Ten thousand pearls beneath the sea, my babe more precious is to me.

Learning daily how much adventure lies in a life of simplicity ...

Friday, December 13, 2013


So it's been a while ... 

I believe at one point I may have said something to the effect of how I'm so deeply involved in living life that there's not much time for writing about it.  Seeing that my last entry was a photo of Leila's 3rd birthday party invitation, a lot of life has indeed happened, and I've been living, living, living (my word, have I ever)!  And I'm ok with that, as far as not writing it all out as I had intended.  Shortly after that last entry, though, a little surprise of a bean made her presence known - our precious Laura Elizabeth, the sweetest Christmas gift we could've hoped for!  And on this, the eve of her first birthday, this seems like as good a time as any to revisit, however briefly, the blogosphere.

In previous posts, my Leila Grace had a night-before-birth letter, and Luke had his birth story told.  For Laura Beth, I started writing her a letter one week before she was born and never quite finished it . . .

December 7, 2012 
"Letter to Baby" (as she was yet unnamed!)  
Dear Baby, 
It’s a little after midnight exactly one week before you will be born, unless you decide to come a little early.  But if you’re anything like your older sister and brother, you’ll be perfectly content to wait that long and even longer.  As I’m typing, I feel your elbows pushing against my hip bones and am watching what is probably your cute little fanny pushing against my belly.  This is my third time experiencing this but I can promise you it’s still just as fascinating as the first time.  You’re a bit of a night owl, so I’m not really sleeping well anymore.  That’s ok, though.  I expected as much.  J  Good preparation for when you get here.  I am sitting in our family room in the house on Cypress Place.  The room is lit by our Christmas tree and carols are playing in the background.  This didn’t used to be my favorite time of the year, but since having your sister and brother, it is.  And I cannot wait to introduce you to the excitement and the miracle of Christmas.  I think, this year, you won’t care so much.  But soon, you will! 
So here’s the thing, your sister was our first baby.  I mapped out my whole pregnancy with her in journals and a notebook, and I wrote her a letter (like this) the night before she was born to go in her baby book.  With your brother, Luke, my hands were slightly more full, so I did a bit of journaling online about my pregnancy with him, and a few days after he was born, I wrote out his whole birth story to go in his baby book.  For some reason, I want to write to you a bit earlier, and record a few things that have been weighing on me to say. 
Part of me has felt a little guilty because the thought and preparation that we did for Leila and Luke, we haven’t done for you.  We knew their names long before they were born, and I still don’t know what your name will be!  Your daddy and I have had the hardest time picking one – we want you to love it and that’s a lot of pressure.   Right now, the top contenders are Elizabeth, Lilly, and Laura/Lorah.  We have a feeling that we won’t know your name until we see your face – and maybe by then none of those three names will feel right!  So I’m really hoping you can somehow tell us when you get here what you’d prefer.  Sound like a plan?  I know it’s early to ask for your help, but this is important and we don’t want to mess up.  So, you don’t yet have a name, or a bed – but I plan on keeping you with me for a bit, so maybe we can both get some sleep.  I haven’t had a lot of pictures taken of me while pregnant with you, mainly because I’m usually the one behind the camera.  (But we’ll dig out a few for your baby book … when we buy one of those …!)  I haven’t really bought you any clothes because you’ll mostly be wearing what your big sister wore.  I haven’t bought you any Christmas presents except a clay ornament I’m hoping we can get your handprint in for your first Christmas.  There’s an element of “been-there-done-that” with a lot of things about your arrival because, well, I’ve been there and done that.  Twice.  But my purpose in writing this out is to let you know, that even though you’re my third baby, you are so very, VERY special.  And here’s why … 
You are alive because God planned you and made you.  He breathed life into you and wanted you to be ours, and so you are.   You are being born right before Christmas, which means Daddy and I get the most wonderful gift of all!  We couldn’t ask for more.  You were made because your daddy and I love each other so, SO much.  We also love Leila and Luke so very much that we can’t be anything but excited to meet you and welcome you into our lives and love you like we love them.  With your sister, I was a new mommy and so scared of what I didn’t know and had to learn, which was everything.  With Luke, I was less scared about him but more scared about how to be a mommy to more than one baby, how to handle everything and everyone’s needs.  YOU are special because, for the first time, I’m not scared!  I’m nothing but happy you’re coming and I can’t wait for you to get here, and that is a HUGE blessing!  It’s so neat to not be nervous, to just be joyful.  I know it will take you some time to get used to me and the world, and LIFE.  But we’ll figure it out together.  I know, this third time around, that even though things will be a little rough at first, we will definitely figure it out, and that everything will be ok – not just “ok,” but amazing.  J   

And that's where I left it, not knowing what else to say, eventually forgetting to return to complete it.  Or maybe, in my heart, I already knew it was complete.  There was nothing left to say because it all came true: I was not afraid, bringing you into the world was like second-nature, and I fell so madly and deeply in love with you SO quickly it boggled my mind.  You did, obviously, finally, receive a name.  When I arrived at the hospital, my nurse who was assigned to me and saw me throughout your whole birth process and took care of me after was named Laura.  At that point, your daddy and I knew what your name was.  Though you're not specifically named after any one particular person, you are named in honor of a few very treasured women who have shown me and our family great kindness, love and friendship.  And your middle name, Elizabeth, is a name that goes back on all four sides of each of your daddy's and my families.  

Now here's the tricky part.  You were born on Friday, December 14th, at 12:33 pm.  Somewhere in the fews hours before that, while I was getting ready to meet you and was taken to the operating room, in another part of the country, a horrific tragedy was taking place; a nightmare of proportions no person should ever have to know.  I have a vague memory of being wheeled back to my hospital room after you were born and you were about to be brought to me so I could hold and nurse you for the first time, and the television had been left on and I looked up and I saw it - I saw what had happened.  And I remember thinking it had to be turned off - I couldn't see that when I was about to hold you and really look into your eyes for the first time.  That may be selfish of me, but it wasn't until later that I was of sound enough mind to process what had happened and mourn for those who mourned (who are still mourning, and whenever you read this, even years and years from now, will probably still be).  A part of me is saddened that your birthday, which was joyous to us, will forever represent a day of great loss for many others.  On the other hand, a kind person - and I'm sorry I cannot remember who - pointed out to me upon your birth announcement that you represented hope, new life, a ray of light in the darkness of that day.  So that will always be how I choose to remember your birthday, and I pray you will do the same.

A year later, in a different house than the one in which I penned the above letter, but listening to the same Christmas carols, on the same spot on the same sofa, you are sleeping in your bed a few feet away.  You're a good sleeper.  You're a good little eater with your almost-8 teeth.  You "talk" more than your sister or brother ever did at this age ("Duhbuhduhbuh" makes for adorable conversation!).  You're learning to stand.  You love to play with Leila and Luke, but often go off on your own to play in peace (Lord knows you and I need our peace sometimes).  You sing back to me when I sing to you.  You come to me and lay your head on my shoulder and I know you're telling me you love me.  You're the best peek-a-boo player around.  Your cheeks are positively edible.  Yours eyes are the exact color of your daddy's, and there's something almost eery about the intelligence they hold when I look into them, as if you're an old soul.  You're so happy and animated, and when something hurts your feelings, the face you make breaks my heart so thoroughly I can almost hear it.  I know our days of nursing are growing short, and that's ok, but there aren't words for how much I'll ache for the feel of your fingers reaching up, curling around my hair, or patting my cheek while you drink, or that milk-drunk state right before I put you to bed like I did tonight, your soft, golden-brown hair curling around your ears, and the way you sense that I'm about to carry you to your bed so you rouse yourself and sleepily try to give me an open-mouthed kiss on my cheek.

A year later, I still have guilt that you're getting a bit short-changed; where your sister and brother each got a big first birthday party, yours had to be postponed because of bad weather, and then you got sick. And you have the double-whammy of it being so close to Christmas.  So you will more than likely get to share your first BIG celebration with Leila and Luke (like everything else in your life for a while - get used to it now, kiddo!).  But I want, so much, for you to know how SPECIAL you are!  I was right, at the end of my letter: everything is not just ok, everything is awesome!  You are, literally, awesome.  Your daddy and I are filled with awe so often when we look at you - you are beyond beautiful, and so smart, and SO sweet!  You are special in every way.  You are hope, you are light in the darkness.  And you are ONEderful.  ;)

So, my precious Laura Beth, with this, I wish you a happy 1st birthday!

Monday, January 30, 2012

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Monday, January 2, 2012

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Remember to Forget

* Originally written on Thanksgiving Day ...*

Today is Thanksgiving.

I was a little dumbfounded when the thought occurred to me that I completely forgot the third anniversary of our having left Portugal, November 2nd.   Our exodus from that tiny island, from the military, from a large and close-knit group of dear friends, from security (as secure as one can be in the military) – six months pregnant, a bit of money in savings, and hope in our hearts.  This was my last view of Terceira …

We were nervous and the sense of trepidation was palpable.  But mostly, we were excited to go home, wherever “home” might be.  We just knew Bo would find a good job with all his experience and education, and were prepared for the three or four weeks it might take to discover it, visiting with our families while we waited to settle in to our new someplace and prepare for Leila Grace’s arrival.  Coming right at the start of the holiday season also seemed a fortuitous and celebratory way to be welcomed back this side of the pond.

We set up camp in a bedroom in Bo’s mother’s basement.  Three or four weeks went by and nothing happened.  Bo pounded the pavement, went on countless interviews, making it to final rounds in most, only to be passed over.  I would meticulously press his shirt and suit (the only job I had at the time,  besides being an incubator), each puff of steam from the iron a prayer sent up that maybe this time would be the time.  That they would see the strong, capable, eager man I saw and hire him on the spot.  He’d leave, handsome, polished, prepared; and come back, just as handsome, but a little worn around the edges and disappointed.  As the weeks went by, the baby bump grew and grew, and the numbers in the bank account shrank and shrank (funny how those two things seem to coincide), as did our confidence.  I often wonder what that time was like for him.  As much as we talked, I know there were things he didn’t – wouldn’t – tell me, so he wouldn’t worry me any more than I worried already.  As frightening as things became, this was a time of being knit together – to one another and to the Lord.  After all, what else did we have?  (Truthfully, what else do we ever really have?) 

Three months later, just shy of 9 months pregnant, something came through.  Even though it seemed like an eternity to wait, looking back I now see we could have waited a whole lot longer, especially in this economy.  There but for the grace of God go I (I think that’s how the saying goes) … A job, a home and a baby all in the course of a month.  Then more months ticked by, more life …

 The first anniversary of our leaving the island, as we looked back at it with such rose-tinted spectacles, was undeniably melancholy.  I think we were still mired in our growing pains, fighting against the life we had chosen – had prayed for.  (How ungrateful and faithless!)  The second anniversary, then pregnant with our sweet Luke, was a fond remembrance that occupied a few moments of thought.  This year, the third anniversary came and went silently.  Remembering how we forgot, I have a vision of a figure – one to which I desperately clung with such longing two years ago, hoping it could somehow bring back what used to be.  One year ago, I welcomed the figure as we briefly reminisced about what once was, and I introduced it to my new life.  And this year, it arrived, saw my obliviousness to its presence, and graciously moved on.  As have I, finally.  Now having fully embraced what is before me, and left what is behind me; grateful for all of it, but mostly so overwhelmed with the blessings of today.  And for these things, I give thanks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shabby Chic

I had purposed for days now to write a post tonight.  Wednesday evenings are generally when I have time to do that sort of thing, as the husband is in class until pretty late.  There are so many things about which I'd like to write, but honestly - I am so dadgum tired (just showed my Alabama roots).  The source of my exhaustion is my beautiful toddler.  And I can think of a thousand things to say to paint a picture of all that she does that so drain my body, my mind, my will at the end of the day; but honestly, why would I want to drain you, too, kind reader?  And as many of you are parents already, no words are needed, I'm sure.  So, instead, I will dedicate what little ability to form coherent thought that I have to recording (more for myself than anyone) a few of the things she did today that warmed my heart.

First thing in the morning, I get her from her room and bring her into bed with me.  Luke is usually still asleep for at least a short while, so we get this sliver of alone time, snuggling under my down comforter, where she waits patiently as I continue to drift in and out of sleep, smelling the perfume of her blonde, curly head.  When she's finally had enough of waiting, she turns around, puts both her hands on my face and starts talking to me.  "Mama sleepy?  I so sorry, Mama!  Mama, see my bear (pulls Birthday Bear out from under the covers)?  Mama, guess what?  I so proud of you!" And on and on, occasionally leaning in with her lips puckered so I can proffer my cheek to receive this precious benediction, and then the declarations continue.  And who could keep their eyes closed and ignore such a sweet morning song?

While I go through my start-of-day chores, she "entertains" her brother as they play on the floor near my feet.  Half the time, I'm having to make sure she doesn't smother him with something, but the other half, she is taking her most favored toys and not only showing them to him, but sharing them.  Not balking when his tiny fists snatch the items from her before she's ready, but watching him with a smile on her face.  As difficult as it's been for her since he's become more of a peer and less of a giant lump of immobile (nonthreatening) baby, I truly believe she enjoys this new phase where she can share with him all her treasures - and snacks.

As lunch was winding down, she and I were finished but Luke was still in the high chair.  I got up to get a cleaning rag and when I came back, Leila had climbed into my chair and was dutifully helping Luke finish his lunch.  She would lean towards him with a bean, to which he opened his mouth like a little bird, and she dropped it neatly in.  A few seconds later, she said, "Would you like more?  Say please!" and then she would give him another.  This went on for several minutes ("More?  Say please!"), as I watched from the kitchen.  These are the moments that got me through the chaos of bringing Luke home and navigating Leila's torrential emotions: the hope that before long he would be able to interact with  her and she would know the joy of finding a friend in her sibling.  And here we are, at the start of that gratifying journey.

Other things from today include many kisses, randomly breaking into song and giggling shyly when she realizes I'm listening, trying to help with the laundry, comforting Luke when he cries, sporadically breaking away from her playtime to wrap her arms around my neck and lay her head on my shoulder ... These are the kinds of pearls I value, the treasure I want to keep hidden away, never to be lost.  On nights, like tonight, when I'm feeling particularly shabby, I can take them out, adorn my heart with them, and adulate in the extreme honor of being her mother.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Order ... Harmony.

Those of you who have known me for any length of time know my background in Musical Theatre, and that despite the years it was a part of my life, there is actually very little of it that I enjoy, but my all-time favorite work is Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park With George."  It was inspired by the life of Pointillist painter Georges Seurat, and his most recognized piece, Sunday on the Isle of La Grande Jatte (1884).

I love this painting so much we had a copy of it commissioned for our home.

The story is too intricate and painfully beautiful for me to insult by trying to abridge it.  But during the song in which George is finally seeing the fruition of his hectic, passionate vision, the opening measures are underscored by a cacophony of noises from the subjects in the painting - which until that point had all been many random sketches, piece-mealed here and there from different visits to this park (nothing like what you see above); and the chaos of it all is accompanied by the orchestra in discordance with one another, as though each instrument were playing from a different score.  The maelstrom reaches a fever pitch until George enters and booms, "Order!"  And then the only sound you hear is the ringing of one note, like a bell, clearly calling everything and everyone to order.  The subjects obey.  George then, calmly yet powerfully, says what has been his mantra to himself while trying to complete his work, "Design ... tension ... composition ... balance ... light ... harmony. " As he speaks each word, the subjects silently, reverently, travel to their spot in the painting.  And as he softly sighs that last word, "Harmony," the last piece of the puzzle falls into place, and the instruments majestically soar in perfect ... harmony.  The masterpiece is complete.

The life of Georges Seurat is not one I would want to experience (it was filled with great pain, loss, isolation and misunderstanding).  But as chaotic as his circumstances were, as his brain worked, as his vision was, he knew that the only way to achieve harmony was through order.

Those of you who are close to me also know (aside from my love for this musical) that I struggle daily with order.  In some areas of my life, those in which I know someone is watching or something I would have to answer for - like in my job (previously) or in raising my children - I give my all.  But when it's something that's simply up to me to do or not do, and I only have to answer to myself, if I find it particularly unpleasant (cleaning, exercising, etc.), sometimes it just plain doesn't get done.  Not so I can just sit - Lord knows with two babies to care for I am always  doing something.  But I don't make the less-enjoyable tasks a priority.  And, God bless him, I have a husband who is too gracious to mention (or too busy to notice) when these things do not get done.  I will gladly trade the folding of clean laundry or the loading of a dishwasher for a half-hour on the floor trying to get Luke to crawl or dancing to Yo Gabba Gabba songs with Leila Grace.  But what about after they go to bed?  Well, to be honest, I would even more gladly trade my to-do list for an hour or two on Facebook or catching up on the DVR.  My reasoning?  I've earned it.  I work hard with the kids / some days they just completely wear me out / I never have a day off / I need "me time" / I need a break, too ... ad nauseum.  And yes, that may be, mostly, legitimate.  But the eternal conundrum lies in that that thinking makes me unable to truly enjoy the break.  In the back of my mind - heck, in the front of it! - is the constant clamor of what still needs to be done and what I should be doing instead.  I am notorious for should-ing all over myself, as the expression goes.  As in the song, it's like all the tasks are screaming out to me in their discordant tune - the phone calls to return, the correspondences to reply to, the pile of ironing, the stack of dirty dishes, the dustballs on the floor, the toothpaste muck in the sink, the food in the refrigerator that has now grown legs and is about to walk out on its own!  The longer I leave it, the louder it becomes.  Knowing this, knowing how twisted up inside I get over this, why do I allow it to get to that point?  Paul said it best in Romans when he mused, "I don't really understand myself; for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it.  Instead I do the very thing I hate." (7:15, NLT)   

I suppose this is part of life, the human struggle, especially for those who live as much in the flesh as I do.  I want harmony - I long for it.  Who doesn't?  But I always want to bypass the 'order' part.  And I don't think you can have one without the other (neither did George).  The funny thing, even for those as scattered as I am, we equally crave order, though we may not acknowledge it.  I believe even those who buck at the system and balk at authority and rules secretly crave orderliness.  I think God created us to desire order - it mirrors how He created the world; everything in its own place, its own time. All the pieces converging together in a symphony; one that can sound discordant to we who can only see so few things at once and think all it is is all we see and it's all chaos, random.  But if we could see the whole score, as God does, we would know how beautiful - how purposeful - it truly is, every minutiae, all there, all on purpose, to create his perfect composition.  Harmony.  

Why?  Because He loves us.  Because there's blessing in it.  He wants good things for us, and has already planned them ("For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11).  I know this.  So why am I so captivated by the very things that withhold harmony from my life?

I found myself reflecting on all of the things above as I was - FINALLY!!! - reorganizing the kids' clothes, taking out what they'd outgrown and replacing them with the pieces I've been collecting the last few months to (hopefully) last us through the next season.  I've had stacks of new and old clothes piled high in my room for well over a month now, in disorderly heaps that taunted me every morning when I woke up and every night before I fell asleep, and even in-between, during the day, as I was downstairs doing anything but taking care of them.  Despite all that I'd collected, I'd been concerned about the lack of a few key items: comfortable play pants for Leila, a jacket and sweater for Luke, as well as a Halloween costume.  Previously, I had hurriedly tossed outgrown items in their closets, thinking I would put them away properly later, and tonight, "later" had arrived.  In digging these strewn things out of Leila's closet, I discovered no less than five pairs of pants/playclothes that we had been given last year that didn't fit her then (hence their being shoved to the back) but are perfect now (thank you, Mom!).  And while pulling out the clothes tote that my sweet friend Laura Ashley loaned us for Luke, I was surprised to find a perfectly sized sweater and an adorable giraffe costume!  (Thank you, Laura Ashley!)  And because I finally finished organizing and putting away all our clothes, my brain has been free to help me compose a blog entry; something I've been wanting to do for over two weeks now, but couldn't because I was so muddled with all the 'should-ing.'   

These are simple things, and (understandably) not incredibly earth-shattering to those who are reading.  But to me, it was a dear reminder - the fulfillment of a promise - that there is blessing in order.  It is the path to harmony.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Little Man

This is Luke's birth story, originally posted in a note on Facebook.  Mister Man gave us a run for our money.  He was due around January 11th (this year), tried to come on Christmas Eve, and then didn't even arrive until January 21st.  I think he will always want to keep me on my toes.  :)

* * *

 January 29, 2011

Finally have a little bit of time to jot this down.  Mainly recording for those who knew I was trying for a VBAC and were so supportive and encouraging of our long wait to give me the best chance at one.  :)

At 41.5 weeks pregnant, my body finally began to show consistent signs of early labor.  A few days prior, a non-stress test and ultrasound showed Luke was healthy and contented while still in utero, and I had made some progress, so we chose to leave well enough alone for now.  Two days later, I went back for another check on him to find that I had been losing fluid and the placenta was starting to break down.  My doctor wanted to admit me that night, but I asked if we could wait til first thing in the morning (the 21st) so I could go home, get my things together, and have just a few more hours with Leila.  Doctor agreed, so I drove home in a snow storm to get myself ready.  Bo's mom drove down to stay with Leila, we made our final preparations, and Bo and I left at 4am for the hospital.

My doc had been very supportive of my decision to VBAC, so our plan of action was to encourage and augment the labor my body had already started, but being very wary of aggravating my c-section scar and avoiding uterine rupture.  We started at 5 and my body took to everything well and Luke was doing well.  My contractions started coming right on top of each other - wow.  That was uncomfy.  I knew I would want an epidural line put in in case we wound up in the operating room doing a c-section, so after breathing through them for a couple of hours  I asked for the epidural.  Soon after, my best friend Laura Ashley came - she was going to be our support person through labor, etc.  So glad to see her face.  :)  My contractions continued to pick up and progress was made - my water ruptured on its own, but in a slow leak.  A few hours later, my doctor decided to break the rest of the bag to progress things as there started to be some concern about Luke's heart rate and his head was not quite engaging. 

Things definitely sped up after that.  We tried different positions and movements and things were trucking along very quickly.  I had been in active labor for 8 hours at thispoint.  Then there was a change: one minute I'm laughing and joking with the nurses about the crazy hip movements I'm doing while praise and worship music is playing on my iPod, and before I knew it I was being told to lay back down and nurses were rushing in from everywhere - alarms going off - frantic asking who had paged my doctor, and no one could tell me what was going on (Bo and Laura were in the waiting area grabbing a quick lunch - which was about to be cut even shorter).  So I glanced at the monitor to see what was happening.  Luke's heart had gone from being consistently in the 140s/150s to the low 80s - and it didn't move.  I kept asking if he was ok and they tried to tell me he was but I didn't believe them - especially when my labor and delivery nurse started saying, "Come on, baby - hang in there - come on ..."  This went on for about 5 minutes.  I started rubbing my belly where I always felt his butt and started talking to  him, begging him to hang on, and his heart beat picked up a little bit.  Aparrently it was enough to buy us time to get to the OR, as that's where we rushed to next.

They had already changed my anesthesia at this point so it gets a little fuzzy here.  I remember my doctor coming in and telling me what needed to happen at that point to get him here safely and apologizing that the VBAC hadn't worked, and I remember saying, "Whatever!  Just get him out!"  Quickly wheeling into the OR, bright lights, soothing voices, a blue sheet way too close to my face shielding me from everything.  What I remember distinctly were three things:

1. The acute sharp pang of disappointment, the feeling of utter failure, as I had once again wound up having my child surgically cut from me in my inability to deliver him as God intended.  (Argue with the folly of this statement all you want, but it's how I felt at the time.)

2. Bo coming in - never had anyone in a blue paper suit looked so much like a knight in shining armor.  He immediately grabbed my hand and I held on for dear life.  He watched the whole procedure this time, and again, watching HIS face as he saw our son being born was the second best thing to MY being able to see it.  As soon as we heard that cry, we both looked at each other with joyful tears streaming down our faces.

3. Kissing Luke's sweet face for the first time, as soon as they'd wrapped him up, being awash in relief knowing he was ok and I was ok.  Suddenly it no longer mattered to me HOW he got there; just that he was there.  All nine pounds of him.  :)  (His APGAR was a 9, by the way.)

Bo went with Luke for all his post-birth stuff while I was sewn up and sent to recovery where Luke would be brought to me so I could nurse him.  The only hiccup was that his blood sugar was too low, so the nurses gave him a little bit of formula.  I guess this wouldn't have bothered me so much except that had I been informed (even though they told Bo, but daddies don't think about these things) I would have told them to not use milk-based as he was probably allergic - came to find out later he was, which made for a tummy ache, but once it was all out of his system he was fine.  It didn't hurt his ability or desire to nurse AT ALL.  This dude was a breastfeeding champ from the starting line.  Woot!

The hospital stay went by in a relatively peaceful and happy blur (thanks to lots of Percocet and just loving my son and real life being put on hold).  The chaos began the day we went home ... and has continued through now.  And I do mean chaos.  Luke is doing well, though it seems like I'm daily adding to the list of foods he's sensitive to that I'm having to cut out of my diet.  But he sleeps relatively well and is generally a contented little guy, very sweet and snuggly, and I swear (despite the naysayers) he has brown in his eyes!  The most challenging part about coming home has been navigating the landmine that is Leila Grace and her emotions.  She is taking this a lot harder than any of us anticipated.  Even with my parents here now, so four adults in all, it's a challenge to handle.  So if you send any prayers our way, please say them for my Leila - my heart is breaking as I see her hurting, and she won't let me near her at the moment.  To know I caused this but I can't fix it, at least not yet, is the most painful part of all.  I know it will get better soon.  But for now, that's the hardest thing.  Despite all that, though, her ire isn't directed at Luke; she's actually quite sweet with him.  She always wants to give him a kiss and pat his head or hold his tiny hands.  So I know there's hope ...

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading!  For those friends of mine who are hoping for VBACs, I just want to encourage you to pursue it within reason, do all you can, and stand up for yourself, but don't beat yourself up if it's not meant to be.  I'm still working on that, too.  Thank you ALL, dear friends, for your encouragoing posts and messages throughout the whole pregnancy and after Luke's arrival!  They have all helped so much.

Here's to a new chapter, the Jessop family of four ...