Friday, September 2, 2011

Double Digits!

Ten years ago today, we welcomed a little gem into this world!  Anna Cate was the most beautiful baby, she looked like the Gerber baby.  She was 5 pounds 10 ounces of pure joy!  I didn't want to stop holding and cuddling with her.  But of course everyone else wanted their time with her too so I had to share!  On my side this was the first grandchild, so a new role was given to my family-- grandparents!     The first month of life with an infant is an adjustment for all, but for me it was a month I will never forget.

I love children and always babysat but having a child of your own who you are responsible for is a bit scary!  They have all these books on what to expect when your expecting and what to expect the toddler years, but babies don't come with manuals!  I was so nervous to be left alone with my five pound little bundle, that I wanted my mom to stay with me every day Wally was at work.  I was afraid I was going to do something wrong.  But knowing my mom was there with me I knew I would be okay!  It is funny how at the time when I had become a mother is when I really wanted mine! 

Neither my mom or I knew that we needed each other nine days after Anna Cate's birth. As we sat on the bed watching the Today show while Anna Cate slept peacefully between us, we witnessed the worst day in history in my lifetime!  September 11th.  At that moment I knew I couldn't be afraid anymore and needed to protect my child.  

Anna Cate was the best baby and toddler!  She loved to play, carry bags (at least 5) per arm while pushing her baby carriage, play ball, laugh, and be a stinker!  She would make you happy by being in the same room!  She was so full of life and loved to be the center of attention!  I can still see her running around with her little blankie on her head.   

From two years of age till five we were left wondering what was going on with our daughter as every test came back negative and every doctor evaluation undiagnosed.  I will say, it was hard trying to figure out AC, as it was mainly her speech that was affected.  Then November 2007 happened and the third test for Rett syndrome came back positive.

When I look back at pictures of Anna Cate before "D" day, I look at them in three ways.  One, how lucky we were and how lucky she was to be a "typical" baby and toddler to give us those memories we hold on to.  The " remember when" moments that we hold so close to our hearts as she never did them again.  Second, I look at them and think, what would she be like if Rett hadn't taken over her life.  And lastly, I see a child who tries every day with every ounce she has to be the best she can in the body she has and she doesn't give up!

When I think about how much Rett has taken from Anna Cate, and how she needs us all the time, I often think back to when she was a newborn.  I think how afraid I was to be left alone with someone so helpless and tiny, but little did I know that my baby would still need me as much now as she did then.  And little did I know I would still need my mom to comfort me and tell me everything is going to be okay!

Every year I think we all wish for the same thing when we are blowing out our birthday candles.  For Anna Cate, something so "little" is a "huge" obstacle.  Looking back on the first time she blew out her birthday candles, she was turning 4.  It was in this next year of life that we learned a lot about how Anna Cate learns and she started doing great things educationally and socially.  And a year later, at 5, is when we had closure and got her diagnosis of Rett.

Tonight, as we celebrated her 10th birthday, she blew out her candle for the first time since she was 4!  I know that this means this year is going to be great, but I get equally excited thinking that 11 may be her year of miracles!

Happy Birthday Anna Cate, I love you!