Our Five Ring Circus: A Special Zoo Meetup

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Special Zoo Meetup

The hours following Liam's birth were some of the most difficult hours of my life.  Grant and I were left completely alone in a room, without our baby, and we were worried, exhausted, confused, and depressed.  There were so many unanswered questions and so many fears.  In a sense, we were grieving.

Grant turned to Google to read about Down Syndrome, while I turned to friends.

When Dylan was a baby, I connected with a group of moms online.  To this day, we stay connected.  I had the privilege of meeting several of them in person, and I wish I could meet all of them.  While we were sitting in that room, I told them all what was going on.  It was so difficult to write.  Within no time, my friend, Stephanie, put me in contact with a friend of hers who went through the same experience. 

Hearing from Troy didn't take away my pain, but it was comforting to hear her story and see pictures of her beautiful boy.  She was there for me when I was feeling completely alone in the world.  Later, hearing about Tobin's struggle to reach birth weight and her determination to keep nursing helped tremendously as I dealt with, and overcame,  the same issue. 

Troy put me in touch with her friend, Julie, who lives near me, and I got to hear her similar birth story as well.  She was the person who assured me that all my feelings after he was born were normal.  After we received the genetic test results, I publicly announced the news, and she added me to a Facebook group for DS families in my area.  I met some of the most wonderful families through that group!

A few weeks ago, Troy came to visit Julie, and I finally had the opportunity to meet my mentors!  We met up at the Pittsburgh Zoo, and another local family joined us.

We met on a Monday, so I was on my own, and I had an extra child with me.  Going to the zoo alone with 5 kids isn't as intimidating as it sounds, but I definitely didn't take as many pictures as I normally do!  My hands were full!

My crew was the first to arrive, so we renewed our family membership, took the elevator up to the zoo, and waited for the rest of the families to join us.


Troy, Julie, and their families arrived a few minutes after us, and it was so nice to meet them in person!  I could instantly tell just how wonderful they were.  Troy has 5 children and Julie has 4 children.  They have beautiful families! 

We sat down for lunch and got to know each other better while we waited for Kelly to arrive. 
Kelly showed up just as we were finishing lunch, so we headed off to see the animals!


Kelly, who is nearly ready to have her third baby, skipped out early.  She only lives 10 minutes away from me, so I hope to see her again soon!  Unfortunately, our fun was cut short, too.  Dark clouds settled above us, and the sound of thunder in the distance sent us running for the exit. 


We said our goodbyes in the rain. It meant so much to me to finally meet the women who were there for me during that difficult time and meet their truly amazing families.  Troy and Julie are beautiful women, inside and out, and I'm so thankful I got to meet Kelly, too!  I can't wait to see them all again!

Throughout the trip, I was amazed by their close, loving families.  We had just met, but the older boys held every door open for us, Troy scooped up Liam like she knew him forever, Troy's oldest sons held him, Dylan was captivated by Mae, Tobin, and Donovan, and the girls were so loving and motherly. The kids were well behaved and so nice to each other.  It was evident that these families are special.

 It was a wonderful day with new friends! The love these siblings have for each other and those around them is unbeatable!


I feel so blessed to know them and I can't wait to see them all again!


  1. What a special meet up indeed! Having a support system through anything we may have questions about and need advice on is so wonderful to have. It is truly special that you have your friends (mentors) to lean on. It looks like you had a fantastic day at the zoo! Have a great week my friend!

    Mama Hen

  2. Awe, so glad you had a chance to meet up! XO

  3. What an awesome day and meet up!! You're an amazing mama. God put Liam in your life for a reason and I see all that joy in your family with every picture.

  4. I am so glad that you got to meet up with such a special group. It looks like you all had a great time together. The zoo there is so nice! We went to our zoo this week too. =)

  5. Oh my goodness! What a PERFECT day! I'm so glad you were finally able to meet!! Your friendship will surely last a lifetime and you will have so many more fun meet ups like this one!
    Doesn't this kind of make you wish you were next door neighbors? I feel like that about a couple people in my life... unfortunately we will probably never even live in the same state :(

  6. We went to the zoo this weekend too! Looks like you guys had a great time.

  7. It looks like you all had a wonderful time at the meet-up! Isn't it comforting to know that there are such kind people in the world and that you can form such strong bonds with people so easily? I hope you continue to have wonderful get-togethers like this one!

  8. I'm smiling so big reading this - what an amazing trip!

  9. What a great meet up, glad you have them Stef!

  10. This is great, meeting with your new friends. The pictures are also great. Zoo's are fun.


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