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The Beginning. Our Special Needs Journey.

by: Elizabeth Thorndike

It was a surprisingly sunny day in March 2011 when our sweet redhead Shelby entered our lives. As I look back now, the beautiful day doesn’t surprise me. Beauty tends to follow Shelby.

It was nine days before my due date and sometime after midnight I started to feel contractions. I kept it to myself for a few hours. It was like I had a sweet little secret that only this sweet baby girl and I knew. It was such a beautiful feeling that I held onto it until my husband awoke. I snuggled into my warm blankets and simply stated “don’t get too comfortable at work”. He smiled and winked at me and sarcastically said, “okay love.” Basically, he did not believe me at all! So, I just smiled warmly and held on to what I knew in my heart, and what my body knew.

shelby baby bump our journey

My beautiful Shelby baby bump

Eager Anticipation

I threw my two-year-old in a warm bath so I could sit on a stool and labor. I was not nervous this time. I knew my body could do it. I could not wait to meet this little girl. I could not wait to be over with this phase, the pregnancy phase. I had been sick the entire 10 months. I had had several IVs placed for dehydration and was finally hospitalized with severe Hyperemesis. It was a long 10 months, and I was ready to say goodbye to pregnancy and hello to mom-of-two. It was my dream to utter the phrase “my girls.”

Sweet thoughts filled my head as I watched Savannah play in her bubbles. I was so in love with her and loved being a mom. I could not wait to see her interact with her new sister. She spent hours singing to my tummy. She would even place her pacifier in my belly button, sharing it with her sister. I knew in my heart that the long, painful pregnancy would all be worth it in the end.

shelby family maternity pic

Savannah kissing Shelby

It’s Time

Two hours, many painful contractions, and one hilarious visit from a close friend later, my doubting hubby was on his way home to take me to the hospital. The car ride was difficult. I faced backwards on the passenger front seat and had contraction after contraction!

It should be noted that at a particular red light, I scarred a toddler forever as he watched me scream in pain… backwards… in a car!

When we reached the hospital, I was already 7 cm. dilated, and I could tell that this girl wanted to meet the world. I made it just in time for the epidural and, once it was administered, things calmed down just a wee bit. I was able to spend a few moments with Dan. We tenderly talked about the hard pregnancy and how we made it through. We knew in just a little bit we would meet our Shelby Annabelle! It was such a sweet moment between the two of us.

An hour later my sister-in law walked into the birthing suite. I was happy to have another hand to hold and her personality and love filled the room. She is a nurse, and a mom of four, so her peace and experience were a welcome addition! Over the next hour, the nurses, the anesthesiologist, and the delivery doc came in and out of the room until finally, it was time to push!

Shelby’s Arrival

The delivery doc and I realized that we went to the same college, and as I was pushing, he and I belted out the Auburn University fight song-TRUE STORY! The excitement in the room was tangible as I pushed and was cheered on by many. As Shelby’s head was born, the doc asked if I wanted to help pull her out with his help. “Of course,” I blurted out!

From that moment on, the room became a blur to me. You see, as I helped pull Shelby out and she was laid on my chest, I knew in my heart that she had Down Syndrome. The doc was clueless to my assessment as the nurses whisked her away. They knew…

They knew, even before the doc, that my sweet girl had an extra chromosome. My world crashed in a split second. Equal amounts of excitement for the life I had waited ten months to meet, mixed with the deep grief of a mama’s heart in the unexpected.

blessing surprise journey pic

Our beautiful Shelby Annabelle

On March 7th, 2011, we began a surprise journey. A journey that would change us for the better. A journey gifted to us by God. A journey we never knew we needed…

Read more of Shelby’s birth story.

about us

Meet the Thorndikes - Moment to Moment Family

Hi there! We are the crazy cool parents to 5 amazing and crazy cool kiddos. But, first, we are Dan and Elizabeth Thorndike – married 15 years and living this life one moment at a time. We have a full and blessed life, but we are clumsily tackling a journey we never foresaw ourselves living.

Read our story of how this journey all started in our blog post titled:
“The Beginning. Our Special Needs Journey”


Elizabeth Thorndike

Introverted extrovert – that’s how I describe myself. I absolutely love being a mama but never knew how hard it would be, nor how deeply I could love.



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