Birth Knot: Three Generations of Beauty

My husband Allan and I met our Freshman year of college. By the end of our Sophomore year we were engaged and during Christmas break of our Junior year we were married. Six weeks after we both graduated our first child was born. Yes we move fast, and yes, I couldn't wait to be a mommy! (By the way we celebrated our 25th anniversary this past December.)

I had grown up always knowing that I wanted natural childbirth. We didn't go to any classes, but I had read the book "Childbirth Without Fear" and had personally attended 2 beautiful natural home births. (I was there to see my Mom deliver my baby brother when I was 9 and had been the companion for two little girls that I babysat for as they watched their little sister's birth when I was a teenager.)  I felt as prepared as you could possibly be for someone who has never personally experienced it!  Allan on the other hand had never been exposed to the idea of natural childbirth but was following my lead.  He would admit that he was a bit terrified of the whole idea, but believed that I could do it!

After an uneventful pregnancy (Other than being terribly sick from weeks 5-13) I felt very ready, although a bit nervous about the delivery. Mostly I was just very excited to finally hold my baby! We had not had an ultrasound, as I was using a midwife, so we didn't know the sex of our baby, but I was certain she was a girl. We decided to name her Grace after Allan's late grandmother Gracie.

At my 38.5 week checkup my Midwife DeEtte said I was 50-60% effaced and about 2 cm dilated. The baby's head was engaged.  She thought it would be a week or two before I went into labor, this being my first baby. So I was very surprised when I woke up 3 days later at 6:56 AM with the sensation of my water breaking. As I stood up the amniotic fluid began running down my legs. I wasn't having any contractions, but my water had definitely broken! Only a little came out as the baby's head was so low it effectively blocked the flow.

I told Allan what had happened and at first he wasn't sure he believed me!  I wasn't having any contractions and this is not what we had expected. We decided to take a fast walk around the neighborhood to get the contractions going. I put on my walking shoes and out the door we went, walking fast and stopping for me to squat (holding onto a random car fender) every once in a while to encourage the baby's head to put more pressure on my cervix. Still no contractions.......

We came home, ate breakfast and I took a shower, shaving my legs excitedly, knowing this was going to be the day I would finally meet my baby! Still no contractions.......

Allan went to work and I straightened up the house, washed the dishes, trimmed my bangs and took a nap, still no contractions.......

I then decided to call DeEtte to let her know what was going on. She suggested that I take some Castor Oil, (2 oz) which would clean out my bowels and also hopefully irritate my uterus enough to start some contractions. Allan came home from work bringing the Castor Oil to me. I drank it in a Blackberry milkshake that I had for my lunch. By 2 PM I was contracting! (and also throwing up - it turns out blackberries were NOT a good choice!)  I continued to walk around the house doing some nipple stimulation to start a contraction, then squatting with my legs spread wide with every contraction.  By 2:30 my contractions were lasting about 60 seconds and were 2-5 minutes apart and starting to get quite uncomfortable. I remember being surprised that the contractions were as overwhelming as they were. I had not expected to feel them in every part of my torso, from back to front!

At 4:30 we called DeEtte again. We lived about 90 minutes away from the birth center, so DeEtte said it was time to come on in, she would meet us there at 6 PM.  We hurriedly packed a bag and out the door we went. Allan was filming this part, I was already in the car and I was saying, "Let's go baby!" I was ready to get this show on the road! 

I continued to have contractions about every 2-5 minutes during the car ride. I was calm, using my deep breathing exercises the whole time.  Allan was very anxious to get us there!  When DeEtte checked me at 6:20 PM  I was still only 2 cm dilated but was now 80% effaced. She wasn't convinced that my water had really broken, so she pushed up on the baby's head and a gush of amniotic fluid spilled out all over the floor. When she checked me the next time I was to 3 cm and 100% effaced so she suggested that a warm bath would help me to relax and may also ease the labor pains. So into the tub I went, it was about 7:30 PM.  This was a regular sized tub, so Allan poured water over my belly while I continued to deep breathe. I was having a LOT of back labor, so after about an hour in the tub I was hot and bothered and felt  like I just couldn't handle this anymore! So I asked to be checked again. The midwife had the capability to give me a Para-cervical block if I needed it and at this point I thought I really might!

When she checked me at 8:30 PM  I was 8 cm dilated!  I had gone from 3 to 8 in one hour while in the tub! I then realized that I was in transition, and that is why I felt like I couldn't do it anymore!  She said it would only be about 15 more minutes until I could start to push and I knew I could do that! When I hit 10 cm the contractions felt different, they didn't hurt anymore. I could still feel them, but they had done their job of opening up my cervix, and were really manageable again. I didn't feel like pushing yet, so I sat on a birthing stool and closed my eyes and rocked, just giving myself a break before the next big job of pushing this baby out!  This whole time the lights had been dim and some beautiful instrumental music was playing in the background, so it really WAS relaxing.

After about 30 minutes of this she asked if I felt like pushing and suggested that I get on the bed.  It was a full sized bed, so Allan sat beside me rubbing my leg and murmuring encouraging words. Allan's sister Christy was doing the filming for us. She was also a great encourager to me, cheering me on every step of the way. At first  I really had no idea how to push, so the midwife placed a mirror at the end of the bed so I could see what I was doing. Allan was holding up one leg and the nurse the other. When they lifted up my legs and I pushed I could see the top of the baby's head, just about a 2 inch circle, and her hair looked red!  Allan and I were both blond, and we had no red heads in the immediate family so we were really surprised by this. It made me all the more excited to meet my baby!

I pushed for over an hour, it was harder than anything I had ever done before in my life. But other than the stretching and burning sensation it  was really not painful. The baby's head started to turn a bit blue, so DeEtte did a quick episiotomy to get her out fast, The cord was around her neck and it was getting pretty tight. She had me wait to push the rest of her out until she had slipped the cord over her head. Grace immediately pinked up and with one more push the rest of her came sliding out.  She had one hand on her face during her birth and gave herself a small scratch. Then DeEtte held Grace up for me to see and said, "You were right, it's a girl!"  My first words were, "I can't believe I have a baby!"

Soon after her birth we gave her a bath to clean her up and to get a good look at her.  When we washed her hair we could see that it really WAS red! Because she had red hair I jokingly asked Allan if we should name her "Roxanne" instead of Grace!  We couldn't believe how perfect she was! She loved the bath and kept opening her mouth to taste the water. So we got her out of the tub and placed her skin to skin on my chest and I learned how to nurse her. She caught on quickly and we both enjoyed nursing! Having a natural birth was the most amazing experience of my life. I can't describe to you how incredible I felt immediately after the delivery.  I could have climbed a mountain (if my legs would just stop shaking!) I think one of the best parts of having a natural birth is that natural "high" you get right after delivery. All that night I couldn't sleep. I just kept looking at Grace!

Grace Elizabeth was born at 10:38 PM and weighed 7 pounds and was 21 inches long. The year was 1991. During my entire labor I never cried out, I only said "ouch!" when the midwife did 5 stitches to close up the episiotomy. (I tore a bit more than the episiotomy because Grace's arm came out with her hand on her face) I have found that it is much better to think relaxing thoughts and concentrate on the job at hand then to make a bunch of unnecessary noise. (I know many other people don't feel this way!) But after having had 5 natural births, I can attest to this: relaxation is key. Not being afraid is key. If you are afraid you tense up and then you are working against the very thing your body is trying to do, which is to open you up so your baby can come out!

- - -

Ellie Joy - 2013
"It's like Christmas!" my husband Willy said, grinning ear to ear.

"Yes," I agreed. "Except I'm going to be pushing this baby out of a very small chimney." The room exploded with laughter; it was vibrating through the walls and through my body and pulling a few of my fears along with it. My husband, my mom, my sister Ruth, my dear friend Laura—they were all there for me—for the birth of my daughter Ellie. 

At my 37 week appointment, the PA was concerned that I was measuring small. She ordered an ultrasound to take place just before our 38 week appointment.  Driving with my husband that day, I was a little nervous, but the baby kicks soothed my butterflies; I knew my baby was just fine.  

Staring down at the data from the ultrasound, Dr. Howell shook her head. 

"Well her heart beat is normal, the fluid levels look good, but they estimated her at about five pounds, ten ounces...which puts her in the 5th percentile," she said. "I don't like that." Her brown eyes look up at me, more serious than I have seen them before. 

"You don't?" I said, trying to make light of it with a smile, but it came out anxious. 

"No, I don't." The butterflies returned in full force. I rubbed my belly to soothe them away. 

"How do you feel about going ahead and having this baby?" She smiled gently. The panic must have been written on my face.  This was not what I planned for. I wanted a natural birth. I wanted my baby to be able to come in her own time. "You've still been feeling lots of movement?" I nodded. "Well she seems to be doing fine for now, but she'd probably be better off out than in at this point.  It seems like she's probably just not growing any more. I am on call today so you could go right on over to labor and delivery and we'll get you started with an induction this afternoon. We could wait, but heaven forbid we wait a week and the baby know...I just think it might be better to go ahead and get her out now while she's still doing well."

Willy, my mom and I all look at each other. 

"I'll give you a few minutes to talk it over, and when you've decided you can come and find me." 

The sound of the door closing threw my stomach into roller coaster mode; I held onto the exam table for support. I listened to my husband and my mother talk. They were both looking at me, but I just kept saying, "I don't know. I don't know. I don't know." Then blurted, "I'm hungry! I left the phone charger at the house!" and "I need to take out the trash!" In the end we decided that it would be the best thing for Ellie baby to be induced that day, but it would be the best thing for Mommy to go and get some lunch and run by home first. I collected myself as much as possible, we told Dr. Howell our plan, and promised to meet her at the hospital around three. 

Stopping by the house after lunch felt good. And though you could argue with me about the real honest-to-goodness necessity of taking out the trash before we went to the hospital to have our baby, but I needed it.  I put the finishing touches of order to our home. I walked through each room making sure. I sighed with relief at the memory that I had just cleaned the bathroom yesterday, and when I closed the door behind me, I knew the next time I walked through that door I would be carrying my baby in my arms. Or lugging her in the carseat. Whichever. I could feel my sense of humor returning to me.

My friend Laura arrived at the hospital shortly after we had checked in and they had put me on the monitors. I had tried to insist that she attend the rest of her classes that day, as nothing too exciting would be happening for quite awhile, but she told me she couldn't focus and so instead she had stood up in the middle of class and said in her bold Oklahoma accent, "I'm sorry, I've got to go, my friend is having A BABY!"  That's when Willy spoke the famous Christmas quote, which Laura promptly wrote down, saying that it was going to be even more hilarious later. 

At 3:49 I was given my first and only dose of Cytotec to help ripen my cervix. Between that and Dr. Howell stripping my membranes at our appointment that morning, my labor was gently underway within the hour.  We spent the majority of our later afternoon/early evening hours tromping the hallways, squatting with every contraction to get the baby's head down and engaged. We ate dinner around seven, and I opted for a very festive early thanksgiving dinner of turkey, cranberry sauce and a stuffed potato served alongside a nice carton of chocolate milk. Laura called it my "last meal before baby".  By 7:58 I was 3cm, 50% effaced and baby Ellie's head was -2 station.  (I had been 2cm and 50% at my appointment.)  We walked some more and decided we wanted to have Dr. Howell go ahead and break my water that evening to really get things going.  I am still roaming the hallways when the nurse finds me. 

"Grace, Dr. Howell just finished one c-section, she's about the do another one. I think maybe it would be a good idea for you to try and rest tonight, with a little pill by mouth, and let the doctor break your water in the morning..."she keeps talking. 

I'm thinking: WHY THE HECK DID I COME HERE TODAY IF YOU'RE JUST GOING TO STALL ME OUT OVERNIGHT? I'm pissed.  But what I say is much more polite. "I don't think sleep would happen for me tonight, labor is going. These are good contractions. Yada yada yada." I didn't want to justify my desire to continue to labor to this woman, but I felt like such a little girl when she looked at me with her "I've seen a thousand women in labor, and you don't look like it," face. She walked away and so did I. Walk walk walk. My mom assured me that I was in charge of my labor, and that I could have the doctor break my water if I wanted her to. That they would have to listen to me. I felt unsure. I looked at Willy, he looked at me. Then he said, "Let's have this baby!" 

At 9:10 Dr. Howell came in and checked me. "No change," she said. "Are you sure you don't want to rest tonight? With some Ambien?"

            "No," I shake my head, trying not to let the flash of anger well up in me.

            "Okay, well I can break the bag then." 

I understand why people are intimidated of the amniohook, but it doesn't hurt at all. When the waters rush out, I felt a strange sense of relief. The only regret in my mind is that this is the one point in my pregnancy when I will no longer be allowed to make love to my husband. When the room had been empty an hour before, we joked about having a quickie right there on the hospital bed, and after that idea was ruled out as awkward and too potentially embarrassing I said, "I TOLD you that you were going to regret not making love to me last night!"

After staying on the monitors for a little while to see how the baby responded to the waters being broken, I wanted to take a bath. Willy got it ready for me, and when I waddled in all naked and the least ashamed I have ever felt in my grown-up life, he said I already looked less pregnant from the back. Willy put on his swim trunks and the two of us sat in the bath for a good four hours at least, nurse Sandy checking on baby girl's heartbeat every 2 hours.  My labor intensified. Willy sat behind me for a while and rubbed my back. Later, I faced him and rocked with the contractions. We put more hot water in the tub as needed. My contractions came in two peaks, about five minutes apart.  When I got out of the tub almost four hours later my nurse checked me and I was 4cm and 60% effaced.  My labor was definitely more intense at this point which made it all the more irritating when my nurse kept me on the monitors for so long.  I was frustrated with how little I had progressed in almost 4 hours, especially having heard about how my Mom went from 3-8cm in one hour in the tub when she was in labor with me. A few minutes after I had gotten back in bed, around 12:55am, the OB charge nurse paid me a visit. 

            "Hello my name is Kristen and I'm the OB charge nurse on duty tonight. I was just coming to offer my help if you feel like your labor is dragging out a bit, I can do some reflexology and massage on your feet and ankles with some essential oils to help your labor intensify and also to help with pain relief.  Is that something you think you'd be interested in?"

In my head I'm thinking HECK YEAH! But all that came out was a nod between contractions. 

"She's going to let you snort something too" nurse Sandy winked as Kristen returned with two essential oils for me to smell.  I chose the one with a citrusy scent and they got me ready for her wonderful massaging hands by placing what they called "the peanut" between my knees and turning me onto my right side. It was a peanut shaped inflatable which was designed to open up my hips and make my contractions more effective.  Kristen informed me that sometimes that in addition to the reflexology made the labor too intense, so if we needed to stop I should let her know.  I figured that intense was probably the direction we were headed, so I decided I would just suck it up.

            "Would you like me to stop during a contraction?" She asked in her soothing voice.  I shook my head and tried to focus on the smooth movements of her hands on my feet and ankles.  It was a very pleasant distraction.  I needed it.  My labor intensified. I closed my eyes.  I could hear everyone talking in whispers around me. I listened to their conversation like someone who is pretending to be asleep.  I kept my eyes closed and tried to relax as much as possible, squeezing Willy's hand during the difficult contractions.  I heard my mother talking to Kristen about children, and pointing to my sister who was wearing a Peruvian style sweatshirt she said, "and that's my fourth over there in the drug rug..."

            "SHHHH." I said.  For some reason hearing those words come out of my mother's mouth was all too hilarious, and I didn't want to laugh. 

            "I think I'm going to be sick..."I said. And I hurled. All over my husband.  After someone came and wiped my face, someone else said, "would you like to take a shower while the nurses change the sheets?"  I nodded; my eyes closed.  The good thing was that I had left my nightgown off after my bath earlier so only my husband's shirt was unchangeably covered in puke. Luckily he had an undershirt on.  Somehow, with my eyes barely open, I got off the bed and made my second butt naked trip to the bathroom.  Not bothering to close the door, or even the shower curtain, I swayed in the hot water, in and out, in and out to try and keep a comfortable temperature.  One second I was sweating to death, the next I was shaking with feverish cold.  At some point Willy came into the bathroom and asked me something, but I wasn't listening or seeing him as my eyes were closed and I was focusing all my energy on gripping the brushed metal of the handicapped bar, swaying, relaxing, trying not to feel handicapped.  My mental dialogue was something like this: "I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I'M NOT AFRAID!" And I'm pretty sure I may have actually been chanting in my mind because these words did make it hard to hear anything else.  

            "Would you like Kristen to stay and do your other ankle, or is this working for you right now?" A pause, a contraction. Then I mumbled, "this is good." "Okay," he said, "she said she would come back later whenever you want then."  I nod.

I don't know how long it was before I finally came out of the bathroom, but when I did it was a blur of towels, warm blankets, monitors and eventually my Mom asked me if I wanted Kristen to come back. I nodded, "yeah." I felt like the baby I was getting ready to give birth to. I needed so much and so many people to take care of me. I kept my eyes closed as they helped me switch to my left side and put the peanut back between my knees again.  I felt Kristen's soothing hands, and my nausea intensified again.  This time they were able to get a bowl before I ruined someone else's appetite for Vietnamese noodle bowls. Kristen said that sometimes smelling rubbing alcohol helped to stem the nausea, so the next time I said I felt sick, someone held and antiseptic wipe up to my nose. And it helped. 

At 2:36 am, nurse Sandy checked me and I was 5cm and 80% effaced. I was getting close to transition, though I didn't really know it. I was doing my best to relax, and since my contractions were still about five minutes apart with two peaks, I actually drifted off in between contractions.  I kept thinking, "gee this might be the rudest kind of awakening," before drifting off again after the contraction subsided.  But before too long, the contractions were too difficult to get through for me to relax enough to fall asleep in between. A panicky feeling blossomed in my chest and I finally whispered, "I can't do this," while squeezing Willy's hand.

            My mom encouraged me; "Gracie, that's a good sign. Remember what I told you.  This feeling means you're in transition. You're almost there honey!"  I didn't feel like I was almost there. I was frustrated with the bands around my belly, which seemed to draw my focus to each contraction even more.  I tried not to think of the hours more of labor ahead of me, but to just focus on getting through each contraction. One at a time.  I needed to do something different, but all I really wanted was to curl up into a ball on the bed and go to sleep.  My mom suggested I try the birthing ball.  I didn't really want to, but I knew I was stuck and needed to do something else. After putting on my nightgown and my undies. I got on the birthing ball. Willy sat in the wooden rocking chair in front of me and held my hands. I swayed side to side on the ball.  I was having a really hard time trying to stay relaxed as each contraction took over my body and made me an instrument of some other power; something so much stronger than myself. I tried to remember what I had been telling myself while in the early stages of pregnancy.  The days when holding a mint tea bag up to my nose just wasn't cutting it.  That I was partnering with the Creator of the Universe, the Maker of all life, in bringing forth another beautiful life. 

My Mom, Laura, and even my Dad took turns rubbing my back as I rocked and held onto Willy for dear life.  I could feel his peaceful presence and almost hear his tumultuous thoughts.  My mother told me as I struggled to keep from tensing up my whole body, "Gracie you need to think about something else." She gave me a few images to think about, a beach, a walk with my husband. But Willy came up with the image that I clung to for that next hour.

            "You're in a cabin, with a warm fire burning in the fireplace in the corner. You're wrapped up in a warm down comforter, snuggled in with a good book. There is snow falling softly outside the window and you can hear the wind whipping around the house, but you are inside. And you are safe and warm. We are there together, just you and me. Just you and me." And I was chanting it in my head; "CABIN CABIN CABIN CABIN!" Willing myself to be there. Willing myself to relax my body and let it do what it needed to do. 

            I don't know how long it was before I began feeling the incredible pressure of my child’s head, but I ignored it for awhile thinking there was no way I was that close to being done. And I was afraid that if the nurse checked me, I wouldn't be fully dilated, and I didn't think I could take that kind of teasing. But after awhile, I spoke up and agreed to be checked. 

            It was 5:19 am on October the 24th when nurse Sandy announced, "10 centimeters, 100% effaced."

            "Yay! We're there honey. You did it!" My Mom said.

            I nodded. I opened my eyes. 

For the next hour I practiced pushing when I felt like it, relaxed when I felt like it and generally tried to regain my strength for the next phase of labor. But I didn't really have the motivation for much of anything until the sun came up.  Then I was ready.  "It's a new day," I told myself, " the sun is up, let's have this baby!" And I finally 'got serious' as Nurse Sandy called it. By 6:30 we could see that Ellie had a lot of blonde hair. "Could be a strawberry blonde," nurse Sandy said giving us all a wink. I decided to try squatting on the bed for more effective pushing. Around 7 am Dr. Howell came in to check on me.  She just kept saying how proud she was of me. I decided to give up on the idea of squatting since my feet had fallen completely asleep. 

            "Grace, this is Dr. Slack, he'll be the on call physician up next after me. I can stay till 7:45, but then I have to go to the clinic, so if this baby hasn't arrived yet, he'll be the one to deliver."

            "But Grace really wants Dr. Howell to deliver..." my Mom said.

            "Mom, it's fine," I say shaking my head. I really didn't care anymore.  

            "Well Dr. Slack is the one who delivered my sons," Dr. Howell said smiling.

            "And I only dropped him once." Dr. Slack teased.

            "And not on his head right?" My mom joked back.

The humor was a breath of fresh air to me, and I knew that either way I'd be in good hands.  Sure enough, 7:45 came, Dr. Howell went, and we were left in the very capable hands of Dr. Slack. 

            "I was actually trained by midwives," Dr. Slack told my mother as she mentioned her love of natural birth. "And I hate it when people tear, so we'll do our best to make sure that doesn't happen." I pushed with my contractions.  They were still about 5 minutes apart, which made for some anti-climactic waiting and a lot of pointless staring on the part of the hospital staff. 

            My baby's nurse said, "So, do you feel a contraction or what?" 

            "Nope," I said. She seemed more impatient to get my baby out than I was. Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of bringing in a whole big table full of scary looking tools that I hoped I wouldn't need, the nursing staff changed and I traded Sandy in for Laura. Laura was a middle-aged nurse with dark brown hair and big round glasses that seemed to perch delicately on her nose. She was full of smiles and had a calming voice as she instructed me how to make the most of my pushes. Things really got going then, and in the mirror I could see my sweet baby's head.  It was, "WOAH? There's actually a baby in there?"(You'd think I'd have figured that part out by now.)  I felt her coming. I felt the stretch as my body made way for this little person. And the strangest feeling was of her turning her head while still inside the birth canal, in preparation of being born. I remember thinking, "Ellie! Now is not the time for wiggling around! Can't you see I'm trying to give birth to you here?"  All the while Willy is pelting me with praises; telling me, "Good job honey, she's almost here, she's almost here!" And then, "that's her head! Good job honey!" Then Dr. Slack tells me "reach down, and pick up your baby" and I think for a moment there I had been closing my eyes because I remember it like I was opening them. Maybe it was like opening them for the very first time in a beautiful new world. "Pick up your baby", they told me, and I remember my heart leaping up in my chest, like; I can't believe it! I'm picking up my baby! She is so sticky and white and so covered in vernix that one eye is glued shut with it and she's laying on my chest taking her first breaths and making little newborn baby crying noises and I hear myself saying, "Oh my baby...I LOVE HER!" and looking at my husband and the tears welling up in both of our eyes.  The Ellie's nurse says, "Time of birth, 8:14 am." I look from Ellie, to my husband and back and say, "It is SO your nose!" and I start to laugh at that sticky baby with a nose that looks just like her father's, just the way I predicted from her profile in the 20 week ultrasound. The amazement over her nose eventually wears off and is replaced by this; "I can't believe I pushed her out of me!" The pain was so far from my mind I almost forgot what we had written in out birth plan when Dr. Slack said, "Hey guys, the cord stopped pulsating. Do you want to cut the cord?" And Willy cut the cord and we snuggled with our baby and Willy told me he was proud of me and kissed me and kissed her and big sloppy tears welled up in both of our eyes. And what started with a rather long night quickly became the happiest day of my life.  I'll spare you the gory details about my pain-in-the-but placenta that wouldn't detach and the internal manual sweep Dr. Slack did to make sure that none of it was left and skip right on to the happy ending.  The nurse suggested ordering breakfast. I looked at my husband and said, "Bacon!"  After I was cleaned up a bit, with a nice icepack on my Whooha, and my sweet baby at the breast, my family came in. Everyone "Ooeed" and "Ahhed" the precious 5lb 4oz bundle. My Daddy kissed my forehead as I told him, "I did it!" And he had tears of pride in his voice as he said, "Yes you did." 

Right around the time my breakfast arrived and Willy stopped pacing the room saying, "My wife JUST HAD A BABY. Where's her breakfast!?!" Laura kissed us goodbye and headed to her classes. My family left an hour later to give us some quiet family time. And between the rounds of visitors from his side of the family we showered, slept, and snuggled our baby until we thought our hearts would explode from love of her.  I texted my friend Sheila and said, "Hey, I pushed a baby out for you. Happy Birthday!" We left the hospital the next day around noon, and our lives have never been the same. 

My baby is just turned One, and I am addicted to her. I love to kiss that sweet skin on her neck just behind her ears. I love her sweet breath.  I love watching her face light up when she sees a dog and hearing the "arf! arf!" sound she makes. I love the way she proudly displays her two bottom teeth when she smiles; the way she scrunches up her nose. She is the best gift, and I want to give her all the good things this life has to offer. I thank God for every day I get to spend with her, and I am thankful for October the 24th, the day this blonde haired, blue-eyed angel came into my life.