Story Behind the Tag

My Wilderness

I’ll never forget the moment I sat in my OB-GYN’s tiny little patient room bawling, while my husband held me.  “Congratulations, you’re having a boy, however your test came back positive for down syndrome. I’m going to refer you to a genetics counselor.” Those words haunted me for the next several months. I was numb. Completely numb. This can’t be possible. I’m 25 years old and this is my first baby. The doctor showed us pictures of our baby on the ultrasound and I could barely look, as I was too focused on holding tears back. I couldn’t even look at my husband...I felt paralyzed.

Over the next several months, I’d spend time at a high risk doctor who told me the same things at each appointment. “Your son has a kidney in the wrong spot and possibly a hole in his heart.” Eventually, we stopped seeing her because the weight of all the appointments was getting too heavy and we were having a difficult time enjoying this pregnancy. Each month thereafter seemed to get a little easier and we kept hope that everything would be okay. The outpouring of love from our family and friends was extraordinarily more than we could’ve ever asked for. We were so blessed by so many people who loved us and loved our baby boy more than anything. But to be completely honest - it was hard. I had a lot of friends and family who happened to be pregnant at the same time as me, and it was hard not to question “why me?” and “how did we get here?” It was hard to let go, and trust that God’s plans were good.  It’s easy to follow a God who gives you what you want, it’s not so easy to follow a God who gives you something… well a little extra….

Joshua James Kerpan came right on time 2/2/18, on his actual due date. I felt the Lord telling me this was his name only a few weeks before he came into this world, even though we had called him something else for the entire pregnancy. His name is close to my heart and when I told my husband, we both agreed it was the name for him.

Joshua: The name Joshua is a Hebrew baby name. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Joshua is: Jehovah is generous. Jehovah saves. In the Old Testament, Joshua was chosen to succeed Moses as leader of the Israelites for their journey to the Promised Land. This pregnancy was my wilderness. But Joshua, mighty warrior, leader, deliverer to the Promised Land, that was going to be my boy. No matter what people said, (my own doubts and demons included), this boy was going to be a blessing. He was going to conquer the battles that came his way. That has become more apparent with each passing day, as my love for him grows stronger and stronger.

When Joshua was born, there was no cry.  His umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and the doctor had to pry it off piece by piece. It took some time until I heard his first cry. I was hopeful that he didn’t have Down Syndrome because let’s be honest, Down Syndrome is scary as it is full of unknowns and the great unknown is scary. After what felt like an eternity, I finally got to hold my precious boy. The second I saw him, I knew he had Down Syndrome, but all I wanted was to hold him and protect him. In that moment, everything changed. You hear people say “oh I hope my baby is cute” or “I hope my baby is good-looking” and I’ve been there too - but the second you hold your own baby, you realize how shallow those words sound. Those things don’t matter. All that matters in that moment, is that your baby is breathing, strong, and healthy. You accept them for who they are.  I was and obviously still am so in love with my baby boy. He was strong, and big (8.4lbs) and within the first few days of life, already beating the odds of what “they” say can be common struggles for babies with Down Syndrome…who is “they” anyways? My heart was full and the second I held him, I was madly in love. And that love would continue to grow each day.

There were many, many tests and pokes and needles and ultrasounds that took place in the hospital. They were the most painful thing for a new mom to have to endure. Joshua is my hero! There were, however, some positive things that came out of those tests. They found no holes in his heart after all, and his kidneys were perfectly fine. The ultrasound technician who had told us the news while I was pregnant, ensured us his kidneys would never move to the correct place. Yet, here he was, with healthy and normal kidneys right where they belong (miracle), and no hole in his heart (it was either healed or never there… either way, miracle).

Fast forward through lots of appointments and phone calls, and here we are. We’ve had our good days and our days where it’s hard to breathe. My faith has been tested. It would be easy to blame God for all of the hurt, but then I am humbled knowing my son is going to have trials and I NEED God to be present and active for him. My hope is in Him. I couldn’t get through it on my own. I will continue to pray for miracles, as we continue on this journey.

I never knew it was possible to love someone so much. His smile, his giggle and his snuggles make every hardship worthwhile. Even during doctors appointments and long days when I’m exhausted after work, his smile reminds me what it’s all for. He’s teaching me so much everyday about what’s important in this life and for that, I’m thankful. The more I look at him I’m reminded to be vulnerable, to ask for help, to see beauty in everything I can, to embrace every moment because one day he won’t be my tiny baby anymore, to not fear for the future, but take it one day at a time, to slow down and breathe, to ask for forgiveness and patience,  and most of all to love unconditionally. Our story isn’t over. It’s just beginning. I’m incredibly grateful to be his mama. He has been my hardest struggle and my greatest joy.

My Tiny Tags necklace is something so incredibly special to me. On the front it says “mama.” and on the back, engraved is Joshua’s birthdate. A day I will never ever forget. The day I fell in love with my little man. Joshua James Kerpan.  Everytime I wear my necklace, I’m reminded of God’s grace, in miracles, love, and thankfulness, that I get to be his mama.

- Steffi @somethingalittleextra