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Apologizing for Nothing

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“We’re casual today,” the mom apologized as she pulled boots onto her daughter’s bare feet. “No socks.”

I regarded her daughter, whose flouncy dress, patterned leggings and blue-dyed rabbit fur vest put my own outfit to shame.

“She looks pretty fabulous to me…” I responded.

As mom and daughter gathered their things and left the playground, I tried to figure out what would make this woman apologize to me, a total stranger. But deep down, I knew.

So many of us feel pressured to be it all for our children. We worry about how they behave in public and how they play with other kids; how they eat and whether we’re following the right feeding strategy; how they handle failure and if their weight is on track and how the hell do we know if we’re doing any of it right???

Of course parents feel judged. I can’t go a day without an email, online article, Facebook post or overheard conversation making me question the job I’m doing. I don’t need to take an online quiz to find out if I’m a “Sleep-Deprived Parent” or if I’m “Winning at Parenting.”

I’m winning at parenting in the same way someone marooned on a life raft is winning at not drowning.

Every now and then, it catches up to me: this feeling that, no, I don’t know what I’m doing. There are no evaluations, no performance reports. There’s no right way to be doing any of this vitally important work. And they need so much every. single. day.

One morning, after a night of questioning myself and feeling insecure about the job I’m doing, I found a note from my husband. There’s one line in particular I’ve repeated to myself over and over since I first read it:

Be as patient and positive with yourself as you are with the kids.

I’ve always believed my kids will learn more from my actions than my words. I model kindness and respect for others in the hope that they’ll follow my example. Yet, until I read those words, it didn’t occur to me that my kids are also learning from how much I love and respect myself.

The past 4 ½ years as a stay-at-home mom have been a journey. I’m still trying to find my balance. I’ve been working so hard to be all the things my family needs me to be —mom and wife and finder of lost things — I’ve lost sight of who I need to be the most: me.

Since reading my husband’s wise words, I’m trying to give myself a break. It’s a process, but I’m working to change the narrative in my head from criticism to praise, from snark to positivity.

In addition to seeing me falter, my kids need to watch me soar.

Fellow moms: join me. Let’s open the windows, let’s sing out loud; let’s buy ourselves flowers and do the things that make us feel healthy and strong. We need to care for ourselves in order to care for our families, and that means tending to our souls as well.

We need to stop apologizing to each other for our messy houses and sock-less children. We have to collectively realize that any mom who seems perfect is either working really hard to look that way or just having a good day. We’ve got to stop judging each other and accept our differences, so our kids will learn to do the same.

We’re setting the example. Let’s teach our kids to tune into their own inner voices; to listen to the songs of their hearts and speak kindest of all to themselves.

But first, my kids have to listen to me, singing at the top of my lungs. Because finding myself means ignoring their backseat protests and cranking up my Janis Joplin and Ben Folds. They may be embarrassed by the lady in the front of the car, crooning off-key and dancing in her seat like nobody’s watching.

But I’m not.

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18 to Life

Little children

At a party some time ago, I got to talking with a polished, fashionable woman who had two kids. Like me, she had a boy and a girl, but her kids were middle-school-aged.

When I told her my kids were 3 ½ and 1 ½, she said pointedly, “Oh. You’re in prison.”

Her eyes were sympathetic but her tone was matter-of-fact. A woman standing nearby who overheard our conversation agreed emphatically, “Yep. Prison.”

Oh, does it ever feel like it some days.

As my husband likes to say: we’re in the thick of it. We’re thick with noise and mess and toys and who-had-it-first disputes, with sticky surfaces and piles of laundry. There’s a shortage of clean underwear, a surplus of toy cars underfoot. Mealtimes feel like an episode of Wild Kingdom with the dogs lurking hungrily below the kids’ chairs.

It’s loud. It’s chaotic. It’s a bounty.

Yes, at times, it feels confining. But there are so many things I love about having little children.

Lazy mornings. Days free of obligations and filled with possibilities. Boo-boos that need kissing; mornings with my son’s curly head sharing my pillow. Their fascination with everything, whether it’s a seed growing into a flower or a pin-dot of a plane in the sky. Their glee at chasing a spider through the house with the vacuum cleaner. Their eyes growing wide anytime I whisper, “guess what?!” Their little bodies that fit perfectly on my hip; their arms wrapped tight around me.

I hold them anytime they’ll let me.

There’s a scene in a favorite movie of mine, “Elizabethtown,” where Kirsten Dunst’s character snaps an imaginary camera shutter to capture a perfect moment in time.

Elizabethtown

I do this often, in my head.

In fact, I’m sitting here this very evening snapping away at the scene before me: clouds of balloons hanging above a neat little tower of presents, prescient in their anticipation of the morning.

My little boy, my first baby, turns 4 tomorrow.

Tears roll down my cheeks as I type these words, not because I don’t want him to grow up — although I do struggle with that concept. What I’m struggling with tonight is the hardest part, the very hardest part, of parenting:

The time is going by like water through my fingers.

I don’t know how to slow it down, how to grab hold of the moments that make it all worthwhile. Sometimes I can hardly remember them at the end of the day.

Recently, I came across one of those moments I had captured in an unfinished essay. I had forgotten about it completely until I discovered it on my computer a short while ago.

It was a lovely fall day, too beautiful to miss out on by going home after school, so we met Dad for lunch.

Dining out with small children is always an adventure and this day was no exception. Yet there it was, at the end of our meal: a perfect snapshot moment.

“Against the Wind” played from the restaurant speakers as we got up from our chairs to gather our things and leave. I don’t think I heard the song at all until I looked up to see our nearly 3-year-old son dancing in the middle of the dining room with an empty carryout box on his head.

Against the wind … against the wind. Still running against the wind …

My heart grew tight; my eyes filled. My husband and I met eyes as we watched our goofball son dancing to the music in a nearly empty room. Everything around us stopped as we watched his perfect moment of joy and basked in how young and carefree and blissfully un-self-conscious he is.

It lasted only a moment. The song ended and my son skipped across the room to take my husband’s hand. I snapped back into mom mode and tried to tidy up the mess we left. But the song played on long after we loaded the kids in the car and drove away.

I hear it now, playing in the back of my mind.

That was over a year ago now. It was just a moment in time, but it was one of thousands I wish could last forever.

It’s been four years now since my son came into our lives and changed everything. It feels like the blink of an eye. It feels like an eternity. I can’t decide.

What I know is this: I’m a better person for having known him for four brief years.

It may feel like prison some days; it may feel like we’re running against the wind. But I’m grateful for this sentence. It won’t last forever.

Happy Birthday, Hudson Wells.

You’re Doing a Great Job

Happy Dog Last night, while my husband was working late, I loaded my two kids into the double stroller, strapped leashes on the dogs and headed out for an evening walk.

It had been a long day. Nothing had gone as planned and by the time I got everyone out the door it was practically bedtime.

The trials of the day had taken their toll, fraying my nerves and eroding my patience. I felt leaned on and used up and just plain worn out.

So many days as a stay-at-home mom feel like yesterday did. Two young kids and two rowdy dogs provide a fair amount of chaos inside my home. Nothing’s ever clean enough, we’re never punctual enough, no one gets to bed early enough and my son could definitely use a few more baths throughout the week.

There are so many jobs to do as a stay-at-home mom that it’s hard to feel like I’m ever doing enough. There are days when I feel I’m doing great as a parent, but that’s usually when the dishes sit in the sink unwashed. And on the days when the house gets a good cleaning, dinner may get neglected. It’s not often I feel like I’m succeeding on all fronts.

So as I negotiated the heavy double stroller down our steep driveway, I exhaled a deep, long breath. Not your best day, I said to myself, letting it all go.

It takes some concentration to steer the kids with one hand while gripping two dog leashes with the other. Countless things can disrupt the careful balance: a toddler removing and hurling a shoe, a dog walking toward us, a loose hair tickling my face. But we found our rhythm and picked up the pace.

The breeze felt good against my skin and the sky was darkening just enough to provide glimpses of families inside their lamp-lit homes, preparing for the end of the day. Eventually, we passed a middle-aged couple out for an evening stroll. I saw them eye my cumbersome load and, instead of offering up the usual remark (“you’ve got your hands full!”), the woman nodded to me and said matter-of-factly, “You’re doing a great job.”

Just like that. You’re doing a great job.

I knew she was referring to my command of two dogs and two kids, but in that moment it felt bigger than that. I let her words wash over me; let them soak through my skin and into my core.

You’re doing a great job.

Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I thought this job was easy. I admit it: I did. The realities of this vocation blew my expectations away.

Raising children is physical, emotional, patience-testing work.

It can be painfully lonely. It can be demeaning. It can leave you aching at the end of the day, exhausted and wired at the same time. Some days, it can make a person wonder if she’s up to the task.

And yet, here was a total stranger, telling me I was doing a great job when, most days, I can’t say those words to myself.

It’s so hard to let go of the laundry that didn’t get done, the dinner that didn’t turn out as hoped, the tufts of dog hair that waft across the floor just after the vacuum’s been run. Every time I start to feel like I’m succeeding in this job, one of the dogs chews up a precious toy and throws it up in the middle of the night or my toddler reacts with total disinterest to a fun surprise I’ve planned.

You never know when something’s going to pop up out of nowhere to make you feel like a big, fat failure. Last night, the opposite happened.

This is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. I don’t know that I’m always doing a great job, but maybe I ought to tell myself I am a little more often. In parenting, you’ve got to celebrate the successes and let go of the flops.

I’m doing a great job. (Now excuse me: I’m pretty sure there’s some dog vomit around here somewhere.)

To My Second Child


Second Child

I forgot to take your picture last month.

You turned six months old — a considerable milestone — and I didn’t mark the occasion.

I took your brother’s picture each month of the first year of his life, without fail. I even coordinated outfit changes and creative poses and extensive digital retouching.

I had a lot more time on my hands back then.

I confess this now because I fear someday you’ll notice. You’ll see the disparity in pictures and think it means something. You’ll look for the inconsistencies in how we were with you and your brother, and you’ll wonder if we feel the same for you both.

Let me address your feelings now, before you’re able to have them: The day you were born, I learned to love more than I ever knew I could.

On that day, I checked into the hospital fairly convinced that you were going to be a boy. Your dad and I decided to wait to find out, but I thought I knew. My second pregnancy felt so similar to my first that I thought the gender had to be the same. On top of that, I thought my doctor had slipped and accidentally revealed you were a boy.

I tried hard not to care whether you were a boy or a girl since it was so completely out of my control. I knew there would be wonderful things about either gender and I truly was just grateful you had been declared healthy throughout my pregnancy.

But secretly, buried deep inside me was a tenacious desire to have a daughter.

And yet, in that moment when you first came out and clung to my chest, I was so overcome with love for you that I didn’t think about gender. After a few moments with no reaction from me, your dad finally said, “Hon? Do you see?”

I looked down at you and could hardly believe my eyes. “It’s a girl,” said your father, and I understood he knew just how happy those words would make me.

A beautiful, dark-haired baby girl. A daughter.

We bestowed upon you a lovely, old-fashioned name that carries a measure of dignity and grace. We introduced you to your aunts and grandparents and great, whooping cheers erupted throughout the room. Tears flowed from everyone’s eyes and your brother climbed into the bed to get a better look at you. You: the perfect addition to our family.

I’ve learned so much from you already. Mostly, I’ve learned the love in a parent’s heart isn’t divided when another child comes along. Rather, my capacity for love grew when you came into my life. Like the fabled Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day. I love everything more because of you.

In my eyes, you aren’t second. You’re more.

Yes, more laundry and diapers and medical expenses. More spills and messes and Goldfish crumbs in the car. More sleep-disrupting cries in the night. More to worry about; more to support.

But more of the most wonderful things in my life, too.

If I forget to write down all your milestones and moments in a gold-lined baby book, I apologize. I’m a second child myself, and I understand how the smallest injustice or inequality can be perceived as indifference. So please know it’s merely that I want to spend every extra moment I have just being present with you and your brother, soaking in all the wonderful things about you both.

These are golden days in my life: you, at seven months old, pleasant, bubbly and cherubic. You offer a wide, toothless grin to anyone who smiles at you, but you seem to reserve your purest smiles for me. Your brother, at two and a half, funny and sweet and affectionate. Waving and talking to anyone he sees; ready with a kiss or a song or something to make his audience laugh.

Golden, precious days that will pass all too quickly.

I know there are slammed doors and stomped feet ahead. I know that, before long, I’ll be at the periphery of your universe rather than the nexus. And if I frustrate, irritate and enrage you, that only means I’m doing my job.

I’ll deal with all that when it comes. For now, we are kindred spirits, blood sisters, a mutual admiration society. We are connected in the most organic, intimate way possible, and I’ll hold you close for as long as I can.

Today, we’re outside together on a gorgeous summer day. You’re rolling around on the quilt that once lay atop my childhood bed and your sharp, observant eyes take in all that surrounds you in our garden green back yard. You turn your head toward the chirping of the birds in the trees and your wispy hair blows with the wind. Every few seconds, you look behind you to see if I’m still here.

Of course, I am. I always will be.

You travel to the edge of the blanket and your tiny hand plucks a blade of grass. You study it, turn it, feel it. And then you let it go, watching it fly away in the breeze.

Someday I’ll do the same for you. For now, you are mine and I am yours. Totally, utterly, completely yours.

I conclude this love letter to you, my second child, with a promise: I rescind all the hopes and dreams I had for you. I vow to let you be yourself, to follow your own path without judgment or disapproval. I’m already perfectly content with who you are; all you have to do is keep being yourself and I’ll be proud of you every day of your life.

I’ve only known you for seven, lightning-fast months, but I already know you’re a special, beautiful person. You have a happy heart, an easy smile and a quick and curious mind. I’ll move heaven and earth to keep the world from taking those gifts from you.

Thank you for coming into my life.

Love always,

Mom

Getting By with a Little Help

My two blonde-headed loves: Hudson and his amazing Aunt Stephie

My two blonde-headed loves: Hudson and his amazing Aunt Stephie on a gorgeous Ohio fall day

Taking steps is easy; standing still is hard
— Regina Spektor, “You’ve Got Time”

We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but coming home has been a lot more complicated than my husband and I could have ever predicted. Thankfully, nearly three months after embarking on our somewhat nomadic life, our state of limbo is finally nearing its end. We’re moving in to our new house in just one week!

Over Labor Day weekend, just when we tried to take a break from our exhausting search, a cute house in a nice neighborhood came on the market. Plus, the price was great. We knew it wouldn’t last, so we jumped in the car and made the two-hour drive back to town to try and beat the competition.

Sure enough, this house had eight showings and three offers on its first day out, but — for once — our offer was the best. After six failed attempts to secure a house, I’d like to say I didn’t weep great tears of relief when we got the news of our success, but that just wouldn’t be the truth.

A home! With this baby kicking inside me like a gorilla rattling its cage, the relief I felt was overwhelming. But, in real estate, a deal isn’t done until it’s done, and this one took us on more than a few twists and turns.

For starters, the inspection report uncovered far more issues than expected, and it took some serious negotiation by my husband to get what we needed from the sellers. Luckily, this is his forte. In the end, the sellers agreed to credit us the amount needed to fix the most pressing issues, but we would need to perform the work ourselves.

Coordinating the repairs ourselves was easier said than done, especially with less than two months left in my pregnancy. Somehow we made the crazy decision to crank up the heat and add a mind-boggling list of renovations to the list of must-do items.

And so, we’ve kicked off nearly four weeks of work that will end with a completely overhauled house. It’s a lot to juggle and coordinate with a baby providing a hard deadline in the not-too-distant future. If everything stays on schedule, (the baby included!), we’ll have approximately one month to get settled before our lives get turned upside-down again.

Meanwhile, our 2-year-old son, despite having held up amazingly well through all the changes thrown at him, has suddenly decided he’s no longer willing to sleep in a Pack ‘n Play at the foot of our bed. Days and nights are now punctuated by negotiations with a miniature terrorist who sobs and flails and scales the walls of his crib whenever we try to leave the room.

Our situation hasn’t been stress-free. This move has been much, much harder than either of us could have possibly foreseen.

If it weren’t for the incredible amount of help we’ve had from family and friends, we would never have made it this far. We’re logging our third month of living with my unbelievably generous sister, who has opened her two-bedroom condo to our loud and messy clan without a single complaint.

The three of us (plus a fetus! as she often has to remind me) together produce an effect similar to a hurricane or the Bumpus hounds: we eat a lot, we leave a path of destruction everywhere we go and one of us produces a shocking number of dirty diapers each day.

My dear sister’s warmth and generosity have provided more than just convenience: we truly could not have made this move without her help and hospitality. The only complaint I have is how she’s spoiled us. Once we move out, how am I going to live without all the extra cooking, cleaning and free childcare?!

We’ve also benefited from the generosity of my in-laws, who have been keeping our very large, very rambunctious Golden Doodles at their home two hours away. Certainly, they had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to this last summer. Our dogs are not the fade-into-the-background type: they bark, they jump on the furniture, they lovingly maul visitors and they may possibly from time to time destroy a throw pillow. Or eight. (Cringe.)

Caring for our high-maintenance dogs is just one of countless acts of kindness my in-laws have performed for us. They find a way to be there for us whenever we need them and they’ve helped us in more ways than I can count. To them, family is more important than anything and their generosity and selflessness amaze me. Finding them and being welcomed into their loving family has probably been the single most fortuitous event of my life.

We didn’t make this decision for the short-term benefits and we wouldn’t have made it this far without our families. We’re truly blessed to have so many people who are helping us make this happen.

In the grand scheme of things, all the trouble we’ve seen is just a minor bump in the road on our path to a really good place.

What we have here is what we were missing in North Carolina: our family, our friends and a generous stretch of sparkling Ohio fall weather. This is why we were able to leave Charlotte’s beauty and grace and clear, blue skies behind. This is what we hoped to find at the end of our rainbow.

We are home. (Well, almost.)

Here We Go Again

Baby On The Way

Hello, world!

Friends, the bump is back. Baby #2 is on the way, due December 2!

Now that all the initial feelings of fear, anxiety and nausea have (mostly) passed, I feel incredibly blessed to be expecting again. My son will have a brother or sister, and I know from experience that’s a wonderful thing.­

The first few weeks of this pregnancy were tough, which is why I’ve been underground for a little while. I’ve been dealing with a couple health issues, one of which is an autoimmune disorder and both of which cause fatigue and general malaise. Adding pregnancy exhaustion on top of that left me feeling pretty awful overall.

In those early weeks, I ignored what my body was trying to tell me and went into full indulgence mode. Like the first time around, I completely abandoned my healthy eating plan and started stuffing my face with whatever sounded delicious: cereal, toast, ice cream, waffles, pasta, butter, bread, sugar, bread, sugar, sugar, sugar …

As a result, I started feeling worse and worse. I was dragging myself around the house, barely functioning and not at all being the fun, attentive mom I wanted to be. I found myself feeling pretty negative about the whole pregnancy experience.

When life gets hard, nothing soothes the soul like a conversation with a good friend. For me, a simple phone call from a friend turned out to be a beacon of light in my time of need.

My friend reminded me that I can’t take care of this baby without taking care of myself. My autoimmune disease means that I have inflammation throughout my body, which flares up when I’m not following a healthy lifestyle. The most reliable trigger is unhealthy eating and — although I’ve been following an anti-inflammatory diet for the past couple years — I finally had to admit that I never fully committed to it.

Most importantly, I learned that my autoimmune disease can have a serious impact on the baby. That was enough to make me turn things around for good.

The morning after my friend’s pep talk, I went back to the anti-inflammatory diet I’ve been casually following, but this time with a vengeance. No wheat, no dairy, no rice, no corn, no sugar (!), no pasta, no cereal, no bread, crackers or cookies and only a limited amount of lean, organic meat. Processed foods, snack foods and even gluten-free substitutes are out. And, hardest of all: no coffee.

Despite the difficulty of coming off more than 15 years of unconditional love for coffee, I felt instantly better after quitting cold turkey. After feeling bad for such a long time, it was like coming out of a dark cave into the light.

This is not to say that pregnancy is all light and joy, of course. I’m not a terribly disciplined person and I fall off the wagon from time to time. I’m haven’t completely figured out which foods are best to include or exclude from my complicated diet, and my energy level is still pretty low. But there’s no question that I’m doing better than I was, and that makes it all worth it.

So you may be wondering after all this, what do I eat? Lots of fruit and veggies, beans, quinoa, green smoothies, salads, goat cheese and many cups of tea. I’ve found some incredible cookbooks and food blogs that have helped me and I’ll share the recipes I like over the next few weeks.

Hopefully I’ll continue to feel pretty good. Maybe I’ll even stay within the recommended weight gain this time around instead of blowing right past it. Just the other day my husband told me how good I look, cheerfully remarking, “You don’t even look pregnant from the front or the side. Just from the back.”

Friends, you win some, you lose some.

Pound of Flesh

Shiny, Happy Baby

My boy, back when he was still all shiny and new

Now that my son is 18 months old, I’m starting to get “the question.”

So, are you ready for another?

Another? My god, I feel like I just got done creating the one I have. People, I fabricated a human being out of thin air, and now you want me to do it again??

And yet, I do think about it from time to time. More than the little twinge I get when I see a mom cradling a shiny, new bundle, I think of the incredible bond between my sister and me and how I want my son to have that with someone.

Then I start remembering pregnancy.

The main thing I recall about being pregnant was feeling like my body was playing one humiliating joke on me after another. I had kept myself blissfully ignorant of the trials and tribulations of pregnancy, mostly so I would never be too chicken to attempt it. The downside of this approach was that I was completely caught off guard for all its inconvenient truths.

Everyone knows the pregnancy basics: your emotions go haywire, you gain a bunch of weight, you feel insanely tired and you barf from time to time.

I certainly wasn’t prepared for everything else.

You start off with the first few weeks when no one knows you’re knocked up. Despite your crushing fatigue and the fact that your clothes are getting tight, you pretend like everything’s normal. You don’t really look pregnant at this stage; you just look chubby. Most likely your co-workers have observed how many doughnuts you’re downing out of the community box and they just chalk up your weight gain to that.

Next, your sense of smell is heightened to a point where it could be considered a superpower, which would be cool if the person sitting next to you would stop eating curry for lunch and then throwing his leftovers in your trash can. Trips to the grocery store become unbearable. I don’t know who decided to put the fish display right next to the cheese aisle at my local supermarket, or if the d-bag responsible had any idea what he was doing to pregnant women, but it all seemed like a cruel joke at the time.

The only respite to the heightened sense of smell is the fact that your sinuses clog up, but your allergies go wild at the same time. And, as a possible result of all this, your nose gets bigger. I had actually forgotten about this one until my husband reminded me of it the other day. Thankfully, he was kind enough to clarify, saying, “It wasn’t so much that your nose got bigger, it was that your whole face got kind of puffy.” Ah, yes. Add puffy face to the list.

There’s your sudden hatred of foods you formerly loved, and your overwhelming urge to eat foods you would usually find disgusting, like a shriveled gas station hot dog or some slimy lunchmeat. Not to mention these are the very foods you are supposed to avoid thanks to the repulsive presence of listeria, which somehow doesn’t deter you from wanting them.

Let’s move on to bathroom time. Either you can’t go, or you can’t not go. Let’s just leave it at that.

Then there are all the wonderful things pregnancy does to your appearance. There’s the hormone-induced acne that pops up on your cheeks and along your jaw line. There’s the hyperpigmentation called melasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” which causes dark patches on your skin. Mine conveniently showed up most prevalently on my upper lip, just where a lady likes to have a nice, dark shadow. Your constant sweating makes it impossible to keep your makeup in place. And, finally, your body hair starts growing at an impressive rate, which just feels like the icing on the cake.

What’s next? Ah, the constant crabby personality. During the time I was pregnant with my son, I’m confident most of my co-workers were humming the wicked witch song when I’d lumber past them on my way to the bathroom. God help the person who got in my way or asked me if I, too, thought the air conditioning was turned up too high.

As the months roll on, you start experiencing new and fascinating things like leg cramps, body aches, restless legs (not that you can sleep anyway) and lightning crotch. That’s right, lightening crotch. It’s real, and it’s freaking awful. Look it up.

Did I miss anything? Oh, your feet will get bigger, your skin will start itching like crazy and you will experience a complete and total loss of personal dignity.

Why on earth would I put myself through all this again?

Well, there was this one thing my son used to do when he was still shiny and new. He would look up at me like I was the most spectacular thing he’d ever seen, and then he’d blink this long, mesmerizing blink. His full lashes would fall to his cheek and linger there for a moment, and then he’d slowly raise his lids to reveal his stunning, bright blue eyes. He’d smile and gurgle and coo and stare into my eyes, and I would feel like the most magnificent woman on earth.

I guess when I think about the result, when I think about what a unique and funny and charismatic boy came from all that hardship, I realize that maybe there’s a reason pregnancy is so hard.

Perhaps, to receive such a mind-blowing gift, the recipient should be charged a pound of flesh, even if that penance is being applied rather than taken. It is a pretty miraculous outcome, after all.

Now, I hear my little miracle stirring in his bed and I realize he’s still pretty shiny and new, all things considered. He makes it all seem completely and totally worth the trouble.

But to go through it all again while chasing after a rambunctious toddler instead of lounging in bed with a bag of marshmallows? Now that’s a whole new consideration.

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