Ten years ago I gave birth to my fourth child Ada. Shortly after she was born I learned she had Down Syndrome. She also had multiple holes in her heart that would require surgery. My entire world came tumbling down. I had no idea what having a child with Down Syndrome would mean for me or my family. What would become of her? The unknown scared me. After a prolonged hospital stay we were able to bring her home. Home to where I had three other children.
My toddler at the time was struggling. He was exhibiting signs of autism. I was at at a loss with him. I had taken him to multiple doctors and therapists to try and find help. Now, I had a daughter that required a lot of care too. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. Between feedings, pumping, and taking him to appointments, I was exhausted. I was exhausted emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Ada was hospitalized multiple times. I even had to perform CPR on her at one point due to RSV. The first year of her life was spent at Primary Children’s Hospital. I cried a lot. I was torn between sitting at the bedside of my daughter and being home with my other children who needed my attention as well. I felt every emotion possible. I was mad, tired, frustrated, depressed, and experienced self doubt. There were days I did not feel like I could go on. This was all too much for me to handle. I found myself slipping. How could God do this to me? I was mad at Him and my circumstances. I stopped praying.
Luckily, I have wonderful family who helped me find myself again. I had not ran prior to starting my family and realized I had really let myself go. My sister began running with me. This was the first time in over a year I did something for myself. I loved it and I hated it all at the same time. But, it was the spark I needed to save me.
Quickly, the miles turned from 2, to 5, to running my first half marathon. My half marathons turned into full marathons and later a triathlon. Fitness saved my life and continues to save me still. It gave me the courage to return to church, courage to feel worthy to pray, courage to wake up everyday and fight for my family.
As my strength grew so did my confidence. The time I spend exercising helps me be a better parent. Being a mom of children with special needs is a constant battle. You never arrive at your destination. Goals are continually set, reset and reassessed. I am not perfect. There are days I still feel like I don’t measure up, that I am not enough. But, with the help of my family, fitness and Savior, I have found what gives me “Brilliant Confidence.” When my body is strong, then my mind will follow.
I am grateful for Down Syndrome. I do not know what I would do without Ada and the lessons she brought with her. She sets her own pace and reaches her milestones on her own time. She has taught me to never give up. As I learn to be patient with myself, I continue to grow and overcome challenges. Life is hard, but anything is possible. She amazes me at all that she can do. Her abilities far outweigh my expectations and she always exceeds them. I only hope I can live up to hers.
And this is “My Brilliant Confidence” story.
By: Jodi Wimmer
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