Today’s guest blogger is Annie’s aunt Ginny. Often it is by mere chance the most special people enter our lives. Ginny is one of those special “by chance” people in my life.
We married brothers. Because of this we share the same last name, the same in-laws that we adore, the same receding hairline on our husbands’ heads. All things I would share with any woman Mike’s brother Andy chose to marry. But because of the brothers we married, Ginny and I were brought into each other’s lives. Her presence in Annie’s and my life is one more thing to add to the list of how marrying Michael has enriched my life. She is an amazing friend, sister, aunt, confidant, shoulder, and example. I can’t go another word without mentioning her amazing husband, Mike’s brother Andy. They are one of the power couples always there for us when we need support and love. You two are so important to us, always there for us, and we couldn’t imagine life without you. We can’t wait to meet Annie’s new Beazley cousin soon! Thanks for your honest words. I know it’s hard to admit some of the initial feelings associated with Annie’s birth and diagnosis; but it’s so important to address if we are to change it for others. We love you Aunt Ginny!
As a teacher, I work with a variety of students with different needs. When Colleen was pregnant and Mike’s brother, Andy, and I heard there was a possibility of the baby having Downs Syndrome, we both had very conflicting emotions. My first thought was “There isn’t a more perfect couple for that baby” and I still believe that to be true today. My second thought was fear. Not fear of Downs Syndrome, but fear for the future and the unknown. Fear for how this baby would be treated, looked at or judged someday. Fear of how other adults or children would look at him/her in the hallway at school or out in public. Fear of what challenges he/she would face. While we didn’t know Annie was a girl yet, I wondered: Would she be verbal? Would she be able to be in a mainstream classroom? Would she be able to participate in similar activities to kids her age? Would she have friends? While some were focused on the immediate issues she would face at birth, I was looking toward the future and I was fearful that my niece would be looked at like other children with Downs: misunderstood. While Andy feared the unknown, I feared knowing too much about the stigma attached to Down Syndrome in our society.
Around this time, Andy & I were going through some challenges and learning to pray for God’s will rather than our own. While some may have prayed that Annie would be born with the exact right number of chromosomes, we practiced praying for God’s will to be done. We prayed for what He had planned for Mike, Colleen and their baby and that He would give them the strength to face whatever challenges He brought their way, if any. While it is a hard thing to pray for the unknown and for extra challenges, we knew that God sometimes has plans that are outside what we see for ourselves. I also knew that Mike and Colleen were made for something special. They never took the easy route so why start now?! And from the moment I saw little Annie’s face, I knew she was meant for them. I’m not going to lie and say we were no longer scared for them, but we knew Annie would be better because of them.
I try hard to believe that God never gives us challenges we can’t handle. That to me is one of God’s true miracles. Seeing Annie with Mike and Colleen is a miracle. Seeing everything she can do and has learned is a miracle. Not because we never believed she could do it, but because it was God’s perfect plan for her and them. I am grateful that God has placed Annie in our lives, albeit thousands of miles away. She never ceases to amaze us, teach us, thrill us, make us laugh and smile and debunk every expectation we did or did not have of her. And we know without a doubt, she would not be the same amazing little girl without the parents she has. Watching Mike and Colleen with her makes us realize that it doesn’t matter how the rest of the world may see her someday. It doesn’t matter how others look at or question her. They’re only seeing half of the picture. The other half of Annie is at home and can be seen reflected in her parents’ eyes when they see their beautiful, smart, happy little girl who is perfect for them.