Gotcha Day

A day we thought would never get here finally arrived.  After a little over 8 months Hannah is forever ours.  As happy as we are about this day we also take a step back and think about our wonderful birth mom, with this being the last step in the process and potentially being a sad day for her.  

During the finalization process we were joined by both of the Grandmas, Allen’s Grandma, and our friend Erin.  Everyone was shedding tears of happiness.  The judge said all adoptions are special, but ours is even more special because of adopting a child with special needs.  He said he commended us on doing this and how he felt us adopting Hannah was definitely in her best interest.  He said he sees so many bad things each day in court and usually leaves taking that with him, but not today he said, it would be a happy day for him.


We finished the day celebrating with some of our closest friends and family at a local burger restaurant where we rented out the top floor.  We are so truly blessed to have so much love and support during this entire process and the love and acceptance everyone has for Hannah.

This day would not have been possible without the help of a great non-profit the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network.  We will never be able to thank them enough for their help in making us a family of 3.  

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Progress Progress Progress

I have been a little bit of a slacker with doing an update with all of the GREAT things going on right now.

Towards the end of April Hannah had a swallow study done and did great.  We were told we could start with tastes of baby food and after one day of tastes she was ready to really eat.  She didn’t do the best at first with taking bites, but in less than a month she is eating a least 2oz of baby food a day and is getting better with the process and coordination required for eating.  So far we have tried sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, bananas, apples, green beans and peaches.  She absolutely DOES NOT like peaches for some reason.  Everything else she will eat, though I think sweet potatoes are her favorite at the moment.  Right before taking her first bite, she looked very excited.

She is progressing so well with Early Intervention and Physical Therapy.  They say each week how she is doing great and seems to be so much stronger than the week before.  She has gotten to where she really loves to stand, supported of course.  Her rainforest jumper and her exersaucer are two of her favorite things to do and are helping to really strengthen her legs.  Her rolling over is getting better, but that is the biggest thing really holding her back to being right there with where typical children are at her age.  We know those delays will increase as she continues to age, but we look at this as a positive in our book that she is doing so well and is so high functioning.

Here are a few videos of her at therapy or playing/working at home:

Trying bananas part 1
Trying bananas part 2
PT on 4/17

Easter 

Today we celebrated our first Easter as a family of three.  We didn’t do anything from the Easter Bunny since Hannah is only 7 months old, though the Amazon fairy frequents our house.  Maybe next year we will do a small basket for her.  We definitely want to do the cute Easter stuff but also want her to know the true meaning of Easter, that Christ died for us then rose from the grave.

We started the morning going to church, where we got to show Hannah off to a few people that had not yet met her.  We’ve had so many prayer warriors for our adoption and for her health for the past 6 months.  My Mom, aka Zma, bought Hannah a beautiful smocked dress that she wore to church today.

After church we went to see Great Grandma, who enjoys spending as much time with Hannah as possible.  She had a little bunny and a cute card for her.  We surprised her later with some Easter prints so she can show off Hannah at the doctor, pharmacy, hair dresser, and wherever else she goes and talks about our little cutie.

We came home and changed from our dress clothes and enjoyed a little bit of family time just the three of us.  We went over to Grandma’s where Hannah got snuggles from her Great Granny, Aunt, and cousins.  The amount of love they show her is oh so sweet.  Great Granny made her a beautiful blanket that was hand stocked and her cousin made her a bunny.  We watched the older grandkids hunt for eggs.  It’s always a fun time getting all of this part of Allen’s family together.

We took some photos of Hannah on my professional camera and has them printed for all of the Grandmas.  Hannah’s Easter Pics

We tried taking a family photo after church, but Hannah wasn’t having it.

After we got home from seeing family at Grandma’s Hannah and I got some snuggles in where she did some Tummy Time on me.
We hope everyone had a great Easter!

1st Baseball Game

Allen and I met for the first time at a Nashville Sounds game, so they’ve played a very special place in our hearts.  We bought game worn jerseys at a charity auction for our engagement photos and a game worn jersey for the guest book at our wedding.  My wedding gift to Allen was season tickets.  We even took pictures on the field for our adoption announcement, so the Sounds are a pretty big deal to us and we plan to share that same love for baseball with Hannah.

Tuesday, April 11th was the first home opener, so of course we had to take Hannah to the game. Little did we know the weather would not be on our side.  The gates opened and the rain seemed to be gone, oh were we wrong.  Hannah was decked out in her baseball outfit, looking cute as ever, so she definitely was getting lots of attention.  We were even asked to do an interview with one of our local news stations to talk about our excitement for the game and us being super fans.  The rain started again and after an hour and a half delay we decided to go home.  We may have missed the actual game, but there will be plenty more opportunities to take Hannah to games this season and show her off.

 She definitely was not feeling taking a family photo.

Introduction

Welcome to Nothing Down About Hannah! Here we will talk about the wonderful life of our daughter Hannah.We are Allen and Jessica. Due to infertility we were led to the path of adoption and felt called to adopt a child with Down syndrome. We aren’t super heros, as many seem to tell us how “proud they are of us” when at the end of the day we wanted to be parents and just happen to be the parents of a child with Down syndrome.
We got the call in early October 2016 from the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network, a non-profit organization that helps link birth families, adoptive families, and adoption agencies together through their registry, about a baby girl born in September. A week later we found out that we were matched and the following week got to meet Hannah for the first time. We were absolutely in love from day one. The end of October she was officially placed with us and our home has been filled with so much love since then.

Early on in the pregnancy it was diagnosed that she had duodenal atresia, a blockage in her intestines that would require surgery shortly after birth. Around 31 weeks it was discovered she had a complete AV canal defect, a large hole in her heart that would require surgery to repair. Once the #CHD, congenital heart defect, was diagnosed they told birth mom there was a possibility that Hannah would have Down syndrome due to 50% of individuals with DS having a heart condition. Doctors offered multiple times from 31-34 weeks for birth mom to have an abortion, but she said no, choosing life and fighting for Hannah.

Hannah was born and immediately lifeflighted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. After birth she started having respiratory problems. At one day old she had surgery to repair the blockage in her intestines. She received the official diagnosis of Trisomy 21 when she was around three weeks old after having genetic testing done. It is called Trisomy 21 because there are three pairs of the 21st chromosome instead of two, though it is commonly referred to as Down syndrome after John Langdon Down.  

At five weeks old she had a g tube put in, a feeding tube surgically inserted into her stomach. Individuals with DS usually have lower muscle tone, which makes feeding in babies much harder due to the low tone in their mouths. This can also put extra stress on a baby’s heart from overworking trying to feed while having a heart condition.  

At eight weeks old she had a ML&B, a scope done to check out her airway and lungs to try to determine why she was having so many breathing issues. Surgery showed that she had choanal stenosis, narrowing of the nasal passage on one side of her nose, and tracheomalacia, referred to as a floppy airway where the trachea partially collapses during breathing. The scope put too much stress on her putting her in full blown heart failure, where she went from 3 liters of oxygen to a c-pap of 8 and was closely monitored with frequent mentions of being intubated, using a breathing tube hooked up to a ventilator.  
The hope of waiting for her to get bigger and being around six months old to repair her heart was no longer an option, she needed heart surgery and needed it fast, but was so tiny. For two weeks she stayed sedated because we could not risk her having any extra stress on her heart and they wanted her to gain as much weight as possible prior to surgery. We were able to pick our surgeon, so we selected Dr. Tweddell, head of cardiac surgery at Cincinnati Children’s. At 10 weeks old she had surgery to repair the large hole in her heart, which ended up being worse once they got in there including finding out she had a double orifice of the mitral valve.  

Heart surgery created a completely new baby, where he color instantly started to change from fair skinned to having some color. She was able to come off the ventilator later that night because she was doing so well. The next day she was able to start reducing the amount of oxygen from 8 liters down to 5, the following day she reduced even more. We got to come home to Nashville less than two weeks after heart surgery and she was off of oxygen for the first time in her life.

Now we have been home a few months and are active in our local Down syndrome community and hope to educate and spread as much awareness as possible about the extraordinary lives of those that have a little something extra.

We hope you enjoy going through this journey called life with us!