As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Five Years Ago Today

Five years ago today I thought I was an old pro.  I awoke in the short hours before dawn with contractions for my fourth child, and my husband and I got ourselves and our three boys ready to head into town.  We dropped our boys off at the babysitter around 8:00 am, and while my contractions were irregular and varied in intensity, I was certain I would be calling them by noon with news of a little brother or sister. But it was not so.

My boys all came fast and furious - labour for numbers two and three was five and four hours, respectively.  But this time it was really intermittent.  I had a membrane sweep the day before, which always gets labour started for me, so I was pretty sure this was the real thing.  But my contractions kept tapering off, and losing intensity, and it really had me questioning whether I had made a mistake.  I never had time to do any walking with my first three deliveries, but this time around found myself pacing the halls with my husband and mother in an effort to get things going. We laughed and joked, and it was all quite laid back by comparison. I even had some toast, because I was starving, and my mother took a picture because she couldn't believe I was eating in labour!

When it was time to deliver the baby, sometime after 2:00 pm, even then I was questioning.  The doctors told me it was time to push, and while the contractions had definitely picked up, it still didn't fell nearly as intense.  While my last two babies only took two or three pushes, this one took somewhere around ten.  Not a lot, but certainly more than the others.  And it was so much more steady and controlled, the whole thing really was relaxed. As with my other pregnancies I had chosen not to find out the gender of the baby beforehand, and while with three boys I got many a, "hopefully this is your girl", I had really had a conversion during my pregnancy with my third son, and found that my heart was not yearning for one gender over the other, but simply to meet this baby that the Lord had seen fit to bless us with. I knew that whoever this baby was, it was from the moment of conception, and I was so very excited to set my eyes on this miracle that had inhabited my body these many months.

When the baby was finally born, my doctor (who had delivered each of my three oldest children) looked at my mother and said, "Do you want to tell her?"  My mother, with tears in her eyes said, "It's a girl!"  There is tremendous joy with the birth of any child, but this time was extra special because when I had finally given over my desire to have a little girl to God, that's when He gifted her to me.  When I was finally able to trust His wisdom in choosing the unique souls He intended for us, rather than beg Him to please, please, please let this baby be a girl, that's when she arrived.  If she had been a boy, we would have been equally delighted.  But we knew now we were in new territory.  We had embraced the identity of a family of boys for so long, and now we were being made new.  And what a blessing she is.

We named her Catherine Cecilia after my grandmother.  There was so much joy in the hours following her birth, so many visits and gifts in every shade of pink!  I called the boys at the babysitter's to tell them they had a new baby sister, and they were all so excited.  I remember sitting with her in the evening after everyone had gone, and cuddling her close in complete disbelief that she was mine.  Everything was so new again.

With three older brothers, Katie is a wild girl.  I watch my friends with little girls who are soft and gentle and quiet, while I see my girl tear through a soccer field and run circles around my boys - and I beam with pride. She is full of life, easily exciteable, confident and silly - but also 100% girl. I have to keep all of her nicest dresses in my closet upstairs, because otherwise she'd wear them everyday, following her brothers in the dirt and mud, climbing trees and playing with trucks.  And yet despite her ruggedness she is complete sweetness and sensitivity.  She wears her heart on her sleeve, and instantly attaches to anyone she meets.  She is quick to wrap her arms around your neck, and easily breaks into tears if her feelings are hurt.  It has been quite a learning curve getting used to parenting a girl after three boys, which is perhaps one of the biggest surprises to me, because I just assumed that because I'm a girl that I would relate to her naturally.  I think when I step back, I realize that she is just like me, and that the things I get most frustrated with in her are ways that she is like me.  She teaches me how to be a better person, how to step outside of myself and what I've come to believe parenting is, and to see her for all of who she is - a spark of life that has completely transformed us since the moment she arrived in our lives.

A friend told me that when she had girls it was like they were born right into her heart, and I never really got that until Katie was born. The love I have for my boys is so deep, and I couldn't imagine how it could be any different for any of my children, regardless of gender.  But there is something different about parenting a child of the same gender.  I am closer to my Mom than to anyone in the world, other than my husband.  And I hope the same will be true for me and my daughters.  I look forward to connecting with her in a way that only a mother and daughter can, I look forward to sharing experiences that are unique to women together.  I look forward to watching her grow into the person God intends her to be, and maybe having a unique window on the path she is walking because it is one that I have walked too.

Katie, from the very beginning you have loved me and everyone around you with the purest kind of love.  Thank you for teaching me that I am not a pro, but that I always need to be open to learning, and never take my job as a parent for granted.  As you continue to bless us with your beautiful life, it is my prayer that I can love you the same way.  I love you so much my sweet little princess!  Thank you for bringing such joy and beauty to our lives!

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