Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

I don't have a ton of time tonight. Thanksgiving is nearing it's end. Tummies are full. Leftovers are in the fridge. The babes are sleeping and the rest of the family is gathering to relax in front of the TV. But I couldn't let this moment go by without offering up my public declaration of thanksgiving. I am so blessed. Blessed beyond words, beyond what I deserve. So many people in this world are hurting this very night. So many people are going without, while I live in abundance. So many people are lost, wandering through life without hope. I think of this, and I am overwhelmed. "Thanks" doesn't begin to cover it. Doesn't even begin to encompass the gratitude I feel. Yes, I complain. Yes, I grow weary. Yes, I wave my white flag many days. But I wouldn't give it up, not a second of it. And on this Thanksgiving day, I'm reminded of how fortunate I am. So, thanks.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Out To Get Me

Why is it that everything seems to go wrong on my busiest days? It's like the universe KNOWS and conspires against me. Today has been one of those days from you-know-where.

First, all FOUR princesses wake up before 6:30 am. This is bad. Especially bad since princess #4 typically sleeps until 8am and the other 3 know they are not supposed to get out of their beds until 7am. But for whatever reason, today was a day for breaking rules, and that started with 3 little bodies waking me from a (not so) deep sleep at an ungodly hour.

Then, princess #4 is getting over a cold (which she so lovingly passed on to me) and is in the "I feel like crap and want to make everyone else pay for it" stage. Great. She's stuck like glue to me. Which makes it SO easy (not) to pack for our trip to the grandparents for Thanksgiving...

Which I'm supposed to be doing. Packing. By myself. For 6 people. For 5 days. And I'm supposed to do this with a baby stuck like glue to me and be ready by the time school is done so we can hit the road.

And THAT brings me to the fact that in the midst of this I have to load up the princesses too little for school TWICE for two different Thanksgiving feasts. We've survived the first - at Princess #2's preschool. I stood in a overcrowded room and watched princess #2 eat while trying to keep princess #3 and #4 entertained and contained. Good times. One more to go, this time with Princess #1's class. Only now I'll have princess #2 to keep entertained as well. Le sigh.

And on top of it all, I'm sick. Thanks to that cold from princess #4, I can't breathe through my nose, my head wants to explode and I'm congested. I'm pretty sure I didn't sleep at all last night due to that. Which makes today THAT much better.

Ugh. Happy Thanksgiving, eh? I'll get to that post... maybe tomorrow... after I sleep...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Two Weeks Postpartum

What not to say to the new mom that is two weeks postpartum:
(this is for you R!)

1. "It took you nine months to pack that weight on, you'll carry it around for at least 9 more months." (yeah, because a two week postpartum mommy LOVES to be reminded that she looks fat)

2. "I think the washing machine stopped. Let me hold the baby so you can get the laundry." (um, no. The two week postpartum mommy has immunity from any and all household chores. YOU get the laundry)

3. "Oh, just wait until..." (yes, we know that anyone who has been on the journey called parenthood at least a day longer than the two week postpartum mommy is going to have horror stories. It does not make you an expert, so be quiet. No one wants to hear about your sore nipples or projectile throw up)

4. "It's your turn." (two week postpartum daddies: don't go there)

5: "Before you know it that baby will be all grown up." (I'm guilty of this one. Truth is, yes, time passes. But the two week postpartum mommy is lucky if she knows which day it is now, why burden her with reality just yet?)

6: "You're nursing?? That's gross!" or "You're formula feeding? You're poisoning your baby!" (not your decision. Get over it)

7: "I didn't even feel my contractions. I just pushed once and the baby was here!" (Just like no two week postpartum mommy wants to hear your horror stories, she likewise doesn't want to hear about your perfect labor, perfect recovery, how you wore your regular jeans home from the hospital, how your perfect baby slept 8 hours at night from day one, etc. etc. etc. Besides, you know what they say about karma...)

8: "You know, it's not about you anymore." (what do you mean? Of course it's about the two week postpartum mommy. the mommy gets to call the shots, don't get in her way)

9: "I remember with my babies..." (yes, we all have anecdotal stories to tell. But to the two week postpartum mommy, no other baby in the world matters except hers. That's her right. Save your memories for your scrapbook)

10: "You look BAD. Are you sure you're getting enough sleep?" (are you stupid?)


A Life Well Spent

Today, in approximately a half hour, a great man of God will be laid to rest. Taken too soon from his earthly home by a terrible accident, he leaves behind his wife and four children. I did not know him personally, and yet the legacy he's leaving behind is so hard to ignore and I've thought many times of his family this past week as they endured the most horrific of nightmares.

My husband and I often sat behind this family in church. As young newlyweds then, I was captured by this tight-knit family, their four children about the age of our children now. Many years have passed since then, and yet less than a month ago I found myself once again sitting behind this family in church, while home visiting my parents. Their children much bigger than I remembered, I watch as he stood next to his daughter, with his arm around her. Even from behind I could see the love and pride emanating from his body. It made such an impression on me I can still picture the scene clearly.

His untimely death and the resulting rallying of the community has left me much to think about. The first thing that comes to my mind is his wife and children. The pain they must feel almost paralyzes me when I think about it. Putting myself in his wife's place, I really do not think I could go on. How does one do that? How do you get out of bed in the morning? How do you face another day? How do you BREATHE?

Secondly, I am amazed at the outpouring of love by their community in this family's time of sorrow. Quickly scanning Facebook, I've seen offers of prayers, support, fellow grieving, pictures, memories, stories, the list goes on. So many people this 6th grade math teacher and golf coach impacted. So many lives that are forever changed because he crossed paths with them. It almost makes me sad to think that it's usually this way - that people rarely ever know the impact their lives have made until they're gone. Seeing this unfold has inspired me to try to let people know NOW. When they've made a difference in my life, to not wait until it's too late.
And finally, I am more grateful than ever to know that this is not the end for him nor does death have to be the end for anyone. I could not walk through this life on earth believing that once it was over, that's it. Am I terrified at the thought of one day prematurely losing my spouse or one of my children? Absolutely, to the point where it makes me physically ill to dwell on the thought. Do I think that believing in heaven makes the loss of someone OK? No. I believe it's OK to NOT be OK. I think it's OK to be angry, to hurt, to grieve, to ask God why. But I also know that He has peace that passes ALL understanding. And I know that someday this man will be reunited with his family in heaven. And until then they will be held up by God's grace and peace.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How Sweet The Sound

"Mamamama Mamamamama Mamamamaaaaaaaaaaaaa"

Music to this mama's ears.

Princess #4 is on a milestone roll lately. First standing up without holding onto anything. Then saying "mama". Now walking behind her little push car. I predict first steps by Christmas.

Is it ok to ask Santa to stop time??

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yogurt Reminders

I drug out some old home movies the other night.  Video we had taken when Princess #1 was our one and only.  We recorded everything back then.  Oh look, Princess sneezed!  Grab the camera!  Ah, Princess is headed to the potty!  Grab the camera!  Princess is sleeping and doing nothing but laying there.  Grab the camera!

My poor Princesses #2,3 and 4.  Let me just apologize now for the great unbalance in amount of face time you get on film.  I could come up with a good excuse.  But I have none.  It's just your lot in life.

Anyway, back to the movies.  I was particularly captured by a 5 minute or so clip of Princess #1 eating when she was about 18 months old.  I was pregnant at the time with Princess #2 but did not know it yet.  I was a stay at home mom and was the videographer, although it must have been a Saturday because I could hear hubby's voice in the background.  Princess #1 was standing on a chair in our dining room, at the table, with a container of yogurt.  She had a spoon and was feeding herself.  Nicely dressed.  No bib.  You can imagine the dexterity of an 18 month old.  Especially with runny yogurt.

Hubby and I were laughing in the background as she tried with all her might to get the yogurt into her mouth.  She laughed with us.  She turned around and put her yogurt-y hands on the chair and kissed the back of it with her yogurt-y face.  As I watched, I waited to hear myself reprimand her for getting the chair messy.  But I never did.  I waited to hear the admonition to sit down.  It never came.  I waited to see hubby come onto the screen with a wet wash cloth and clean Princess #1 before she could get anything else messy.  But he never showed.

My how things have changed.  Hubby and I mused about how differently we would handle such a situation now.  Surely the reminders to sit down and not touch anything or make a mess would be the first to come from our mouths.  It occurred to me as I thought about this about how hubby and I tend to run our home in a "proactive" mode as opposed to a "reactive" mode.  If there's no mess made in the first place, then there's no mess to clean up.  I'm not sure at what point we made the switch, since clearly neither one of us were too concerned at the time of that video's filming about the state of our dining room chair or anything else within close proximity.  

It makes me a little bit sad, to be honest.  It makes me fear that I spend too much time worrying about the mess, and too little time enjoying the moment.  It was a good reminder, to see myself 6 years earlier, much more relaxed, much more joyful in the moment.  Obviously, our home has changed quite a bit since that video and I know that with that other things have to change too.  Allowing the Princesses to run amuck in the name of enjoying the moment isn't always the best path to a calm and nurturing home.  But there must be a balance in there right? If my lovely friend Michelle can allow her 6 children to throw old pumpkins off the roof and survive, surely I can allow a little yogurt mess now and then. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Keeping It Fair

There are many things I feel ill-prepared for when it comes to being a mother and bringing up children. For example, I don't really enjoy cooking. It's sorta a dirge for me. I loathe meal planning. When hubby and I were first married, well, I don't think I really cooked much at all. We'd either eat out, or scrounge up something from what was in the fridge. Now suddenly I find myself with the responsibility of not only feeding 4 little mouths, but feeding them GOOD THINGS. Whole grain, trans fat, organic, gluten free, HCFS, low carb, no sugar... it's enough to make your head spin. Too much pressure! I'm getting better, meal planning and grocery list making, but it's still a chore.

Or how about the lack of sleep? I knew when I had my first bundle of pink that I wouldn't be getting much sleep in the beginning. You know lack of sleep is one of the great horror stories that mommies who have had more experience LOVE to scare new preggos with. Right up there next to labor stories. So I knew that going in. No sleep. Check. What I wasn't prepared for what how long it would last. All four of my princesses sleep through the night now, and yet I still don't. I still wake up and tiptoe into their rooms, tucking them under their covers which had gone askew, brushing their hair out of their faces, or in Princess #3's case, picking her up off the floor and putting her back in her bed. I'm beginning to think that this nightly ritual that I'm somehow programmed to perform will not ever end. Not until my princesses no longer sleep under my roof and maybe not even then. I wonder if one day I'll find myself brushing the hair off my 18 year old's face as she sleeps peacefully or waking up and breathing a prayer for my newly married princess asleep in her own home. I'd say that's worth the loss of sleep.

Tonight I encountered yet another moment I feel ill-prepared for. The old "fair" argument. As an only child until the age of 12, I'm not accustomed to sibling interaction. I really feel at a loss when my princesses go at it. I haven't quite figured out how much to get involved, if at all. And I haven't figured out how to maneuver around the whole issue of making things "fair" between them. Let's face it, life's not fair, right? And there's no way I'll be able to make EVERYTHING fair between them their whole lives. Doing so wouldn't be fair, because that would mean I was overlooking their very individuality and needs. But at the young ages of 7, 4 and 2 (Princess #4 doesn't care yet), they don't want to be individuals. They want everything to be FAIR. If one has a snack, the other 2 want one too. If one plays a game on the computer, the other 2 want a turn. That in and of itself isn't so bad to negotiate, if not a little annoying. But how do you deal with it when one child truly does deserve something special, and it's not your place to make it "fair"? Tonight, I took Princess #1 to Target per her request, with 4 shiny new quarters in her pocket (remember that tooth?!). She wanted to spend them at the dollar spot. Of course with the other princesses in tow, I knew this would be an issue. I prepared Princess #2 especially as best I could. I let her know that Princess #1 was spending the money the tooth fairy brought her and that it was her money to spend. That mommy was not buying anything at Target tonight. You can guess how well it went over, considering Princess #2 penchant for finding drama in everything. We survived, but I left wondering if I had done right by not "keeping it fair". Poor Princess #1 felt badly, even though I assured her that she didn't need to worry about her sisters' reactions. Yeah, I still feel like I'm muddling through on this one.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Random Sunday Thoughts

Princess #1 came to us right before lunch and proudly showed us her loosest baby tooth, hanging disgustingly by a thread. So we've been channeling the tooth fairy this evening. She's been pulling and prodding all night, desperate to get it out. All to no avail. I refrained from telling her that it might fall out during the night, not wanting her to stay awake all worried she might swallow it. Believe me, she would. I'm thinking we'll have to make a trip to the ATM tomorrow though. The tooth fairy in our house doesn't carry cash all that often. It would be no good to be unprepared. I hope the thing falls out tomorrow, preferably at school. I'm kinda grossed out by it. In any case, it's a much different experience than our first loose tooth, thankfully.

Princess #2 has been on this drama queen kick lately. I'm chalking it up to a hormonal swing, probably in conjunction with a growth spurt. At least that's what I'm telling myself, while hoping and praying that her irrational behavior is not here to stay. She's mastered the "storm out", the "bed flop" and the "instant hysterical tears". Good times. Usually it's just pretty darn funny to watch.

Princess #3, as I type this, is thinking she's being all stealth, playing with toys and books in the dark when she should be in her bed asleep. I've contemplated several times getting up from the couch to go reprimand her and threaten to take her paci (Yes, she still has it.), but I'm just too lazy at the moment. Most nights we find her asleep on the floor somewhere in her room FAR away from her bed. In front of the bookcase, beside the dollhouse, in front of the closet door, you get the idea. It's sorta a fun game of hide and seek. We put her to bed, and 3 hours later when we check on her before heading to bed ourselves we have to find her. Yes, I've had to turn on the lights a couple of times. I long for the crib days.

Princess #4 is just officially growing up too fast. Today I caught her STANDING UP against a mirror on the wall and kissing her reflection. STANDING UP people! It's only a matter of time before she's running circles with her sisters. It seems impossible, truly. When you have a newborn there are days where time just seems to drag, particularly when they are in a crappy mood and want to do nothing but cry. And yet, then you blink and suddenly your baby is crawling around the house, won't lay still for diaper changes (ARG!) and is kissing her reflection in mirrors.

<>

*sigh* The paci is now being held hostage by Your Majesty. Yeah, that's going over WELL. (rolleyes)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And Then There Was None

Finally, the blasted Halloween candy is gone from our house! It only took 2 weeks, but we managed to overdose on enough candy that we finally could see the bottom of the bowl today. I swear, if I hear one more child ask if they can have a piece of candy after shoveling down the least amount of "real" food that would be required to partake in such an indulgence, I will scream! I've finally gotten to the point that I could care less if they even eat "real" food first. They glance sideways at me and I say "sure, go get some candy". Anything to get it out of the house!

Yes, I realize I could have just thrown it all away on Nov. 1st, but those older princesses, they would KNOW. And that would make me a Mean Mommy. And we just can't have that. I don't have the energy for it right now.

Mommy Guilt

I just can't be everywhere. I can't prevent every scraped knee. I can't anticipate every fall. I can't keep my kids in a bubble. And even though I know this, it still means a healthy dose of Mommy Guilt once in awhile.

Last night, I was overcome by it. I was away at a birthday party. One of the very (very) few times I get away by myself. I left the princesses in the very capable hands of hubby. All was well. Around 12:30am I called to check in and that's when my Mommy Guilt bombshell dropped. There had been a small scare. Princess #1 (who is 7 and has been sleeping on the top bunk of her bunk beds for nearly 5 years without incident) fell out of bed. She was crying in his lap when I called. Instantly, I regretted my night out.

Funny how that happens really. I think often of how nice it would be to get away, to do something without the kids for once. I look forward to evenings out with girlfriends. It's a rare opportunity I get to go out like I used to without care before I had children. I enjoy it. But the second something happens to one of my babies, my heart is home and I have to follow it. I have no choice. It's like an unseen pull, I can't be away from them. And I wouldn't have it any other way. The desire to be home trumps any prior feelings of wanting to get away.

I immediately went home, checked out Princess #1 to make sure she was fine and then curled up next to her in my bed where she slept all night, between hubby and I. I did not sleep well. Mommy Guilt was kicking my butt. The what-ifs kept running through my head. As if I would have been able to keep her from falling. As if I would have known to be there to catch her. Of course not. But Mommy Guilt is not rational. Mommy Guilt expects the impossible.

In this sense, I'm very grateful that I have cautious princesses. I'm not sure I could survive the Mommy Guilt that would accompany rough and tumble boys. I suppose I would if I had to, somehow toughen up some, not let myself be so troubled by the Mommy Guilt tape running through my head. Maybe... I have the utmost respect for those that deal with more than their fair share of Mommy Guilt. She's not very nice.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Uno or Bust!

We had a classic moment occur on the Planet Pink last night.  I had just settled Princess #4 down for the night while hubby was in charge of getting the other princesses ready for bed.  I went into their room to find hubby and the princesses setting up for a quick game of Uno before bed.  Normally, the stick in the mud that I am doesn't look too kindly upon deviations from the bedtime routine.  But since hubby isn't often around for bedtime, I let the game slide this one time.

So all 5 of us sat in a circle and started to play.  Princess #1 is pretty good, and doesn't need any help deciding which cards to play.  Princess #2 needs only a *little* help, mostly just to keep her focused as she tends to get sidetracked easily.  Princess #3 was the keeper of the "rule" cards, laying them down on the pile whenever she felt like it and cheering herself on to her imagined victory.  I *thought* it was going to be a quick game, as it WAS bedtime.  So I was playing the game as such, you know, throwing it.  I thought that hubby had picked up on my subtle (ok, not so subtle) cues.  But no, he throws a Draw 4 at me right when I'm about to go out.  So the game drags on, and on, and on.  

FINALLY, hubby miraculously manages to win the game.  Now, we've talked alot about being a good sport and not being a sore loser.  The princesses know it's grounds for automatic game suspension.  Being that it was late, hubby and I began gathering up the cards.  Then it all happened so fast.  One second princess #1 was helping collect the cards, and then next second she was balling because we didn't keep going to see who got second place.  Princess #2 picked up on it and ran with it - crying and carrying on and throwing herself dramatically on her bed in a puddle of tears.  Princess #3 had been laughing and giggling with us, and suddenly stopped upon seeing her sisters' dramatic reactions and began to crying the biggest fake cry you've ever seen with the biggest crocodile tears.

Hubby and I sat frozen for a couple of seconds before bursting into hysterical laughter.  Seriously, it was one of those moments that is just so confuzzling that you can't do anything but laugh.  The overreaction by the princesses was so great it was comical.  We laughed for a good 5 minutes which of course ticked the princesses off even more.  We couldn't help it.  In all our sage adult wisdom, the whole scene was just too much.  Especially Princess #3, who had no clue why she was crying but was determined to not be outdone.  Maybe we shouldn't have laughed, but it was impossible not to.

We finally managed to calm everyone down and get them into bed.  I swear if being Your Majesty to this family doesn't prepare me for major crisis management, I don't know what will!  Next time, I think I might just hold firm to my stick in the mud standard and say no games at bedtime!  Unless I need a good laugh, of course.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A toy connoisseur

With over 7 years of parenting under our belt and 4 princesses to call our own, to say we have a healthy amount of toys is an understatement, at best. It was out of control before we had even begun. Princess #1 was the first grandchild on BOTH sides, and you know what that means. The gravy train really didn't come to an end until we rolled out princess #3, and added one cousin to our extended family over time. Add in the recession and the toy indulgence has slowly come grinding to a halt. Somewhat.

We still have an obscene number of toys. Particularly in the 0-12m range. We have rattles, blocks, balls, random things that blink lights and play tinny music coming out of our ears. In fact, we probably have 2 large rubbermaid containers out in the garage full of such things. And we are not lacking anything inside our home as well.

So why is it, with an abundance of lovely attention getters at my princess #4's disposal, that she seems intent on occupying her time with decidedly NON-baby toys? Or NON-toys in general? Shoes. Those are a favorite. Or random scraps of paper she finds on the ground. She's also quite fond of anything that happens to be plugged into a wall. She used to prefer to play on top of the brick hearth (only an inch off the ground, no worries!), until we covered it with old throw pillows to discourage her. In lieu of playing with soft, appropriate baby things, she'd rather climb all over the dog, or better yet, help herself to his leftover food. Blech.

With Christmas around the corner, I'm beginning to think I shouldn't even bother buying anything for her. Not only do I have my own garage to go shopping in, but I could probably just wrap up a shoe or throw a plastic spoon in her stocking and call it a day. And she'd probably be perfectly fine with just that.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A New Life and Old Hurts

My dear friends welcomed their very first baby into the world yesterday morning, their own little bundle of pink. I couldn't wait to get to the hospital to see her. R (the new mama) and I planned and planned during her pregnancy. I haven't talked about it much here, but childbirth education is my passion. I lucked into a wonderful doctor when I was pregnant with Princess #1 and his love of childbirth and the natural process guided my experience and changed my view of the whole thing. I went on to have 3 unmedicated births those experiences inspired me to someday become certified as a childbirth educator and share my love with others.

Anyway, due to my experience, R and I spent alot of time talking and planning. She was curious about going unmedicated and I was thrilled to share my stories and knowledge. Over time, she and her husband decided that they too wanted to attempt an unmedicated birth and began to prepare for it. They hired a doula and invited me to shadow her and be an additional support for R during her labor. I was beyond thrilled. First, what an honor. Second, I've never been on THAT side of the delivery, and was excited to see it from a different angle.

So of course, as luck would have it, R's water broke at home 4 weeks early. And of course, my phone was no where near me when they called to tell me they were on their way to the hospital. And of course, by the time I got the message, sweet baby E was here. She decided in addition to coming 4 weeks early, she also wanted to come butt first. So R didn't even have a chance. As soon as they discovered the breech presentation, all hopes for an unmedicated birth went out the window and the OR was prepped for a section.

Baby E is beautiful, and healthy. 7 pounds, no sign of being early at all. R is recovering well. I haven't had a chance to really talk with her yet, so I don't know where her mind is in regards to the birth. But their experience has brought to the front of my mind my OWN experience with unexpected circumstances during birth, and it's brought back with it my own regret, pain and sadness.

With my first 3 births, I wrote extensive birth stories following the event. I wanted to remember every detail, every moment. I was so proud of myself, for accomplishing such a great feat - sustaining a child within me for 9 months and bringing her into the world by my own efforts. There is nothing like the high following childbirth and I dare say the high I experienced following my natural births was astronomical. I felt like I could take on the world in that moment. So of course, when I discovered I was pregnant with Princess #4, I planned again for another empowering experience.

But this birth was not like my other 3. I have never written about it because I'm not sure I can put into words exactly my thoughts. Some days I'm not even sure what my thoughts are. Princess #4 did not tolerate labor. The cord was wrapped around her head. She would not descend into the birth canal. Her heartrate kept dropping with contractions and not rebounding. I pushed for 45 minutes. I knew in my heart, though my mind was fuzzy with the pain of labor, that something was wrong. I began begging my doctor to just take her. It happened so fast then. One minute I was pushing in vain, the next I was being wheeled through the hallway on the verge of near hysteria and into the bright white of the OR. I remember very little after that. I remember not feeling anything. I remember being very scared. I remember being alone. I remember after she was born hearing someone in the room say "oh boy!" and I about had a heart attack right there - until someone finally confirmed that she was in fact, a girl. I remember asking how big she was and someone telling me that they'd get around to that, but that there were other things to worry about right now. I remember that's when I realized she hadn't cried yet.

6 minutes is what they tell me. 6 minutes from decision to baby. 6 minutes that changed me. I never, ever dreamed that after 3 uneventful, unmedicated births that left me feeling like Superwoman that I would experience a C-section. I rarely ever talk about it, rarely mention it to anyone other than my husband. Because I know the thoughts people must have: but you have a perfectly healthy baby! She's safe, that's all that matters. It doesn't matter how she gets here. And that's all true. But I believe that at the same time, it DOES matter. To me. Everytime I allow myself to think about it, I wonder what I did wrong. What could I have done to change things. Even now, after re-reading my rundown here of the events leading to her birth - it's clear in my head that the outcome would not have been good if we had tried to continue. My head knows it. But my heart still hurts. Is it normal to know and believe that the C-section saved your baby's life, and yet still wonder if there was something else you could have done?

I'm hoping time will heal. It's been 9 months, and my heart could not be more full when I look at my sweet Princess #4. She's discovering her world, exploring and learning. Her precious smile melts my heart. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was all worth it and I'd do it again exactly the same over and over again if I had to. Hopefully someday I'll no longer have that nagging little catch at the back of my head that says "what if..." And even if it never completely goes away, hopefully I'll be able to use my experiences to better educate and prepare women who are on their own unique journeys into childbirth.

R, your new baby is beautiful. What a precious gift from God! I know that He will bless you and S as you begin your new life. Never doubt yourself, when you run into inevitable bumps in the road. You are not on this journey alone. Memorize each moment in these early days, for they are gone too quickly. Relish in the changing of control in your home - it's not about you anymore! And that's wonderful, and exhilarating and right. I'm so happy for you both and look forward to watching little Miss E. grow.
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