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a letter to Quincy {six months old today}.

dear Quincy-Bug,

you, sweet boy, are six months old today, and i can’t believe it.

Q-25-Weeks

when your brother hit the six-month milestone, i was just as surprised by the quick passing of time. yet with you, as i’ve watched you stretch and flail and kick and chub your way from a wily five-pound baby {whose early arrival earned you a visit to the NICU} to your roly-poly, heavy-as-a-Christmas-ham self, it seems as if time hasn’t merely passed; instead, it’s raced on by, like your brother’s beloved Lightning McQueen who, he insists, drives “super fast.”

speaking of your brother…oh, you love him.

your Daddy and i often remark at how anything, everything that your brother does, you find fantastic and fascinating. just this morning, i was helping Lionel to get dressed, and as you watched your older brother exclaim with glee at wearing a new shirt today, you graced us with your famous gummy smile, obviously in love with your big brother, who, for the record, is so very sweet to you. while you may not be a big fan of his frequent kisses or his insistence on snuggling {or smothering, depending on the moment}, you certainly are smitten with everything that Lionel is and does, and you take great delight in watching his every move.

unlike your big brother, though, you’ve grown into a more independent little one; while Lionel refused to sleep on his own {and, let’s be honest, still prefers to snuggle Mama than sleep in his big-boy bed}, you’ve voiced your preference for solitary sleep for the past month or so. while your brother certainly had rolls and chub of his own as a baby, your delicious chub fills out your entire body, leaving many an elbow dimple and chunky leg for Mama to kiss and zurbit. while L was delighted to try baby food for the first time at six months old, Mama and Daddy feel certain that you will devour every helping of food that we give you and quickly demand more and more – in short, we can’t wait to give you your first taste of baby cereal this weekend.

oh yes – ever since your arrival, you’ve shown us repeatedly that you are your own little person, sweet Q. from the minute that you surprised us by arriving ahead of schedule, you haven’t stopped catching us by surprise, and we feel so grateful for all that you are and all that you’ll become. we are so thankful for you, Quincy-Bug.

xoxo,

Mama

what do YOU think of in the morning? {a mother’s response}

there’s an episode of One Tree Hill that popped into my brain as i was driving to work today. i’m a devoted fan of this show, so it was no surprise to me that a specific episode crossed my mind, but what delighted me was the reasoning behind why i found myself smiling as i remembered it.

this episode {from season five, called “What Do You Go Home To?”} opens with a glimpse into the bedrooms of all of the show’s major characters. as each character awakens, their voice speaks a single word or thought, presumably the first thing on their minds as soon as their eyes open.

the one that hit me the most? nathan and haley’s. as both of their eyes open, they speak the name of their child: Jamie.

* *

as my eyes open each morning and i greet the sunshine with {admittedly} hesitant, why-can’t-i-sleep-in-later groans, my mind immediately flashes two names across my cerebellum:

Lionel. Quincy.

these names appear simultaneously, of course; as all mothers know, there is no ultimate favorite child in the world of mothering {but there certainly are days where one child is favored more, simply because they are better behaved that day, or in that particular moment}.

it didn’t surprise me one bit that my brain, my heart, turned to my beautiful boys as soon as my eyes opened this morning.

of course i thought of them this morning, i said to myself. i think of them every morning.

L-Q-Stroller

i think of Lionel’s sweet insistence last night that he sleep “in Mama’s bed” instead of his own.

i think of his arms – the same arms that show off his “big-boy muscles” to me as he swats golf balls to and fro in our basement – wrapping tightly around my neck, my belly, my back as he snuggles in close. he’s always been my cuddly one.

i think of his fingers pull, pull, pulling on my hair as he tries to surrender to slumber, an act of comfort that he’s made his own since our eyes first met on that morning in June, nearly three years ago.

i think of his stubborn statement the day before that he “doesn’t like Elsa,” an out-of-character admittance that, i’m convinced, was the result of a teasing session from a boy or two at school. step back, Mama Bear, i told myself. boys can like Frozen, tooi told my sweet boy.

i think of his approaching birthday – the big, how-is-this-possible THIRD birthday on the horizon – and my heart aches when i think of all of the time that has passed, and how it has evaporated all too quickly. have most of our days together been good days? i ask myself. does he feel loved? does he feel abandoned, now that his little brother is around? all of my fears before welcoming Quincy into our lives resurface in that moment, and i work hard – each day, each minute – to convince myself that giving him a sibling – giving him Quincy – is a gift, and that any future children that join our family will be blessings in his life as well.

of course, while these thoughts are running marathons in my brain, ruminations on my other son, my sweet baby Quincy, take their turn in the relay race as well.

i think of Quincy’s chubby, dimpled elbows, and how i need to spend more time kissing that fleshy chub before his arms, like his brother’s, boast “big-boy muscles,” too.

i think of his eyes, the ones that i pray so fervently to stay green, like his Daddy’s.

i think of the way that he smiles with his entire body when he sees my face, and the way that he wrenches his little self this way and that to follow me as i move about a room.

i think of his stubborn insistence that he’s just fine to sleep on his own now, Mom, which he tells me through his exasperated cries as i try to hold him close. in the darkest part of the night, he awakens and eagerly nurses, and then just as eagerly demands to be swaddled back up tightly and placed back in the Moses basket that flanks our bed. he shifts and shuffles his way into a comfortable position, and as his eyes close, i lie awake in awe that i, famous for my reliance and need for others, am the mother to a very independent child.

i think of his refusal to feed from a bottle yesterday at daycare, preferring instead to nurse while snuggled closely in the arms of his Mama. perhaps he’s not so independent after all.

* *

what do YOU think of first thing in the morning? {admittedly, my second thought, after dwelling for few moments on the wonders that are my sons, is COFFEE.}

a work of balance {mothering two}.

being a Mama of two kiddos is a work of balance, a scale that’s endlessly tipping to this side and to that.

it’s tap, tap, tapping your foot on the bouncy seat as one slumbers and high-fiving the other for a successful and ferocious basketball dunk.

L-Q-Easter-2015

it’s the car dance of switching between singing the silly words to “Slippery Fish” with one and cranking the volume on Essie Jain’s lullabies for the other.

it’s telling one to “wait just one minute” while the other eagerly awaits the sharp snap of my nursing top unclasping.

it’s sharing smiles with this one and giving kisses to that one, simultaneously…and getting both in return.

it’s changing this icky diaper and that icky diaper, two in row, with your kids’ boy parts displayed for all to see in the trunk of your car in parking lot of the “choo-choo store,” formerly known as Barnes & Noble, i.e. your happy place, before the kids came along.

it’s zipping this one’s coat and finding his favorite toy car to tuck into his pocket and tucking in a blanket around the other one’s leggies as he groans and gurgles to escape the confines of his car seat.

it’s reading book after book after {repetitive, sing-songy} book to this one while the other listens and smiles, a pink gum-filled grin that’s evidence of his delight in your voice.

it’s ordering noodles or chicken nuggets – or whatever the favorite food of the week is – for that one and pleading not-so-silently with this one to please, just this once, take a bottle, for your breasts need a break from his eager tugs as he gulps and gulps the food that your body provides.

it’s waiting for one to climb into his car seat – “i do it,” he says – while the desperate, hungry cries from the other fill the crumb-covered confines of the car.

it’s sshing and bouncing and swaying with one while the other uses your leg as a fire pole, sliding down, down, down, and finding giggles at the bottom.

it’s telling this one, for the eleventy-thousandth time, to “be careful around the baby” as the other one drops his toy rattle and subsequently wails for the eleventy-thousandth time.

it’s sending up prayers to God that the baby won’t wake as you play “hockey” with golf clubs with the other.

L-Q-Cars

it’s hearing the giggles of one elicit belly chuckles from the other, their laughter chipping away at all you were before they came into your life, before you said your first hello’s, before they filled your whole heart up.

it’s this one’s “i love you too, Mama,” even when he says it first, and coos and grins that say the same thing in the only language that the other one knows.

yes, motherhood is a balance. it stretches you in ways that you never thought possible, like a modern-day Gumby with a real, beating heart.

and oh, what a blessing it is to be the one that stretches and straddles the balance beam for these two little boys.

life as a breastfeeding, pumping, working mama {one month in}.

Q-19-Weeks

this week marks week no. 4 of my return to work after welcoming sweet Q into our lives in November, so i wanted to share a bit of a status report.

specifically, i want to spend time updating you all on a few things, including:

  • how i’m emotionally coping with my return to work;
  • how Q {and L, too!} have weathered full-time daycare;
  • and how pumping breastmilk + breastfeeding is working out for Q and i.

this is a doozy of a long post, so grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat!

emotionally, my return has been relatively wrinkle-free. my supervisor has been a complete dream, in that he’s provided a space in which i’m able to pump breastmilk multiple times each day {more on this in a bit}. my colleagues have been wonderfully supportive of my need to slip in and out of the “lactation lounge,” which is located in a separate room in the midst of a communal space of cubicles, at various times throughout the day to pump. lastly, my students have been, by and large, welcoming and accommodating as i learn their names {a task which feels so peculiar, given that we are already past the halfway point of our semester} and as i get my “sea legs” back as an instructor of English and communications.

personally, i worked hard to prepare myself for the emotional gamut of feelings as related to experiencing time away from Q. in the weeks prior to my return, i soaked up moment after moment with Q; we snuggled, we napped, we nursed, and i gave thanks to God each and every day for the time {nearly 16 weeks!} that i was able to spend at home with him. i also became obsessed with making morning and evening to-do lists, crafting a game plan to clean and sanitize my breastpump parts after each of my middle-of-the-day pumping sessions at work, and executing seemingly endless edits to my hourly work schedule and to Quincy’s nursing schedule. in short, i was obsessively, absolutely, totally FREAKING ready for my return to work logistically. and, apart from a few hiccups, which come naturally {and often} with a baby and a toddler in tow, things have gone quite smoothly.

what’s also wonderful: Q has adjusted quickly to daycare. he took to the bottle without much fuss {apart from a bit of an adjustment during his first feeding session on his first official day}, and continues to be a champion eater, both while he’s at daycare and when he’s at home – he’s even increased the amount that he eats at daycare from three to four ounces of breastmilk per feeding! by his third day at daycare, he was napping well {and napping anywhere, from swaddled in a crib to snuggled up in a blanket in a bouncy seat}. he enjoys being around the other babies in his “classroom,” and thanks to having an older brother who makes noise constantly, he doesn’t seem to have any trouble sleeping with other babies and children around.

Q-L-March-2015

L is also enjoying being back at school full-time. as a reminder, we continued to send him to school two days per week while i was on maternity leave, so that he could continue to progress and learn, and to continue building relationships with his teachers and his friends. plus, his days at school allowed me time to soak up Q a bit more, which was perhaps the most unexpected blessing of it all! now that he’s back at school every day, his vocabulary is continuing to blossom at record speed, and he’s demonstrating more and more that he’s ready for potty-training, a task that we plan to jumpstart over the long Easter weekend. he’s used the potty with much success as of late, so we’re hopeful that we can work on these skills over our four-day weekend and then send him to school next week in “big-boy pants” {Pull-Ups}. it’s our goal to have him reliably potty-trained by mid-to-late summer, so that he’s ready to go to five-day-per-week preschool in undies in the fall.

finally, i wanted to share a bit about my adjustment to pumping breastmilk at work. like i said above, my supervisor and colleagues have been amazingly supportive of my role as a working, breastfeeding mama. overall, i couldn’t be happier with what it means to be a working mama, both in terms of pumping breastmilk and in terms of continuing my nursing relationship with Q when we’re together.

i do want to say this, though: please know that i realize {and that i give thanks to God each night} for all of which i’m about to share. as a faculty member at my institution, i have privileged access to excellent care for my children. not only is the daycare center only available for use by employees and students at the college at which i teach and its surrounding school district, the center is located right on the campus on which i teach. Jord and i feel remarkably grateful for our children’s teachers and the daycare facility itself.

here’s what my work days look like, in general:

  • arrive at daycare with the children 30 minutes before i need to be in my office. at this time, i drop of L {typically without much fuss or objection from him, although sometimes he needs a little more time to adjust to the day}.
  • after i drop off L in his classroom, Q and i enter his “classroom,” and i nurse him at daycare before heading into my office.
  • after some office time, i teach one class that’s 75 minutes in length. this is where my schedule varies: two days per week {Mondays and Wednesdays}, i take my lunch break and pump breastmilk {and eat, of course}. but the other three days {Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays}, i spend my entire lunch break hour with Q, which allows me to nurse Q onsite {and eat, of course}. i’m sure that i don’t have to tell you how wonderful this is, but i did want to mention that i think this is what has helped me to have absolutely no problems whatsoever with milk supply. and yes, i realize how fortunate i am to have a robust supply; trust me, i don’t take it for granted!
  • after my lunch break and/or my time with Q, i teach another class that’s also 75 minutes in length. then, during my office time at the end of every day, i pump breastmilk again.
  • as my work day comes to a close, i return to daycare to pick up my children. i tend to pick up Q first most days, unless L sees me and excitedly runs up to greet me :) i often nurse Q at daycare before driving the boys and i home, to ensure that sweet Q doesn’t have an “i’m hungry!” meltdown on our 20-minute commute home.
  • on the days on which i don’t spend my lunch time with Q {Mondays and Wednesdays}, Q has two bottle feedings at daycare. on the other days {Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays}, Q only has one bottle feeding.
  • on Mondays, i teach a night class that’s three hours in length. this means that on top of the two bottle feedings that Q receives at daycare, he also has another small {i.e. 1-2 ounces} helping of breastmilk from Daddy while i’m teaching. this dinner-time feeding has actually been our only difficulty in adjusting to my return to work; Q doesn’t like to take a bottle from his Daddy for some reason, which is maddening for all of us {and for Q himself, as he lets us all know through his angry cries and his voracious appetite when i return home on Monday nights}. we’re still working through he’s refusing the bottle from Daddy and what we can do about it; our current thought is that he likens home with nursing right from the breast, so we’re exploring ideas of Daddy taking the boys to the park {or elsewhere} and feeding Q outside of our home to see if that helps.
  • when Q and i are together {in the evenings and on the weekends}, i nurse from the breast exclusively. in other words, we don’t give him bottles unless he’s at daycare or is with another caregiver {if we’re on a date, for instance}. this helps Q and i to remain closely bonded, and i’m sure it helps to keep up my supply as well.

Mama-Q-March-2015

i’m also incredibly pleased with my breastpump; it’s a workhorse! it is comfortable to use and comes with everything that i need {and more} to pump discreetly at work. i have this one, and it was partially covered by my insurance {i think that we paid $45 out-of-pocket for the pump, which is amazing, since it retails for $270!}. i had my doctor write me a prescription, and Jord picked it up from a medical supply store near the hospital after Q was born.

we’ve tried new baby bottles with Q as well. with L, we used these Avent bottles whenever we needed to leave a bottle with a caregiver {which was rare; as a reminder, i nursed L for fifteen months, and i was home with him for fourteen of those months and then nursed only at night for the final month, when i started my teaching job}. but with Q going to daycare so much earlier in his life, i wanted to try Tommee Tippee bottles for Q, since they mimic the shape and the feel of the breast more. we’ve been very pleased with them so far! we have this set {which we used when Q was little and was feeding more frequently and drinking smaller amounts each time} and this set, which we use exclusively now and LOVE.

i’ll post another update shortly, including what we pack in Q’s diaper bag for daycare each day {i searched and searched for helpful “what to bring to daycare” lists in preparation for my return to work, so it’s only fair that i share my own!} and what Jord and i do each morning and each evening to help the morning rush to work and school flow a bit easier. stay tuned!

quincy august {a birth story}

Quincy (KWIN-see): A name that we found when Lionel was just a wee baby; we held this name – and the dream of another son – in our hearts. (French): estate of the fifth son.

August (AW-guhst): Our second son’s middle name was chosen to honor Jordan’s eldest ancestor, August Gillis, who immigrated to the United States from Belgium. (Latin): revered, exalted.

* *

Quincy-Newborn

Dear Sweet Quincy August,

The contractions started as our lips kissed your big brother’s cheeks, nose, lips, head, our little family’s nightly ritual of story books, songs and snuggles finished for the day. This was the second time this pregnancy that I felt those familiar little currents of tightness run through my belly – the first labor scare came at nearly 34 weeks, which was too soon for this mama, too soon for the doctors, and, thankfully, you decided, after two rounds of medication to stall my contractions, it was also too soon for you. Yet, just 2.5 weeks later, on a Wednesday night in mid-November, I grabbed a glass of ice water and tried to rest as I assured your Daddy that this round of regular contractions was just practice, just a warm-up exercise, like last time.

Because your first attempt at making your debut left me dilated two centimeters, the nurse’s voice on the phone that night was a bit more strained than I expected once I told her my symptoms – regular pains, seemingly coming one on top of the other, for an hour. “You need to be seen,” she said to me. We called your Grandma Patty to stay with our slumbering Lionel, and after brushing his cheeks with a few quick kisses, your Daddy and I left in a flurry for the hospital.

I remember your Daddy testing the validity of my contraction pain on the way to the hospital by offering to procure a variety of food items for me. Certainly, he remembered your brother’s birth, when I wasn’t permitted a single taste of “real” food for nearly 30 hours, and while his offers of pizza and ice cream and cake and red wine were laughable and adorable – two words that aptly describe your father – these favorite foods of mine did not seem even slightly appetizing to me. This, I’m sure, perked up your father’s sense of what, as we would shortly discover, you had in store for us that Wednesday night – well, rather, that Thursday morning.

I remember feeling grateful that since our last trip to the labor and delivery triage unit just 2.5 weeks prior, I felt more at ease upon entering the doors of our local hospital that night. Perhaps I was simply feeling relieved that your Daddy didn’t turn on the wrong road en route to the hospital this time. Or, maybe I was feeling hopeful about being sent home again, allowing you to remain inside of me a little longer. Or, yet another possibility, perhaps I was comforted because I had packed my hospital bag and readied your room, as well as your little haven in our bedroom. Even still, I lifted up prayer after silent prayer to God, begging Him to be present and to hold tightly to all of us as we made our way to the hospital, and as you made your way to our world.

After a quick admission process and some time spent monitoring my contractions, which were coming about 2-3 minutes apart, the medical staff checked my cervix, which hadn’t changed from two centimeters dilated. Fortunately, your heartbeat continued to be stellar throughout all of the contractions and monitoring, which was a relief – just like your brother who came before you, we felt so blessed that we didn’t have to worry about you during the birth process. The nurse midwife on call – who I liked a lot, dear boy – then decided to give me a dose of terbutaline to attempt to slow my contractions. I had already experienced how this medication made me feel when we visited labor and delivery 2.5 weeks earlier, so the next hour went by without much surprise. I didn’t dilate any further during that hour of monitoring, despite the fact that I was still enduring contractions {albeit with more space between them}, so the nurse midwife gave us two options: since I didn’t dilate any further, there was no medical reason for them to keep me, so option no. 1 was to go home and rest, and return if my contractions intensified. Option no. 2, on the other hand, was something called therapeutic sleep, which involved staying at the hospital and electing for medication, including morphine and vistaril, a muscle relaxer, which would work together {while I got some much-needed rest} to help my uterus – a muscle – to determine its course of action {either to continue contracting or to relax}. Because I was still experiencing contraction pain, I elected for the therapeutic sleep option. At this point, we were moved to another room, and I was given medication to begin the therapeutic sleep process. Your Daddy quickly took up camp on the pull-out couch in the room; he was as eager himself as I was for a restful few hours of sleep.

On that night, circumstances changed dramatically as my nurse walked out of the room after administering the medication for therapeutic sleep, as it was then that I felt a marked, pulsating pain ripple through my abdomen. Believing wholeheartedly that the medication just needed time to kick in, I breathed through the contraction, just as I had been doing throughout the night thus far – except – oh, the inevitable “except” – except the contractions didn’t stop coming: they intensified. For the next ten minutes, in the muted light of the middle of the night, inside a birthing room that I never anticipated being mine until early December, I endured contraction after contraction, with little more than thirty seconds of rest before another wave would hit. A quick glance at the ever-noisy machine that was monitoring my contractions showed me numbers in the high nineties, and that was all that I needed to see to know that what I was feeling was, indeed, for real. As I hit the call button on my hospital bed, I informed the nurse {who calmly asked via intercom, “How can I help you?”} in an exasperated hiss of urgency that my contractions were coming so hard, so fast, and that this was not what I was expecting out of therapeutic sleep.

Two nurses came running fast into my room, one of whom I recognized as the nurse assigned to me; the other introduced herself as the head nurse on the labor and delivery floor and proceeded to check my cervix for further dilation. I was now dilated to three centimeters, so the nursing staff attempted to contact the nurse midwife who had prescribed the therapeutic sleep process earlier in the evening. In the meantime, I awoke your Daddy and begged for his hand to hold as I continued to battle intense, fast-moving contractions.

By the time that the nurse midwife arrived in my room – perhaps twenty minutes later – I was dilated to five centimeters. She looked me in the eyes and said the words that I didn’t think that we would hear that night: “You’re having this baby.” My mouth dropped open in surprise, and as the nurses began moving faster and faster to ready me for a repeat c-section, my eyes, anxious and fearful, scanned the room for your Daddy’s. In his eyes I found the same anxiety and fear, yet he concealed his emotions with an air of composure that I simply couldn’t muster in that moment.

Quincy-Daddy-Lionel-Newborn

“I’m scared,” I told him. “It’s too early. I’m only 36 weeks and 4 days along.”

“Everything will be fine,” he told me.

“I don’t want things to just be ‘fine,'” I replied, my voice making known the panic that I was feeling inside.

“Everything will be great,” he said, emphasizing the word “great.” “We’re going to meet our boy!”

At some point, another nurse introduced herself as the nurse who would be attending to my needs during the c-section. She was unbelievably kind as she informed us that all births at our hospital are attended by the NICU staff, regardless of the baby’s gestational age, but that their hope was that you, our baby, wouldn’t be in need of their services. She asked what felt like a million questions about my pregnancy and birth with Lionel, about my current pregnancy, and about our reasoning for a repeat c-section, and I barked out answers to these questions as I breathed through contractions that seemed endless.

I remember asking your father to contact your grandparents to check on Lionel, who was, of course, fast asleep, as the clock ticked away the first hours of November 13. After some time, I remember someone throwing your Daddy some scrubs, and I remember giggling when he asked for bigger booties to cover his size 12 shoes. The giggles gave me a quick respite from the nerves that I was feeling, so I asked your father to snap a few pictures of me, scrub cap and all, to mark the moment before my bed was wheeled down to the OR, where we would finally, yet prematurely, meet you, our second son.

I remember the nurse anesthetist greeting me as I was wheeled into the OR, and I remember thinking how kind he was as he cracked jokes with me while we waited for the anesthesiologist to arrive to give me my spinal. I remember meeting my surgeon and thinking to myself how calm she seemed in comparison to my desperate desire to jump outside of my body for the next few minutes, like one of those creepy Jack-in-the-Box toys that children play with. I remember looking off to my right side at the baby warmer and thinking about you, the little boy that I was about to meet, and how in just a matter of moments, you would be placed in that bassinet, newly in existence in our world. I remember thinking, at every moment, from the instance that I jostled my body from my hospital bed to the surgical table, that this experience – this opportunity to be conscious and awake for your arrival, for the birth of my second child – was quite awesome, and, at the same time, was unbelievably overwhelming for me, precisely because I didn’t have that opportunity when Lionel arrived.

A few moments after your Daddy entered the operating room and took his place by my side, I remember feeling the odd tugging of pressure, a sensation that was new to me because I wasn’t able to be conscious during Lionel’s birth. As tears flooded my eyes and slipped down the sides of my cheeks, I remember feeling surprised, embarrassed and a bit shameful about my reaction to actually being able to experience your birth, for by the time that the surgeon peeked around the curtain, her gloved hands holding you, a tiny baby boy, pink and beautiful and boasting spiky hair and not making a single sound, my tears had morphed into sobs.

Quincy-Newborn

With every ounce of strength that I had, I let out a sigh of relief upon seeing your little body, your sweet face cradled in the surgeon’s arms. Between sobs, I begged your father to be by your side as the medical staff checked you out. Your father looked so proud to stand by your side as you experienced your first moments in our world; I had missed experiencing these first moments with your brother, and I felt so overwhelmed with the emotion of seeing your father as a new {again} Daddy.

The nurses announced your weight – five pounds, eight ounces – and another heaving sob escaped my throat; I couldn’t believe how small you were. Your little lungs needed some help at first, so after a few minutes of oxygen, you finally let out a wonderful burst of noise – your first cry – and I dissolved into a sobbing mess once again.

“He’s so small…he came too early,” I choked out between sobs to your Daddy, who was still by your side.

“He’s perfect,” your Daddy said. The nurse anesthetist echoed his sentiments, too, to try and ease my worries as the surgeon continued her work on me.

My sobs only continued when your Daddy finally brought you over to me. You were swaddled tightly in a blanket with just your sweet plump-cheeked face greeting mine, and I stared and stared at your little face through my tears, begging you to be okay, to be strong, to be healthy.

I know that people always say this about childbirth, and about children in general, but it became clear to me, as my eyes met yours for the first time, that I have experienced two distinct moments in my life in which I truly saw God, in which I could feel His presence at the helm of my life, and both resulted in the birth of a beautiful boy. While I have long loved God as someone in great need of grace, I realized that never before in my life – not during times of worship, not in moments of stress, of grief, of complete joy or utter sadness – have I so intimately felt God’s hands around mine, and around those of my children, than in the moments in which you and your brother were born. Oh, to feel His love realized in the form of a baby, my baby; yes, as I looked at your sweet face and promised you the best of me – to be for you, and for your brother too, an indestructible, endless net of love and faithfulness, ever positioned so that I will always catch you – I was able to glimpse how immense our Father’s love is for us.

Quincy-Mama-Newborn

As tears continued to wet my face, I asked your Daddy to bring your cheeks close to my lips so that I could kiss you, just like I do to your brother countless times throughout each day, just like I will do for his, and for your, entire life. When my lips finally brushed your skin, an act of love that left evidence of my tears on your sweet face, my sobs finally calmed, and I relished in the joy of your beautiful, unexpected arrival.

xoxo,
Mama

{all photos by Creative Kindling}