Having committed to blogging daily this month, I've been reflecting on what this journey into parenthood has taught me. While I have certainly learned a lot in the last nine months, I've also had the chance to re-affirm some truths, as well.
One of those has been the importance of family.
I've always been very close with my family. I'm blessed to have two parents who I admire and respect as people and as friends, and two sisters who are truly my closest friends. My middle sister had the first grandchild in our family just four days before Cora was born. My mother, of course, flew to Vermont to be with them, while the rest of the family began planning trips for a few days later. All the time they were waiting for Cora to arrive. But my husband and I had planned to have a home birth with only the attendants present, and then to celebrate the first several days of her life at home alone, a newly hatched family of three. And then Cora arrived and all my expectations shifted.
While my family knew I was in labor, I didn't call them until late afternoon the next day, several hours after Cora had arrived. In the time in between, I was recovering from childbirth and reeling from the arrival of a baby with a secret that had rocked me to the core. Although I recognized the features of Down syndrome in her eyes the moment they lay her on my chest, I held out hope that I was wrong until my midwife "broke the news" after examining her. And when I had my worst fears confirmed, some of my first thoughts were trying to figure out how I would tell my family. So I waited until the bustling commotion died down and the midwives were leaving and then called my mom and sister. I really don't remember what what was said. And even though I was scared of what their reaction would be, I do know that they told me that they loved me and they loved Cora. And things felt better somehow after that.
Within a day, both my parents had traveled in and my youngest sister was on the way. They stayed with us to help out while Cora was in the NICU, and then again during her surgery. And of course we've had plenty of visits in between.
And although I knew that my family would be so important after having a child, I didn't really realize how important. How can I even quantify how much they have helped and supported me?
And, even more, they are so important to Cora. My sister Mira shared some beautiful thoughts a few months ago (that Mira... our family's baby but oh so wise). She told me that Cora's gift is that she is charismatic and captivating and draws people to her. How it's her gift to us and also her survival mechanism, in a way. She went on to say how important that was. How important it is that Cora has the love and support of family and those around her, because she needs that little bit extra.
And boy does she have it.
Cora with Grammie and Mira late one night in the NICU while I was at home in bed.
They were all partying because they got Cora to take a FULL bottle (quite the feat!)
Itty bitty Cora getting some good Mira loving.
Look how much her Grammie loves her!
Fun with Grandpa Phil!
It was pretty exciting to meet her Grandpa Mike!
The wacky MacDonald clan. Yes, Cora fits right in!
Favorite Auntie Dana loving on her niece.
Cora's cousin Kai is very exciting!
So I want to say thank you to my family. Thank you for being so wonderful to me. And thank you for loving my baby so.
Side note and apology to Favorite Aunties Erin, Tara and Ariel: I am sorry you're not pictured here. We need some pictures STAT!