2014, I Love You

2015. I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe I can now say I had a baby LAST YEAR.

With Emelia crawling, pulling herself up and walking along the couch, and teething happening all at once, I’ve been busy. At this stage, motherhood is both a physical and emotional challenge. On days like today when she boycotts naps and fusses when she’s normally always happy, I have to remind myself that even if I’m not 100% sure about what’s bothering her, even if I’m exhausted, I am enough. I’m her momma, and I’m enough. Others will try to comfort her, but she wants me, because I’m her momma, and I’m enough. I’m doing it right, because I’m being her mom. I’m doing it right because I love her.

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This week we celebrated Emelia’s 9 month birthday with the family in New Jersey. It’s been a blast catching up with everyone. It’s nice to have so much help with Emi. Someone is always ready to feed her, put her to sleep, change her diaper, and I am loving watching her interact with her cousins. It brings back memories of me interacting with my own cousins growing up. Growing up with my cousins made my childhood special and even a bit magical. Our make believe games were probably what sparked my passion for reading and writing fiction. Although my relationships with my cousins have changed and we’ve grown apart, I will cherish the memories and I hope the distance between Emi and her cousins in NJ won’t prevent her from building relationships with them. I could sit and watch them play and giggle for hours. It’s so precious.

The last time we were visiting family here, I was quite pregnant. It was just before the preterm labor kicked in. It was rather peaceful. I remember being here and wondering what life would be like once my baby was born. I think my hand was on my belly constantly, trying to savor the mystery of being kicked by my own child who grew and thrived in my womb.

All night on December 31st, I felt a bit uneasy and wondered what we were celebrating.  The topic of conversation revolved around New Year resolutions, looking forward to the year ahead, and starting over, but all I could think about was how much I wanted to hold onto 2014. About how much I loved 2014.

On the first day of 2015, I woke up feeling nostalgic. So I made a list. I made a list of my favorite moments of 2014:

Telling Mgo we were expecting

Hearing Emelia’s heartbeat for the first time

Spending time with my mom while on bed rest

Watching my parents and sister meet Emelia for the first time hours after she was born

Putting Emelia to sleep in her Pack ‘n Play for the first time in our bedroom the day we brought her home from the hospital

Yellow Birdie Co going live

Seeing Emelia smile for the first time

Hugging Mgo seconds before 2015, both of us getting a little emotional as we realized what a scary, wonderful year we’d just had

2014, I love you.

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In the Darkness

Yesterday, Emi turned seven months old. We planned our whole day around a photo shoot we did on our porch. I made sure to put her in a cute outfit. I made sure she took a good nap and was fed right before we took her outside. I  wrote a number 7 on a pumpkin. I set her down, and moved out of the way while Mgo did his thing with the camera. I tried to feel all the things you’re probably supposed to feel during your daughter’s 7 month photo shoot. Of course, I was happy. But I also couldn’t help but feel anxious. Every time we celebrate her birthday, I remember that my life was changed forever. On April 3rd, I met my daughter. But I also remember that I almost lost Emi. Mgo almost lost us both.

But aside from all of that, I think about all the things I missed out on:

Seeing and holding her as soon as she was born.

Watching the nurses give her a bath and swaddle her for the first time.

Being asked what her name will be and naming her with my husband.

Seeing Mgo’s face upon meeting her and seeing him hold her for the first time.

Reveling in that precious moment of holding our brand new baby and celebrating her birth together with my husband.

I missed out on that moment of pure elation at the reality of becoming a parent upon first seeing her. Instead, I met her in a poorly lit hallway. It was a pit stop on my way to my post-par tum recovery room. The nurse who was wheeling my bed to the post-par tum ward said we were making a quick stop to pick up my baby. The doors opened and Mgo came out to meet me and instantly I was jealous. He had a glow that was foreign to me, but it took a mere second for me to realize it was the glow of pure joy – a joy that I was missing. A woman I didn’t know followed close behind him, holding a small, squirming bundle. She turned her around and held her out to me. I stared at this baby who had more hair than I’d ever seen on a newborn’s head. It stuck out in all directions. Her eyes were closed. And it seemed like everyone around me held their breath and waited for me to do what I was supposed to do. I waited, too. And when nothing happened, when I didn’t instinctively oo and ahh, when my arms didn’t automatically reach out and take her from this strange woman, when I didn’t feel anything, except for the grueling nausea from the anesthesia, I forced a smile. The nurses looked at one another and then placed her on my legs.

“Okay, mommy, here we go,” the nurse behind me said. “Let’s get you to your room. Follow us, Daddy.”

Mommy. Daddy. So odd.

I was dizzy, disoriented, and angry. I had missed her birth, and now I was supposed to bond with this newborn that slept comfortably on my legs. Feeling her warmth scared me, because she felt real and as we made our way to our room, I realized that from that moment on, I was responsible for her. And in that moment, I didn’t want any of it.

In our room, Mgo did what he does best. He cared for us both. He didn’t once make me feel like a bad mother for saying no every time he asked if I wanted to hold her. I don’t know why I didn’t want to. I had waited so long for that moment. For the moment I’d finally see what she looked like, hear what she sounded like, to feel what she felt like… It took hours, but Mgo finally convinced me to have her lay next to me on my hospital bed. So we put a pillow down, and her on it. I started by pretending to be a curious new parent, for his sake. I slowly placed my hand on her thickly swaddled body and she started to cry. I froze. Mgo picked her up and put a glove on. He put his finger in her mouth, and she calmed down. I was jealous again. He already had this parenting thing down. He knew how to make her stop crying! He brought her to me again, but this time he sat on the bed next to me and held her closer to my face. Suddenly I smelled her sweet pink, newborn smell and I heard her gentle breaths.

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Suddenly it was a little less scary.

Suddenly I loved her more than anything else I’d ever loved.

And I didn’t sleep. Not only because recovery was really hard on my body, but because I lay awake just staring at her, trying to take it all in. I watched her sleep. I watched Mgo change her diaper over and over again. I watched him cuddle her and talk to her in hushed tones. I watched him be a dad and realized this was what I was waiting for during my whole pregnancy. To witness the joy this little girl would bring.

And my motherly instincts kicked in, and I stayed up with her. I started sensing when she needed to be held, when she needed to be put down, when she needed to eat… I went through the motions, and when all went quiet, when Mgo and Emi were fast asleep, when the nurses finally left me alone, I sat and waited. I waited for the joy to kick in.

And sometime in the early morning, when the first light crept in through our window, I felt it and held onto it while I watched her. It was her first morning. I looked over at Mgo and he was watching us both. She was ours. Finally. She was with us. She made it.

Every night, Mgo reminds me that even though it was a rough pregnancy and delivery, she’s here. She’s healthy. She’s beautiful.

But I still think about those moments I lost and wish I savored those first few moments I had with her even though they weren’t like I imagined they would be. Even though I wasn’t feeling well physically and was still in shock about what happened in the OR.

Even though it had felt like I had settled at the far side of the sea, God was there. When I became paralyzed, going from being in control to relying on a machine to breathe for me, those bursts of oxygen that were pushed into my lungs reminded me that I’m not in control. God is. I wake up each morning because He chooses to give me life. He chose to sustain me in that OR, and now I get to see Emi smile every day in the arms of her daddy.

In the darkness, God was there. When my mind returns to that place, I think of my thriving girl and praise God for giving me this gift – this time on earth with her. I pray that she comes to love Jesus as much as we do so we can enjoy her in heaven, too.

I walked through the shadow of death, and He was with me. When my mind wanders to that place, I cling to the hope I have in my merciful Father.

And I hold Emelia close.

Giveaway – Handmade Gold Cowl

As promised, I am hosting my first Giveaway, celebrating 100 Likes!

I am giving away one of my handmade knit cowls. It’s knit in a lacy pattern, in the color “gold.” This is my favorite color this season! It is part of the collection of infinity cowls that will be available for purchase in my upcoming Etsy shop! This will be a random draw and if your name is chosen, I will ship it directly to you!

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Here’s how to enter:
1. “Like” Ode to Story’s Facebook page or follow me on Instagram @odetostory. (If you do both, you have a higher chance of getting chosen!)
2. Share a direct link of your favorite post from my blog on your own Facebook wall or Instagram feed by visiting http://www.odetostory.com (direct link is in the left sidebar). Be sure to click on the title of your favorite post and copy and paste the link. To enter on Facebook, post the link on your personal Facebook wall and tag Ode to Story. For Instagram, take a screen shot of your favorite post and post it on your picture feed, tagging @odetostory and using the hashtag #odetostory.

That’s it! You have 48 hours to enter! I will announce the winner on Friday.

I Got My Onion

This morning I realized that I didn’t have anything to cook with. Mgo usually stops at the store on his way home if I need anything. But today I was in the mood for an adventure. I needed an onion for my lentil soup. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. So I decided to take Emi on an adventure. We took a trip to Trader Joe’s.

Believe it or not, this was the first time I took her to the grocery store. As a first-time nursing mom, outings with a newborn were stressful for a long time. When we first had her around, we would have to time things just right. I would nurse her, and then it would be a mad dash out the door. Diapers? Check. Nursing cover? Check. Blankets? Check. Pacifiers? Check. Diapers. Check again. And we would have an hour or two before she needed to be fed again. It was crazy, but once in a while, we would do it. Sometimes, I just needed to get out. It was cabin fever. It was an excuse to change out of our pajamas.

The first time I went out with her on my own, I believe it was something along the lines of packing up the diaper bag, strapping her in her car seat, going through a Starbucks drive-thru, and coming home. I was so proud of myself when I got home. Success!

Today I fumbled with my keys, put the shopping cart cover on backwards, fixed it, forgot my list in the trunk, then slowly rolled the cart through the double doors, making sure she wasn’t bobbing all over the place. I went toward the produce section and completely blanked on why I even came here. Do we really need anything? What was I going to make tonight? Oh yes. An onion! I proceeded to fill my cart with things I normally don’t buy, and now know I don’t need. As I surmised a bottle of ranch dressing, a woman casually strolled by.

How adorable, she said.

Thank you, I said.

She’s cute, so be careful, she continued.

Be careful?

Yeah, someone might snatch her away, she said with a straight face.

I smiled and mumbled a thank you. Then I rushed away awkwardly because my legs suddenly felt like jell-o. I started sweating profusely. I mean, really? REALLY?

We perused the aisles, and she was mesmerized by all the colors and sounds. I tried to get her attention, but she barely heard me. She was too busy taking it all in. So I watched her, and I really didn’t buy much. I even almost forgot my onion.

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While I loaded her and the groceries in the car, a homeless man came around with his own cart. He kept pushing for some change or food or help. I wasn’t really sure, because I was busy trying to juggle it all – I wasn’t used to doing this with a baby in tow. And when I finally got us in the car and turned on the ignition, the man bumped my car with his cart, upset that I wasn’t paying attention to him. Kinda scary. Kinda crazy. I kinda almost cried.

But I did it. I took Emelia to the grocery store all by myself. I got my onion. It was fun. It was kind of empowering.

So what if we ended up ordering take out tonight?

A Note to my Pregnant Self

I see you sitting there, filled with equal parts excitement and distress. Parents and non-parents alike are all repeating a mantra as soon as they see you and your large belly, a slogan that has been shared so many times, it’s become custom to recite it to all mothers-to-be. And because you’re you, you smile and listen patiently. And because you’re you, you are skeptical and nervous, because the speech always ends with them repeating that it will take a long time for you to feel like yourself again. You sometimes feel like a fugitive because you are running away from all the warnings hurled at you. In here, in this place of in-between, you begin to wonder what feeling like yourself actually means and what it will be like to not feel like yourself.

But now that your daughter is half a year old, I can tell you from experience that motherhood won’t make you stop feeling like you.

Because what makes you you now is the ability to gracefully accept change. I know you. You get bored when life stays the same for too long. But it never does stay the same. For anyone. So take a breath. And listen.

Remember that time you met a boy and were afraid he’d ruin your plans? You were afraid that falling in love and getting married would fast forward your life to mundane. You weren’t ready for stable or safe. You wanted adventure. But you ended up taking on the role of wife and pastor’s wife even though it felt like stepping off the cliff of independence and falling into what you always thought you’d run away from. You thought you left your dreams of traveling and writing a book behind. Now you’re married and are doing both.

Before you married that man, you told him you didn’t want kids. Then the desire to have a baby creeped in, and as much as you wanted to push it away, it took over, like your daily cravings for chocolate ice cream topped with sour patch kids and a side of ginger ale. It was as if the love you had for your husband was too much to bear. You were bursting. And the only way to tame it was to become parents with him.

And you stared at your positive pregnancy test and wondered if this was it. If this was what was going to scare you off. The you that you held so tightly onto. If it would change your life so much that you’d spend the rest of it searching for the pieces of you that you lost along the way.

That because of all this you would be a horrible mother.

Every time you feel a kick and wonder if you’ll resent her. I remember.

I can tell you that what you will lose and miss most is sleep. You will lose the luxury of privacy. You will lose the ability to keep your house tidy and organized. You may never eat a full meal without an interruption again. Time will no longer exist. You will lose the ability to worry about yourself.

But now, six months into motherhood, you’re more you than you’ve ever been. Every day, you watch Emelia discover something new about herself and about the world. And in this way, you are rediscovering yourself. You are finding that there’s things about you that you never new existed. You never bothered to recognize them. Your little girl exhibits things that are oh so familiar.

Photo Credit: Mike Mekredijian
Photo Credit: Mike Mekredijian

You are learning that you are stronger than you thought you were. You just never had an opportunity to showcase your resilience. You will be pushed to be brave for the sole purpose of protecting your family. You will smile just hours after you face one of the darkest moments of your life. What will bring out the you in you is pure vulnerability and extreme love for a child. For your daughter.

Go ahead. Let your tears fall. I know you don’t want anyone to see, but know that soon your daughter will be watching and learning. And your tears will be a sign that you exist, that you have a heart that’s ever-changing, remaining the you that you have always been, and always will be.

In just a few short months, motherhood will force you to be more you than you’ve ever been. A you that’s just a bit more tired, suddenly ready to go to bed before 9 p.m. You have upped your coffee intake and are buzzing with caffeine, which leads you to be more productive than ever. You are knitting cowls and making homemade candles. Yeah. I know. It doesn’t sound like you, but it is you. You used to be a homebody, but now you get excited about the mere prospect of getting some Target fresh air, roaming through the baby aisles with confidence, and lingering in the candy aisle.

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You are now living life intentionally. Every moment is a learning experience for Emi and for you. You already see so much of you in her, and now you know that you will always be you. The ever-changing, ever-adapting you. And you will hope that she will be content with the parts of you that are a part of her.

So take heart and go take a nap. Rest easy. Six months into motherhood, you are still feeling like you. And somehow, you know you always will.

One Stitch at a Time

Two very good things came about as a result of my time on bed rest during my pregnancy: Emelia and learning how to knit.

I was given strict orders from my MD to stay put. I wasn’t even allowed to take a shower every day. I sat up just to eat and even then I had to be careful and lay right back down because my contractions would pick up.

Read. Write. You’ll be okay, everyone who knows me said.

They figured I would make it through because I could do the things I loved even while having to lie down. I thought I would, too. But the combination of strong meds that made me dizzy and constant worry made it difficult to focus long enough to read and even to write. So my cousin introduced me to knitting. At first I laughed at it. The only people I pictured with knitting needs in their hands were my grandmothers. But my family encouraged me to give it a try and it soon became one of the only things that kept me calm. It also made me feel productive when I had an intense urge to nest and organize but couldn’t, like washing, folding and putting Emi’s clothes away, reorganizing the linen closet and perhaps scrubbing the grout between the tiles in our kitchen and entryway.

So I knit. A lot. I made bookmarks, coin purses, washcloths, baby blankets, and eventually a heart garland for her room. Now when I nurse her in her room, I am moved to tears when I see the garland – tiny prayers in the shape of hearts draped under her window and I look down and realize my own heart has taken the shape of a little girl.

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Sometimes I feel unsettled. It’s like an itch I need to scratch but can’t find the exact location of it on my arm, or is it my palm? Though it takes me a while to figure out why, I eventually realize that it’s my need to be creative.  And when the words don’t flow when I try to write, I sit down with my knitting needles.

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I begin working one stitch at a time and all of a sudden everything else seems to fade. There’s something about the sound of the needles slipping against each another – the click and then the slide. Suddenly, only the yarn, needles and my mechanical hands exist. Each time I loop the yarn around my needle, I know I’m one step closer to a finished product. And I realize that knitting is a lot like living. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes we are stressed or feel anxious. But all we have to do is knit one stitch at a time. One foot in front of the other, and then again, and suddenly you’re moving forward, despite the troubles we may be facing. Our stories unfold, one stitch at a time. One step at a time. One minute at a time.

And in my case, one scarf at a time. One word at a time. One diaper change at a time.

What No One Told Me

When I was pregnant, it seemed that every mom I came across, even strangers, wanted to give me advice. They wanted to prepare me for what was ahead.

Sleep now. You’re not going to be getting any rest once your baby arrives!

Sleep when the baby sleeps.

The most important thing is putting your baby on a schedule.

The most important thing is not putting your baby on a schedule and just going with the flow

Enjoy your time with your husband now, because your relationship will never be the same.

Don’t let her get too clingy. Put her in her own room right away.

Some of this may be good advice. I thought about what they told me, but I didn’t dwell on these things too much. I was just so excited. All I thought about was that I was going to meet my baby soon. I knew life would change forever. After all, suddenly we would be a family of three instead of just two. Instead of stressing, I spent time quietly rubbing my belly and telling my little girl I would protect her and care for her. I told her I would support her even if she didn’t love art like her momma and wanted to be a chemist. I told her I’d be the best mom I could be.

Photo Credit: Mike Mekredijian
Photo Credit: Mike Mekredijian

What no one told me was that I would worry. A lot. There’s something so distinct about being a mom. You feel worry all the time and you can’t shake it, even if you know your baby is okay. You feel the worry in your bones. And you’re alone with it. You realize that no one else in the world will feel the love you feel for your child. And I don’t think it’s because you carried her in your body for nine months or endured through her birth. It’s not because you spend more time with her than anyone else. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Sometimes in the middle of the night while I nurse her, I stare at her little face, her little hands that flail about, grabbing at my hair, resting on her own head, and I wonder if she will like me. Will we get along? Will I know what to do when she has her first fever? When she wants to do something I never had the courage to do? Will I be brave enough to mother her wholeheartedly?

Becoming a mom for the first time is like getting a new job, one that you’ve had no training for. But it’s so different, because it’s not a job. It’s a privilege. It’s you taking on a whole new purpose, and you’re completely transformed. And I know she knows that I’m it. When we are in a crowd and she’s being passed around, she turns her head this way and that, looking for me. Then she locks eyes with me and stares me down. Panic sets in. She wants me.
And sometimes I feel like I’m drowning. It’s because of this overwhelming pull – an all-consuming need to be near her and care for her. Sometimes I feel like I need a break and I take one, but before an hour goes by, I want to be with her again.

Yesterday, Mgo fed her oatmeal. I watched as she reached for and squeezed his hand every time he brought the small, blue spoon to her lips. He opened his mouth and she watched him and did the same. She grabbed the spoon and smeared the oatmeal in her hair and stuck it up her nose. There were moments when she would sit back and just smile at him. And my heart nearly exploded.

No one told me that it will feel like parts of my very soul exist outside of my body but that the sight of my husband interacting with my daughter will make me feel whole.

No one told me there will come a time when you will realize you have got the hang of things. Suddenly you feel brave instead of scared. You begin to trust your instincts. You let go of your insecurities and embrace the fact that what you’re feeling is no longer worry.

It’s transition.

It’s the final struggle before your old self meshes with your new self.

It’s the realization that you’re still you.

It’s motherhood.

And She Will Run

As I spend a rare moment alone with my thoughts, I realize I’m fighting. You’d think as a mom of a five month old, these quiet moments would be welcome, but I try to avoid them. I’m really trying not to face reality. It’s difficult for me to come here to this place that holds a lot of hurt and frustration, because I don’t want Emelia anywhere near it. I keep putting it away, but once in a while, when she’s not with me, and I sit quietly, it’s an interruption – a pebble in my shoe.

Every night when I get in bed, I check on Emi on the monitor. I wonder – is she breathing? Is she too hot? Too cold? Is her diaper clean? Did she eat enough before she went to sleep? As I watch her chest move up and down, I feel a twinge of uncertainty: Was I a good momma today?

Photo Credit: Mike Mekredijian
Photo Credit: Mike Mekredijian

A friend once told me that I should never have kids. She had experienced what a lot of my acquaintances do – me backing out of spending time with many times because I wasn’t feeling well enough to leave the house. It’s hard for most people to understand that living with chronic pain and fatigue can sometimes be paralyzing. This particular friend understood all too well, because she also suffers from a pain disorder. She asked me how I would manage the responsibility of being a parent when it’s so physically demanding. It hurt, not because I was offended, but because at the back of my mind, I knew she was right.

But there was a problem – I really wanted a child, and, of course, Mgo did too.

During my pregnancy, I went into remission. My pain almost disappeared and instead of feeling extremely tired, I had a lot of energy. However, things took a turn after I gave birth. It’s been a struggle.

This past weekend, Mgo went out of town. My parents came to help with the baby, but I flew solo for a night. Many people asked me if I was afraid of spending a night alone in the house. I told them no. No I’m not afraid of the dark. No I’m not afraid someone will break in. But what I am afraid of is that my body will defy me when I need it to be on its best behavior. I am constantly telling it to stop whining, stop panicking, stop getting in the way. I have to give it a daily pep talk: Please be good today. Please just do what you’re supposed to do.

Can’t you just be like everybody else?

But then I turn to the One who gives me life each day. To the One that, for one reason or another, allows my body to act up, and transforms my illness into a blessing. To the One that, even on the days I don’t think I’ll be able to lift Emi out of her crib in the morning, gives me strength to take care of her.

And I know that one day I’ll be able to teach my daughter what I have learned. I’ll tell her that she will not always be strong. She is not perfect. Sometimes she will let people down, and they will be disappointed in her. Her friends won’t always understand what she is going through, even if they try. She will wonder why He allows us to struggle. And she will run from Him.

But I will tell her He is perfect. He will never let her down. He will hold her close when she is suffering. He will never leave her.
 

Take Time to Smell the Roses

Exactly eight years ago today, Mgo and I took a long walk in my parents’ neighborhood. We had met a year prior and had gotten a taste of what a long distance relationship was like. It took a toll on both of us. We were hesitant to tell each other what we were thinking, but we finally realized we were both scared to keep things going because we were so far away from one another. I, for one, was scared to be in a relationship with someone I barely knew. Yes, we talked for hours on the phone each day. We wrote each other letters, emails, texts, and sent each other gifts in the mail, but it wasn’t enough. We weren’t in each others circle of friends. We couldn’t attend each others family get togethers. We couldn’t be spontaneous. We couldn’t be a typical couple. However, as we walked, all I could think about was how much I didn’t want it to end.

We walked and walked and walked until we finally stopped in front of a gas station. We had shared all of our concerns, but we were still holding hands. He pointed to something behind me and when I turned around, there was a sign that read “Take time to smell the roses.” And right there, we made a pact. We would stay together, even though it was hard. We wouldn’t dwell on the bad and take time to enjoy the good things happening in our relationship. No matter how difficult life got, we would trust God.

And we stuck together.

And life got difficult.

Recently, Mgo went to Armenia on a mission trip. While there, he led a seminar on preparing for marriage. He shared our story. When he read it to me prior to his trip, I was a bit overwhelmed. I hadn’t realized how many hardships we have actually faced during our life together.

How sick I got during our first winter in Rhode Island. The year of aggressive testing and treatment to diagnose me with Fibromyalgia, which led to depression. Mgo’s mom battling cancer. Mgo having to live with a woman who was slowly losing herself. Enduring a year of unemployment when God called us out of the church in Rhode Island. Bed rest during my pregnancy, fourteen trips to triage, and the traumatic birth of Emelia during which we both faced death.

I’d never really thought about it all. In the midst of the afflictions, I was definitely weakened and frustrated. However, God ALWAYS pulled us through, even when it felt like we’d never get answers or relief. Even if I was angry with Him. Even if I didn’t always cling to Him.

While battling my symptoms and waiting for a diagnosis, I met a young woman who was diagnosed with arthritis at a young age. And she became a source of God’s indelible grace, coaching me through the entire process and encouraging me to face the frustration I was feeling. She is one of the most encouraging people I know. Her, her husband and kids are now family to us. They are a gift. Mgo’s mom fought and won and has been cancer-free for years now. God led us to Fresno, and just like in Rhode Island, we are beyond blessed by the church. Although I had a difficult pregnancy and delivery, and despite all the scares that Emelia wasn’t healthy, she made it and is thriving.

I know that He will hold our hands when the next trial comes. He will walk us through each tribulation, even if they last a long time. Even if we don’t always get a happy outcome.

And thinking back on my time with Mgo, even though we have encountered a lot of hardships, I wouldn’t change a thing.

It has been the best time of my life.

Daybreak

I know it’s morning, but I keep my eyes closed. I hear the shuffle of his footsteps on our mostly new carpet and then the shower comes on. Just two more minutes. I purse my lips because my muscles are tense and achy. I turn onto my back and take a few deep breaths and try to relax them, starting at my toes and working my way up to my head. As my body wakes, the pain intensifies. I sit with it for a moment. A small pity party ensues. I turn on my side.

I’m suddenly aware of the sound of rain. It’s pelting down on something hard. It’s dramatic yet calming. I realize I forgot to turn Emelia’s sound machine down last night. I open my eyes and see her feet up in the air. The screen goes light to dark to light again as her legs go up and down. She’s babbling. Lots of aghas and ahhs. She looks around her room in wonder, like she’s never seen it before.

Our room smells like Irish Spring soap.

“Morning,” he says, adjusting his tie. “Is she up?”

I smile and we both watch the screen for a while. She finds her yellow pacifier and tries to put it in her mouth. She misses and slurps loudly on her fingers.

He goes in and changes her diaper while I brush my teeth. I hear him talk to her and she squeals.

“Be good for momma today,” he says. He gives me a worried look.

I smile. “Hope you have a good day.”

He hands her to me. We kiss.

Emi runs her hand across my nose, cheeks and lips. She gets her fingers stuck in my hair and I try to remember the last time I washed it.

I put my hair up. We rock in the chair for a while. She kicks excitedly when I open and close my fingers in the air while singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” It’s her favorite. When the song is over, she looks up at me and smiles. She pats my chin.

After some time in her swing and another diaper change, it’s time for her nap. She wriggles around in my arms and buries her face in my shoulder. I close her blinds and walk her around the room. I sing “Jesus Loves Me” and feel her warm, milky breath against my neck.

“I love you,” I say, and put her in her crib.

There’s a glimpse of panic in her eyes. She holds my hand tight. I put her pacifier in her hands and guide it to her mouth. She goes cross eyed while she concentrates on it. It’s in her mouth. I give her a kiss and tip toe out of the room.

I think she’s asleep. The door creaks loudly when I start to pull it shut.

I freeze. No. Sleep. Sleep. Go back to sleep. She’s doesn’t move. Her hands are gripping her pacifier.

I let the dog out and look out the window. I consider going for a swim. The pain in my leg reminds me to take it easy. The Keurig gurgles and I take my warm mug to the office.

I look out the window and see a mom and a stroller full of twins. Her pajama pants are dragging on the concrete, and her shirt is a few sizes too large.

The leaves on our tree are green and plentiful, shaking in the breeze. I realize it’s August. Summer is almost gone.

I flip open my laptop and my fingers get to work. “I know it’s morning, but I keep my eyes closed.”