Nola Charlie - A Birth Story

NOLA HA!!!  I am writing another birth story.

I can hardly believe that I am doing this. Hold on...I can hardly believe that I have "kids" or "daughters" LIKE IT'S PLURAL!!! I NEVER take it for granted EVER. I GET to write another birth story. What an honour, a privilege to tell another babies journey into the world. I have a feeling this one won't be another ten pager, like Hazel's birth story was. Nola wasn't as high maintenance as her sister.

Even though this birth story might not be as many pages, it might not include as much drama, you won't find any medical jargon, there wasn't an imminent threat of surgery or death upon arrival. It still has enough power and strength to have changed my heart in a completely different and utterly necessary way.

I hope you enjoy!

(I am so thankful that Tiff, from Vita Photography, was there to capture these sweet moments. I look at them often and treasure them deeply. I am not sure this would have been possible had her and I not been so close. It helps to have extremely talented and supportive cousins. There are not really any before shots cause she literally walked in RIGHT before I started pushing. No fault of her own. What can I say? My babies come fast)


I'm 41 weeks pregnant, which is great.

No not great!!! NOPE - NOT AT ALL!!!

Couldn't sleep, couldn't walk, couldn't move, COULDN'T DEAL!!!! Trying to be a good mother to Hazel felt completely out of the question. Trust me when I tell you, that added emotional failure to the daily routine was productive. I literally felt like this baby was never going to come.

NO I wasn't enjoying the lasts days of my baby and I sharing one body. Not one bit. I prayed so hard. Every. Single. Night, for her to come OUT!!! Let's just say I am not my "best-self" anywhere from 35 to 41 weeks pregnant. Do NOT judge me!

So after a few very, VERY uncomfortable visits to the OB and still no baby we decide that it's time to induce. Naturally, I went diving head first into panic mode.


This really wasn't expected. I had no knowledge of what being induced would entail. I didn't want to start looking it up on the internet and I had a hard time asking people for their experiences, as it's so different for everyone. All I knew in the back of my mind was that being induced is generally "not ideal". I immediately became so afraid of labour. A feeling that I never had prior. Fears like, was it going to take longer? Would it be more painful?


I got a few opinions. Some were great, some not so much. Anyways....

We decide on the day. Saturday (not realizing at the time that it was November 9th - my sweet Allie Belle's birthday). As good a day as any. I got into bed the night before praying to go into labour. NOPE!

I got the call at 6:30 am. They had a bed for me. No rush. Have a shower, something to eat and come on in whenever you're ready. The whole morning was pretty chill. I walk into the the OB wing of the hospital at about 8ish, only to be greeted by what seemed like the entire nursing staff and doc. Lovely entry to arms-a-wavin' and happy, smiling faces saying...

"Good morning!"

"Your having a baby today?"



By 8:30 I was in a gown and my water was broken. I immediately started contracting on my own. No drugs necessary. Nurses started taking a history. Wondering what my last labour was like. "Hmmmmmmmm, so you went from 4 to 10cms in 20 minutes?" The wheels were turning. Contractions were getting very intense, very fast.


The plan quickly turned into, "let's just see where these contractions take us" before we start the Oxycontin. My body started to command the stage. I was in some serious pain. It came fast and furious and was holding nothing back. It was too MUCH, TOO FAST!

9:30 was the limit. I need drugs now please. PLEASE!!!!!

Oh, there's no anesthesiologist available right now? AMAZING!!!

The nurse took one look at me and said, "I think we'll call someone in for you."


By 10 the epi was getting put in, still at 2 cms. Hmmmmmm...I don't think so. Not with these contractions.

Matt was kicked out into the waiting arms of the family. Of which there was no shortage of. Same crazy bunch that were there for Hazel. We take over. That's our thing. We fill waiting rooms to the brim with family. Sometimes, my father-in-law's thing, is to offer money to other awaiting family members for the "boy" that they are waiting to meet. I guess he's pretty determined to get his grandson (don't think I didn't hear that little tidbit Pip!!!)

PicMonkey Collage

I digress...


So epi is getting put in, Matt is out of the room, contractions are getting very strong, but I felt great! 10:30 things are happening, nurse decides to check again, just in case things happened to change. HEEEEEELLO...10cms. HA! It creeps up on you that elusive 10cm cervix. FAST!



Drugs were in full effect, I was thinking this pushing thing was not going to be productive. The doc came in, checked the baby's heart print out and made a call. We need to get her out. Right now. She's having some stress and he was not comfortable waiting for the drugs to wear off a bit. Turns out when a doc tells you that your baby is in distress you figure out pretty quickly how to push her out.




Within about 4 pushes, out came her little head. I watched her first seconds entering the world. Still very much a part of me. I let out a huge gasp of amazement. I cried in awe, "Oh My God...There's her head!" There she was. Her perfect little grey head. How is this even possible? A couple more pushes and she was free. She was here. We were two bodies.




She filled the room. Her smell, her cries, her squeaks, her new life.





And there it was. It came barreling over me. Consuming me, flooding me, like water that breaks free from a damn, coating everything in its path. That feeling...

That feeling when they put this brand new baby on your chest and nobody is quite ready to take in what has just happened. It doesn't matter. There's a baby. Her face is super crunched up, she's crying and flailing and covered in that last little bit of mama. The world fades away, all the pain is gone, the anticipation is exchanged with love, the fatigue turns into nurture, the stress turns into joy. All in a split second - an instant - a snap of the finger. That's how long it takes for this little tiny person that was growing inside you, to change your soul forever. In those first few moments, when you exist only for this little being, only to provide for her. She rests so desperately there on your bare chest. Her skin on your skin. Her senses take over and she searches, wiggles and crawls her way down your chest, staking her claim. This is where she eats. This is where she lives. This is where she feels safe, cared for, and secure. Drinking in my scent, it's all she knows. Both of us clinging to each other aching to feel our bodies, our skin, her weight on my chest.





These moments were taken from Hazel. We didn't have these first few moments that are driven purely on instinct and love. This time, we got to truly appreciate the birthing process. I got to literally watch her come out of my body. Not worrying about her health, her heart, her belly. With each push, focusing on bringing her into the world and meeting our second daughter.



This is the story of how this girl healed me. It's my birth story.

From the moment I learned that she was growing inside me, until this very present moment. She took a broken, grieving woman and turned her into a completely satisfied, completed mama. She sewed up wounds that I didn't know I had. I thought Hazel cured me. She made me a mother. But the soul knows what it needs to feel peace. And my peace came with little Nola. I never dreamed of her. I never thought she was possible. And yet she is here. She just came.



I still look at her everyday and wonder how the universe got it sooooooooo right?

How the universe knew that my soul still needed healing?

My girl Nola, let me abandon all of those grieving, infertile moments that I had no idea I was still carrying around with me. She allowed me to believe, the absolute truth is, that God will provide. I struggled with this truth during our years of infertility. Nothing ever made sense and I felt abandoned. I could spend my entire lifetime providing, nurturing, loving, and supporting Nola and I still would NEVER be able to repay her for how she has given my soul peace and my heart contentment. She erased so much pain and replaced it with hope.

Not to mention how important she will be for Hazel in the future. Something my mama heart can't even begin to comprehend. If I focus on it I get all goose-bumpy and heart-fluttery. It's TOO much. Entirely, TOO much!

Looking back now, Hazel's birth/arrival was about healing Hazel. It was about forever changing the way that we view life, people and society. It was about teaching and allowing Hazel to send her message to the world. It was about accepting things that seemed like challenges but ended up filling our hearts with pure love. She allowed us to see everything with LOVE in our hearts and therefore letting us accept real LOVE into our lives.

Nola's birth/arrival was about healing us ALL as a family. She made us complete, whole. She brought balance and peace. She was exactly what we needed and she came at exactly the right time.



Baby Nola,

You were not planned for, you seemed impossible. You are a miracle, a little gift from God. You are welcomed, you are loved. You will never know the weight of your presence in our lives. We owe you baby girl and we plan to spend the rest of our lives repaying you in unconditional LOVE and support. You filled in all the cracks and made us impenetrable.

Gosh - I love you.


Nola46_bw     Nola44_bw


God is good.


Sometimes this space is just sad...

It's been 2 years my LOVE. apryl


I know that you watch over my girls everyday. I also know that sweet Nola was a gift from you. You certainly left your mark on her.


The funny part is I never noticed it looked like a butterfly. One of my friends pointed out. But there it is, clear as day.

And though I will never be able to wrap my arms around you in appreciation for my most precious and perfect gift, I promise to hug and kiss my girls just one time extra every single day instead.

You live on in my heart and are still such a huge part of my future.

Miss you heaps and heaps Auntie Apes.



Missing this crazy crew.

Half Mast

87 Years... nonno1


If someone were to tell me that I would have 87 years to...







...and just LIVE.

My reply would be, "where do I sign?"

Yet, when we lose someone after those 87 years, it just doesn't seem long enough. There's always going to be that impending feeling of yearning to see that person just one more time. Knowing full well that you could see them 50 more times and it still wouldn't be enough.

Always wanting that one more time to hear them sing, be teased in only the way that they could tease, feel them reach for your hand, listen to them tell you they love you, have them look at your children with the purest kind of love you've ever seen. We always want more. Always.









Nonno, you take up a huge space in my heart that will live on forever. Never to be matched or filled by anyone. Ever.

Your memory will remain strong, just as your presence in this family has been over the years. You and Nonna created an empire, within which gave your 5 children, 12 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren, the kind of life that movies are made about (Seriously! Have you seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Exchange Greek for Italian and BINGO!) With strong family bonds, respect, laughter, sharing meals, and love at the heart of it all.




PicMonkey Collage

PicMonkey Collage3


You taught us all about what it means to be a leader, a hard worker, a father, a brother, a grandfather, and a husband. For 61 years you created and built upon a love that that 2 people shared. Together you gave us a family that knows no bounds in the love that we all share for each other.

That happened because of you. 2 people. 2 hearts. 2 souls.

Both of you selflessly gave, to make sure that we all had. I only wish the same for all the great grandchildren. I hope that we are half as successful at imparting the wisdom and strong family values on to our children as you both were for us.




As for your children. I can't speak for them, and I know that a PERFECT father you were not.

But who is?

We are all doing the best we can. Trying to live honestly and do right by those we love. Trying the only way that we know how to raise happy, healthy, well rounded, respectful, independent humans.

I think, for your children, that trying to figure life out without you is going to be a long road. I know that if they could have hugged you and told you they loved you one more time, they wouldn't hesitate. I know that they respected you, learned from you and loved you. I also know all the good that you taught them will carry on through generations while they continue to support and love their own children and grand children.





So, it is with a very sad and heavy heart that I say goodbye. I myself am not sure how this family looks without your presence. It feels a little unsettling at the moment. Almost unnatural.

But I will forge on with the mind set that I was lucky to have you to loose in the first place. I was blessed to share 34 of those 87 years with you. You were a wonderful grandfather. You taught me so much. Waaaaaaay too much to list here. I could not be prouder to have so much in common with you. To share the same love of good food, hearty laughs, Italian temperament (especially when we are hungry...grrrrrrr), and a super human sense of smell.

My life was enriched because of you and Nonna. My husbands life was enriched. My children's lives. I could never put into words how grateful I am to have grown into a woman under your influence. Love and respect to you now and forever.

I am hanging my flag at half mast today, Nonno. Hope you are soaring high and enjoying your new life and whatever it might bring.

PicMonkey Collage2

One last parting thought. Something you taught me at a very young age. Something I will carry with me for years to come. Something I will NOT be teaching my children....

"Faciaco come me para"

Translates to - "I do what I want!"


8 Years Later...

I have had this blog for over 2 years now and have yet to share any of our history as a newly married couple. I must be feeling a little nostalgic cause I'm looking at old wedding pics. ann2


It's so unbelievable to look back at these 2 crazy kids. In a way they are strangers to me. I feel so far removed from this time in my life. We have both been through so many absolutely life altering moments and events since this day. The day that marked the beginning of it all. We had no idea how our lives and our paths were going to intertwine.

I honestly do not know what I would do without this man. He literally is a rock. He has a way of making everything make sense for me. His approach for living and facing life is fearless. I literally, do not know how I get to do life with him.

Kudos universe...kudos!


These 2 next pics are my absolute favs. They are definitely not the "picture perfect" wedding photos but they are real, genuine and dripping with PURE JOY. This moment for me will never be forgotten. The first moments of being this man's wife.




8 years later and we are still laughing, working, compromising, respecting, traveling, crying, loving, and parenting like it's our job. Coming out on top most days. Planning, hoping, learning and looking forward to the next 8 - and all the 8s after that.



8 years later. Here's where we are now...



How did I get so blessed? Life is a gift.


Hazel Loretta - A Birth Story

Finally...I am posting Hazel's birth story. I know I meant to get to some other posts for Down Syndrome Awareness Month, but I am also trying to be very conscious that I have another babe on the way that needs me to rest and relax so I am ready when she decides to join us out here. There's always National Down Syndrome Awareness Week in November. Hazel is only going to be an only child for another couple weeks, so I am trying to soak up every minute of her that I can in the coming days.

Long story short - this will be my last post for a while. Bitter sweet for us all (I hope). I miss the blog when I am away from it, but I will come back with lots of new material and some old, that I have prepared ahead. I am not going to completely unplug. I will, as always, be updating my IG feed (follow us at user name Chasing_Hazel) AND I will still be posting pics and small updates via our Chasing Hazel Facebook page (jump on over and give it a "like").

Hope you all enjoy this read. It's a long one so you may want to do it in parts. I put my heart on the line with this one.

Can't wait to share our new little girl with all of you...Thank you so much for your support, your love and your interest in our little family.

Leaving you all with much love in my heart.




"Did you guys know?"

A very common question that we’ve been asked since the birth of our daughter, Hazel. Down Syndrome - really? Trisomy 21? How could that be?

Yes we did – Wait (pause for dramatic effect) Did we?

Well, that’s the simple answer. Right? It makes perfect sense.

However, the full story is not simple. It is painful, long and feels like the pieces took a very long time to fall into place. The happy ending has already been documented and continues to flourish but for a long time it seemed unlikely that the end was near and the last thing it seemed was happy.

I hope that after reading this story you are able to identify and relate to 2 people who overcame fears, learned how to truly accept what is, and who were completely vulnerable to what the universe had hidden up its sleeve. I also wish that through this story, you might gain empathy for others that have had to surrender themselves to a universal plan that was far beyond anything they could ever have imagined or controlled.

By living this story, I have realized that life has a way of providing the experiences that we NEED to make us more compassionate people. More importantly, it usually has little to do with our own perceptions and ideals about what will help us along. Indeed it is what will enlighten and empower us, we just have to accept it for what it is.

In the end, it all happens just as it is supposed to.

Happy reading!


As I sat down and tried to write this some months ago, I found that it presented more challenges than I expected. It became painfully obvious that I was having a hard time separating my fertility story, from my pregnancy story, from Hazel’s birth story. I was not ready to revisit the fertility battle, nor was I ready to recollect and explain my pregnancy in detail. Advice was desperately needed. I was determined to get this birth story out there somehow. The advice I received to help me get this process started was, that all of those experiences do not necessarily have to go together and form one story. I could dissect each individual part and write what I felt I could handle and relive again. Turns out that I do revisit the pregnancy in some detail.

Mostly, this is a birth story.


Please click here to continue reading...


Oh...Nothin'...just some dreams coming true

Back in the NICU days, where we met some wonderful friends, we used to dream of a time that we could bring our kids to the park or for a picnic together. Some days we would sit and dream about what it would be like to have our little babes out in the open air, beyond the walls of the hospital. We wanted to make it happen last year but with Hazel's heart surgery, summer came and went. Picnics and days at the park were few and far between, if any at all. Well - it finally happened. A picnic and a whole afternoon spent at the park with our friends from the NICU. And we even got to see the nurses who played such a HUGE role in helping us all get on our feet!!!




I was in my glory the afternoon relishing in the moment. One of our dreams came true right before my very eyes. The kids all ate lunch together on blankets, chased after bubbles, got super messy faces, drank out of anyone's sippy cups but their own and splashed around in the water.

















Adventures in the splash pad. We laughed, they cried (and by "they" I mean Hazel), we hugged, it was all good.






Here is how Hazel spent the entire ride home...



One of my all time favourite days, with some of my favourite families!


Missing a friend today

It has been 365 days since my friend, Apryl, has left us. Not 1 of those 365 days have passed where I didn't think of her at least once. She left us way to soon but managed to leave a piece of herself with me forever. I'm sure Apryl is watching over her daughter, Allie, from a place where she has found some peace. Even in her spirit life she provides me peace by watching over Hazel. A gift that I feel so honoured and blessed to have been given.

You are forever missed and never forgotten in our home.




Today I choose to celebrate life. Everyday is a gift.


It's a... I am just going to put it right here at the beginning. If you just CAN'T wait, scroll to the bottom to find out (but come back to the top to see how it all unraveled). I think the progression of pics is pretty funny.


Who is this handsome lad? What is he doing in the reveal post you ask? Well...this is, Jay, the lighting model for the reveal photo shoot. I think he's cute.



Jay belongs to Heidi, who was the first to know and arrange the reveal for Matt and I. Here's her reaction to the news...




The moment of truth...I DIE!!! You can tell instantly when I know...





Matt knows...










IT'S A GIRL!!!!!






We told Hazel she's going to have a sister.




Now I can tell you how we feel about having 2 girls. We COULD NOT be happier!!!

I was genuinely shocked when the docs told me Hazel was a girl. I was convinced we were having a boy for the entire pregnancy. This time, I was CONVINCED it was a boy. I am not quite sure why but I always just felt like we were going to be parents to boys. We opened the little box and much to my surprise, there was a pink candy. Talk about shocked!!! Knowing I would be skeptical, I had the ultrasound tech give us a pic of the baby's goods, just so I could be sure.

YUP...It's a girl!!!

With every single day that passes more excitement grows in my heart that Hazel (and the new baby) get to have a sister. They can grow old together and nurture each other in only the ways that girls know how. They can fight over clothes, and toys, and everything, just as sisters do. The important part is that they will look out for each other. They will understand each other in only the way that sisters can. They will grow old together. Supporting each other in challenging times, leaning on each other in times of despair and laughing with each other in times of joy. They will always have each other - no matter what.

What could possibly make a mother feel more at ease and content? We are bursting to share this baby with Hazel and we thank the Lord and the universe everyday for this new baby girl.


Have a great week everyone!!!



FAQ Answers

About a week or so ago I posted an FAQ post, where I opened the flood gates to you all to ask ANY questions you may have been wondering about.  

Here are the answers to the few questions that were asked:

1. I’ve noticed in many photos that Hazel wears a beaded necklace. Is there some significance to it?

Actually, I have been asked this question so many times. It's a good one.

Hazel is wearing an Amber Teething Necklace. She has been wearing one since she was a wee babe and is totally used to it hanging around her neck. Amber is known to have natural healing properties that help to ease the pain a child might feel from teething. It DEFINITELY works for Hazel. I much prefer to use this instead of giving her medicine for the pain (but sometimes you do what you gotta do!!!)



Here is a link to more information about Teething Necklaces from a store in our local community where they can be purchased. Here is what "Sweetheart Baby Boutique" found out about Amber necklaces:

“The warmth from the skin releases the active ingredient in the Baltic amber, succinic acid. Recent scientific research has proved that succinic acid has a very positive influence on the human body. It improves immunity and the balance of acids when absorbed into the bloodstream, it stimulates the thyroid glands to help reduce drooling and soothes red inflamed cheeks. Amber’s anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties are recognized by allopathic medicine as a natural analgesic, which will help to relieve teething pain and calm a baby without resorting to drugs. The skin’s warmth releases healing oils from the amber, a resin, which is absorbed into the bloodstream."

Hope that helps, thanks for asking!!!


2. Where did you get Hazel's Activity Center?


It has been such a great tool for Hazel. She started using it at around 7 months and is still using it now. We have used it for Physio, for playing, for dancing, and for keeping Hazel out of trouble while mommy gets things done. It was a shower gift from our very generous friends. They got it at "Toys R Us", here is a pic. I can't seem to find the same one at Toys R Us online. They must have a new model out. Here is a link to that one. But here is the same one at Walmart.




3. When are you coming to Australia?


Don't worry Auntie Jennine we are planning on coming that way as soon as we possibly can. We got a little held up with the fetus that decided to take up residence in me for a little while. LOVE YOU!!!


Thanks to all who asked questions. I love hearing from readers!!!! If you ever have any questions about anything please feel free to ask!!!



Half Way There - WOOT!!!

I am not one to post a lot about my pregnancy, but since I just crossed over the half way point I thought I would check in. I guess having been through fertility issues, it's still a sensitive topic to write about for me. I have been posting some pics on IG, just to keep it real. I have been feeling great these last few weeks. Not a great deal of morning sickness (anymore - I was pretty sick for the first 16 weeks). My energy has returned and I once again feel ready to face the world (and by "world" I mean Hazel). It's definitely not the same the second time around.

I have been feeling the baby move around and kick a lot. Just gently reminding me that there is in fact a baby in there. Matt got to feel for the first time this week. I feel so much more comfortable this time around.

I think I'm not showing as quickly either, but it's so hard to say.

Hazel at 20 weeks



Baby #2 at 20 weeks



Oh...and...also....we decided to find out this time.






...and we will share just as soon as we tell the family. I will do a full reveal post soon.


Hazel says - "shhhhhhh, it's a secret for now"



Gratitude & Health




FAQ & June antics so far

Just throwin' it out there... I realized that I have never done a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) post on the blog and I was entertaining the idea of throwing the option out there. Although I feel like I am very open about issues such as Hazel's health, her therapies, milestones, and behaviour...YOU may still have questions that remain unanswered.

Now is the time to voice your questions!!! I would be happy to entertain some questions you may have about anything really. Please remember to be kind, that's all I ask!!!

If you have a question, feel free to leave it in the comments of this post and I will try to answer it. I'm excited to hear what you want to know, if anything at all!!!


In other June business...


We have been busy lately just hangin' around, visiting friends & family, eating lots of cake and letting babies grow.



Hazel stayed snuggled into Pip's armpit for quite a while. Even her cousins couldn't distract her.



Lots of water play whenever the weather cooperates.



Enjoying eating dinners out with Hazel while she still likes to sit in her highchair while at restaurants.



Cause sometimes at dinner she ends up looking like this. Ok...most times!!!



This one was from Mother's Day but I LOVE it!!!



Hope to hear from you all...



Thoughts on Leaving

Our vacation feels like forever ago but here are some thoughts on the matter...  

So how many of you were like, "I could never leave my kid for 10 days!!!" after hearing that Matt and I were going on our vacation?

Honestly, I said it to myself like a thousand times before I left. And then I left, and I was gone and she was without her mama.

Keeping in mind that she was in the best possible hands besides my own (Nonna and Nana). I want my girl to trust them with her life. I want to provide opportunities for them to care for her and provide for her. One of my goals as a parent is to make sure Hazel trusts her family just as she trusts us.

Nevertheless, leaving was one of the more difficult things I have ever had to do.


I say this because, remember when, I had to hand my 28 hour old babe to nurses and doctors that I had never met before and trust that they were capable and well educated enough to fix my girl. Never met them and had to surrender my most prized possession, whom I had just barely got my own hands on, to strangers. I had no control, it was not on my terms and it was what was best for my baby. THAT...was the second hardest thing we've ever done.

The reason I say second is because we were so overwhelmed with the process of having a new baby and all the emotions that go along with it that we didn't have time to internalize what was actually happening. Also, we literally have THEE worlds most supportive family there is. When Hazel was brought down for her surgery we had an entire waiting room full of family - FULL! They had food, coffee and some of the most thoughtful gifts we could have received. They were there, fully present, with tears and hugs and laughter and distraction and LOVE. So much love my eyes fill with tears as I type these words. We are blessed. Without them I don't know what would have become of us that day, or any day after.

We are blessed.

Hands down the most difficult thing we had to do was hand our 5 and a half month old daughter, who we had come to know, learn from and love more than life itself, to another stranger to have her little tiny heart exposed and repaired by other strangers. Seriously, I think they literally had to pry her out of my arms. I had no strength. I could barely put one foot in front of the other. Matt and I both just hovered in a place in time that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.  Again, there was a room FULL of family and friends that all took time out of their days with their kids to come, sit, wait and support.

We are blessed.

So back to the original question. Can you imagine leaving your baby for 10 days to go on a vacation?

I can...that was easier than all the other challenges we have been faced with so far. Was it difficult? Of course. Did I cry at night when my girl was so far away? Sometimes. Was I worried about her well being and health? Not for one second. This time I knew the people I was entrusting my daughters life with. I have seen them interact with Hazel. I have watched them love her and her love them right back. I have seen them make good decisions based on Hazel's needs. I trust them and they were not strangers.

So, yeah, it was tough to walk away, relinquish control, be miles and miles from a piece of your soul. But, it was a nice break from, cooking, cleaning, preparing, OT, PT, and the million other things that we call reality.

We are blessed to have been given the opportunity.


Back at the home front, not too much has changed. Hazel has been enjoying her nesting cups immensely ever since she figured out that they all fit together nicely.





I thought I would throw this one in just to prove that kids with Down Syndrome are NOT always happy...



Since we have been home we have been enjoying the weather outside and taking advantage of all opportunities to blow bubbles and water play (2 activities that sister can't get enough of). I can not explain how happy I am to just sit outside and watch Hazel explore. I am so excited for her to grow and learn.

I can hardly wait to enjoy the rest of the summer watching her grow and providing new experiences for her. It's the little things, I guess.






The game: I say "splash" and she throws the balls in the water. Then she makes a face and waits for the water to splash her.




Peace & Love



We're Baaaaaaack!!!

I hope all of you very loyal Chasing Hazel readers have not given up on us!!! I think that was the longest I have gone without posting since this blog was created. I am sorry for our absence, but sometimes vacations are necessary (especially when you are growing a tiny human). I will post some pics from our world travels soon. Also, I will post some pics of what shenanigans Hazel is up to now-a-days.

We celebrated Mim's birthday with the family. Happy Birthday!!! Love you Mim!!!



I LOVE this pic of Daddy and Hazel. Nothing like a silhouette pic to get the emotional juices flowing?



Before we left we were enjoying the nice weather, as well as EVERY POSSIBLE SECOND we could with our girl before we left. Honestly, I think the cab driver that took us to the airport thought I was losing it. Lots and lots of tears.




Hope you are enjoying the weather where ever you are!!! Never been happier to be home. More thoughts on that to come.


Peace & Love



Gamechanger 2013

Read Hazel's shirt... GC


We are thrilled, and also a little shocked (ok...a lot shocked), to share that Hazel is going to be a big sister!!!




Come November this household is no longer going to be a zone defense but man-to-man. It's a little intimidating but I'm sure we will come up with some new defense strategies.

I am so excited to see Hazel as a big sister, and to add another cousin to our ever-growing families. We are so blessed to have so many amazing little people (whom you know are my absolute favourite) in our lives. We are surrounded by so much love that this baby couldn't stand to wait any longer to join us all (even though this means we will have 2 kids under 2). For now, we are savouring every moment that Hazel is an only child.

Last time we saw the Doc, we were able to hear the little heartbeat. We could also hear the baby "bouncing off the walls in there" (so typical of my kids - Hazel was the same...{did I just say "my kids}... huh). 2 of the BEST. SOUNDS. EVER. We are feeling very confident to share the news with everyone now.


Here are some pics of Hazel sharing the news with our family in Florida. We weren't the only ones who were surprised by the news!




Peace, Love, Gratitude & Love


Hazel's 1st Family Vacation

f That title sounds like a kids story book...hmmmm

There were so many photos taken and memories made that it is going to be a huge challenge trying to keep this post short. I guess some of the details will just have to stay in the family (especially the parts where we fought and yelled at each other…hehe).



In all honesty, the trip could not have been better. The weather was amazing, the house was perfect, the adventures were adventurous, and mostly the company was entertaining. We were all sad to see it come to an end, and I assure you Hazel has been looking around for her cousins over the last week. I can also assure you that, when she looks around and there is only me, she is disappointed. She has become quite used to her daddy being around all the time. She is his biggest fan.




One of the most rewarding parts of the trip was to watch Hazel bond and become accustomed to each family member. By the 2nd day, she was extending her arms out to Stella for comfort and to sing songs. She learned Lilly’s name and she copied all Emi’s dance moves early in the mornings. She quickly learned that Auntie Paula was one to make friends with. Every time Auntie looked at her, Hazel gave her an adoring smile from ear-to-ear (sometimes Hazel would just stare at her until Paula looked and then reward her with a HUGE adoring smile).

By the end of the week, she had smiles and kisses for everybody. Watching the relationships grow and blossom into LOVE and TRUST, was a beautiful thing, and an experience I will treasure.






Another aspect of the trip I treasured equally was, watching Hazel experience new things for the first time. As all parents, part of our job is to create new experiences and opportunities for our children to learn and grow. This trip allowed us the opportunity to let Hazel fly on a plane, sleep in a different bed, eat different foods, meet old family friends, play in the sand, swim in a pool and feel the ocean on her feet. We are excited that we were able to provide these opportunities for her and really can't wait to expose her to more.







She's a freaking strawberry!!!!!





We will be looking forward to making more memories with our family but for now we will hold on to and cherish the ones we have just made. And after my family reads this post they will know how I really feel, so the secrets out.

I guess, I don't think they're half bad. None of it would have happened without a very generous and loving gesture from Pip. There are no words of appreciation that could ever possibly be enough. Thank you for the memories.


ALL HAIL Princess Lilly...




The Grand Floridian dinner...




Dinner at The Bohemian...




Hangin' with the girls...

f11   f14



Dancin' in the streets of Downtown Disney...




Hands DOWN, the funniest pic of the bunch...

"So guys...this whole thing was a blast!!! Let's do it again. Who's in???"



We are blessed friends...




March Round Up

Well March just flew by, just like January and February. Crazy!!!  

Hazel has been hard at work, doin' her thang, bein' a baby. She is rarely sitting these days (or rarely sitting still). We officially have the baby gate up now. She may or may not have been sitting at the gate, hands on the rungs, looking through at me, shaking it violently. Y'all know how it is??? (If you follow our IG feed you already know what I am sayin')

Biggest news for Hazel this month:







Lots of this happening...always.



Hazel spent time with Nana. They shared stories and smiles. They laughed and played. So cute!!!



We had a very special visit with Hazel's very first fwends.

The twins that joined Hazel in the same pod in the NICU came for a sleep-over. As we all sat at dinner eating, drinking, talking, and laughing (where there were 3 highchairs all at one table). Holly and I had that mother-to-mother look on our faces that just begged the obvious to be said.

"Look how far we have all come!" "Look how much has changed!"


We sat there talking about what our girls are eating, how much they sleep, how much milk they drink and what they like to play with. While, a little over a year ago, we were racing against the unforgiving "pumping" clock, talking about what nurses were in that day, how many milliliters our girls got tube fed, how tired we were and how many more days until we could all take our babies home.

1 short (quick) year has brought with it an immeasurable amount of wonderful change!











And last but not least...

Happy 10th Birthday Stella.

Can't believe you have been around for 10 years already!!! You are growing way to quickly and taking your sisters with you. Please leave Hazel as she is. She's not allowed to be 10. We are very strict in this house.

We love you!!!

(PS...I love you even more that you had an ice cream cake)




Welcoming April with open arms...



Daddy LOVE

I ACTUALLY captured this on camera. It's my latest obsession. These 2 are so ridiculously in love. I can't stand it! Her face lights up when he walks through the door. Any door. Any time.

I just love the way they are looking at each other, her naked little chest and her unicorn-like pony tail.





I am not going to tarnish these photos by pointing out that Hazel literally pushes me out of the way to get to him at times. Or the fact that she has also been doing the same thing with my mother. I could write this post with very bitter undertones, but I am going to choose to celebrate that my daughter has formed strong bonds with the other caregivers in her life and that she does not ONLY RELY ON ME for anything, EVER!

I mean, it's good that she is comfortable with them, right? RIGHT!?


Gratitude & Peace


Shadow Fondness it's still snowing on March 25th. I think this year is one of the worst we've had in a while, weather-wise. BUT, I guess we aren't having tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes etc. (why does this really not make me feel better - #firstworldproblems) One of the highlights over the last couple of weeks for sure was that the sun was out for long enough to cast a shadow for Hazel to find. And find indeed...


She has been searching tirelessly for her shadow these days, when she finds it they get reacquainted. The arms go up, the fingers start to wiggle, the body bouncing up and down.




Enjoy your Monday!



Some musings about working mamas...

Disclaimer: Before you read this I want you all to know something. I have some serious respect for those of you who are stay-at-home-moms. It is a tough job. I know this because I consider myself a SAHM. I have recently gone back to work part-time.

For our family, and for me personally, I always knew that a working mama was best for us. I absolutely LOVE my job as an occasional teacher. I LOVE meeting new students and seeing how they spend their days away from home. I learn so much about all the different methods that these brilliant teachers come up with in order for their students to thrive and grow.

However, just before I started work again, I was dreading it!

Even though her Nonna comes to spend the day with her and I am fully aware that she will be perfectly fine, I still hated every second of leaving. The only way I could survive it, is knowing that it was only a couple of days and then I would be home with her again. What shocked me most is the complete irrationality of the feeling that I can not be separated from her. It really makes no sense. I KNOW she will be fine. Also, I believe that a little separation from us is extremely healthy for Hazel, and us. Sometimes, mamas, our hearts and our heads are in a wrestling match.

Ah...motherhood...good times.

What I have come to realize is that some of my new heros are working mamas. I give you all so much credit for being strong and going back to work full time. You are doing what is best for your families and I admire you for that. I also want you to know that when you leave everyday for that first week and you almost cry at very inappropriate times at work, I GET IT and will never judge you for it. I also know that it gets better as time passes. It's easy for me to go now (as long as it's only a couple of days.)


My first day back, one of the students was making a sound very similar to a sound that Hazel often makes and I almost done lost it right there in the middle of the lesson on place value. So, I GET IT!!!



Hazel thinks her hands and feet are the coolest toys of all. She is constantly experimenting with movement. I love watching her!!!



February Round Up

This is a pic from the beginning of February. The view out my family room, into my backyard. I remember being very glad that we did not have to go out that day in early February. f


This month we celebrated Grampa Trav's and Nonna's Birthdays.







We celebrated a HUGE, MONUMENTAL occasion with Nonno and Nonna B. A small lunch at a local Italian restaurant did not do them justice. The rest of us would only be so lucky to achieve this title.



By these photos, Hazel would have you believe that she was a good, happy, well-behaved little girl at the restaurant. But, in fact, she was terrible. Insisted on sitting in my lap the whole time, no high chair for her...NO WAY!!! This was NOT her normal schedule and she was letting me know.






Some random pics of Hazel getting big, right before our eyes...





These PJs make my life...(ok - the kid in them makes my life too)






Some Valentines Day celebrating...



This is another pic. Same view, same month. I also remember thinking I am glad we don't have to go out in this today, this day in late February.

I think it's safe to say that I was happy to read March 1st on the calender.