This is one of my very favorite pictures of Paige - it is the actual size of her hand just after her first birthday. She laid her hand on the scanner, and we took the picture that way...
I have always adored Paige's hands. My first knowledge of them was when she was in utero - when the technicians studied them so closely to see if they were clenched - a sign of Trisomy 18 - the diagnosis she was suspected of having before we got amnio results.
And the day she was born - her hands became the focus of the team of doctors awaiting her yet again, as we discovered she was born with an extra thumb on her right hand.
Just a few days later, I would cherish those hands of her, as there were so many tubes and wires everywhere on her tiny body that her hands were the only thing that I could really see or reach for. How I loved staring at those hands...
Through her first years, we spent quite a few nights in the hospital, where I would sleep next to her, and her tiny hand would reach for mine in the dark. From a very young age, I would only have to whisper to her, "do you want to hold hands" and that sweet hand would come my way...
And, indeed it is her hands that have taught me some really great lessons. Not only because of the things they have done, but the things they have struggled to do as well. She uses her hands to speak, and entertains herself often by watching her hands dance in the sunlight.
Its those lovely hands of hers that have kept me grounded on this journey. They remind me that God did not bless me with her in order for me to prove to the world that I could raise the smartest, most accomplished, most impressive child with T21 ever.
No, His intention was completely different.
He wanted me to know unconditional love for my child. To feel my heart fill with joy every day at the sheer sight of her. He wanted me to be a messenger of this joy; to share that joy with others.
He does not want my life to be measured by success in the usual way we measure success - by a career, or by finances, or accomplishments. Nor does He want me to judge the worthiness of her life in that way.
Instead, He sent her to me so that I could learn the real values of life - those of compassion, selflessness, and yes, sometimes humor.
Those lessons help me to be a better mother to both of my children; as I fight my own perfectionism and realize that they both are gifted in their own way, that they both will soar and they both will coast - that its a natural progression of our lives.
Paige uses those hands to express her love - when you sit with her, or lay beside her, she will ever so gently rub your face, touch your hair, and explore you in a way that only an innocent child can. She particularly loves to see if you have earrings on, and loves the feel of them as they rub against her hand.
Right now, she is using her hands to harass the dog, who is trying to feign sleep under the coffee table, in the furthest corner his 90-lb body will allow him to be. She commando crawls after him, and squeals in this high pitched way that only he can hear, lol
In the next couple of weeks, I will once again be whispering, "do you want to hold Mommy's hand" to her, as she wakes up from anesthesia, somewhat confused and looking for comfort.
And, with any luck at all, when I am old and my days are coming to an end, it will be her who whispers in my ear, "do you want to hold my hand?"
And then...then...I will remember once again that the celebration was the journey, not the destination. That however ordinary anyone else in the world might have judged us to be, we have been quite extraordinary, this team of her and I.