Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A Fork In The Road

I rarely blog anymore. This was not my intention when I first decided to blog. My intention was weekly posts about our life! Tons of pictures and countless updates.

For awhile, I did just that, and it was good. I met (online), other fellow bloggers and we connected as we could relate to each other’s journeys.  I put all my fears, frustrations and triumphs into these posts and if felt good to be encouraged and recognized and supported.

Then life changed.  We found the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential and my whole thought process changed.  Stella had a brain injury and there were things we could do to help her brain!! Fabulous!

Then life got really REALLY busy! Instead of spending my evenings blogging and sipping on coffee while the TV played in the background, I found myself writing in Stella’s food/program journal, making flashcard and homemade books and reading about supplements (TNI - Targeted Nutritional Intervention, to be exact).

I did manage to do a few update posts about Stella’s progress. Other then that though, I kind of stopped blogging.  I was still journaling (a bit), but I always found myself journaling when I was sad about our challenges, or about what Stella was still not doing. I never truly felt 100% comfortable with sharing these thoughts as I felt deep down these were very personal and not 100% mine to share.

 What if, 10 years from now, Stella stumbles upon my blog? How would she feel reading my blog? Will she feel exposed, belittled? Will she feel like something is wrong with her and that her being different is a bad thing?

I NEVER want any of my daughters to feel that way! Realizing that one day, my girls may read my blog has made me really rethink, just what I am willing to share. I actually feel like I have already shared a tad too much.

As a parent of a child with T21, I have been sharing on my blog my experiences and my perceptions of what it is to have a disability. However, this is not and will not be my daughters view. 

Of all the positive things I share about Stella, I worry that the negatives will be remembered more.  Disability has such a negative stigma attched to it already.  Am I feeding into that negativity? Am I doing more harm then good?

So I stand here at a fork in the road.  Do I continue to blog? If I do, what exactly will I be blogging about? I don’t feel like Stella’s (or her sisters') journey in life is mine to tell anymore.  
I love you more then mere words can ever express.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

To My Daughter

Hi Stella,

It's mom. Today is your birthday. You are five years old. I am beyond delighted at the fabulous little girl you have become!

You have a zest for life that is contagious. Those around you can't help but smile and feel your positive energy when you enter a room.

You have mastered listening to your body. Diapers are a thing of the past and accidents are few and far between.

Your physical skills impress me every day.  Hanging and swinging across the monkey bars like a boss!!  Those two skills are helping your fine motor skills and the fact that you can now use scissors efficiently makes my heart smile.

Your voice, your words, your sentences. What a long way you have come in one year.  When you tell me "no, stop please" or "no, go away please", it makes me happy that you are able to express yourself, plus your manners are impeccable! You are working so hard to learn to talk clearly and I can't wait to hear more of your thoughts over the next year.

I will always remember the day you were born like it was mere moments ago.  Your birth, Sophie's birth and Olivia's birth were each so unique and life altering.

Olivia was our first. She made us parents.

Sophie was our rainbow baby. She was the ray of light after the storm.

Stella, you completed our family.

You are our little warrior.

Happy Birthday my fair skinned, blue eyed little girl.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Antibiotics - The Double Edged Sword

Antibiotics. Antibiotics or antibacterials are a type of antimicrobial used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infection. (thank you Wikipedia).

I love antibiotics.
I hate antibiotics.

Especially when it comes to Stella. 

She was doing so well this winter! She was cold free for 3 months.

January to March. 

Those three months she usually is sick almost every month. But not this year!!! 

So what did I do? 

I jinxed it.  

Yup. Instead of keeping my yap shut, I spoke OUT LOUD to my hubby about how Stella has been “sick free” all winter!! I swear the minute I said those words, I heard Stella sneeze….and it’s gone downhill since then.

A cold. A cold I can handle. But lately with Stella her colds seem to turn into a sinus infection, and this cold was no different.  After a week her cold seemed to be getting worse instead of better. Green sometimes brown nasty snot, a nose so stuffy and yet when she blew her nose it seemed painful to do.


A sinus infection, for SURE a sinus infection. 

I couldn't let the poor child suffer through a sinus infection! Those things suck! I took her to the doctor and he gave her antibiotics.

The next day she was remarkably better! Yay Antibiotics!  But as wonderful as it was that she was getting better, I knew that all her “good” gut bacteria was being killed off too. Which meant Stella’s immune system would be even weaker.  

A few days after she was done her antibiotics….. BAM! She seemed sick AGAIN!!!! The last time ( in December) it seemed that her sinus infection was back or perhaps never really went away). But this time, she seemed even worse! She had a fever, her tonsils sounded swollen, her nose was stuffy and she seemed to also have a cough.

SIGH… SOB…. more sighing.

She is pumped full of supplements. She is given vitamins she is lacking, minerals she needs more of, probiotics to keep the healthy bacteria in her gut, and thyroid meds that she needs. Slowly all of these things seem to be working. She is getting sick less often. BUT when she does get sick, boy does she ever get sick!!

I can’t f*&#ing win.


Off to the doctor’s office we went on Monday. She got her throat swabbed and then we had to go to the hospital. 

Yeah, Stella was not cooperating and would not pee on the toilet for me. So we had to go the hospital so they could put a catheter in so a pee sample could be obtained. The doctor wanted to rule out a bladder infection.  Needless to say that event was traumatic, for her and for me. But she was a courageous little girl, and the hubby was there to help as well which was definitely what i needed. He is my rock. (love you babe!)

Ahem… anyway..

Yesterday she was clearly no better, even worse to be exact. To be honest I was terrified. You see at the doctors office on Monday, the doctor ordered up a blood requisition. He wanted to get a complete blood count (CBC) of her blood. He had noticed a slight rash on her stomach and after seeing that he told me he wanted to get her platelets looked at.  Why would he want to look at her platelets? He’s checking, just to be safe, for signs of leukaemia. He never said that to me, but I knew that was what he was doing.

So when Stella woke up yesterday and was clearly no better, I was internally freaking out. As much as I did not want to have to take my child to get her blood taken (she had just had her blood taken for her thyroid a mere 2 months earlier), I knew I HAD to. Off we went to the lab. I told Stella where we were going and why and let me tell you she was not happy about it. She kept saying “no!” and crying. When we got there, she kept saying she had to poop. She’d fuss, look at me and say “poop”. So off we’d go to the bathroom, i’d sit her on the toilet, and she’d say “all done”. We did that about 4 times.  

My poor sick baby!

Poor kid. 

You know what though? She is a brave little girl. When it came time to get her blood drawn, she sat still, put her arm out, and fussed a little bit. She kept her arm still and they found a vein the first time. What a trooper she was!  As we left she kept pointing to her arm and saying “needle”. An elderly gentleman stopped me and asked if he could give Stella some money as he thought she was so brave. I thought that was so sweet, so of course I said yes!

Stella took the money and said “gank you” (Thank you).

Fast forward to today and Stella is FINALLY on the mend. Seems she has strep throat, as does her 6 year old sister!! 

Yup, you guessed it, BACK on antibiotics! SOB!

However, Stella is noticeably better today which is wonderful to see. Now to keep her healthy once she is done the antibiotics.

Oh and her blood test results came back and she is low in iron. Her platelets are good.

I am relieved.

Cancer hits just way too close to home.  I am painfully aware of it.

Stella has Trisomy 21. This puts her at a higher risk of getting leukaemia.  


Being a mom is tough. There is so much to worry about isn’t there?

Thankfully today is a good day. We are turning the corner and Stella is on the mend.

This was taken yesterday. Today she was 100 times better. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

It's ONLY Been A Year!!


I have been extremely horrible at it. I mean, when it’s been almost a year since my last post, then I know that I am a bad blogger!!

I am now going to attempt up to do an update. Phew! 2014 and then some!

We started 2014 getting into the groove of Stella’s program. Some days were better then others, but on average we rocked out a good full 3 hours and then another 2 or so hours on and off of doing other things.

We enjoyed our first Easter in our new house! This was Olivia’s first year where she knew the Easter Bunny was not real (yet she still believes in Santa…..??), so she had fun helping us hide chocolates for Sophie and Stella to find. She also had fun pretending to believe.

Summer 2014 was full of visits from my family! In June, my sister, brother in law and nieces came to visit, and then in August my parents came to visit.

All the cousins!

My parents with Olivia. Olivia insisted I buy her those purple glasses. She spent all day pretending she needed to wear glasses. Lol.

2014 was a year of small, yet big improvements in Stella. 

She began saying more words and putting two words together.

Her stamina has increased. She can walk longer distances and has started running, as in sprinintg and then going back to walking…..or running and sliding on the ground on to her belly.  

She likes to do this in the mall.  Her sister Sophie taught her.

It’s not so bad when the mall is empty, but when it is busy, then it gets a tad……embarrassing.  “Sorry sir, sorry you almost stepped on my kid because she decided now was a good time to run and slide.” (insert red face here)

When hanging on the brachiation ladder (Monkey bars), she can hold for 30 seconds!! 30 freakin seconds! That is hard! But this also means she is now strong enough to be able to move into brachiating (swinging across the monkey bars), with help.

hanging with Daddy.

Taking a break on our walk.

Hanging on the monkey bars at the park last June.

Now, she is not always happy and eager to do her physical program. On days like those, I try to make it fun or I bribe with Dora (works most times), or I don’t push it and just “go with the flow”.  But on average, she is rocking her physical program.

How do I know what we are doing is helping? (Aside from in my gut “just knowing”?)
When Stella started preschoool, she was assessed by a physical therapist and an occupational therapist.  Stella is on par with her peers physically. Of course, they go based on her stature, but even based on her stature, she does NOT need any PT!  She can climb, run, jump….all on par! She will not be needing any help in this area!! 

The Occupational Therapist that assessed her was impressed with what she could do also. Though she will need some OT at school, it is encoourgaing to be surprising therapists. 

Those two examples are proof to me that we as a family, are on the right path with going a tad alternative when it come to therapy for Stella! All her hard work, day in and day out is paying off.

2014 was a year of small improvements in Stella's health.  We are slowly getting on the correct path for her when it comes to vitamins and supplements.  Stella still did get sick quite a lot last year. Lots of colds! But when she did get a cold, it did NOT go into her chest like it used to! So that is huge! We were not able to stay off of antibiotics though. In June Stella got a sinus infection and then again she was sick all of November and most of December.  She just couldn’t shake a cold and then sure enough it went into her sinuses and it just took very, very long to clear up.  Her immune system is still a work in progress.

In September, Olivia started Grade 4!!!!! WHAT????  Sophie started Kindergarten!!!!!! and Stella started preschool!!!! Aggghhhh!! My babies are growing up!! Which means I am getting older!! Make it stop!!

In December we spent Christmas in MEXICO!! It was awesome!! We hope to do that again in 2016!

Ahhhh, how I miss this still!

The beautiful house we rented in Playa Del Carmen!

But before we went to Mexico, Mickey and I met with Dr. Erica Peirson via Skype. Dr. Peirson works at the Down Syndrome Treatment Centre of Orgeon.  We met with her to address Stella’s thyroid.  She is a fabulous doctor! Very knowledgeable and after talking for 3 hours to her, we were hopeful that Stella’s thyroid being treated would help her immune system and everything else in her body, function better.

Well, since Stella started on Desiccated Thyroid, I have noticed the following.
Her sleep almost immediately improved! I am sure she still is not sleeping as good as she could, but she no longer gets up 2 x in the night. 
Her energy is noticeable. I mean, she has always had good energy, but near the end of the day she always seemed to be really tired. Lately she has lots of energy still in the late afternoon/early evening.  
Her appetie has improved. This has seemed to have tapered off, but the first 3 weeks I definitely noticed an increase in appetite! 
She used to have quite bumpy skin on the back side of her upper arms. This has noticeably improved. The bumps are almost non exsistent.
Her cheeks are now a nice pink. They don’t seem as red as they used to be.
Her hands and feet are always warm now too! I haven’t checked her body temperatture, but I bet if I did it would no longer be at 96, but at normal 97!  

Hopefully as she is on desiccated thyroid longer we will start to see an improvement in her immune system.  The rest of this winter will be telling that is for sure!  I am VERY hopeful and feeling really great about the choices we have been making for Stella!

One more huge change we have embarked on is POTTY TRAINING!! This time around I decided to use an actual potty training method.  The one Mickey and I decided on was the Bridget Murphy Method (you can read about it here).  Day 1 of the method was long and seemed a tad crazy insane, but Stella was a trouper and pulled through.  We are now 4 weeks past the initial 4 day method. Stella still has many, many, many (sigh) accidents. BUT, at least twice a day she will look at me say “poop” and when I put her on the toilet she will pee in the toilet! She has yet to do a “duce” though. I mean Day 1 she did, but she hasn’t since (sob). 

Part of me is REALLY regretting deciding to potty train, cause now we can’t go back! Putting her back in diapers now would just be confusing I think so now we must trudge forward and be hopefully that something in her little brain will click and she will fully get the whole idea of peeing on the toilet.

Stella is a little warrior. She is doing so much everyday.  For the most part she is happy and eager to learn and to exercise and to spend time with me.  Most days I feel like she is rocking life and making great strides at reaching her potential. 

Then there are the hard days.  The days when nothing I do seems to work. Where she’d rather lie on the couch and chew on toys all day.   Sometimes it’s very hard to see a typical kid learn something so fast and with such ease.  Those days suck.

Stella has to work, and work HARD to achieve what that typical kid can do with his/her eyes closed.  Those days it just feels like this journey, this road, is a HUGE mountain.  One that we are struggling to climb up.

We are fighting against the wind, the rain, the snow.  Fighting so hard, yet seem to be moving so slow or sometimes not moving at all.  

Those days I wish Stella didn’t have DS. Those days I wish learning to speak, learning to engage with other kids her age, was easier for her.  Those days I feel pissed off that she has to work so hard. Those days life seems terribly unfair.  

Those days I feel like I am just not doing enough, that I need to do more. I know if I spent MORE time with Stella on her program, that I would see MORE improvement.  But for me personally I need to be realistic with what I am able to handle as a mom. I don’t have eight hours a day to focus just soley on Stella.

So for now, we do what we can. 

Every month I seem to go through this inner emotional turmoil. 

Every single month, at some point I have a pity party and I feel overwhelmed and sad and that nothing we are doing is helping.  

And you know what?

Every time I feel that way, Stella seems to do something to show me that “hey mom, chill. I GOT THIS!”.  

A new word, drawing a circle, going pee on the toilet, asking for help.

You are our warrior Stella. Thank you for reminding me that you are an individual, that all the work we are doing IS paying off and that you can achieve anything!!!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Forever Changed

This blog post has been a long time coming.

So much has changed since my last post. My view of disability is forever changed.  My view of T21 is forever changed.

The last time I blogged, I was sitting at the Calgary Airport waiting to board a plane. We were heading to Philadelphia,  to visit the The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential.

We took a course called "What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child".  It was an intense 5 day course. Each day was about 12 hours long.

Outside of  The Institutes the day before our course.

We learnt A-LOT! Way too much to fit into one post.  Way too much to even be able to properly explain to you, but I will give you a few tidbits. Parts of the course that really stand out for me and that I remember without having to re-read all my notes.

Some of you may be saying "Brain injury? Stella has Down Syndrome, not a brain injury."  Stella's brain is injured due to the fact that she has Down Syndrome (or Trisomy 21).

Tidbit #1:  There are 3 kinds of brain injury:
                                 Born with different brains/deficient brains. Stella has T21. Her brain is different.
                                 Born brain injured. This happens either in-utero or at birth.
                                 Psychotic: This type of brain injury is not very understood.

Tidbit #2:  There is NO relationship between brain injury and intelligence.  There is however a correlation between brain injury and the ability to express intelligence.
                 This was HUGE for me! It made and still makes so much sense.  Stella is so intelligent.  I could see it in her eyes before I knew anything about The Institutes! I can still see it in her eyes!  But her brain injury is getting in the way of her being able to express that intelligence.  But wanna know the awesome thing? At this course we learnt how to help fix her brain so that she CAN express her intelligence! We were given knowledge so that we could organise a game plan….a program to help Stella.  Wanna know something else?? The program is working!! 3 months into it and I can see a difference!

Tidbit #3: The brain injured child has two enemies: TIME and GRAVITY.  Every day that a brain injured child is not better he/she is worse.
               When Stella was 6 months old she was about 1-2 months behind her typical peers.  Every day since then Stella has gotten worse. She has fallen farther and farther behind her typical peers. Time has been her enemy. Now that Mickey and I know better, we are in an uphill journey to help Stella to catch up.  She's an athlete let me tell you!! And it is paying off!

Tidbit #4: The brain grows by use. The brain grows in the same way muscles do.

Tidbit #5: Teaching your child to read is the most important part of the intellectual program you do with your child.  Why?
                          Reading is easy.
                          Reading grows the brain. It stimulates the visual and auditory pathways.
                          Reading is a neurological function not an academic subject.
I have found that teaching Stella to read has been a huge factor in her starting to say more words.  She loves her flashcards! And trust me, when she doesn't like a word, I can tell! She'll walk away, or look away or shake her head. When she does that I put the word away or rip it up.

Tidbit #6:  If you are going to start a neurological program, begin with nutrition!  Good nutrition is the foundation of the neurological program.
                  Dairy and gluten were two of the major food sources that we were encouraged to eliminate. Dairy lowers the functions of the immune system. Gluten is highly GMO'd, plus kids with T21 have a higher sensitivity to gluten also.  We had already started eliminating both of these before the course, but now Stella is 100% (food wise) dairy and gluten free. I have found that she is way less "snotty" when she gets a cold and I attribute that to her being diary free.

Those are some of the main things that stick out for me, but trust me, there was a whole lot more!!

We learnt the importance of a physical program.

Crawling and creeping are important components of the physical program.

Crawling is better known as a "belly crawl" or as I used to call it "the wounded soldier crawl".  Creeping is when you move on your hands and knees.  A proper crawl and creep is essential for growing the sensory pathways and visual pathways.  Stella did not crawl nor creep in the proper cross pattern way.  Therefore crawling and creeping will be apart of her physical program.  I say that it "will" be apart of her program as she currently isn't "sold" on going back to creeping.  So right now we are focusing on walking.

Yes, Stella knows how to walk, but the goal of a walking program is to build endurance, and bring more oxygen in to the brain.

We go to the mall daily and walk.

She has become quite well known there.  The people that work there will say good morning to us and Stella will wave and say hi. It's very cute.

Stella's stamina is increasing and her energy has increased! This girl is on the go now…all…the….time!! I look forward to when we move into a running program! What a great incentive for us all as a family to take on a family 5k run….or a marathon perhaps is in our future!!

Hanging is also a part of Stella's physical program.  Hanging as in hanging from a dowel with feet off the ground.  Why? Well this is a precursor. Once Stella can hang for 20 seconds we can then move into brachiating… in swinging across on an overhead ladder (aka Monkey bars).

Why? Hanging and brachiating create hand and upper body strength.  Hand strength helps with fine motor skills like pincher grasp, opening and closing lids, holding a pencil properly and learning to write.

Since Stella has begun her hanging program her pincher grasp has improved immensely.  She has gone from using her pincher grasp occasionally to using it all the time.  The other day she picked up the teeny tiniest crumb up off the floor and gave it to me. Upper body strength from brachaiting opens up the chest. A stronger more open chest means deeper stronger breaths, which means more oxygen to the brain.

Aside from a physical program and teaching Stella to read, we have been doing "Bits of Intelligence" cards with her.

What is a “Bit of Intelligence®” Card?
A Bit of Intelligence card represents one bit of information. It is made using an accurate drawing or a high-quality photograph that is large and clear. Bit of Intelligence cards are organized into categories, which allows a child to generalize about each category and relate one category to another.
She LOVES them! All my girls love them. Stella learns them fast!!!!

That pretty much sums up what we are doing with Stella currently. We do this program every day. Stella enjoys her program. There are days when she just isn't "up to it". Days like that we take a break.  The whole goal of the program is for it to be enjoyable. Days where it seems like it's not..we take a break.

It's working.

We have been doing this program for 3 months.

We are seeing changes in Stella.

Her words spoken have gone from about 8 to over 20. She also says couplets (as in two words together), not just single words.

This….is… HUGE!!!

All of this has happened since starting the program.

Seeing these improvements proves to me that we are on the right track.

I am eternally grateful to The Institutes.  

I can't wait to learn more and to see Stella grow and thrive and and jump over every obstacle that has been put in front of her.

Stella, you are my sunshine.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

IAHP Here We Come!!

Here, I sit, at the Calgary International Airport.  Our 7am flight has been delayed by two hours. Whilst going through security, the metal detector went off, then, when I was being frisked by the "wand" that too beeped...lots. So then I got to be searched by that big huge xray machine thing....I did not pass that either.  I was then taken to a "personal examination area" where a woman officer then felt me up a little more...thankfully fully clothed.  Now I know I wasn't guilty of anything and all would be good, but yet still I felt worried. Apparently that machine doesn't like layers, v-cut sweaters and hair pins.  So all you ladies out there, mental note: If you are gonna wear a sweater, make sure it's not a V cut where you need to put another shirt under it. Oh and make sure your hair is clean so you don't have to put it up. 

Our flight has been delayed due to them getting in a new airplane.  I guess the first one was not working correctly and so they are flying in another one.  Well I don't know about you but I am all for waiting 2 hours for that reason!!

We have left our three McG girls in good hands with my in-laws and our new respite worker.

Did I mention that we struck gold with our private hire??

Soooo worth it!! She is amazing!! She loves our girls, she is amazing with them and they all love her!

Yet as I sit here waiting, I feel anxious for my girls.  Will they be ok?  I told Stella that we are going away for a few days and that Aunty and Uncle and Grandma and Teri will be taking care of her. She seemed to understand and got very excited when I mentioned her Aunty and Uncle.  But I know she will be asking for me on and off all day.  Will she be ok? Will she do her sad, silent cry at bedtime when I am not there to give her a cuddle before putting her to bed? Sigh.  I know she will be ok, but 9 days is an eternity for a little kid.

I just keep reminding myself that we are doing this for her...for all of our girls.  This is for their future. 

I have had such support from not only my family and friends but from women who I haven't even met face to face.  Those amazing women who have chosen this same path.  Those who have taken the course that Mickey and I are going to take.  

"You will come back a changed person"

I have been told this more them once.

I am feeling empowered as a person and mom.

I am filled with hope and excitement.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Good Friends Are Hard To Find

The older I get, the more this phrase rings true for me.

When I was a teenager, living in the tropical island of Bermuda, I had my group of girlfriends.  For the most part it was two or three of us who always hung out.  It was a fun time in my life and I was very sad when I had to leave my friends and start all over in Canada.

When I moved to Canada it took me at least 2 years to feel like Victoria was "home".  At that point I had my sister. She was (and is still), not only my sister, but my friend.  We did everything together!  We went to college together, we partied together, we made friends together.  But if a friendship ever fizzled out or just didn't work out I always had my sissy sis, and she always had me.

As time progressed I got married, had a baby.  Through a weekly post natal get-together I made some amazing friends. That is when I really understood what it meant to have girlfriends.  To have women who love me for who I am, flaws and all.  Women who hugged me when I cried and rejoiced with me when something wonderful happened in my life.

Then once again I moved and I had to start over.  Even though my friends in Victoria are still my friends, I am unable to hang out with them almost every weekend like I used to. I have had to put myself out there again.

It's been a tough ride. I ain't gonna lie, some days it down right sucks!

When I first moved here I felt like I was looking for a boyfriend.

It's true.

 I'd go to the mall with Livi and Sophie (Stella wasn't around yet), and if the girls seemed to be getting along and playing with some kids, I'd strike up a conversation with the mom.  A few times I even got up the nerve to ask the mom for her number. We'd exchange numbers and I'd leave feeling hopeful.

These friendships were short lived.  Mostly one sided, as in the only time we would get together was when I called up the mom to organise something.  The playdates were never reciprocated so the relationship went nowhere.

Then there have been those friendships that start out great!  We hang out, our kids get along and even the husbands!! Perfect!!!

Then time goes on and I realise that the relationship has changed and I am once again doing the inviting, yet not getting invited and my kids are being left out when we do get together....sigh.  I am left once again feeling so very disappointed and asking myself.."Am I missing something? Is it me? Am I not doing something right? Or maybe it's just them."

And there are those friendships that due to life, work and kids, have just not really had a chance to develop.

Good friends are hard to find.

But I have been blessed. I have found a true blue friend here. We hit it off from the moment we met, yet our relationship became stronger through loss.  She has been there for me, for my kids and she loves them like they were her own.

She is gold.

Sadly, I cannot take her everywhere with me. (She has a life outside of me, you know)

I have also joined a book club which has been so fun! The food is yummy, the drinks are delicious and the conversation is enjoyable. All the ladies there seem really nice and the friend who invited me, I hope to get to know better.

Really, I have a lot to be thankful for. Finding friends has been a slow process but the friends that I have found are real, amazing and truly care about me and my family.

But sometimes I have bad days, sad days (before "Aunt Flo" days, if you get what I'm saying. Too much info? Sorry).

On "those days", I feel that I am surrounded by women who are nice to me, yet don't want to include me. Who I have tried to befriend but who just don't seem to be interested.  Those days I loose sight and I have a pity party.

Those days I can't help but think of Stella.

I don't have a label of disability put on me.  I don't have stereotypes to fight against. I don't have preconceived notions to overcome. Yet I struggle to find real friends.

Stella was born with a label. The label of Down Syndrome. A label placed upon her by society.  People will automatically make untrue assumptions of her based on that label. They will judge her based on old outdated information, incorrect stereotypes and lowered standards.  She will be seen as less by some and looked over because of it.  She will be seen as different (which to a lot of people equals "less") and not given the chance to show those people just how smart, eloquent and capable she is.

It's unfair.

I don't want her to feel alone, like I have felt.

I don't want her to feel like no one wants to be her friend, like I sometimes have felt.

But, she will because we all have at some point in our lives.

It's a part of life.

Those that see past the label, the stereotypes;  those that choose to be Stella's friend because she is funny, kind, smart and fun to be around; I hope that Stella finds a handful of those people. So that when she has bad days were it seems like the world is against her, her friends will be there to help make her feel better, to give her a hug or a kind and supportive word.

I'm sure that's every parents' hope. Every mother's silent prayer.

Yes, good friends are hard to find.

Such a beautiful little girl. Her potential? Limitless!

Of course, like me, Stella will always have a forever friend in her big sister's.