By DSL Mama Sara Hayden
I always get sentimental about this time the night before McKenna’s birthday. I remember back 17 years ago – going to dinner, just Nate and I, full of hope for the next day when we would meet the boy or girl who would be our firstborn. We had so many showers, celebrations, cakes, baby clothes, books and toys in the months before she came. I didn’t know that McKenna would be a girl, or that she would have Down syndrome. I just knew things would change – but I remember laughing about how we had no idea. We REALLY had no idea. McKenna has led us on an interesting journey. One that we would later add Connor to, but one that started that Tuesday night of February 25, 2003. I didn’t expect what I got, and it was not in my control to do anything about it, but it changed EVERYTHING that was anything to Nate and me. I wish I had words that could tell anyone about the joy, value, fierce confidence and love that McKenna brings to the Hayden family. Who we are is because of what we believe about people – ALL PEOPLE- and we believe that because we live with McKenna. I can get mouthy when I want McKenna to be included or treated fairly – I know. Truth is – I am not doing it for her to be included in the typical trajectory, I am doing it for you to realize how rich life could be if you embraced her and got to know a different way at looking at the world – not as a place to beat you down, but a place to show yourself in the most authentic, unapologetic way possible. We Hayden’s can be a crazy lot (Christmas Tree cakes, Nate’s last ten days of school, crazy dancing, up for anything at anytime) because we know joy, we live joy and we want to create joy for others. This all comes from the night before – when we had no idea – but once we did, we realized how lucky we were on February 24, 2003, as we sat there and dreamed and God knew that what was in store was so much more.