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Friday, August 29, 2008

Conversations With My Son

Dear Son was my shadow as I wandered from bedroom to bathroom to another bedroom and another bathroom and then yet another bedroom putting away clothes and towels freshly folded from the clothesline. As he followed me through the master bedroom, he eyed the king-sized log bed and stated matter-of-factly, "I like Daddy's bed and Mommy's bed." I sighed as I thought of the past two weeks since that first night that we transitioned Dear Son from his crib to his "big boy" bed. There's not been a single night yet that he hasn't wriggled his way between Daddy and Mommy in the big log bed.

I replied, "Yeah, Mommy likes her bed, too. I also like Zachy's bed." Son responded, "I like my bed, too. (pause) Daddy go to sleep there, but then he goes away!? (his voice raised at the end almost like a question for which he can't quite figure out the answer). Indeed, his daddy does fall asleep in his bed with him while tucking him in, and then "go away" when he wakes up a bit later, leaving Dear Son to sleep alone in his bed.

I added, "I like Zachy's bed so much that I think Zachy should stay in his bed all night!"

And without missing a beat, he replies with, "Well, THAT doesn't make sense!"

"Sense" all depends on whether you are considering these things from a two-year-old mindset or a parent's mindset, now doesn't it?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nature vs Nurture

It's a mystery, and nothing less. I find myself frequently reflecting upon the nature vs. nurture argument lately. I most definitely believe there's not an "either or" here, and I feel strongly that it is absolutely "both and." And yet I am not at all clear on how it all has played out to date in the lives of my little girl and my little boy.

I am not a pink and frilly kind of gal. In fact, I probably lean more toward the "tom boy" side. I enjoy manual labor, getting dirty, running power equipment. I have fantasized about driving big trucks and all kinds of construction equipment. I enjoy fishing much more than my husband does. Primitive camping is one of my long lost passions (something got lost in the translation when I moved away from the majestic wilderness of the Pacific Northwest). I hate hate hate (DESPISE, even) wearing high heeled shoes. In fact, I cannot even remember the last time I did so. I don't own any at present date. I could live everyday in sloppy jeans and t-shirts or sweatshirts. I'm certain this list could go on and on if I thought hard enough.

I did NOT deck out the baby nursery in frills and pink when we learned that a baby girl was to be born to us. I was, however, elated with the news of this dream come true that I dared not believe for, as the men in Dear Husband's family tend to produce boys. I did doll up Baby Zoe with hair bows and cute cute clothing and the like from the first day of her life, but this was mainly because people gave us all this stuff. Now that I think of it, I don't believe I EVER bought something totally girly and frilly for my baby.

And yet...my darling daughter gravitates naturally towards everything girly. By the time she was 20 months old she would grab matching hats and purses to go with her outfits before she would leave the house. She was soon all about My Little Pony, princesses, dressing up in frilly dresses, having tea parties, and the like.

When Dear Son came along, I had absolutely no idea how to be a Mommy to a little boy. I didn't doubt I could figure it out, but for the life of me I couldn't have explained to anyone exactly how I expected it would be done. The first year and a half of his life included watching My Little Pony and Care Bears and princess theme videos and playing with lots of "girl toys" with his big sister. I never worried that he might somehow be "damaged" by all of this. I never tried to guide him towards more boyish things, and I have no conscious awareness of treating him more roughly or doting on him less or substituting a "buck up and get over it" in place of cuddles and snuggles and kisses--though research would suggest that I have likely done these things subconsciously. My awareness tells me I have loved on him and cuddled and kissed him and squeezed him and "babied" him just as much or even more than his big sister. Yet somewhere before his second birthday, his stereotypical boy preferences and behaviors began to emerge.

Somehow, somewhere he got turned onto guns, which he calls "powers." Dear Husband and I have no idea how it started. While I did not set out to be "anti-gun" in our home, I also most definitely didn't encourage it. I have no idea why he began to grab the vacuum cleaner extension rod when I vacuumed the carpets and hold it like a high-powered weapon. I have no idea where he learned to hide behind the corners just out of sight and then leap out with his vacuum wand aimed strategically and pump the extension rapidly all while making "pow pow pow!" sorts of sounds with his mouth.

Dear Husband and I are also both completely stumped where he learned about Spiderman. Nothing Spiderman had ever entered our home until Dear Son suddenly became mysteriously infatuated with him. Before two years of age he began making associations to Spiderman. For example, the toes of his snow boots had a web like appearance in the molded rubber. He called them his "Spiderman boots," much to our intrigue.

While my daughter is currently enamored with The Little Mermaid, my son has recently become turned onto matchbox cars. He especially loves the ones with the flames on the sides and the hood that raises to expose the chrome engine inside. He loves to flip the little doors open and spin the little wheels, and line them up just so before flinging them off some self-made ramp and watching them crash to the floor (or the wall). Meanwhile, his big sister is decking herself out from head to toe in her princess dress up garb, complete with tiara, wand, and fuzzy princess shoes.

I can't pinpoint where in the equation, the nurture aspect played into all this, but I am acutely amazed at the apparent role of nature. Somewhere in their hardwiring, God apparently instilled genetic mapping that would turn my daughter onto frills and pink and princesses and that would excite my son with the concepts of super heroes, guns, and cars. I can't explain it, and I most certainly cannot control it, and so I just roll with it.

It's fun, and the mystery of it raises a greater appreciation within me for the family with which I've been blessed. A few years ago I pictured ours as a family with two little girls who preferred to snuggle in a bed together rather than occupy separate beds. Who giggled together and shared secrets. Who shared princess clothes and baby dolls. What I got was a girl and boy who have very different ideas of what play time looks like and what play toys are the "best" and how to carry out various activities....

...and lots of opportunities I might not have othewise had to ponder the age old nature vs. nurture question.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The End of a Season

I backed the lawnmower out of the garage yesterday with a tad less enthusiasm than in the recent months. The sun was warm on my skin, but not as hot as in previous weeks. This time it didn't feel like my skin was going to melt off my body. The two hours of mowing before me felt a tad more like drudgery and tad less like the escape it felt early in the season.

The sun had a different angle to its glare. It hung a bit lower in the sky and seemed itself a bit tired of the long hot summer days. There was a hint of fall in the air. I'm almost afraid to believe the dog days are gone for the year as the weather has a way of surprising around here. As soon as I believe, we'll have triple digits into October.

For now, I try to enjoy a day at a time with temps only in the 80's and the air conditioner getting an extended, and much deserved, break.

We've packed a lot into this summer. A few weeks ago Dear Daughter said, "Mommy, how come we're getting to do so much fun stuff these days?" and that made me happy to hear, as I wanted the kids to have fun and remember the days of freedom we had that I know won't always be there as they grow up and into more and more responsibility.

We discovered the fountain at the downtown city park. It's been there for a few years now; we just haven't been there to check it out. We live a considerable drive from the downtown area. While I worked downtown during the construction of this particular park, I don't anymore. And so I had lost track of the development. The city fountain was established with the intention of serving as a wading area and a place for the kids to cool off in the heat of the summer. It also serves as an outdoor amphitheater with permenent seating and the fountain area itself doubling as a stage when the water is turned off. The kids were instantly in love with the experience!

If you get there at the right time of the day, the fountain will boogie with the music every ten minutes for a two hour stretch. If you don't catch the beginning beat of the music, which serves to alert that the fountains are about to geyser, you'll still know it's time when you see all the kids flocking to the water spouts! They never seem to miss those first beats that pound out the warning of what's about to come.

We also braved the movies this summer. Or I should say, I braved the movies--WITHOUT Dear Husband, but WITH both kids in tow. A local theater does a free summer series each week. Dear Daughter had been pleading for awhile to go to the movie theater. We saw the VeggieTales Pirates movie. The theater was as I expected: a madhouse packed with whining and crying kids and mothers that all seemed quite weary despite it only being ten o'clock in the morning.

We made it plenty early, yet by the time we got our popcorn (Daughter insisted) the theater was already filling up and we had to climb over several people already seated to get to the empty seats in the middle of the row. Dear Daughter was in Heaven. She nestled into her seat with her bag of popcorn clutched in her hands and crunched and grinned her way through the entire movie. She was mesmerized by the massive screen and the sights and smells of the whole experience. Dear Son enjoyed the first fifteen minutes or so before he began saying, "I wanna go home!" It was just as I predicted. I chose this particular movie as I thought it held the greatest odds of holding his attention all the way through. He's a big Larry the Cucumber fan. We managed to make it through the entire thing. It was an experience I could have done without, but it brought so much joy to my Dear Daughter, that it was worth it.

We also discovered the new indoor inflatable fun park this summer. Dear Daughter was in Heaven again. She ran excitedly from jumpers to slides to climbers. This place was also a madhouse crawling with kids. Dear Son didn't know what to do in this environment, and it was an interesting experience to see Dear Daughter being quite independent and running here and there when it seems not all that long ago she clung to me as closely as her little brother still does.

We also made it to the "big pool" a couple times this season. They installed a new child-sized water slide, perfect for Dear Daughter's age. We went for the last time of the season last night. The evening swim times costs less and is less busy than the daytime hours. I wasn't sure Dear Daughter would enjoy herself all that much as the air has already begun to cool, especially late in the evening. I thought she would be too cold.

I staked out a lounge chair where I could watch her with an eagle's eye. She talked me into the water once, but it was too cold for me, and I don't really enjoy swimming all that much anyway. Getting in the water with her means that I follow her in circles as she walks laps around the two-foot depth area and splashes in the fountains and down the slide. So I decided to see how she did with me watching from the sidelines. I also watched the young lifeguards flirting with each other and thought how much I wouldn't trust them to notice whether my daughter was drowning or not. From the looks of things, they were too busy thinking about all the fornication they would be doing later when the pool closed than about saving lives.

And then I thought of my kiddo who took her life this summer. She had just become a lifeguard for the first time this summer and she loved her new job. It's been a month and a half now since she left the earth. I wondered again why she did what she did, and our various encounters over the weeks and months before she left flashed through my memory. I let my mind wander through those weary thoughts of what signs she gave, if any, that she would eventually take her life. A colleague once pointed out to me that hindsight is much like watching a movie for the second time. You already know what happens, so you also know to look for those things that you had no idea about the first time around.

I was glad to have my thoughts interrupted by the woman in her fifties who sat in a lounge chair on the other side of the pool from me and watched my daughter with delight. I knew what she was thinking, because I was thinking it too, as I watched my little girl splash and play and then dance to the music thumping over the speakers. She lifted her arms about her head and wiggled and then turned and stuck her rear out and wiggled it too. She didn't even seem to notice that anyone was watching her. I couldn't wipe the smile from my face or stop the bittersweet feelings as I watched her every move as she splashed and played. I thought how beautiful she is. How innocent. How happy. I studied her little cheeks, which still hold a touch of baby in their roundness. I thought of how she will be officially starting Kindergarten in our homeschool co-op group despite the fact that I've already schooled her through Kindergarten and she is academically ready for first grade. She'll still be the youngest in her Kindergarten class.

Despite her readiness to formally start Kindergarten, I'm not ready for it. It's a milestone that holds so much in its meaning. I'm not yet ready for her to know the real world, and I don't think I ever will be. I don't ever want her to know the pain of being teased or rejected by a peer. I don't want her to grow up self-conscious about her body and striving to have the impossible figure and physical appearance that the media of our culture forces on girls and women. I don't want her to learn how cruel our world can be. I want to protect her from everything bad and evil and from the kinds of things that ultimately drove my just-turned-sixteen-year-old client to take her own life. While I know I can do many things to protect my little girl and prepare her--things like instilling in her a deep knowledge of her value and worth in the eyes of her Creator, and that her Mommy and Daddy love her no matter what, and what it means to be a good friend and to respect authority, and to love Jesus more than anything else, and many other such things--I still know that I can't save her from all the pain of this world.

She's going to grow up. She IS growing up. And there's not a darn thing I can to do stop it.

When it was time for her to get out of the pool, the sun was nearly set. She was chilled as I wrapped her in her towel and then in my arms. I hugged her close and dried her off as she chattered about how much fun the "big pool" is and why were they picking up all the chairs and when would the pool be open again. I helped her pull on her terry cover-up, and I pulled her into my lap and squeezed her tighter, willing the world to just stop as I whispered in her ear how much I love her, and that she is my dream come true. And when I realized that the world hadn't stopped, and the sky was still growing darker as the sun set, we climbed in the family mobile and watched the moon rise orange in the sky and marveled at its beauty as we drove home in awed silence.

On Friday evening, we dismantled Dear Son's crib. It was time. He's been asking for a big boy bed for awhile, and even though he's been ready, I haven't. Taking down the crib symbolizes yet another milestone in his own growth and growing independence. While it's foolish to even imagine that I can control the passage of time by dragging my feet on issues like taking down the crib, I still find myself grasping like this. Dear Son was excited, and he did a little boogie around the room as we assembled the pieces that were to be his "big boy bed." The first night he lasted in his big boy bed until 4:35 am before he found his way in the dark to our bedroom and climbed into bed with us, wedging his wiggly little body between us. He hasn't spent an entire night in his new big boy bed yet.

For now, I feel that's okay as I succomb to the lie of the illusion that physically holding him close will somehow be enough to stop the passage of time.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Toilet Tag

I recently commented that my children were playing "toilet tag," and this seems to have stirred up a great deal of curiosity. Prolly more than it deserves. Nonetheless, here's the explanation:

When I was busy dumping my brain via my last blog post, the wee ones became more and more restless. They can play together nicely with no one getting hurt and nothing getting broken for oh, about ten minutes maximum. My ten were up long before I reached the last paragraph of my last blog post. Like many parents, I have become desensitized to the sounds and sensations of the house rocking on its foundation to the incredible amount of noise and commotion that just two small bodies (with a combined weight of approximately half of my own) can generate. This is why the squealing and thumping that had grown increasingly louder over the previous fifteen minutes was barely perceptible to my consciousness.

Then there was thumping and bumping around the lower level of the house, through the playroom and family room, and great gales of giggles interspersed with the repetitive sound of a toilet flushing. By the time I had finally tuned in with full consciousness, I realized that the flushing had been going on for awhile.

Let me pause to explain that Dear Daughter was never much of a strong leader. Until her little brother turned approximately two. Now that she has a devoted following, her leadership skills have emerged at an alarming rate. All it takes is for me to caution both of them to stop doing some random obnoxious thing and they stop for a moment until Dear Daughter convinces her little brother to continue being naughty while she stands "innocently" on the sidelines watching. This morning, they were screaming "BAP!" at the top of their lungs while I was trying to drive them safely across town in the family mobile. I scolded them both and warned them of dire consequences if they did not stop, and then I observed Dear Daughter in the rearview mirror whispering to her little brother, "Zach! Say BAP!"

And so, as the madness of relentless screaming and toilet flushing ensued, I decided to observe the situation for moment in order to get a grip on what I was dealing with. What I witnessed was Dear Son being chased by Dear Daughter, punctuated with peals of intermittant screaming laughter. Dear Son ran like lighning into the bathroom with his big sister on his heels. Then there was a brief bit of commotion, followed by more screaming, and then a toilet flush before Dear Daughter came screaming out of the bathroom with her little brother close on her heels. The roles reversed with Dear Son chasing his big sister across the lower level of the house and finally into the bathroom again. Then there was again commotion followed by a toilet flush and shrieks of laughter and screams, followed by Dear Son leading them back out of the bathroom with his big sister close behind.

Apparently the two had devised a game whereby the one who was "it" had to make it to the toilet and flush it before getting tagged, which would then cause the other one to be "it," and the scene would play out again in reverse. Over and over again. And again.

I jumped into action, trying to be heard above the commotion to stop flushing the toilet. This was ironic, as I am otherwise frequently hollering at Dear Daughter to flush the darn thing along with the treasures she left for the next unsuspecting soul that would come along. "I just wanted you to see that giant turd I made" has been her response in the past, and she refused to allow the passage of her prize to its watery grave until I "oohed and ahhed" and congratulated her to her complete satisfaction.

So thereyago. Just remember, you asked.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Brain Dump

Things have been happening here. Things that have really put a cramp on my free-time activities (not that I've had much "free-time" in the past five years anyway). I'll have to play the catch-up game with this post as I don't know where else to start, except everywhere!

1) As my previous post indicates, my dearest daughter turned five last week. We celebrated from Thursday afternoon to Monday night. Daughter wanted to go fishing again, just like she did last year for her birthday. Great Uncle Ron is much better at the fishing thing than the rest of us are, so we let him do most of the work.

Here is Daughter with part of her big catch. Dear Son is in the background looking at his fishing pole like he has no idea what he had just done or that he could do what he did with this "toy." He had caught the first fish, just before his big sister reeled this one in.

Here he is with one on his hook, and the following pic is one of him with his big catch and Daddy. Notice how his Daddy is looking at his son's fishing pole like he can't believe what his son just did with it either.
















And here's Great Uncle Ron with the two wee fishers.















Here are the kids watching the lady we paid to clean the fish for us (what can I say? I wasn't about to do it, and Great Uncle Ron didn't bring his fish cleaning knives with him). The lady took the heart out of one of the fish while it was still beating and set it on the counter for the kids to watch while she cleaned the fish. That thing kept beating the whole time she worked, which was beyond gross as far as I was concerned.



Then there was Dear Daughter's party. She wanted The Little Mermaid as her theme this year. I'm still in shock over the concept of her being five years old now.




















2) I've been unhappy with many dynamics of my work and decided to leave my current practice and join a different one. What I didn't know is that I would be invited to join the new practice immediately upon receipt of my resume, and that my old practice would graciously suggest I take my clients with me, and that we would agree that the sooner the better to avoid further disruption to the clients, and that I would manage to move my credentialing status with the many private insurances I provide for to a new Tax ID almost immediately in order to remain in-network for my clients, and that I would begin seeing them at my new practice only three days after I received the invitation to join the new practice. I have also been busy moving all my furniture and belongings out of my old office. To say I've been busy would be drastically understated.

3) Dear Husband has his head set on installing a wood stove. Something about the exorbitant price of propane and all the dead wood on our property waiting to be recycled into our winter heat. He has requested my opinions on things like which stove and what type of rock to install behind the stove, etc. I couldn't have cared less about all these things, especially at this time in our lives and due to the fact that the stove is to be installed in the same room as my piano, and this means that the piano has to go to ensure that it is not destroyed by the dry heat which is likely to crack the sound board and essentially ruin the instrument.

This is the piano my grandparents bought for me when I was eight years old after I had demonstrated for two years that I was committed to practicing and learning. For 28 years I have drug this piano around the country with me. I have spent more time and money moving the thing than what it's worth. In the end, it was the sentimental value that mattered more than the monetary value of it. A few years ago I considered selling it and going digital, but I couldn't quite bring myself to it. Also, the digital I want will cost much more than what I can get out of my acoustic. Unfortunately, I cannot get anyone else to pay for my sentimental attachment to it.

Its successor will be a pricey digital with graded hammer action and some amazing features that have been perfected to imitate the sound and feel of a full-size Steinway grand. There is even a feature that creates the vibration as you play that imitates a concert grand. Oh, and it does a bunch of electronic and midi and mixing stuff that I don't even have any idea how to use. I didn't pick this instrument for these purposes. I chose it for the quality that will closely mimic the acoustic sound. I have to be able to feel satisfied when I play Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, and Bach. I'll probably have to learn how to use the computerized interfaces and the mixing features because they're there, but not because it's my initial draw.

There's a rock and a hard place somewhere in this story. I have to part with the piano before the stove can be used, but I also have to be prepared to find and allocate the money to replace it relatively quickly as I do not want to be sans piano for any length of time.

4) My piano sold on Saturday and will be picked up on Wednesday evening. It's a good thing I worked my tail off in July and that July had five weeks, which means two extra work days in the month for me. I managed to earn a chunk of extra money to put towards the new piano. Suddenly my 12-hour days on Tuesdays packed with eight individual sessions and two groups of eight clients each, and those extra office clients I've picked up on Thursday nights are well worth it.

5) I have been busy writing and preparing 25 Kindergarten science lessons. I will be teaching Kindergarten science at the kids' home-school co-op which will begin just after Labor Day.

6) Dear Husband has been over-involved in one of his work projects, which means working lots of over-time and after hours in the effort to make major computer changes that affects an entire network of banking. Or something like that. All I know is that it is important, and it means he's been gone from home a lot. I'm not good at being a single mom, so whenever he is gone long nights and weekends, my stress level increases by about 100-fold.

7) I've been working two Sundays a month in our church nursery. This is NOT my proverbial cup of tea. But we are short staffed, and someone has to do it. I can't explain why I can be in a room full of severely emotionally and behaviorally disturbed teens and my pulse will remain unchanged, but being in a room full of two and three year olds just a couple hours each week sends my blood pressure off the charts.

There's probably more, but that's a good summary of dumpage. I will post a few more pics soon of Dear Daughter's birthday weekend and our trip to the water fountain park. Dear Husband rebuilt the desktop recently due to some weather that fried the motherboard or the network connections or something that I couldn't explain correctly even if I tried. Regardless, I have a method for downloading pics to the "mother ship" and then viewing them and editing them and posting them with my laptop via our wireless network. He hasn't corrected the default settings on my desktop log in so that I can do all these things efficiently. This means that I currently can't see the pics I need via the network, and therefore, I cannot post them yet. (Put that on your "honey-do" list, Dear).

I have a few more posts in my head that will hopefully make this blog soon. Right now I must return to the screaming chaos that is my children playing "toilet tag." *sigh* I'll explain later.

The end.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Best Five

Five years ago I weighed 50 pounds more than I do now. My feet were so fat and round and swollen that I couldn't wear shoes. I had to add Velcro to my Tevas in order to make something large enough to wear on my feet. I was still working full time. I expected approximately nine more days before my world turned upside down. Boy, was I wrong!

The next morning I headed out early to stop by Labor and Delivery Triage for my routine 72- hour fetal monitoring. I hadn't been feeling Zoe move enough for the past few weeks, and so my doc had put me on routine fetal monitoring every 72 hours. This particular morning the doc seemed to agree that she wasn't moving enough and she said it was time to have a baby.

Huh?

I was on my way to work. I had a 9:00 am meeting. My lunch was packed and sitting in the car, but my hospital bags were not packed, and most definitely were not sitting in the car. It wasn't time, as far as I was concerned. This isn't how it was supposed to happen. I was supposed to wake up in the middle of the night when my water broke. I was supposed to have contractions at home for a long while before they came close enough to finally go to the hospital. It wasn't supposed to be this way.

They let me walk to my room. It was the last time I would walk for a couple days. The nurse tried to start an IV. She missed the vein. I was already hyperventilating. I hate needles. I actually dreaded this part more than the entire birthing process. I had no idea....(!)

Next was the pill thingy that had to be placed next to my cervix. I was only dilated to a one (and only maybe that far). The Pitocin was simultaneously started in the IV. I had called Dear Husband just prior to all this hub-bub to inform him that we were about to have a baby. I gave him instructions over the phone as to what to go home and pack. I even sent him for some videos to watch, as I was prepared for a long go at the labor process. It was approximately 10 am.

I was wired up, and Zoe's heartbeat pumped rhythmically in the background. But then I noticed it was slowing. My Dear Mother was present. She is a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital where I delivered. She wasn't working that day but had been on site for a staff meeting that morning and came to check on me in triage. She had been at my side ever since. My actual nurse was off somewhere else on the floor, but my mom was by my side and had already tuned into the slowing heartbeat before I noticed it. I finally said, "The heartbeat sounds like it's slowing down!" My mom called for my nurse and then decided she couldn't wait. In a flash she had retrieved the medicine that had been placed by my cervix to stop whatever was going on. The heartbeat steadied. The nurse finally came. The Pitocin was stopped (not sure if my mom stopped the Pitocin before the nurse came or if the nurse did this). I was given Tributilin to stop the contractions. I wasn't feeling them, but Zoe clearly was, and she didn't like it.

Much much later (like two years later) Mom and I spoke only briefly about "what if" Mom hadn't been there that day. I didn't even realize how serious it could have been until I heard my mom say, "I can't even let myself think about it." That was sobering to hear. My mom has been a labor and delivery nurse for as long as I can remember. She knows her stuff.

My doc entered the room, and very sensitively she informed me that I needed to birth this baby via C-section as Zoe was not tolerating Plan A. My eyes teared up, and hers did too. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. She held my hand and reassured me and validated my feelings, saying that both her children were born via C-section and it wasn't what she had planned either. Some papers were pushed in front of me, and I had to sign a line following some description of what horrendous things could happen next, including my own death. I had already called Dear Husband again and told him that I was going under the knife and that he needed to come. I told him not to hurry too fast as I didn't think it was an emergency, but in hindsight, it was a bit of an emergency. No one wanted to scare me, though, so they didn't tell me so.

My doc suggested my mom suit up for the O.R. in case Dear Husband didn't make it as they were about to take me back (don't know why the doc didn't let her in anyway--she let her in along with my husband when my son was born via C-section two and a half years later). Dear Husband walked in just as they were about to wheel me out. Next thing I knew, I was watching the ceiling tiles above my head and getting motion sick as they wheeled me through the hallway, into a room with big bright lights. I was already shaking from anxiety and the Tributlin. I was shifted and lifted onto a table that must have been barely 14 inches across. I was sure I was going to fall off. Then Dear Husband showed up in his scrubs and O.R. hat and booties. He took a seat by my head. They threw up a sheet so that I couldn't see them slice and dice my belly open.

The anesthesiologist began his work. I was trembling so hard that I couldn't hardly stand it. I kept reaching up to adjust my oxygen mask. The anesthesiologist barked at me to stop fidgeting so much and be still. I was already horrified without his scolding. I was numb from the waist down, and I was freaked out. My brain was telling my toes to wiggle, and I couldn't feel my toes doing anything. I was miserable. The doc told me I would feel tugging and pressure. I heard a squeal and then the doc said, "She's a cute one!" and they held Zoe up to my head to see her. I couldn't hardly focus; I was shaking too much. It was somewhere around 2 pm. It seemed a long long time as they sewed me up. They lifted me onto a different gurney bed, and I was horrified that I had no control as they turned me and flipped me and moved me. I was thinking that they could have just dropped me right on my face there in the blood splattered Operating Room and there wasn't a darn thing I could have done about it.

I was in recovery. I was shaking so bad. My heart monitor kept going off. I was miserable. Dear Husband was there, asking me when I wanted to invite my parents back. I wasn't ready. I couldn't even speak, I was shaking so badly. My mom later told me it was the Tributilin and it often gave people the shakes, especially when combined with the anesthetic. It was over an hour before the shaking stopped. The nurse kept coming back and pushing on my belly, and I ached with pain, but the worst of all was that I couldn't move my legs. I was so weirded out that I couldn't move my lower body.

Then Zoe was lying in the bassinet next to me. Dear Husband was talking about her, holding her. I felt like I didn't care. I was miserable. I couldn't hold her; I was shaking too much.

The next few days were a blur. Dear Husband roomed in with us and got up every time Zoe cried for anything. Every couple hours. He changed ALL the diapers for the first few days. He got up to change her and hand her to me to nurse her. He then put her back in the crib when we were done nursing. This routine went on for days, even after we went home from the hospital. It was a luxury I didn't know just how much I'd miss when I repeated this in another two and a half years without Dear Husband rooming in to help me.

And Zoe... She was beyond cute. I bonded with her almost immediately, despite being in shock and mumbling over and over again, "What an ordeal!" Dear Husband finally informed me that I had been repeating this over and over again for days.

We got in a groove, Zoe and I. Her daddy eventually had to return to work. Zoe and I bonded. We became absolutely enmeshed with one another, and it was glorious. Before this, I had worked full time for as long as I could remember. Now I had twelve solid weeks off from work to simply adjust to being a mommy. The days turned into a blur of nursing, napping, cuddling, going for lazy summer walks, baths, pictures, and kisses. It was a fabulous three months of bonding between Zoe and I.

And in the middle of it I made a career change. I would work a day and a half each week now. Despite the limited time committed to my career, that first day that I returned to the career world, I had a forty minute commute. Within two blocks of driving away from my daughter, I began to cry, and I cried for the rest of the commute. I couldn't wait to get home at the end of the day and hold my baby again. I remember dropping my stuff at the door that evening and running to her, scooping her up and holding her and feeling okay again once she was in my arms.

Five years later, the scenery hasn't changed all that much. I still work a day and half a week, and while I enjoy the break from motherhood, I also hate the moment of leaving my babies even with Grandma for one entire day each week. I know Grandma will be good for them and enjoy having them. I know my babies will love spending some time with Grandma. I need a break from them. But I miss them almost as soon as I drive out of sight from them. I can't wait to get back to them and scoop them up in my arms again at the end of the day.

Zoe has grown into an amazing young girl. No longer a baby. The roundness in her cheeks is disappearing, and it makes my heart ache. She is getting so tall. It's difficult to cuddle her in my lap anymore, though she still loves to do so. She's all arms and legs. She is so smart. It's not just me being a proud mom saying that.

I remember when Zoe was 18 months old and we left her in the arms of the nursery worker at our church. I hated to leave her. She would cry and cry when we left her. But Denise held her, and I stood around the corner listening to see if she would stop crying. She did. I heard her answering Denise's questions about what colors things were. Later Denise exclaimed that Zoe was the smartest baby she'd ever met. Zoe knew ALL the colors, including orange, black, brown, peach, etc. That was my girl. She spoke in full philosophical paragraphs when she was barely two years old. She knew the alphabet at 2o months. She could complete her alphabet puzzle in 5 minutes or less (we have the proof on video). She could count to 10 by 20 months, and she was potty trained at 22 months.

Now, just turning five years of age on August 4th, she can read. She is finishing the last in the series of Bob Books. She is doing double digit addition and beginning subtraction. She can find China and the United States and Africa on the globe. She can explain the science behind rainbows, and she can explain the difference between warm blooded and cold blooded animals.

When she was barely two years old, Grandma thought she was teaching something to my girl when they found a caterpillar and Grandma told Zoe that it would turn into a butterfly one day. Zoe informed Grandma that first it would have to make a chrysalis. I think Grandma learned more than Zoe that day.

She teaches me stuff all the time. Every day she teaches me stuff when she asks me questions like, "What are eyebrows for?" and "How do bugs drink?"

She is amazing, my little girl.

I cannot even begin to express my gratefulness that God brought her to me. That her life was spared in the hospital even before she was born. She has a powerful call on her life. I have no question about that. Words fall short in expressing my gratitude and amazement that this child was given to me, and my constant prayer is that I will somehow be empowered to parent and mentor her into the call on her life.

Five years has gone way too fast, and I have no doubt that the next five will go just as fast. Happy Birthday, my little girl! It's been the best five yet!