Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Emmalina Ballerina

Dear Em,
You've been showing us your "ballerina moves" for a while now. You're so cute & you love to perform twirls for us. Fifty percent of the time you fall to the ground doing one of your moves, & it takes everything for Daddy & I to suppress our giggles as we clap wildly. Daddy & I really need to get on the ball & enroll you in a ballet class.

The other day, you awoke wanting to be a ballerina. So, I gave you a ballerina hair-do, & dressed you in a little tu-tu (with warm clothes underneath, it's frigid in New England). You insisted you needed ballet slippers, even though we don't own any. For lack of anything else, I convinced you that fairy costume slippers would do.

Of course, Lamby also needed to join in on the fun- with her very own tu-tu. You danced around the house (Daddy put on classical music, but you called it scary & we had to switch it to pop music), & then threw a little ballerina tea party for a bunch of your stuffed animals & Daddy & I. The "healthy" food you put on our plates consisted of butter, cake, & cupcakes (with "cookies for dessert"). It was priceless.

I just love watching you in your element. You have such a sweet & creative spunk. Maybe you haven't taken any real lessons yet, but you're still my vary favorite ballerina.

I love you so,

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Dear Em,
So, last week I got the most amazing news, I'm going to Prague! My company is sending me to present a project I've been working on since the summer. It's a huge honor, & I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it.'s in Prague. I can't say that it was ever on my bucket list, & yet I'm so thrilled to have a chance to explore someplace new...even if it is just for a short time. I'm hoping to be able to extend my stay for some personal travel & that your daddy will be able to join me for the adventure.

So, readers, tell me, is Prague on your bucket list? Have you visited there? If you only had a few short days in March, where would you go & what would you do?

Can't wait to come back here & let you know how it all goes.

I love you so,

Monday, January 28, 2013

Your Birth Story: Part Three

Dear Em,

* This is a post about childbirth & the aftermath. It was not an easy childbirth. You may not want to read this is if you are about to have a baby or descriptions of childbirth make you feel uncomfortable. *
* This is the third part of a four part series, You can also read Your Birth Story: Part One, Your Birth Story: Part Two, & Your Birth Story: Part Four. *

All of a sudden, I was alone. I went from being surrounded by people to being completely by myself. Don't get me wrong, I was OK with that. If there was something wrong, I wanted every specialist in the hospital to surround our baby until I knew you were OK. Still, it felt weird to lay there all alone.

"Can someone tell me if she is a little girl? Otherwise, we're going to have some serious issues when it comes to the name we chose." I said it partly joking, but really I was serious. I had been dying to know for sure for nine long months. Now you were born & you were gone & I felt like I didn't know anything. A nurse turned & gave me a comforting look, "Yes, she's a girl."

I'm not sure how much time had passed. It could have been very little. It felt like forever, but I wasn't really in any condition to grasp time at that point. Then I heard your little cry. Finally they carried you back into our room & let me peak at you. "She's healthy & she's beautiful. I really want to give her to you, but she won't stop pooping," the nurse holding you giggled as she held you out for me to see. "I've never seen a newborn poop so much," the pediatrician exclaimed (I swear your daddy smiled at you with pride as the pediatrician said those words).

At that point I didn't care about poop. I wanted to hold you in my arms. You were mine, & I wanted to breathe in your baby smell (even if it was poopy) & feel your heart beat as I snuggled you in. Except that I really didn't have the strength to disagree with what was going on. Instead, I just smiled as I watched everyone crowd around you. They were measuring you & weighing you & cleaning you off. Your daddy was beaming with pride.

I heard my doctor ask a nurse for more sutures. "Oh, did I tear?" I asked her. "Oh, hunny, yes. I'm so sorry, but it's going to take a little while to put you back together." Put me back together? What did that mean? It was later that I realized an episiotomy had to be done before using the vacuum to pull you out. It was later that your daddy told me he saw them bringing out the cutting devices, but thought it was best not to mention to me during labor (yet another example of how your daddy was exactly what I needed during the labor process). It was later I found out I had torn through to my rectum.

Your daddy was being bombarded with text messages & stepped outside to call & tell our parents that you were born & healthy. It was then that they finally brought you over to me. They had dressed you & cleaned you. The first time I held you, you were swaddled in a little blanket & had a tiny baby hat on. You were beautiful & you were perfect & you were mine.

The student who had at first seemed so sheepish was now full of excitement. "That was awesome. You did awesome. She's so beautiful! Do you want me to take a picture?" Your daddy had the camera with him, but I somehow located my phone. Using my phone, the student snapped a picture of that magical moment, the first time I held you in my arms (I'm so thankful that he took the picture. We soon lost all of the pictures on a our camera from that day & this was the only one we have now). Your daddy walked back in, excited from sharing the news with our families. He stood next to the two of us, & for the first time we were together as a family of three. I don't think my heart had ever been so full. At that moment, everything felt like it had fallen into place & there was nothing in the world that could bring me more happiness.

Unfortunately, the moment was fleeting. I had held you for only minutes, but I asked your daddy to take you. I was starting to feel weird, & I didn't trust my body. I mentioned that I was feeling really dizzy. Everyone rushed back over to me. I was given epinephrine & then it seemed like everyone took turns roughly pushing on my stomach. I was still experiencing the effects of my epidural, & yet each time they pushed I felt agonizing pain.

At some point one of the nurses told me she was taking you down to the nursery to warm you up. She assured me that they would return you to me as soon as they brought me down to the recovery room. It was hard for me to see her walk away with you, but as they pushed on my stomach & I cried out in pain I knew it was the right thing for you.

An emergency was going on in another delivery room. We heard a page for help. Our nurse ran out the door. For the first time in what seemed like forever, your daddy & I were alone. It was so nice to lay in quietness. I had been such a hectic day. Your daddy smiled as we quietly talked about how cute & funny you you had captured our hearts already. Then I started to feel weird again. I knew that an electronic blood pressure monitor was periodically taking my blood pressure. "Hey, babe, what are the numbers on that machine?" Your daddy looked. "Um, 40/20. Is that good?" I had a pretty extensive knowledge of blood pressure, & I knew mine was dangerously low. I tried to speak as calmly & gently as possible, because I knew what I was going to say would frighten your daddy. "Hey, babe, can you do me a favor? Would you mind pushing the call button, because I am going to pass out." Panic filled your daddy's eyes as he fumbled for the call button & dropped it on the floor. "It's OK. You'll get it," I said as I began to lose consciousness.

It's weird, but all through my pregnancy I had a weird feeling that I was going to die during childbirth. I had frequent nightmares about it. I tried to have the "if something happens to me" talk with your daddy, but he quickly cut me off each time. "I'm not talking about this. You're going to be fine," he would say as he shook his head. So instead of talking to him about it, I just prayed to God that you would be healthy & that love & support would surround you & your daddy if something happened to me.

As I lost consciousness I thought, "this is it. I am dying. At least I got to see her. At least I know she is healthy & she is safe & that's all that matters." It all seems so melodramatic now, because of course I didn't die. I was given more epinephrine & regained consciousness. "We had such a great afternoon, I thought you guys were going to be easy, but you're turning into such a trouble maker," our nurse jokingly scolded me as I opened my eyes. "Sorry," I mumbled as I tried to find the strength to smile. More painful pushing on my stomach followed. I cried out in pain. "I'm so sorry, hunny, it's just that you have blood clots the size of oranges, & we have to get them out."

Hours of the same passed. I wasn't really aware of how much time was passing. I would like to say that you were the only thing I thought about during that time, but I was too tired & weak to even think. They covered me in blankets as my whole body shivered.

Finally, they determined I was stabilized & wheeled me on a bed, down to my recovery room. A nurse asked if I wanted to rest or if I wanted her to bring you into the room. I had been awake for 24 hours. I was weak & more tired than I had ever been, but there was nothing I wanted in the world more than you in my arms. It was 5:30am. You had been born at 10:59. 6 1/2 hours later, we were finally together.

As I breathed in your sweet baby scent, I sent your daddy to his parent's house. We had talked about it during my pregnancy. The fold-out couches they have at the hospital are terribly uncomfortable, & his parents' house was only 15 minutes away. It would be better for him to get some decent sleep while he could, because once we were home he would be taking care of both of us. He hesitated, asking if I was sure I was OK, but I shooed him out. I snuggled you close. At that moment, everything was perfect. I looked at your ten little fingers & ten teeny toes. You were so tiny & squishy & adorable. I was in love.

I could have spent the rest of my life just looking at you, but other challenges were ahead. I felt like I had been run over by a mack truck, which had then backed up & run over me again. Everything...everything...hurt. I was on IV antibiotics & constantly monitored. I laughed to myself about all the things we had packed in my hospital bag. I didn't have the strength to walk to the shower, let alone take one. Make-up was not going to happen. Oh, & the comfy sweatpants we packed for me to wear, yeah those weren't going to happen for me either (we called my mom & asked if she would pick up a nightgown for me).

We had decided to donate your umbilical cord blood. While in most cases, parents have to pay to privately store their child's cord blood, Rhode Islanders have the option of donating it to the Rhode Island Blood Center's state-wide public cord bank. If someone else needs your cord blood, we will be contacted to let us know that it was being used. Otherwise, it is available for you if you one day need it. We were given the sweetest newborn top that said "Already a Hero." There was just one problem. They needed a blood sample from me within 48 hours after donation. My veins generally prove to be challenging for blood draw, but in this case I was also very dehydrated. After poking me four separate times, they gave up. They told me they would pump me with fluids intravenously & try again the next day (luckily they were able to get a blood sample eventually).

When my epidural was started I had been hooked up to a catheter, but now it was time for it to come out. This meant I would have to pee on my own. Things that came easy, all of a sudden seemed impossible. I needed a nurse even to help me walk just the few steps to the bathroom. After peeing, she asked if I needed help or if I wanted to clean myself. Any modesty I had left, I lost right there. I asked her for help. It hard enough for me to try to sit upright. My body felt absolutely & completely broken, & I wondered if I would ever feel right again.

I never understood postpartum depression before this. I honestly felt that women were just making it up, but now I know it's real. My body was a mess (every doctor or nurse who came in to examine me looked at my chart & said, "whoa, you're in really rough shape. That was one hell of a labor you had). I had never experienced anything close to the kind of pain & exhaustion I was feeling, but yet I was over the moon with joy. It doesn't even really make sense how unbelievably blissful I was. Hormones are the only thing that could explain it. If they could make me that happy, they can certainly do the opposite to someone else. I thank God I experienced joy rather than depression.

At 2pm, an hour before visiting hours started. I was still holding you in my arms, taking in every inch of you. Your daddy was sitting next to us. I'm sure goofy smiles covered our faces. My nurse came in & asked, "have you gotten any sleep at all?" "Well, I kind of nodded off for a few minutes a couple times," I explained. It was so hard with people walking in every few minutes to push on my stomach, check on me, & check on the baby. Plus, I had this teeny, tiny fascination in my arms. "I'm going to take her to the nursery, & put a do not disturb sign on the door. You really need sleep." I've heard from people that the nurses aren't even supposed to offer to take the babies to the nursery, but that nurse we an angel. I got a whole hour of uninterrupted sleep, & after being awake for almost 33 challenging hours, I really needed it.

Visiting hours came, & nothing made me more happy than to see you being loved by our parents. "She has a full head of hair. We have you to thank for that," your papa smiled at me. Tears filled your grandma & nonnie's eyes the first time they held you & the biggest smile I'd ever seen was plastered across your papi's face that whole afternoon. As I watched my mother smiling down at you, I knew my heart had never been so happy. "You know what, mom? That wasn't that bad. I could totally do that again." Seriously?! Looking back now, I can't believe those words came out of my mouth so soon after my delivery. I'm telling you, hormones play funny little tricks on you.

It was as my parent's were visiting that the hospital lactation consultant came in. Your Papi took that as his cue to leave. I had planned to breastfeed, but I was a little confused about why a consultant was needed. I always thought that nursing just came naturally. I thought once given the opportunity, the baby would just know what to do. Well, you can add that to the list of things I was totally wrong about. I guess each baby has to learn to latch. For some it comes easier than others. The consultant asked me if I had tried nursing, & I immediately reddened with embarrassment & guilt. You had been born almost 12 hours ago, & I hadn't even thought about feeding you. "That's OK. Let's try now," she said.  There were a number of things she instructed me to do to help you learn to latch. At one point I had both my mother and my mother in law pushing on my boobs in an attempt to help you latch while the lactation consultant watched on. It was for sure one of the top five most uncomfortable moments of my life.

Once visiting hours were over, your daddy & I sat down to a gourmet meal. In place of the typical hospital food, Women and Infants offers a Stork Club Dinner for new parents. Your daddy's company was so sweet to gift it to us. Our first dinner as parents was a yummy, candle-lit steak dinner with dessert & wine (don't judge). While you slept sweetly in your hospital basinet, Daddy & I toasted to new adventures as a family of three. Then we all snuggled in my hospital bed together & watched the New York City ball drop on TV. It was a brand new year, & we knew it would be the best one yet.

After a few more family snuggles, your daddy wheeled you to the nursery before heading to his parents' house. We both needed a good night's rest. I was hoping we would be able to go home the next day. It was the last full day your nonnie & papi would be able to spend in Rhode Island, & I wanted them to share it with you. I wanted to start our new year in the comfort of our cozy home, where I would be able to take my pain medication without having to wait for hospital staff to drop it by & wouldn't have to endure my stomach being pushed on every few hours.

My nurse told me it was a long shot. I was still on IV antibiotics & fluids. She told me the doctor would have to give me the OK, & she didn't think I was well enough. So, I prayed that my body would be strong enough for us to go home.

I love you so,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

an adventurous date night

Dear Em,
I didn't fill out a long list of resolutions, but there were a few things I wanted to focus on this year. One of them was to have more patience. Another was to spend more quality time with your daddy. Looking back at last year, our days were filled with so much fun, but rarely did your daddy & I spend time just the two of us. Except for a couple date nights here & there, we mostly squeezed our alone time into your nap & after bed times. Unfortunately, that time is also spent cleaning up, resting, working, & preparing for the next thing. We didn't really even realize how much we needed some time, just the two of us, until we took a little trip to Stowe last year.

So, we're hoping to spend more date nights together. We don't always have to go out to have a date night, we can even have fun staying in & having a board game night. As long as it's time for just Brian & I.

The other night we went out for our first date night this year. We're so fortunate that your Grandma & Papa are so willing to watch you while we go out. I was pretty excited. We had chosen a wicked fun spot for our first night out just the two of us, a rock gym.

It was your daddy's first time rock climbing, & I hadn't gone since I was in grad school. We were a little nervous & intimidated about how things would go. We didn't need to be. It was amazing. It was so fun to challenge our bodies to climb higher. Plus, your daddy looked really cute as he climbed up the wall.

I loved spending the night cheering each other on, & watching each other reach the top of the wall. It was the best to have fun & get some exercise together. It felt great to try out something new, & to share that with your daddy. We're thinking about trying to go more often during the wintertime, a way to get some fun activity in during the cold months. 

Plus, we could totally see you joining us someday. It would be so fun to watch you scale the walls like a little monkey.

I love you so,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

and the award goes to...

Dear Em,
A couple weeks ago we left your 3 year well-visit. I called your daddy, & said "yeah, we are A-holes. We are totally the A-hole parents of the year." It's not often that I go around giving myself awards, but in this case I've earned it...for sure.

Let's start at the beginning. Actually, the sad part is I'm not really quite sure when the beginning started. It just seemed like the end of December was full of tantrums, scream like a ferile animal tantrums. Your daddy & I were perplexed & frantic. What was going on? Was it the hype & aniticipation of the holiday? Was it that I was traveling more? Were you trying to fit as much of the terrible twos in the last couple weeks of your two-ness, & petrifying us about the threes (afterall, it's also a "T" age)?

Christmas just isn't as fun when it's full of timeouts. We only put you in timeout once that day, but you probably should have spent a lot more time rocking it in there. There was toy throwing & screaming & crying & stomping. Daddy & I started to ask ourselves, "what happened to our child?" In the last 20 minutes of our flight to North Carolina, we may have thought about telling the plane full of angry travelers "this isn't our child."

It continued through the holidays & even soured moments of your birthday. In the midst of it all, resolutions were being made. I told your daddy that I was going to work at being more patient. He agreed he was going to try as well. Maybe it was the way we were handling it all? Days later, we confessed to each other that you were making our resolutions challenging.

We woke up one morning to another throw down tantrum. I think that time it was about putting on pants. Who knows. Daddy & I looked at you & asked, "why aren't you happy anymore? You used to be happy. What happened?" You looked at us, thoughtful. "Well, when I was a baby I cried a lot." You are obsessed with babies, & some regression had been going on over the past few months. Were you throwing tantrums so you could be more like a baby?

I scooped you up & snuggled you next to me. "Actually, Em, you were a really happy baby. Let me show you." We spent the next 30 minutes watching home videos of your first 6 months. We watched you giggle as you played with Daddy. We watched you beam with pride as you started to crawl. We watched you gurgle & babble to the baby in the mirror while you played in your gym. "So, what do you think? Could you be happy like you were when you were a baby again?" If only it was that easy.

We left later that morning to go to your three year well-visit. They used a machine I had never seen before to check if your ears were clear. Three times your right ear was reading funny, & we assumed it was malfunctioning. You have tubes in your ears, after all. The doctor checked himself just to be be sure. Uh Oh. It was one of the worst ear infections he's ever seen, with the tube in the right ear completely blocked.

We should have known. With so many ear infections, you start to see patterns. When you're in pain, you have trouble expressing yourself & the behaviors you had been exhibiting are typically what result. We had been told that if your ear got infected, we would see fluid draining from them, & we didn't.

But still. We should have known. Instead we were losing our patience & asking you why you were so whiny. It's our job to protect you from pain. Instead, we just got frustrated with you. To think of how long you suffered. Christmas. 4 flights. Your birthday. Poor, little girl. Seriously, A-hole parents of the year right here.

Once you started to take antibiotics, we could tell you were feeling better. Our sweet little Emma was back. Your daddy & I have also started to handle things differently. We're not perfect...we never will be, but hopefully we'll be better.

I love you so,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

not enough snow

Dear Em,
It broke my heart to see the tears streaming down your face today as I told you it wouldn't be a snow day after all. Your prayers last night were more like begging, "please God can we have lots & lots of snow." I remember wishing & hoping for a snow day when I was little too. It seemed to take forever to get all bundled up (for my mom, it probably seemed to take forever too), before spending an exciting day in the fluffy whiteness (it was probably only an hour before we came in freezing, but when you're young it feels like all day).

I have to say, you're daddy was checking the listings every 15 minutes last night hoping for at least a delay. Although, for him it wasn't about playing in the snow. He gets to work from home on snow days. No luck. Not even a delay.

Between travel and how quickly our winter snow has melted, we've only really had one afternoon to play in the snow. You loved every moment of it. You went sledding. You tried to throw snowballs at me. You made a million snow angels (your favorite thing to do) before heading back inside after only 30 minutes because your little hands were frozen.

For you, I wish for at least one more magical snow day.

I love you so,

Monday, January 21, 2013

Your Birth Story: Part Two

Dear Em,
* This is a post about childbirth. It was not an easy childbirth. You may not want to read this is if you are about to have a baby or descriptions of childbirth make you feel uncomfortable. *
* This is the second part of a four part series, You can also read Your Birth Story: Part OneYour Birth Story: Part Three, & Your Birth Story: Part Four. *

Uncertainty is hard for me. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone says, "I have a big surprise for you, but you're going to have to wait." I don't like waiting for surprises, feeling like something could jump out at you at any moment. Pregnancy is the ultimate "I have a big surprise for you, but you're going to have to wait." The beauty in knowing that I was going to be induced is I knew pregnancy was finally coming to an end. Soon I would be holding our precious baby that had been growing inside me for what seemed like forever.

I was filled with joy as I took my time getting ready that morning. I shaved my legs. I put on make-up. I fixed my hair (now, I laugh at myself at how I was thinking I was going to look cute for photos). Your daddy, on the other hand, was flustered. He ran around, buzzing with anxiousness. When my mom stopped us for one last photo as we left the house for the very last time as a family of two, I thought he was going to kill her.

We had left 15 minutes later than originally planned, & your daddy was worried we would be late for our 7am appointment. As we drove to the hospital, I wanted to quietly remind your daddy that they weren't going to start your birth without us. Instead I smiled & kept quiet. I know your daddy gets anxious in big moments, & what moment was bigger than this?

We checked in at the premiere birthing hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. We had heard that it can be a little like a baby factory, with less personal touches than some of the community hospitals. Although we lived closer to three other community hospitals, we had chosen our hospital based on the specialists affiliated with it. Both of us had had complications when we were born. We hoped for an issue free labor, but we knew we wanted to be near the specialists just in case. In the end, I'm so thankful we made the decision we did.

We checked in at 7am, & they quickly brought us upstairs to our room (another advantage of being induced). While I knew I was being induced, I wasn't quite prepared for all of the things that were being hooked up to me. I had hoped to spend labor walking around, but I had to call a nurse just to get unhooked to go to the bathroom. Before they put the monitor on me, they asked me if I had had any contractions. I shook my head. As much as I had hoped, I hadn't. "Do you know that you're having contractions right now?" Ohhhhh. That's what contractions are?! I had always thought they were searing and sharp pains. These were just little cramps, no worse than what I used to feel when I got my period. I had been having these cramps for weeks. Who knew?

A nurse introduced herself to us (I feel so sad I cannot remember her name...or any of our nurses names. They were all so great). She was going to spend the day monitoring us and another woman next door. When she came in, we never felt like just another couple having a baby. We shared stories about our families & our hopes for you. She was supportive & so kind. Chatting with her helped us through a whole lot of waiting. We also giggled as your daddy put all the gear on that was given to him, especially the funny cap. Photos may have been taken. There was a TV on in our room, & we watched a whole lot of HGTV.

While I couldn't eat anything (but really wasn't hungry anyway), I was aware of the time & the fact that your daddy should be eating lunch. "Are you going to have lunch," I asked him. "I can't leave you, & it's not fair to eat in front of you when you can't." I smiled at his sweetness. Sometimes your daddy just makes my heart so happy. I told him to go get lunch. He was going to need his strength & energy for this labor too. All we were doing was waiting, & I really didn't mind him eating in front of me. He was gone & back in moments, with no food to show. Apparently, he had rushed down to the cafeteria & scarfed down a sandwich on his way back up so as not to eat it in front of me.

Throughout the afternoon, I watched your daddy look over at my monitor. His eyes would grow wide & he looked at me expectantly in fear. When he saw I wasn't reacting at all, his body would relax. "That was a really big contraction on the monitor, did you feel it?" Not really. I was still just feeling little cramps. It was the same when the doctors & nurses came in & checked the monitor. The nurse came in & told me I looked way too comfortable to be in labor & upped my pitocin levels. I started to feel really proud of myself. Maybe I have super amazing pain tolerance? Maybe I wasn't even going to need the epidural I was so sure I had wanted during pregnancy.

Then the pain came, just enough to make me really uncomfortable. "OK, I'm ready for the epidural now, please." Because I had had a previous back injury, the head of anesthesiology came to give me my epidural. I was lucky that I didn't have to wait long at all. I wasn't prepared for them to ask your daddy to leave the room, though. I am absolutely needle-phobic. I cringe just thinking about needles, & when a large needle is placed into my spine it would be helpful to have my husband there for support.

Thank God your daddy returned just after, because the contractions got a lot worse. All of a sudden I felt mind numbing pain that seared through my whole body. So much for high pain tolerance. I laughed at how ignorant I had been only hours earlier. We had been told that it would take a few minutes for the epidural to kick in, but each contraction felt like an eternity. They kept asking me if I felt numbness. There was no numbness, only awful pain. I squeezed your daddy's hand as my body tensed with pain. He encouraged me to remember what we had learned during our one short class at the hospital. He acted out on of the breathing techniques & encouraged me to follow along. I thought "screw the breathing techniques." I hadn't really even paid attention during our class. It was something fun to do. I knew I would never actually need to do any of it. I had always planned to get an epidural, ALWAYS. I suddenly had a really scary thought, what if epidurals didn't work for me & I was going to have this baby...gasp...naturally?!

Luckily, the anesthesiologist came in & made some adjustments. The numbness they had described began to spread through the lower part of my body. The pain disappeared. Thank God for epidurals. Your daddy & I settled back into quiet waiting again. Our new nurse encouraged me to try to get some sleep. Seriously?! Today was going to be the biggest day of our lives. How was I going to sleep? I laid quietly, but sleep never came. I could hear a woman's screams in the room next door. Our monitors had been connected, & we could see her contractions on the monitor. We could hear that she was having a rough time. I said silent prayers for her & silent prayers for us.

At 7pm my midwife checked me, & I was 10 centimeters dilated. She asked me if I was ready to start pushing. I felt like there was nothing in my life I was more ready for. If things went quickly & smoothly, we would have just enough time to introduce you to our parents before the end of visiting hours (you were born in the middle of the swine flu epidemic of 2009, & visiting policies were super, super strict).

So, I started pushing...& pushing...& pushing. It was so strange. I couldn't really feel anything as I pushed & I don't think I ever really understood how to push anyway. I mean, it's not like you can practice & someone can tell you if you're doing it right. An hour passed. You still weren't out, & I was still pushing. I cried silent tears, knowing our family wouldn't be able to meet you until visiting hours started at 3pm the next day.

I'm not sure when it started to happen, but all of a sudden I was vomiting. The nurse was fast & caught my vomit in a bucket. After that it was your daddy, who was standing behind my shoulders & away from "down there," who caught my vomit as I pushed.

I had a midwife, but two doctors were there with us, as well as a nurse. One of them would walk in, look at me & shake her head, whisper something to the the other doctor, & walk out. I started to cry. While I still wasn't feeling any pain, I was exhausted, more exhausted than I'd ever been. I felt like such a failure. This was my job, & I was awful at it. I looked up at your daddy who was gently wiping my forehead with a cool cloth. "I'm so sorry. I'm just not good at this. You married me, probably thinking I'd be good at this, but I'm just not. I'm so sorry." In that delivery room, your daddy was everything to me that I could have ever needed. "What are you talking about? You're doing so great. You can do this, & you're doing great."

What I didn't understand is that the doctor wasn't shaking her head at my ability to birth a baby. She was looking at our heart monitors & was concerned about both of our hearts. They moved me in a number of different positions, to make things better for your heart. At one point they asked me about using a vacuum. They showed it to me as they explained what they would be doing, but I didn't really look at it. I don't think I could really see straight at that point, but I was interested in anything that would help get you out. We consented. They also lowered my epidural, hoping that if I could feel pressure it would help. So, we proceeded, me pushing & the doctor tugging.

At one point, I felt a great relief in pressure. "Is she out? Did I do it? Is she out?" No. The doctor had been tugging so hard on the vacuum that it had slipped off your head & the doctor had smacked herself in the face with it. Apparently, you were holding your hand to your cheek. Each time we made progress, you slipped back up. The second doctor kept walking in, looking at me, & shaking her head. I felt so defeated. I overheard the nurse talk to my midwife about it being time to consider a C-section. My midwife was harsh as she completely dismissed the nurse. "No, she's going to do this. She can do this."

When it comes to being naked, I am a very modest & private person. I've never even gone to the bathroom while your daddy is in it. I had never been so vulnerable & exposed, but somehow I didn't even care. At one point, a doctor asked me if it was OK if her student came in. I thought, "there are already 10 people (two nurses, my midwife, two doctors, 3 pediatricians, & 2 other people who were monitoring something that I can't remember now) I hadn't met until today in this room. What's one more?" I told her it was fine. The student sheepishly stared at the floor as he walked into the room, & I wondered if this was the first delivery he was witnessing. I couldn't help but think of my sister in law, who was a nursing student, & hoped that people were nice enough to allow her to witness this kind of experience too.

Somehow amid the exhaustion & vomiting, I pushed (& the doctor pulled). Finally, your head was out & I just had one more push. After the last push, I felt an immediate release in pressure. At 10:59pm on December 30th you were born.

I looked for you & awaited the skin to skin contact I had read was imperative, but they never laid you on my chest. In fact, the team of pediatricians rushed you into the adjoining room next door. Your daddy glanced to where they had taken you & back at me. I knew what he was thinking. He didn't want me to feel abandoned, but he was just as worried about you as I was. "No, it's OK. I'm OK. Go be with our baby," I said more strongly than I felt as he too rushed to the other room.

This was not how it was supposed to happen. Where were the baby cries that you hear in the movies? Where was the exclamation, "It's a girl!" (or "it's a boy" if our ultrasound technician was wrong)? I hadn't even gotten to see my baby, & fear filled my heart as I wondered if you were OK.

I love you so,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

first time out on the ice

Dear Em,
My friend Julie is the best for knowing where fun activities for kids are. When we were kids, her mom knew all the cool spots, & we'd join her & her family on so many fun adventures. Now, Julie's daughter S is like a big sister to you, & Julie always has fun ideas for where to get you girls together. When Julie mentioned ice skating, alarms went off in my head. I pictured ice blades & hard ice & injuries & blood. Instead of suggesting we just hag out at home where no one will probably die, I took a deep breath & said "sure, why not?"

We met at the outdoor skating rink in Westerly. I laughed when I found out it was little S's first time skating too. Apparently, Julie had waited until she was 5 to try it out. You were just barely 3. Inside my head a voice was saying, "get out of here before something really bad happens."

After you & S spent 5 minutes knocking each other down with hugs & giggles, we put our skates on & stepped onto the ice. It had been years since I had last put on skates. I immediately felt wobbly & wondered how I would keep myself upright let alone the two of us. Luckily, they had a bunch of milk crates nearby. I threw you eased you over to one, & we both kind of held onto it for a while while we got our bearings.

It actually wasn't so bad. In fact, it was wicked fun. Little S was able to skate on her own without a crate her very first time skating! You tried to skate on your own, but you felt much better when you held onto something (preferably me). I stumbled along, trying to skate & take pictures & hold you up all at the same time. I was just happy to have never fallen on top of you. And Julie? While she says she hasn't gone skating since her mom had the great idea to take us all when we were kids, there she was easily skating backwards. Ha!

You're such a little perfectionist. You've been walking since you were 8 1/2 months old, & you don't remember what it feels like to be wobbly. You didn't like it that you didn't master skating in the first 30 seconds. After five minutes, you looked at me & said "OK, I'm done Mommy." I let you take a little rest, but then encouraged you to try again. It's OK to not be good at something when you first try it out. Sometimes there's fun in not getting things too. By the end you were embracing your wobbling & having more fun with it.

So, thanks to Julie for encouraging us to go outside of our comfort zone, & have lots of fun.

I love you so,

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Goo Goo Dolls & Memories

Dear Em,
I recently discovered the Goo Goo Dolls Pandora station. I swear, it brings me right back to high school. For me, nothing else brings me back like music & smells.

You know how it smells right at the end of the rain? The soil in the ground is moist, & all the worms are pushing their way to the surface? That smell brings me right back to walking to school in sixth grade (& being chased by an out-stretched hand holding said worms).

So, the Goo Goo Dolls Pandora station brings me right back to high school- the drama, practically wearing my phone as an accessory, the tears, the heartbreak- you know, high school. Really deep stuff (embarrassed laugh).

Gosh, I am so afraid of when you're in high school. You know what's funny? I think back to how many times I cried in high school over things that were really, really, REALLY important at the time. Now, I can't even remember what I cried about half the time. Even the things I can remember, none of them matter now. But if someone tried to tell me that back then? I would have rolled my eyes & thought clearly they don't have a clue.

When you're in high school, you'll think that I don't have a clue (maybe you already do). Gosh, I am so afraid of when you're old enough to be in high school.

But seriously, the Goo Goo Dolls Pandora's wicked AH-MAZ-ING (how do you feel about the word amazeballs? I kinda like it). You won't regret it.

I love you so,

Monday, January 14, 2013

Your Birth Story: Part One

Dear Em,
* This is the first part of a four part series, You can also read Your Birth Story: Part TwoYour Birth Story: Part Three, & Your Birth Story: Part Four. *

It's been three years. It's only taken three years to sit down and write your birth story. In my defense, it's been the fastest three years of my life...& also the most amazing.

Three years ago, my body felt broken- broken to the point I didn't think I wold ever feel whole again- but my heart felt so much fuller than I could have ever imagined. But, let's start at the beginning. I had never wanted to get pregnant...but I always knew I wanted to have kids. It's possible I was forever scarred after watching birthing videos to prepare for the birth of one of my siblings (which I didn't end up witnessing, thank God). While babies always seemed like a beautiful miracle, to me, child birth was just gross & pregnancy seemed awful.

I grew up hoping that either I would have enough money to be able to pay for a surrogate or someone would just volunteer. I may have asked some of my family members. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy...I guess I kinda was.

Since I wasn't a millionaire, & no one seemed to want to volunteer nine months of their lives, I settled on the fact we would have to do things the old fashioned way. While your daddy & I had only been married for six months, we had been together for almost ten years. It's not that we even decided to start trying to have a baby, we simply just decided to stop preventing a baby. We figured if we were to get pregnant right away, great. If not, we didn't have a set timeline & wouldn't get stressed out. I assured your daddy that I had read somewhere that it takes at least three months to get pregnant after stopping the birth control pill (his friends now call that the three month lie), & he agreed to stop trying not to have a baby too.

Well, it didn't take three months. I'm not even sure it took three days. When my midwife told me I was pregnant, I laughed & said "that's really funny." That's when she stuck the pregnancy test an inch away from my face and said, "see the two lines? That means you're pregnant." I immediately burst into tears of joy. I mean, I told myself we were just not preventing & we had time, but for a while I had been looking at pregnant women with a longing I cannot describe. I held my belly & looked down & for the first time dreamed of what you would look like and who you would be.

As much as I was bursting to tell someone else the exciting news, I wanted your daddy to be the next to know, & I wanted to tell him in person. We had already planned to meet for happy hour at one of our favorite restaurants (I wasn't expecting good news at my doctor's appointment), & I met him with a gift. Inside a box was a baby RedSox baseball cap & RedSox onesie. Daddy picked up the cap & looked at me with an puzzled "this is too small to fit me" look. Then he picked up the onesie. A shocked, absolutely stunned & dumbfounded look spread across his face. I could almost hear him thinking, "what about the three months?" No one can really blame him. It wasn't just the swiftness of the pregnancy, it was also thinking about the fact we were scheduled to go to a beer festival the next day & travel to Ireland in just a couple weeks.

Needless to say, the beer festival didn't happen for me. And Ireland? Let's just say it was a much different trip than planned. Sure, we traveled the countryside & climbed mountains, but I felt nauseous at every step & often had to stop to vomit. I couldn't keep anything down. I spent more time vomiting in the bathrooms of Ireland than I had spent my whole life added together. We celebrated my 28th birthday in Ireland, & your daddy said we could do whatever I wanted. I asked if we could spend the whole day in bed. I was exhausted. I read somewhere the the energy expended in the daily growth & development of a baby during the first trimester is comparable to the energy used to complete a marathon. Except that no one runs marathons every day.

All of a sudden, I had developed a super sonic sense of smell that has never gone away. EVERYTHING smelled bad to me. We returned from Ireland to the brand new carpets that had been installed in our home & a new car. Augh, worst smells ever! My shampoo, perfume & lotion? Forget about it...disgusting! Surprisingly, the strong smell of lilacs were the only thing that didn't seem to smell awful to me. Your papa was amazing. He trimmed lilacs off our bushes & filled the house with them. I will always think of you when I smell lilacs.

Once the second trimester rolled around, most of the nausea went away & I had more energy. Things weren't so bad except that I looked super fat. Why is it that every other pregnant woman looked adorable to me & I just looked huge? The emergence of my belly also opened me up to the unsolicited advice & ignorant comments of strangers. One woman actually told me that she just knew I was having a girl because my face was fat. I also had random people touching my stomach. Here is my unsolicited advice, unless it is offered, don't grab a pregnant woman's belly.

I know I sound really complainy. I'm pretty sure if I was a woman trying to get pregnant & I was reading this, I would hate me right now. I just didn't love being pregnant. I always knew I wouldn't. I still don't understand women who love being pregnant, but that doesn't mean there wasn't joy in being pregnant. I loved you the very second I knew about you, & knowing that you were on the way was the biggest happiness I'd ever known. I loved feeling you move inside my belly. You were stubborn, & anytime someone else tried to feel you move you would stop. It was almost like you saved your kicks special just for me (soon your hard kicks felt less special. you've always had quite a kick). The only time someone else had a chance to feel you move is when you had the hiccups. You had them at least 3 times a day, & it would make me giggle to think of you bouncing around with hiccups.

I talked to you & sang to you & smiled as I thought of you growing & developing. I loved to read about what kind of fruit you resembled in size each week. During your ultrasounds, tears streamed down my face. Looking at your little arms, your little legs...seeing you move around (you were quite the womb gymnast), I exclaimed that you were the cutest little one in the world (& our ultrasound tech smirked as we continued to look at the weird ultrasound images). Every time I got to hear your heart beat at one of my appointments, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I was super paranoid. If it had been fifteen minutes & I hadn't felt you move, I was practically frozen in fear waiting for a little poke. Random television show moments & commercials made me cry (Sarah Mclachlan's animal cruelty commercial got me every time). Otherwise, your daddy says I was actually nicer during my pregnancy. It was like I knew I was going to have to start letting things go. I'm very type-A, & previously everything had to be just so. I had started to realize that I couldn't plan everything. For instance, I had never wanted a baby born right around Christmas time. It never seemed fair to have to share your birthday with Jesus. But there I was, due on December 29th. I realized that was just the beginning of things I would not longer have control over.

I also tried to cherish this time with your daddy. While the nausea, the exhaustion, & the supersonic smell were happening to me, I felt so bad for your daddy. He came home from work, & I was already in bed. He would bring me dinner in bed & I would typically be sleeping by 7pm. By the second trimester, I still didn't really feel like the life of the party. An 8pm bedtime sounded just right to me, but I tried to make an effort. In a few short months, everything would change. It would never be just me & Daddy ever again. As a very pregnant woman we still went to a Weezer & Blink 182 concert, cheered at baseball games, participated in a 5k, traveled on long road trips, & I DD'ed quite a bit as we went out with friends (reminding him that he would be paying me back at the end of the nine months). We celebrated our first year anniversary in Boston. I waddled through the streets, & your Daddy asked me if I was doing OK every 30 seconds.

The third trimester was exhausting & uncomfortable. As much as I tried, I couldn't sleep more than a few hours a night. I could feel the space inside my body getting tighter, & you kicked & punched me to no end. We celebrated Thanksgiving a month before you were due. I was beyond excited about the holiday. Finally I could eat as much as I wanted & not feel bad. After all, I was eating for two, right? Unfortunately, the size of my stomach had shrunk in the small space & I was full after a few bites of yumminess. I felt like I was part of Alanis Morissette's song, "isn't it ironic, don't you think?"

Your daddy saw that an episode of "A Baby Story" was on TV & we sat down to watch it. During the birth portion, I began to feel light headed. It was all the disgustingness I dreaded. "Oh my gosh. Turn it off! TURN IT OFF!" I exclaimed. I felt sick to my stomach & I panicked. "Maybe we should have thought about this more. I don't think I can do this. I change my mind. Right, I can change my mind?" Your daddy was just as grossed out as he smiled at me & softly told me there was no turning back. That was going to be our reality in just a month. Thank God I had you to look forward to. That was the only thing that didn't have me crying & huddled in a corner.

Due to my sleeplessness & my super low blood pressure, I stopped working a month before your due date. I spent that time readying your room & trying to walk you out. My whole family was coming up for Christmas (8 people & 3 dogs), & I really hoped you'd be there to share it with us. I walked 1-3 miles a day on the treadmill & read everything on the internet about things to eat that would induce labor. I made myself smoothies of mangoes, pineapple, & kiwi. I made eggplant parm three times.

Two weeks before my due date I had lost my mucus plug & was at my weekly doctor's appointment. I was four centimeters dilated & my midwife said she wouldn't be surprised if I had you in the next 24 hours (which she said she never says to anyone). My Dad took me for a bumpy drive, my family had me climb a tower, & I was bounced up & down on a yoga ball. Two weeks later, Christmas had passed, half of my family had left to go back to North Carolina, I had lost a second mucus plug, it was my due date, & there I was still pregnant.

I walked in for my doctors appointment, I'm sure looking not very thrilled. "Well, you can continue, which you're certainly fine to do, or we can induce you tomorrow. Technically, you're a week overdue from your first due date," (did I tell you I had two due dates? I guess it doesn't matter. You missed both of them) my midwife told me. To me it wasn't even a question. I almost jumped off the examining table & hugged her. I was ready to meet you. I was ready for you to be out of my body. I was ready to get this show on the road.

I love you so,

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

3 Years of Stats

Dear Em,
This blog has in a sense become your baby book. No baby book is complete without stats. I listed your first two years of stats here. And now, more quickly than Daddy & I were ready for, you've turned three. So, without further ado, here are your third year stats...

2.5 years
Height: 37inches (90th percentile)
Weight: 33lbs (90th percentile)

3 years
Height: 39inches (90th percentile)
Weight: 33lbs (50-75th percentile)

I love you so,

Monday, January 7, 2013

Third Birthday Partying

Dear Em,
On December 30th you turned three. I haven't bogged about it yet, because up until yesterday, we've been so busy celebrating. Similar to Christmas, we kind of celebrated your birthday all month long. It all started when Aunt Andrea & Lowell were in town. We spent one special night celebrating your birthday with the whole McGovern family.

I had high hopes of making you cupcakes from scratch. You were very specific about your cake needs. You wanted PINK strawberry cupcakes. I found this recipe online & was so excited to make you what you wanted. I'm not sure what happened. Maybe I put too much pureed strawberry juice? The cupcakes didn't rise. In fact, they flopped. The homemade icing looked like curdled milk, which was funny because there was no dairy in the recipe (ok, it actually wasn't that funny). They looked awful, but everyone played along & said they were yummy. Maybe I should stick with a box next time?

We had your favorite for dinner: breakfast. You were thrilled to have all of your favorite foods. You filled up on fruit, yogurt, granola, pancakes, & of course bacon. Best of all, we got to spend the night with all of the McGoverns.

Next, you celebrated your birthday at school. I played it safe & amazing & ordered a donut cake from Allie's Donuts. You loved your princess donut cake, & you were so excited to share it with your friends & teachers at school.

I let you pick out your look for that day. Pink shirt, purple tu-tu, crimped pigtails.

On the day of your birthday, we were visiting my family in North Carolina. Nonnie planned a super fun day for you. The day before your birthday, you woke up with a high fever & just wanted to snuggle on the couch all day. I was so bummed you might spend your birthday feeling sick. As I put you to bed for the last time as a two year old, I said a little prayer you would be feeling better the next day. Luckily, your fever broke sometime during the night, & you woke up so excited to be a "big-girl three year old." You ran around telling everyone, "I'm this many now" as you tried to make a three with your little fingers.

Nonnie & Papi made you a special three year old breakfast (thanks so much to Haley from Life is Sweet for the fun idea).

While you enjoyed every last bite of your special breakfast, we all laughed & sang "Ruldoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (one of your very favorites) & then "Emma the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (as you held a raspberry on your nose). We went for a long walk after breakfast (your Nonnie got lost) before heading to the mall for some more birthday fun.

You enjoyed flying high with the trampoline bungee jump.

Then you took a ride on the Polar Express with Nonnie & Papi.

We took you home for a nap while your daddy & I searched for the perfect birthday cake. Then we headed to Jungle Rapids Kids Jungle for climbing, bouncing, sliding, ball pit fun (seriously, your Nonnie knows all the cool places to go).

It was tons of fun for you & even more fun for Uncle Nick & I. Who says grown-ups can't have fun in the Kids Jungle too?

After the last  disaster, we thought it would be smarter to get a bakery bought cake. You're a huge Strawberry Shortcake fan, & when I found a beautiful strawberry shortcake in the bakery we knew it would be perfect for you. We got Strawberry Shortcake to top it & wrote "have a berry happy birthday!"

It was such a fun, fun day even thought later we found out you were suffering through an awful ear infection.

We flew home super early the next day (New Years Eve) & you spent the rest of the year with Grandma & Papa while Daddy & I went out to welcome in the New Year. We were all a little too pooped to celebrate your birthday just the three of us. So, we waited until this past Saturday. We had a simple & fun day, just the three of us. Plus, we unveiled your birthday gift.

I videoed you as you came downstairs to find your car with a big pink bow on top. "Mommy & Daddy, you bought me a car?! A brand new car?!" It was so cute & hilarious. I'm so glad that I'll be able to watch it & smile even when you're 16...especially because we're a little concerned about your driving abilities. Seriously, I can already feel our insurance rates going up.

We ended the night by playing The Lady Bug Game, a game that I'll likely be talking more about soon because it's already our family's favorite. We loved watching your excitement over moving your lady bug piece forward & back & counting each piece you won. It was a precious way to end our sweet family day.

I love you so much, our little three year old & I've loved celebrating you & the best three years of our lives more than you can ever know.

I love you so,

Here are posts about last year's birthday here & here, your 1.5 birthday, & your 2.5 birthday celebrations.

Friday, January 4, 2013

love letters

Dear Miss T & Miss S,
I can’t believe it’s Em’s last day! It’s a bittersweet moment for us. It’s exciting & amazing because she’s hit a big milestone. She’s done so much growing & learning during her time at school, & she’s moving up. At the same time, we can’t help but feel a little bummed out that she’s moving on without the two of you. You’re the only very first teachers she’ll ever have, & you’ve set an incredibly high bar for every teacher she has in the future.

You two have, in a sense, become a part of our family. You were there to dry Em’s tears on her very first day of school. You were there to rub her back & check her temperature when she was suffering through chronic ear infections. You read her stories & sang her songs (which she then preciously sings in the car…love it!). You helped all of us through potty training (If for nothing else, we will never forget you for that). Brian told me last night that for the longest time he had a fear that Em would enter kindergarten without being fully potty trained. He told me what a relief he felt leaving Em with the two of you during the days when we were in full potty training mode, because he knew the two of you “were on it.”

You know Em better than almost anyone else. You know when she’s coming down with a sickness & when she hasn’t had enough sleep. You know when she needs a hug. You knew when she was ready to spell her name or her hair was long enough for pigtails or she could drink without a cover on her cup (remember the cup shaking?).

Our daughter has learned & grown & thrived under your loving care. We love the sweet stories she tells us about what she’s learned & what she did during her day. Sometimes the stories make us laugh. Sometimes they are so sweet they bring tears to our eyes. Sometimes her stories cause us to check out Amazon (we learned about her love of Magna-Tiles, My Little Pony’s, sit and bounce balls, & Pete the Cat through you).

When I asked Em her favorite thing about you, she said, “I just love singing to her.” Then she said to tell you that she “loves you & misses you.”

We are in constant awe of everything you do. You teach & guide & love a whole classroom of 18 month-3 year olds with such patience & laughter & love. We have a hard enough time doing that with one child. All the while you’re also lesson planning, birthday poster making, calendar coloring, & cleaning. We’re both in awe & exhausted just thinking about it. There’s also the little things you do for & with the kids. It’s the way you are with them, knowing what each one needs individually, that makes such an impact & such a difference everyday. We’re going to struggle to not compare you to Em’s future teachers, because we know that no else could measure up. Is there a place to nominate you for teacher of the year?

So, one last time, we wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you! We hope to keep in touch so that Em can give her very first teacher’s, the best teachers, big hugs. Merry Christmas to you & your family. Happy New Year. We wish & pray for you the best of everything in 2013 & beyond.

We love you,
Em, Julie, & Brian

Here are our past letters: December 2011 & May 2012

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas 2012 Recap

Dear Em,
We were so fortunate to be surrounded by friends & family throughout the Christmas season. Celebrations with the people we love started early in December & lasted until the end of the year. You loved every moment of it, & I'm sure you're sad to see the Christmas season go.

We started with our fun Thanksmas Swap, where we celebrate Thanksgiving & Christmas with some of our friends (last year's Thanksmas Swap). After a filling holiday dinner, we had an intense Yankee Swap. The gift favorites seemed to be a coffee mug in the shape of a toilet & a large Yoda stuffed animal this year. It was actually a tame year this year. It was so fun to ring in the holiday season with some of our nearest & dearest friends.

The next weekend we headed to the Big Apple for a city-style Christmas celebration with your God Father & Aunt E.

Next your Aunt Andrea & Lowell flew up for a weekend of birthday celebrating, a wonderful family Christmas, & New England fun. We had a cozy & fun McGovern Christmas celebration. It was so nice to be all together. Aunt Andrea's favorite gift didn't come until a week later, though, when Lowell proposed! We're so happy for them & exited that you'll be calling him Uncle Lowell.

It was sad saying goodbye to Andrea & Lowell, but the next week was filled to the brim with fun events. We were able to gather at our house for a Christmas party with some of your dearest friends. Little M was born four weeks before you, & little S was born six weeks after. You three have been playing together all of your lives, & it was a blast watching you together this year (last year's Christmas party). It's amazing to me how much you grow each year.

Your Christmas party at school was adorable & sweet. It was also your last day in your class. Yup, you've moved from Peanuts to Sunshines. I couldn't help but look around at all the littles & be in awe at how much everyone had grown. You're all so cute with your little (& sometimes big) personalities.

Believe it or not, next was our little family Christmas celebration. Since we're traveling to other homes on December 25th, Santa makes a special visit to our house earlier in the week so we can celebrate & enjoy at home. This year we celebrated on the 23rd. We spent the whole day in our pajamas & only left the house to pick up take-out Thai food for dinner (yup, in my PJs). It was so fun to see your excited little face. You really do make Christmas so much more special. Unfortunately, Christmas was also full of tantrums this year. We chalked it up to a busy day...& a busy week. However, just as we sat down to dinner, you vomited all over the table. Poor thing, you must've had an upset stomach & the tantrums were a result of you not being able to express it. It wasn't exactly how we thought the day would go, but it was still a special day in our funny little family way (our little family celebration last year).

Sitting in your castle with your two new favorite friends, Bell & Jingle.

We were also able to squeeze in some precious moments with little S, who has been like a big sister to you. We hadn't seen her since Halloween, & you were thrilled to play together.

You were feeling much better on Christmas Eve, & we had Grandma & Papa over for dinner before going to a beautiful & sweet Christmas Eve service.

On Christmas Day, we headed to Grandma & Papa's house for a big family dinner & gathering. It's always a fun time to get together with your Grandma's family. It amazing how the family just grows & grows. Just as the last guests were leaving, we also left for our flights to North Carolina.

After 2 exhausting flights, & you screaming for the last 20 minutes of the last flight (chalk it up to being over tired. nothing helped. not movies or books or toys or an iPad.), we spent the last 10 minutes of Christmas Day with my family. We all woke up late the next day to celebrate Christmas together. It was an all day event, especially because you took a break to get some naps in. We had an amazing dinner together as a family, & once you went to bed we stayed up late & played board games that Aunt Jennie & Uncle Nick brought.

Sadly, the Bixby Family Christmas PJs didn't work out for everyone this year. I had ordered them in advance, but didn't realize until your poor uncle put them on that the company had shipped children's sizes instead of men's. Oh well, it sure did make everyone laugh (Last year's PJ's).

And that was our holiday season. Are you exhausted? I sure am. Our family & friends were more than generous & you were quite spoiled. I think we may have to buy a new house just to fit all of your things in it.

It's funny. Looking back, it was an absolutely perfect & amazing Christmas season in a tantrum filled, things shipped late, we were crazy busy, vomiting on Christmas dinner, small Christmas PJs kind of way. You know what I mean?

I love you so,
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