuals; who in my opinion really needed help themselves, & reciting and posting her sob story to anyone and any support board who would listen.

Her stories didn't really hold up all the time and it became apparent that she was using her unfortunate situation and her unborn child for financial gain.

People like her really make it hard for families and individuals who really need help.

But there are other ways that people can provide support without having to fall victim to a scam or a con artist.

Here are some ways that you can lend your support to a family of a child with special needs or a family who is really needing help during a hard time.

1. Proactively calling and doing a welfare check.  It's as simple as picking up a phone and calling so that they can hear your voice. Usually people will text and say "let me know if you need something". Honestly, the individuals probably won't. Take the extra step to reach out on your own.

2. Preparing a meal.  Hospital stays, multiple appointments among other things are physically and mentally exhausting.  Taking a family dinner is a great way to show your support. It's one less thing that someone in the home has to worry about doing and it offers a break that the family may not get often.

3. Donating to their preferred charities. It's simple and tax deductible.

4. Being great company. If your time allows just sitting and talking will allow mom or dad to escape for a little while. You may find it surprising that they would just like to hear about you and your family and what's going on in your world.  The conversation doesn't have to revolve around their child and his/her problems or issues. It's a mental break.

5. Offering to do laundry, wash dishes, run errands, or even be their chaueffer etc.   I know the laundry may be a little personal, but towels, baby clothing, bedding etc. It couldn't hurt.  Running the errands for the family(stuff still has to get done) or even driving mom/dad around to run their errands. How often are they in the passenger seat?

The list is short, but I just wanted to give some suggestions that I thought were reasonable and not too time consuming because everyones time is valuable.

I think it's a great starting point and someone may just take you up on your offer!




Monday, January 5, 2015

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These...


Even as she sleeps I find myself in awe of her beauty, her courage, her strength, and tenacity.   


Sometimes we might catch a quick smile while she naps or she may giggle in her sleep. 

 I often wonder what her dreams are made of.... 
Does she get to run, jump, and play? 


In her land of dreams is there a pretty pink bike with training wheels and pretty colorful streamers hanging from the handlebars?  
Does she wear a sparkly, pink rhinestone embellished helmet as her long legs pedal down the block all while her long ponytails blow in the wind?



Does she sing loud while she plays hopscotch and double dutch or while she splashes in puddles dressed in her matching rain coat and boots? 
Does she lie in the grass and watch the summer nights sky with her mom & dad, pointing to the big stars that move along in the sky? 





Her dreams are my dreams and my dreams are hers... 


That's what our dreams are made of.... 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Mark 9:23 "'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for one who believes." (NIV)

That was the scripture that I was led to. 

I was asked to share my testimony about Mylah and our life at the annual Watch Night service at Evangel Ministries  . My parents are members here and I frequent their services. It was at their annual Right To Life event where I first shared a brief story about Mylah's diagnosis and their leadership and congregation have been supporting my family and I ever since. 

I am always thrilled to be able to share how GOD has worked in my life and the life of our daughter so when I was asked of course I obliged. 

I'm not really nervous to speak in front of a large audience, but I do like to be prepared so for the past few days I have trying to find the right words to convey my story. I was prepared to share our story tonight exactly as it was written and I was positive that I might be able to keep my emotions suppressed. 

Well wasn't I surprised! It turns out that not only was my testimony shared, but I was also a 2014 recipient of their 2014 Kingdom Dreaming Award which was a complete surprise. I am completely humbled by this experience and I offer my most sincerest gratitude to Pastor Christopher and Minister Yodit Brooks and their congregation. I also would like to thank Pastor Mike and Minister Sherry Bonner for their continued support during our journey. 

Needless to say I could not hold my emotions in.... and Tiffany I am going to get you!! :-) 

Sharing our story and witnessing about God's great power and mercy will never get old and I will continue to share when needed and when asked to do so. 

2014 has proved to be a good year. We had some ups and downs all the way up until the end. Mylah has been sick this past week with a stomach bug. She hasn't been able to hold down anything and has been vomiting since Monday. She had been very weak and just sleeping the days away. I thought that she would not be able to attend church with us tonight, but as always GOD has a plan. His plan was that our daughter would accompany us to church this evening. She even praised GOD in her own special way. 

I will continue to share the good as well as the not so good to remind others that it is not always easy, but trouble doesn't last always either. 

I wish all of my readers abundant blessings in 2015!










****Update**** 

Here is a link to the video of the service.


My award is at about 1:25:00 






Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pomp & Circumstance

When my youngest sister Toya, went to Tennessee to attend college I made the decision to re-enroll in college with the plan to get my degree before her (I couldn't let my little sister get her degree before me).  It was a hard decision because my mind was so scattered. I didn't really know what I wanted to pursue. I loved to cook, I was honing on my baking, I enjoyed working with graphics on the computer, and I wanted to open a small restaurant.

Juwan was always a fan of the University of Michigan football team. A DIE HARD FAN! I decided to enroll at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. I attended classes part time and usually took the summer months off because my plans were not clear. I entered into their School of Business trying to maneuver the various courses that really didn't interest me.

When I found out that I was pregnant I was enrolled in 3 classes. I had a new goal to focus on immediately.  After the confirmation of Mylahs diagnosis, my drive changed. I wasn't interested in school anymore. My focus was not on my classes, especially the one that wasn't really interesting. I failed it and passed the other 2. The goal of obtaining my degree before my sister wasn't fulfilled and she was prepping for her graduation as we prepared to welcome Mylah into our world.

I took the semester off after Mylah's birth and once we came home with her I once again felt a purpose to continue with my education.  I decided to re-enroll for summer classes. As we prayed on what heart surgery we would decide on for Mylah, I was also trying to focus on passing my classes.
As Mylah was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery and her unplanned tracheotomy, some days I would leave the hospital the night before to go home so I could go to work and then go to class afterwards and my younger sister the graduate, would stay with her niece in Ann Arbor.

Many nights during those rides home it was the thought of Mylah's uncertain future that gave me strength and reminded me of what the ultimate goal was; a better life for her. After we brought Mylah home from Mott Hospital in October 2012, I knew that I needed to speed up the process. I could no longer move at the snails pace that had gotten me to where I was. I needed to suck it up, buckle down and take as many classes as I could at a time in order to hurry up and finish; no matter the sacrifice.  I wasn't getting any younger and I needed to be able to free up my time to spend with my daughter. I met with my counselor to get a final plan together and once again I had a new goal.

After discussing my plans with Juwan I enrolled in classes full time and decided that I would not take any breaks, I needed to be done in a year so I had to attend every semester including summer. It was hard and when you are a procrastinator it makes things even more difficult, but I tried to convince myself that I work good under pressure. Every semester, during finals I would find myself burning the midnight oil trying to finish a paper or study 4-5 chapters for a deadline or test that was usually 12 hours away.  I had to adjust my schedule at work in order to be able to attend the classes that I needed in order for this 1 year plan to work.

I found myself also being put in situations where I could share Mylah's story. Each time there was an assignment or presentation, I found a way to incorporate Mylah into it. Not only was I being educated, I was also advocating for Mylah and educating about Trisomy 18 along the way.  Sometimes I wasn't sure of how our story would be received, but once my marketing professor, assured me that a product idea I presented at our mock Shark Tank presentation was a great idea, I knew that I needed to continue sharing our story whenever I could.

Ever been so close to something you could feel it? taste it? smell it?? That's how I felt earlier this year. I had one of my last meetings with my counselors last fall. We outlined all the classes I needed to take and she wrote on my goal sheet "graduation Dec 2014".... Graduation? "wow" I thought.
I never thought I would see those words. Now it was basically etched in stone, I just needed to deliver on my end of the bargain.

Then Mylah had a seizure one night in April 2014, a week before finals, just days before I was scheduled to present in class along with 3 others. My team assured me that I would be ok and that they would handle things for me and even talked to my professor and they all agreed that I should remain at the hospital with Mylah and I would get the group grade.... We got an A. I never used Mylah or any of her medical issues as an excuse to get out of something and I never expected and/or wanted anyone to feel sorry for me because of what I might have been going through. My teammate(s) assured me that what they were doing for me was what they would expect anyone to do, have compassion and understanding. I was brought to tears by what they did for me.

I emailed my counselor at least once every 2 months to just have confirmation that I was on the right track and that there were no surprises. Then I received a email this summer that said I could apply to graduate! I did and for the next few weeks I would receive other communications and instructions regarding graduation, cap & gown, degree frames, graduation fair all the things that lead up to the walk across the stage.

I downloaded an app for graduation countdown on my phone as I entered my last semester of classes. Almost every week I would text the number of days til graduation to my classmate followed my some type of inspirational sentence; "we are almost there", "getting closer", "1 week left".

I ordered 2 dresses, tried to decide on whether I would order a few announcements or pictures for myself for memories sake because for months I had been operating in secrecy.  I was excited but upset, ashamed, and depressed that I was completing undergraduate studies at the age of 34. I felt like a failure even though this was an accomplishment. I couldn't really be proud of myself. I had a number of people rooting for me and encouraging me, but I couldn't do the same.... With each positive encouragement from a friend or family member, there was always the bad girl on my shoulder putting me down with something negative. "You're 34 and just getting your Bachelors degree", "It took you so long to do what others do in 4 years",  "You are 34, come on there's really nothing to celebrate", "People your age have their Masters degree". I felt like a failure for being the oldest child, but the last to get my degree. I was supposed to be the example for the other 2. They were supposed to follow in my footsteps. I was supposed to be someone who they could look up to & say "I want to be like my big sister".

When I tried on my cap Wednesday night, I looked in the bathroom mirror and smiled. I made it. Further than I ever thought possible. I would be getting a degree with my name on it to display however I saw fit. I crossed the tassel, once, twice...a third time. I had not seen myself in a cap since June 1998.  It looked good on me. I liked the person I saw in the mirror. She had been through so much in the years since she was last in a cap and gown; did many things that she wasn't proud of, made lots of foolish mistakes, cried a lot of tears, felt a nice amount of pain but in the end she could smile.  She made some great decisions, accomplished things she deserved to be proud of, stood in the face of adversity and faced it head on, fought a lot of fights, cried many tears of joy and now she was here.....

I saw the maize & blue curtains.... the bright lights... the smiles on the faces of mothers, fathers, daughters, sisters, & grandparents. Each person full of excitement. We all traveled a journey seperately and we had arrived at our final destination. It was our moment, this was our day. "You can be happy, you deserve to be proud, some people never make it this far and you did it.... it doesn't matter how long it took you"... YOU DID IT!

Some people in their congratulatory expressions often say "Girl, I don't know how you did it"....

Faith, Family, & Friends........

That's how I did it.... I couldn't have made it alone.....


















Friday, December 5, 2014

CNN iReport

This morning when I checked my Facebook feed I saw that CNN was doing a piece on Raising A Child With Special Needs.  They solicited families to share their own stories so of course I obliged.

Here is the link to my submission. Maybe we will get lucky and CNN may contact us....wishful thinking! Lol but as Mylahs Advocate and mother, I know that one of the ways I can help her is by bringing awareness to her condition. 

Here is the link for you to view