Today is Thanksgiving.
When I found out I was pregnant with Charlotte and figured out my due date, I knew that my goal would really be 37 weeks because of my delivery history with Robbie. That day was today, 11/24/11.
I spent all those months praying for a Thanksgiving baby. While I didn't make it quite as close as I hoped, it's hard to be too upset as I sit here staring at my amazing baby girl. I have so much to be thankful for.
Charlotte is doing great. She had her first pediatrician appointment on Monday. She hadn't gained any weight since leaving the hospital and I panicked a bit. (Okay, a lot.) But she's eating well, and I'm hopeful that at her recheck on Saturday, things will improve. They rechecked her bilirubin that day and it was back up to 11, but we did it again yesterday and it was down to 10, so it's headed in the right direction on its own, which is encouraging.
She's still in the super sleepy phase, though she has a couple of wakeful periods each day. Usually in the morning and then very late at night. The nights can get kinda rough, but such is the way with babies. She is so snuggly and sweet, and even when she's awake for a while, she's pretty happy, so sometimes the nights feel like I'm getting a little something that no one else gets (for now.)
Robbie is also doing very well. He seems to have fallen in love with his sister. When she does fuss, he goes over and talks to her to console her. One day when I'd gone to the bathroom and she started crying, he brought her a paci. He brings her a blanket or a toy if he sees one he thinks she needs. In the mornings when I'm laying in bed nursing her, I'll hear him coming across the house to "say hi to Mommy and baby Charlotte!"
He's really quite gentle with her. We've had a few incidents where he's gotten too wound up and had to be reminded to be careful around her, but they've all been accidents and he's seemed genuinely upset that he had almost hurt her. (Just bouncing on the bed and accidentally knocking into her or something.)
You can see him figuring things out sometimes. Yesterday I was using one of Robbie's fleece blankets on her and he looked a little concerned and told me that was his blanket. I told him that he was right but asked if it was okay if Charlotte used it. He seemed to take that under advisement just repeating "that's Robbie's blanket" but not really seeming upset about it. Then he just wandered off. A little while later, he came up, gave the blanket the same pensive look and said "that's Charlotte's blanket." I guess he bequeathed it to her.
I'll tell ya, nothing makes your three year old look bigger than having a baby in the house, though. I swear it's like he grew a foot and aged a year the day she was born. It's bittersweet. He's not the baby anymore, but man, seeing him as a big brother makes me even more proud of him.
David's been amazing, too. We definitely struggled after Robbie was born. David had no idea what to do with a baby, let alone a preemie with the kind of issues that Robbie had. It was not easy. I worried about us going through that again, so we talked about it a lot before and during my pregnancy with Charlotte. He definitely took it all to heart.
During the weeks in the hospital, he took care of everything at home. He run Robbie back and forth to the hospital, took care of school stuff, home chores. He took vacation time when Charlotte was born, but the nature of his job makes vacation a little bit of a loose term. He was sitting in the NICU the night Charlotte was moved there writing memos for work. Vacation just meant he didn't have to go into the office, but still handled things as they came up. All while taking care of me, Charlotte and Robbie.
We've sniped at each other a time or two, of course. The kind of stress and sleep deprivation that comes with a preterm birth and a newborn can get to anyone. But by and large, we've been a team through all of this. He's taken Charlotte without question whenever I've needed a break, and almost exclusively parented Robbie while I was on bedrest and too sick to get up for a while.
Then there are our parents. My mother-in-law took a leave from work and came to stay at our house the day after I was admitted to the hospital. She took Robbie to and from school, comforted him, fed him, all while keeping my house immaculate (seriously, she is SO much a better housekeeper than me) and doing our laundry.
My dad still works full time but he made sure that my mother-in-law could get around, helped entertain Robbie, shopped for anything we needed, and provided back up care when we needed it.
I honestly don't know what we'd have done without both of them. One day David turned to me and said "if ever my mom gets to the point where we need to take care of her and I ever complain? Smack me." We are both overwhelmed with their generosity. And when we tried to express our gratitude, both of them just waved us off, "eh, we're family." That may be true, but not every family is as supportive as ours.
And friends? I can't even talk about my friends without choking up with tears. As soon as I was put on bedrest, a few friends got together to make freezer meals for me. And bring books and movies and magazines to help keep my mind busy.
They texted and emailed and called and visited me at home and then later in the hospital to stave off off loneliness. They prayed.
Last week, the girls from my preemie board arranged for a mobile shower the likes of which I can't even explain. They conspired with David and my mother-in-law to fill my house with gifts that are beyond generous. They filled my deep freeze all over again. There were gift certificates for photos, and house-cleaning. There was a kindle (!) with a gift card for books. There were clothes and blankets and diapers and a dozen cards with touching messages that made me cry a lot. They made me feel loved.
And of course, there is God. Without his amazing love and caring, I don't know where we'd be. My entire pregnancy was an answer to prayers. That we got as far as we did is another. Charlotte's good health is nothing short of a miracle. That we two infertiles, me being a profoundly crappy gestator on top of it, are sitting at home on this Thanksgiving day with our two beautiful children proves a thousand times that God is a loving and powerful God and I'm grateful every day for His presence in my life.
Everything isn't always sunshine and rainbows and I'm never going to be the person who pretends that it is. But neither do I ever overlook my many, many blessings. I count them daily and try to make sure that those people by whom I'm blessed know how I feel about them.
Today isn't about remembering that I'm lucky. I know that all 365 days a year. But I do think it's a great day to shout it from the rooftops without feeling like a braggart. My life is full. I am blessed. I am filled with thanksgiving.