Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How I See Kelle

I am aware not every person is a fan of Kelle Hampton and her Enjoying the Small Things. My knowledge of this brings more traffic to my site then anything else I have written. Some of the top searches that bring people to my blog, other then my name and Mosaic Down Syndrome,  are "Enjoying the Small Things" and "Kelle Hampton Annoying".

But two years and one month ago I was living a nightmare. Fearing for my baby's life and for her future. And two years and two months ago, just two exits down from my house in SWFL, Kelle was too.

Sitting at Hemingway's with my group of girl friends, through teary eyes and my throbbing heart, I told them that my baby had a heart defect and most likely had Down syndrome. I was waiting the results from the amnio. I had told myself I wasn't going to tell anyone anything until we knew exactly what was going on, but sitting there on girls night I couldn't keep the pain inside a minute longer. I am forever grateful I did open up because there were three people in that group who had something vital for me. Tricia, my good friend and the wife of my husbands boss,  her niece MaKenna has been through three open heart surgeries. She was born with a very rare condition and is a miracle case. (To this day, MaKenna is still a little inspiration for me and sends Fiona handmade cards every once in a while. They are heart buddies:) She brought me so much comfort and hope for Fiona's life, as Fiona had a relatively common heart condition. Jaesen, she is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist (who someday will hopefully be Fiona's OT). I swear, when I said that they thought Fiona has Down syndrome, there was a spark of excitement in Jae's eyes. She assured me that people with Down syndrome are awesome- that there was hope for her future. Her unwavering confidence that Down syndrome was not a bad thing started to build back up my wall of hope. And then there is Denise. She had just read on article in the Naples Daily News. It was about this mom in Naples who had recently given birth to a baby girl with Down syndrome and it was just beautiful. As soon as I got home, I Googled this mom from Naples who had a baby girl with Down syndrome- it was Kelle Hampton.

I read Nella's birth story, Kelle's healing process, as I was just starting my own. I was hooked. I was hooked on this beautiful little almond-eyed little girl and for the first time in over a week, I not only felt at peace, but a tiny sliver of me wanted that amnio to come back with three of the 21st chromosomes. Kelle showed me something beautiful and exciting and I wanted in. For a moment, my fears of Fiona being different, became excitement for Fiona to be different. And I knew in that moment, whether Fiona had Down syndrome or not, my heart had opened, and Ds was now a part of it. It still hurt when the amnio came back positive. I cried and mourned for what I was not having, but if it hadn't been for Kelle, I think that day would have been a whole lot more painful for me. No matter what opinions there are about her, I am living proof you cannot deny that it helps some people.

I sent her a message on her photography site that night, because I needed to reach out to someone who knew what I was going through. That's what I do when faced with an obstacle- I research, I find support and I reach out. And she immediately messaged me back. She was excited for me, and she wanted to get together and take some maternity pictures. One mother with a daughter with Down syndrome to another. When you are pregnant with a baby that people are pitying and are telling you to abort, it is so incredibly nice to be around people who are excited for your baby.


And at Naples first Buddy Walk, in true Kelle fashion, she couldn't get my baby Fiona (who was only two months old) in her arms fast enough. I've come to know her beyond the blog, a few get togethers here and there, and my admiration for her has only grown stronger. I do not claim she is an expert on parenting or Down syndrome, but just like my other friends who have children with Ds, Holly, Megan, Sara, Astra- I love the normalcy of our play dates. How we smile and laugh and dote over our kids, separate fights, help fill sippy cups, complain about the sassy little kids- its moments that we once thought or were once told weren't in the cards for us.

Some people don't care for all her positiveness, finding her sickening on how she handles everything with a smile and a fancy craft. But I find it inspiring. I don't use her as measuring stick for my own parenting, but rather, shes my pot of motivation. And I am forever grateful she sat down the week after Nella was born and wrote down her birth story so that I could read it one month later and find comfort. I know that I am a better mom because of her, I know that my Ds scar is slightly smaller because of her, and I know that I will always try to enjoy the small things.


I am extremely happy for my friend as her book was released this week. Its moving and inspiring, (filled with all the sickening positive outlook stuff, the stuff I love) and its a life long dream fulfilled for her. If you are looking for a book to read, I highly recommend Bloom. Its both a good read for those who have had similar experiences and enlightening for those who have not walked down that road. And don't buy it through Nook or Kindle- with her beautiful photography through out the whole thing, this is one you will want a hard copy of. Congrats Kelle! I am excited for Fiona's and Nella's friendship to continue to bloom :)

12 comments:

  1. This was really beautiful to read Shannon, and I think that's awesome Kelle was there for you in a time where you needed some one like her to be.

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  2. Very cool post. It's nice to see Kelle through the eyes of someone who knows her.

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  3. Great post. I loved her book, too.

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  4. I've gone a bit back and forth. Her birth story was helpful to me too (my daughter was born 1 year after Nella.) I don't always read her blog regularly and sometimes if my life feels hard that day I am not in the mood. But I truly admire her writing, her attitude, her beautiful photographs and her perspective. I think that the world is a much better place for her. I just popped into the bookstore today and bought Bloom and am looking forward to sneaking it in. Great post!

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  5. I'm looking forward to reading Bloom. I wasn't introduced to Kelle's blog until Hailey was almost 4 months old. I think I could have used her upbeat personality earlier in the process but it all turned out okay. Love how you met with her. I've always loved the pics of you that Kelle took. They are fabulous!

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  6. it IS really neat to read this from your perspective as someone who knows her. And it's more than nice that you got so much good from your interaction with her and from what's she's written.

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  7. Just finished Bloom and I enjoyed it very much!

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  8. I read this comment elsewhere and it sums up that egomaniac perfectly.

    M.C. says:
    April 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm
    I work in Public Relations. And we’ve got nicknames for people like Kelle Hampton. She’s a little hick girl who grew up wanting to be somebody others noticed. Nothing more. People talk more about Kelle’s very obvious inability to apply makeup properly and horrendous taste in clothing as they do about her writing, which tells me she’s a failure as a writer and a dresser. She’s just a little girl who grew up being the ugly duckling who dreamed about being anything but laughable. Now she just uses her disabled child to do the work for her. Truth be told though, the ugly duckling is still there. It’s just covered by a lot of cheap, heavy makeup. She’s still a nothing. Just a nothing with a disabled child.

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    1. Wow, what would make someone say something so mean hearted and vicious at someone who they don't know? That is what I don't understand- this thing people do to bring down people who are in no way doing harm. Some people like her, some people don't. please explain to me why it is so wrong having a dream to become something? She did not go out of her way to get attention, it came to her from nellas birth story post. And then people stuck around because they liked her writing or her, no matter how horrid some critics say it is. I hate when people say she uses nella. Its such an odd way of viewing it.

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    2. Agreed, Shannon - and it should also be mentioned that she already had the blog before Nella was born, so it's not like she started it for the distinct purpose of trying to make a buck off her daughter. Her blog developed as her life developed, and it got more inspiring and beautiful as a result.

      Great blog, by the way! I randomly stumbled across it and I'm enjoying it a lot. This post is also wonderful =]

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  9. I'd be curious to know your opinion of her now, 3 years later and if you've changed your mind about Kelle not using Nella's disability for fame. She hasn't done a single thing to help that kid since she turned 3 and in-home early intervention stopped.

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    1. Interesting you state that as fact when you don't know her. She is an awesome mother and is doing a lot for Nella

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