You see, Lee Ann's youngest daughter, Joella, also has Down syndrome. Before Hailey was born, I never asked many questions about Joella. I never wanted to offend Lee Ann. I didn't know how to bring up that Joella has Down syndrome because it didn't matter. Joella appeared to me to be a happy beautiful little girl that was absolutely adored by her family. After Hailey was born, everything changed. I had to talk to LeeAnn about Joella, about Down syndrome, and about how I was going to make it through this roller coaster that God had suddenly put my family on. I needed to know how my positive, upbeat friend whom I very much respected handled it and got through those first few weeks. I needed to hear first hand how she dealt with those feelings and obstacles. I was so grateful I reached out to her with her very first email response back to me. She had me crying and smiling all at the same time. I didn't believe her in her first email though, that everything would be okay and that life would seem normal every (not to even think about it feeling normal in less than a year). With each sporadic email (she will admit she isn't the best at keeping in touch but she is getting better :-), she made me realize that I could do it. That I was strong enough. That there are no limits to what our little girls will achieve. I am forever grateful for the cheerleader that she has become for my little girl.
Turns out we only live about an hour to an hour and half away from one another. Last weekend, we finally were able to get together and meet one another's little girls. Joella is a lot like her mother...spunky, stubborn and very sweet. She loved Hailey and Hailey loved Joella. Meeting Joella gave me a glimpse into the life that we will lead when Hailey is 4. That life is "normal" for them. That everyone will thrive. It made me so happy to meet Joella and see my dear friend again. We have agreed that we need to try to get together at least once a year...maybe more if we can get our schedules to coordinate. I needed to see life beyond the baby "newness" stage of Down syndrome.
I'm thankful to have life circle around a 2nd time. I'm happy to add Joella into our lives. I feel very lucky! Isn't life awesome!
Here are a couple pics of the girls together. They weren't cooperative subjects so I pulled a few of Joella that her mom took. Isn't she a beauty (and spunky!)!
|Joella and her awesome big sister, Laney|