Monday, November 7, 2011

Amazing Cookies: Grace's Quilt

So many times every day I think of things I want to write about and post on this blog. And not until today have I sat down to do so. Right now there is laundry to be folded and a dishwasher to empty, a diaper genie to clean, and thank-you notes to write, but there is a very important story I need to tell, instead.

For almost six years I dealt with a horrendous pain disorder called Trigeminal Neuralgia. I have now been pain free for almost three years and I am thankful for every single one of those days. If I were not pain-free I do not know where I would be right now. I most certainly would not have my incredible daughter. I am more thankful than I can say.

I have tried to stay involved with the online support groups that I joined. I know how important it is to read positive outcomes and even just escape pain for a bit by reading about something happy, so I've tried to continue to chart my success story and write about my pregnancy and about Grace, so my online friends and I could share in the happiness.

About two months ago I got a package in the mail, from an address I did not recognize. Inside was a gift for Grace...a quilt, all different shades of green, with 12 diamonds with different animals in the center of each. It is so intricate and so, so beautiful.

This quilt was made for Grace by a woman named Ann, whom I have actually never met. Ann joined one of the online TN communities and found my blog. After reading my experience with TN and the surgery I had to correct it, she decided to have the same surgery. Now she is pain-free, as well, and has been feeling great for almost a year.

Ann included a square on the back of the quilt that says: "For Grace - May you have many angels in your life...your mommie is one of mine."

I can not express what this gift means to me. I hope to someday be able to explain to Grace what an important and special gift Ann has given to both of us. And I hope that Ann's gift inspires Grace to be someone else's angel someday.

But for now I just wanted to try to write down the story of Grace's Quilt, for inspiration, for motivation, as a simple reminder of the huge differences we can make in each others lives.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Our Little Cookie

A little more than three weeks ago, our Grace was born. It was a beautiful Sunday morning, full of quiet sunshine. As we drove over the bridge to the Birth Center, Chad told me to open my eyes and look at the sun on the ocean. It made diamonds on the surface.

Almost two hours later, she was born, in the water. We laughed and we cried at the same time; holding on to each other, we held her for hours before they weighed her and measured her and covered her tiny feet in ink.

I had thought about those moments for so, so long, since back when she was just an idea. Those moments were more beautiful than I was prepared for. It just felt like it happened the way it was supposed to: during my labor, Susan, one of the midwives, said we would have a morning baby and a Sunday baby, and "Sunday's baby is full of grace." Susan didn't know Grace was one of our name choices. We didn't even know she was a she. But Grace, she was.

Our daughter's birth was beautiful. But one thing surprised me. Grace was placed in my arms, kicking and yelling, eyes closed, slippery and wet. I couldn't have loved her any more at that moment. But I had never seen her before. I didn't recognize her face. And I thought I should have; hadn't she been the one with her foot in my ribs, wasn't she the one who pummeled my insides when she was hungry, who got the hiccups at least once a day? How could I not recognize her?

Hours later, we were alone in our room, in the quiet dark, as we had been so many nights together. She was asleep in my arms. And then she sneezed, and then she hiccuped. And she hiccuped again. And I started to cry. I had known those hiccups for so many months. She really was my Grace.

No longer a part of me, she is her own person. She has become her own person more and more every day, and she will do great things. I don't know what those things will be, but they will happen the way they are supposed to. With diamonds and hiccups and grace.

Grace Lennon Cotter
July 31, 2011
9:43 AM
7 pounds, 8 ounces
19 inches long

(taken by Kaela Tierney)

(taken by Kaela Tierney)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mothers bake cookies....right?

Not surprisingly, I've been thinking a lot about motherhood lately.

When you're pregnant, you spend a lot of time focusing on this being inside of you--the fact that it IS inside of you, the fact that you are responsible for keeping it healthy and safe, and reading each week about how and what is developing. Your life changes completely as people begin to see your belly and it becomes the sole topic of conversation between you and family, co-workers, strangers, and friends. You also read about and talk about and think about and take actual classes about the big, when, how much will it hurt and why.

But. Where is all the talk about afterwards? Where and when do you learn how to be a mother? As much as I wish being a mother was all about wearing an apron and baking cookies, it so, so is not.

I've never known myself as a mother. I've known myself as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, Even being a live-in nanny was something totally and completely different than being a mother. Being a mother feels so much bigger than all of those things, like I need a diploma, a badge, a monthly pass, AND a government background check. But they're just going to let me go home with a little tiny baby and try my best to do what I think is best. They might check the car seat installation. And then we'll drive away.

And here is where the appreciation for my mother comes in. In fact, she is the one who has been preparing me for this job my entire life. She probably didn't plan on doing that; she was just being herself. She was just being the best mother she knew how to be, and teaching me how to do it in the process.

Being a mother is innate to my mother. She has three biological daughters. But the number of children she has mothered over the years is innumerable. She is the type of person who envelops you in her warmth, who knows the right questions to ask so you can answer the questions that you're struggling with, who truly enjoys the role of motherhood and takes it very seriously. She can schedule like nobody's business. And she is now a grandmother to 4 (and a half) babies, which is the only role that she might enjoy more than mothering.

My mother is only human. Like everyone on earth, she has strengths and weaknesses and both of those things have only made her an amazing role model. And as proof of this, I have two sisters who have slipped into motherhood like a pair of 6 inch Louboutins--soft, powerful, sexy, capable, strong.

I've always been too tall to wear heels. I find this worrisome.

I never knew my mother's mother. To me, she's always been this beautiful young woman, poised and serene in her wedding dress, framed, on a bookshelf. The resemblance between my mother, her mother, and one of my sisters is almost spooky. Her name was Marion, and over the years I've learned bits and pieces about the woman she was. I think the qualities I see in my mother and my sisters originated in my grandmother Marion, evidenced mainly in the look in my mother's eyes when I ask about her mom. They smile and cry at the same time. My grandmother wasn't around to see my mom raise us, to give my mom advice, to reassure her she was doing the right thing. I know how proud Marion would be of my mom, and I know how lucky I am to have a mother to look to, to learn from.

I have moments when I know I can do this. And I have moments when I couldn't be more scared. I have incredible role models. I have always imagined myself as a mother. But I've never done it before. And I hope this little one, someday, will understand that I want nothing more than to do my best. I will even wear an apron and bake cookies. A lot. I'll probably burn some, but I promise that I will get a few batches just right.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Expectant Cookies

It's been a really long time since I sat down and wrote something to post on this page. What has happened in the last few months?

We are currently buried under several feet of snow, like a layer cake of white, gritty frosting, ice, more fluffy white, grit, and ice. My snow boots are now molded to my feet.

In the mornings, I've been wandering into our guest room, the windows bright and almost blinding with the sun reflecting off the snow in the backyard. The ceiling in this little bedroom slopes down to the short wall, and my kitty loves it because the window sill is only a few inches off the floor. The wide-plank wood floors gleam with polish and age--each plank just one inch shy of what was thought of as "king's wood"; one inch shy of being sent back to England.

I love the glow and the silence of this room. Lately, I've been sitting on the bed and dreaming of how this room will look this summer, when it is transformed into a nursery for our little baby.

There is a small little ball of light glowing and growing under my heart. A teeny tiny baby, who, every week, astonishes me with how much it has accomplished. I am such a proud parent already and its eyes aren’t even in the right place yet.

Chad and I have been living with this pride for months (4 of them), and yet it doesn't always seem completely real. But I know this time is special and it is going so fast. In no time we will be tiptoeing into the guest room to listen to tiny breaths. It will be very hot then, the sun won't set until long after dinner, and we will spend a lot of time on the deck, turning our faces to the breeze. It's hard to imagine, in many, many ways.

Until then, I will wear my boots, trudge through the biting wind, and spend my mornings in the sunshiney room, dreaming of what, and who, will be.