Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where the Winds Blow

Husband said it best today. "Before our daughter, I probably cried a handful of times in my life. But, now that I'm a father, I am moved to tears more than ever before." 

Parenthood. It changes you.

Today, I paid someone to mow our lawn. I paid some bills online. I rocked my daughter. I did laundry and cooked a nice meal. It was a normal day. Except instead of watching movies or terrible daytime television, I was glued to footage of our state, of the aftermath of one of the worst tornadoes I have seen in my lifetime, and I was grateful. My friends and family are safe. All accounted for. We are fine, but so many people aren't. I do not cry out in the night for my loved ones. But, as I type this, my husband is searching a neighborhood with flashlight in hand, for the mother of a friend, who is still missing. 

I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama where tornadoes in springtime are as common as pollen. Countless times, I sat in the school hallway with a book over my head or in the hallway at home with pillows, blankets, and flashlights listening intently to the radio updates. As a child, it was great fun, a family slumber party. My climbing tree fell on our house once, but I don't think I ever fully grasped the level to which each siren sound could bring with it devastation.

As I sat last night in the basement bathtub, clutching my 9 week old daughter in the flickering candlelight, I felt a level of anxiety I have never felt before. Before the lights shuttered and the tv screen turned dark, I watched the live coverage as the tornado blew through Tuscaloosa. Without power, I was unsure of the direction in which it was headed, but knew it had to be close. I listened to the wind howl outside and I feared for my daughter. All I wanted to do was protect her from harm and I worried my best wouldn't be good enough. Husband was stuck at work and I felt the unnerving level of fear I felt the day C was born while he was miles away. Our lives just don't work without him.

It missed us by a mere 2 miles. It had nothing to do with the god we may or may not believe in or how hard we prayed or what kind of people we are. By sheer luck, the winds shifted and the tornado spared our home. But it hit so many others. My heart is heavy for our state. For those who mourn the loss of loved ones. For those who wander the streets searching for the missing. I watch my daughter sleep soundly and I weep for those who lost their child. This event has changed our seemingly unrecognizable state. Our home and our daily lives may remain unchanged; but my heart. My heart weeps.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

And Then She Smiles...

This morning, after my little girl slept for five glorious uninterrupted hours, I looked into her eyes while changing her diaper and said, "hi." This simple word was the first I ever uttered to her just seconds after she entered this world eight weeks ago today. And today, this same word produced her very first smile.

Yes, there have been the occasional involuntary smirks from gas or while in the midst of a very happy baby dream, but none so obviously intentional until today. My daughter smiled at me. And all it took was a simple "hi."

Why can't everything in life be so beautifully simple?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Super Dad

Last weekend, we celebrated the marriage of my sister to Peter at Children's Harbor on Lake Martin.  The day was absolutely perfect, a sunny 86 degrees, blue skies, blue water. But, as we neared this weekend with a newly fussy six week old, I had my doubts.

For six weeks, I had loved my new role as a stay-at-home mom, but my role as matron of honor meant that I had to relinquish my role as mom for a few hours. Husband was quick to step up in the childcare department and would have her for basically the entire day and throughout the wedding all by himself. I certainly wasn't worried. He's a great dad. But as I have experienced, C is not always predictable and recently, not always consolable. 

Husband's role as Super Dad started the night before the wedding as he took over feedings so I could get a little sleep and not add haggard to the mommy weight I was sporting in wedding photos that would last forever. Then, as I spent two hours getting ready, it was Super Dad to the rescue with bottles and burping, swaddling and soothing. I left for the church at 12:00, leaving him to dress the littlest flower girl in her fancy dress (including slip and headband), as well as feed and transport her to the chapel for the 3:00 wedding. 

Not only did he accomplish all of this flawlessly, but was able to keep C quiet in the 100 degree chapel throughout the entire ceremony, including pictures afterward. She was spent from being adorable and slept through the entire reception, passed from person to person without a peep, but Husband made sure he knew where she was at all times, when she needed to eat again, etc. And when the men's restroom didn't have a changing table, he even tried to change her in the women's restroom (to no avail). (We will be writing a strongly worded letter about that!) Overall, he made sure that I could enjoy every moment of my sister's wedding while still enjoying being Mommy and I couldn't be more grateful for my super husband and Super Dad.

Our family of three at sunset

"He's Wonderful and Brilliant and We're Getting Married..."

We love some chick flicks in my family and growing up, Father of the Bride was always a favorite (so much so that Husband and I named our dog Banks). My baby sister got married one week ago and I could not stop thinking about the scene where George sees his grown daughter as a tiny five year old at the kitchen table.

"He's wonderful and brilliant and we're getting married..."

For some time now, I've told Mallory that I still see her as the little girl in her third grade yearbook picture. She's wearing a red courderoy jumper with a denim shirt underneath (oh, the 90's) and her blonde hair is curled from a night spent in sponge rollers. She is so tiny and still thought her big sister was cool. For years, no matter the occasion, I would look at my baby sister as she got her driver's license, went to her senior prom, graduated from high school, moved into her freshman dorm room, and graduated from college, and I would still see that giddy nine year old with sponge rolled hair.

But now, as I watch my baby sister marry the love of her life, a man we have known as her boyfriend for eight years now, she is no longer a baby. I see this beautiful, confident, self sufficient woman before me. I am so proud of her and the woman she has become. I admire her spontaneity, her honesty, and her general attitude toward life. (I've always said I want to be her when I grow up). She has truly married her best friend, her high school sweetheart, a boy I have watched grow into a man, and I couldn't be happier. 

Just look at what a breathtaking bride she was: 

Mallory and Peter didn't want speeches given at their rehearsal dinner, so I will give mine here. Mallory, you are my best friend, the best sister for whom anyone could ever wish, and such a great aunt to my Catherine. I am so proud to finally call Peter my brother-in-law, although we have considered him family for so long now, it's simply a technicality. I am so happy for you both and so glad Catherine will have cool Aunt Mallory and Uncle Peter to escape to when her parents are acting too much like parents.

Be happy. Love each other. And spoil my children rotten.

I love you so much and am so very happy for you both!

Monday, April 4, 2011


When we finally brought our little girl home from the hospital, we were too excited to notice a small red mark on her forehead. It wasn't until we took her newborn photos that we realized it wasn't just a scratch from her tiny fingernails, but was a mark on her skin. Thinking it was probably just a small birth mark, I made a mental note to ask the pediatrician about it, but really thought nothing of it.

Then, it got bigger and darker. So at our 2 week appointment, I asked the doctor what it could be. He explained that it is a strawberry hemangioma, more commonly known as just a strawberry. They may appear anywhere on the body, but are most common on the face, scalp, back, or chest. They consist of small, closely packed blood vessels. They may be absent at birth, and develop at several weeks. They usually grow rapidly, remain a fixed size, and then subside. Our pediatrician said that, in most cases, strawberry hemangiomas disappear by the time a child is two and, if not, there are laser removal procedures that can be done. According to our research, they are most common in Caucasian, white, female, premature infants, all of which our C is.

More importantly, it is harmless. She feels no pain and really has no idea it is there, which did ease my anxiety greatly. Still, it's never easy to learn your child has something for which you can do absolutely nothing to fix.  

At almost six weeks, it is a protruding red bump a little larger than a quarter and it will most likely get bigger before it gets smaller. Overall, it really just looks worse than it is, but I would be lying if I said it didn't upset me. It breaks my heart that our beautiful baby girl has to deal with this big bump on her forehead; and I hate that for as long as two years, I will have to explain to nosy strangers that I didn't hurt my child.

Luckily, it should be gone by the time she is old enough to care and we will just rock some cute headbands until then!

Fun Facts

1. C is apparently in the midst of some kind of six week old trauma and is inconsolable.
2. This has been my view for the majority of the day:

3. She finally screamed herself to sleep in my lap... but I won't dare move her so that I could be remotely productive.
4. I honestly can't remember if I brushed my teeth today.
5. Coffee is the only reason I am functioning.
6. I still think motherhood is pretty awesome.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Count Your Blessings

In high school, I spent my Wednesday afternoons volunteering with my friend Sallye at Angels for the Elderly, an assisted living home in Montgomery. Sallye is a gifted pianist and played hymns for the residents while I visited, played cards, and sang along. Each week, she asked for requests and each week, she played the same classic hymns from the Baptist Hymnal. For some reason tonight, one of their favorites, Count Your Blessings, is running through my head. 

Count your blessings. Count them one by one.

As I sing the chorus over and over in my head, I can't help but think of all the blessings in my life. 

I am awake because my little girl is asleep on my chest and I can't bare to move her. Her tiny body is scrunched into a little ball, her head rests upon my chest, her right arm lies limp on my arm. Her body trembles with each breath, her tiny lips pursed as if she were deep in thought. I could easily move her to her cradle beside me and finally close my eyes after such a long, eventful day... but I don't. Instead, I drink it in and know that moments like these are what motherhood is all about. I know that she won't be this small forever and that I will long for these days when she is too big or too old or just to wiggly to contain.

As Catherine's original due date passed by last Friday, I couldn't help but think back to her birthday and remember what a scary, exciting, and wonderful day it was. I began that day alone and terrified and ended it with a healthy newborn daughter and a family of three. More often than not, things do not go as planned and my one month and two days old daughter on my 40th week of gestation proves it. What a blessing it is that I had friends and a talented medical team to make an otherwise terrifying experience, a celebration.

40 weeks "pregnant"
In the past five weeks, we have welcomed countless friends and family into our home, showering us with gifts, providing food when we were too tired to shop for groceries, let alone cook something, and loving our child boundlessly. Even before we could come home, our hospital room overflowed with visitors. I am humbled by our support system and elated that Catherine is already surrounded by such a large safety net of love. 

When I sit back and examine my life, I find nothing but happiness. I'm not sure what we have done to deserve such greatness. But, tonight, I attempt to count my blessings, and realize that I simply cannot count that high...