Monday, September 19, 2011


So after a year of Doug and I asking Deacon if he wanted to play soccer, he finally said yes!  I was super excited that he wanted to try my favorite sport. Plus, fall is not fall unless you get to watch or play a soccer game. Some people have memories of huddling under blankets watching football under the Friday night lights, but I hold all of my fall memories on the pitch. Nothing beats stepping out onto the field with a chill in the air, sweet dew sticking to your cleats and the sound the soccer ball makes as it races across the field. Deacon, should he want to continue playing, will hopefully experience many happy memories with such an amazing sport like I do :)

Deacon is playing through NKYA, an awesome, volunteer driven organization that strives to teach kids to love the game, learn the basics and have fun.  The organization hosts teams from U4 to U18 and every game is at the same park between the hours of 9 and 12 (Thank you!!!!)

So a typical Saturday during the soccer season involves Deacon getting decked out in his mini soccer gear:
shirt, shorts, cute little cleats and shin guards (why does he have to look that stinkin' adorable in his uniform?!) Then he has to have a yogurt to make his body strong (Did I mention that this kid is so persuasive he could sell an Eskimo an ice cube?) and off we go in my soccer mom wagon to the field.

Doug has to work Saturdays so it is just me and the kiddos--which is a sport in of itself! We fight for a parking spot, then I have to juggle getting the stroller out for Cohen, the soccer bag for Deacon, the diaper bag for Cohen, a chair for me, etc. etc. that's before the kids are even out of the car!!!  Next I have to give Deacon specific instructions on getting out of the car and standing right by me while I get Cohen.  I nestle Cohen's pumpkin seat in the stroller and what feels like we've been preparing for the decent down the hill for an hour, we finally make some headway.

Deacon grabs his water bottle and heads to the field to get a quick practice in with his team before the game. This is when I get to sit and watch :)

Not only do I get to watch my little soccer star, but the parents, and the droves of kids, tumbling down the hill to their game.  It is like a battle field of Saturday tradition.  Moms, dad's, grandparents and whoever is crazy enough to come to a game will pile on the junk to trek down the hill to their final destination.  Mom's fumbling with their camping seats, coolers, snacks for after the game, camera, video camera, themed t-shirts with their kids names on it; no doubt did they earn the "soccer mom" title.  The kids racing down the hill to the fields while the mom or dad or whoever else screams, "you're going to fa...." too late.  little Jack fell down, skinned his knee, which threatens his ability to play the game.  After a short pep talk, little Jack is ready to play.

I hear the whistle of the ref so I turn my head away from the train wreck of families colliding down the hillside, and focus on my sweet little boy as he gets ready to kick off.

The best part about U6 soccer is the sheer cluelessness most of the children have for the sport. It is entertaining to watch the litter of kids run with the ball. At that age the mere object of the game is to get the ball.  That means even if your team mate has the ball YOU have to get it.  There is no passing, no shooting, no strategic thought--in fact, it is a major cluster--but good glory it is hilarious! Some kids sit and pick at the grass, others try to get in the game and then there are those children (mine included) who anticipate the game so much that they tug on the pants leg of their poor, unsuspecting coach ask them when they get to play or kick or throw the ball. My son's coach deserves the medal of honor for his patience (and bravery), the kids really enjoy him!

There is one position that kids DO NOT want to play: goalie. They'd rather be in the action and kicking the ball (remember they are 4 and 5, the word team doesn't exist with them yet--and as a goalie, you have to think of your team).  Anyway, my son begs to play goalie.  I'm not kidding. One game, the coach gave in and let him be the keeper. My heart stopped and my stomach was in my throat. Why? well, I played goalie, as did my brother--and I guess I inserted my fears, anxiety and excitement into what I thought Deacon might have been feeling but quickly realized that his desire to be goalie wasn't to catch the ball, but to play with the soccer net.  Oh geesh!  "Deacon, keep an eye on the ball, be ready" I yelled.  Then my brain told me to pull back the crazy.  So I just sat silenced, stomach in throat, hoping to God he'd catch the ball if it came his way.  A kid came barreling down the field (Can a 5 year old barrel?!  I don't know but it makes for a dramatic effect to the story!) and tapped the ball towards the goal.  I shut my eyes, wincing, the opened. And to my surprise, Deacon caught the ball!  He threw it to the right player and the game continued.  I was relieved!  2 minutes later, his luck ran out because the team scored on him.  I quickly said, "it's okay bud, thumbs up!" He smiled and gave me a thumbs up--still as proud as we was when he caught the ball!  The coach somberly walked to him and asked if he wanted a break.  Deacon shook his head no and told the coach, "I still want to play goalie!!!" So, he let him!  It was so sweet!

Within a couple minutes, the game was over--the snacks were passed out, the drinks were grabbed up by the kids, the gear was packed and we headed for home.  Just like that--as quick as we trekked down the hill, we climbed the hill to go home.  Saturday ritual was over for the day and so the day continued like any other Saturday.  I left the goals scored (from both teams) on that field, it didn't matter who won because all I cared about was that my son had a blast. I left the critique there to.  Deacon doesn't need to know how he could have been better--because as far as I'm concerned--he played like a real pro (for a 4-year old!) But there was one thing I did take: the memories, the smiles, laughs and the pride that my son had for playing a sport. I will remember these soccer Saturday's for the rest of my life and I only hope that we have many more soccer Saturday's to come. I hope that Deacon can continue to learn, grow and excel in the sport--if he chooses to do so, but most importantly, I just want him to have fun!

As I drove away from the field, I looked back at Deacon and he asked, "Mommy, aren't you so proud of me?!" and I said, "You have no idea how proud I am of you!" He flashed the biggest, yet sheepish smile I've ever seen.

I hope he does know how proud I am of him.  I hope he also knows, what great lessons he teaches me, even at his young age. Life isn't about being perfect or keeping score--it's about having fun, letting go, and being in the moment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Two weeks ago I started back to work. It was just as, if not more gut wrenching to leave my kids at daycare than it was the first time around. I thought I would be able to waltz right into the daycare, say my goodbyes and walk out with any tears. That’s funny isn’t it?!

As I walked in my oldest to his classroom I could already feel the lump in my throat forming. “Keep it together” I thought to myself, “Don’t let him (Deacon) know something is wrong.” I did my absolute best not to cry when I dropped off Deacon. He is a very sensitive boy and if he saw me crying, I feared that he would think something was wrong, attach onto me and never let go—which, would make the process even more difficult! Deacon kept going to school while I was on maternity leave, but I did keep him home two days a week so he could spend time with me and his little brother. Knowing that time was over, I was sad that I was going to have to say goodbye to the wonderland I’d been apart of for the last 10 weeks and embrace the reality and the need that both Doug and I need to be working in order to support our family. I gave him a tight squeeze, teared up (only a little) and said, “I’ll see you after school, sweetie-you be a good boy, okay?” Deacon said, “Yeah, mommy I’ll be good….Oh and mommy, I’ll check on Cohen, okay?!” I said, “I really like that idea, Deacon-you can be mommy’s helper!”

I turned around stepped out of his classroom and walked down the hallway to Cohen’s room. I shuffled my feet trying to delay the inevitable. I kept thinking and overanalyzing:

• Did I make the most of these 10 weeks?
• Did I hold him enough?
• Love him enough?
• Cuddle, snuggle enough?
• Is he ready, heck, I’m I ready?!

I knew he was going to be fine and that he would be loved and cared for. His teacher is wonderful--Mary is a true blessing! But regardless of who was going to care for him or how safe he will be, it’s not the same. It’s really difficult having to be a “working girl” (as Deacon calls it) and a full-time mommy. You basically give up your parenting rights during your working hours so that you can help provide for your family. No matter how wonderful the teacher or the school is, it just isn’t the same. That is what I find most difficult—that I am sacrificing 40 hours a week, so the little time I have with my children I try to cherish and have it be meaningful.

Anyway, as we walked into Cohen’s new classroom I put on a mask of happiness and calmness. I was going to fake it, or at least the best I could. We got Cohen out of his seat and I just squeezed him and held him tight. Mary came over and ever so lovingly said, “Oh my, look at this handsome boy!” She then said, “How ya doin’ mom?!” And that’s when the flood gates opened. I lost it. Beyond control, almost to the point of the ‘ugly cry’ but before I knew it Mary just wrapped her arms around me and said, “Annie, you know it’s going to be fine, you are going to be fine.” Let me point out that she didn’t say Cohen was going to be fine, that was a given, but that I was going to be fine! The empathy that she gave me was a gift—she reassured me that it was all going to be okay. As promised I lifted the typed instruction sheet from my purse and gave it to Mary. I prefaced it by saying, “This is not meant to insult you. I know what’s on here is common sense and probably not even necessary, but I just couldn’t help myself.” Mary laughed and said she understood. It’s not that I thought they needed the letter, but I needed it. It was the one thing I could control. During the day, I have no control to what happens at daycare with my children, I have to trust that they will be cared for.

So, I dropped off the bottles, stocked the school’s freezer with his “popsicles” (the term Doug coined for my breast milk that we stockpiled in our downstairs freezer), set his clothes in his crib, gave him another squeeze and held him for what felt like an eternity. Doug, was being so patient with me and was the rock to support me. I’m pretty sure he wanted to cry, but didn’t, he wanted to be strong for me. But as I held Cohen tight never wanting to let go, a voice spoke to my heart. “Anne” It said in a soft voice, “Let go. He is safe; both of your children are safe. Trust, and let go.” So with one tearful last hug, and a thousand kisses, I let go. I handed him over to Mary and I left arm in arm with Doug.

We walked back down to Deacon’s room to say goodbye again (we said we would). By now, Deacon is such a pro at drop off that he almost looked embarrassed that we actually walked down again. But then I said, “Love you sweetie”, and he mouthed the words, “Mommy, I love you more.” That boy has charm!

That was that. I got into my car, drove to work, only called the daycare ONCE and was greeted by my co-workers with hugs, smiles and a hearty “welcome back”. I am so lucky that I get to work with such incredible people; they are an extension of my family. That work day was a day of getting readjusted to “work life” and learning again how to establish a routine! Once the clock hit 4:00pm I was out of there and sped (not to fast!) down to the daycare to get Cohen and Deacon. As I knew it would be, Cohen did fine. He was a rock star, and took to Ms Mary quite well—I know he is going to be super close to her! Deacon was fine (as usual) and home we went. I survived the first day, and the days after that. Slowly but surely I am learning again how to juggle the duties of being a mom and a “working girl”.

It’s all about juggling without dropping the ball. And the voice that spoke to my heart was right, I had to let go. I am for certain that voice was divine intervention; God truly was the one giving me a pep talk. Letting go is difficult and I may always have one hand on my children’s hearts at all times, but in order to grow, move forward and thrive I need to let go and trust. I had to trust that this was the right decision for my family and that my kids are being loved by their teachers almost as much as the love we give to them as their parents.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Superhero, super kid

The first born has really been growing up lately. I swear each morning when we wake up and I walk in to check on the kiddos, Deacon just looks completely different than he did the day before.

He holds REAL conversations. He asks tough questions. He knows how to whine with the best of them.

I keep asking myself where the time went and how can it be that I almost have a kindergartner in my home?! I just pray that there are moments where his "little" self comes through again, so I can relive the beauty of the last four years he has been with us. Then as cued perfectly, Deacon transforms into a superhero:



I just sat and watched him pretend to fight off the bad guys and I think he really thought he was a legit super hero!


I giggled at how he would throw his arms up and "fly" and that he would pucker up his lips to make the "woosh" flying sound:



I loved how he took the PERFECT superhero stance, like our driveway was his 'city' and he was overlooking it to make sure the citizens were safe.




He then flew over to me and said, "hang on momma, I've got you!" I loved being rescued by my super hero super kid!


I am so thankful for those sweet little moments where I get to see him as a real kid, not just a growin'-up-too-cool-to pretend kid.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


"There's no other love like the love for a brother. There's no other love like the love from a brother"
--Terri Guillemets

When Doug and I found out that we were expecting last year, we could not have been more thrilled! We were so excited, most of all, for Deacon to be a big brother.

As time went by and my belly began to grow, there was one question that seemed to be asked over and over again: "Are you hoping for a girl?" There were also comments like, "I bet you want a girl" or "Hey, if you have a girl, you'll be done!" These are all innocent questions, but definitely a very weird thought--A family is "complete" when there is a boy and a girl (and a white picket fence with a golden retriever name lucky). Before our 20-week ultrasound people would guess what I was having and the majority said "girl." I don't know if this was because we already had a boy and they just thought it was only right to think I'd have a girl, but it was a funny trend.

People were so persuasive that I was actually beginning to think that it was a girl. I even began referring to the baby as Charlotte, the name we chose for our hypothetical girl. Deacon even predicted that he was getting a baby sister.

Then, before we knew it, it was ultrasound day. Doug, Deacon and I filled the room with excitement. My mom came by as well to usher Deacon in the hall if needed. The technician was so wonderful and talked to us the entire ultrasound, telling us what she was measuring, why she was measuring and went over every tiny part of our baby. "You have a healthy, baby mom and dad," we could not have been happier. The tech then asked Deacon what he thought the baby was, and he replied, "a 'gurl'". The tech asked the adults in the room what we thought. My mother and I said, boy and my husband said, girl. In all honesty I only said boy because I thought for certain she would say girl and I wanted to be "surprised".

"Well" the technician said, "Mom, your right--it's a healthy boy." I was a bit shocked. Deacon was mad--he really, REALLY wanted a sister (would have thought he would have been ESTATIC to have a brother). I was almost in disbelief. What happened to my 'perfect' family?! Here after 20 weeks, I fooled myself into thinking we were having a little girl.

Was I happy I was having another boy? Absolutely! I was even happier that he was a healthy baby--that's all Doug and I ever wanted in our pregnancies, but I kept finding myself a bit conflicted. It would have really been nice to have a girl. I wanted to have that relationship and I know how Doug would have loved to have had a special bond with a daughter the way I do with Deacon. But this was the reality—I was having another boy. My family was ecstatic when we made the phone calls and it really wasn’t a surprise to them, since boys outnumber the girls in our family!

It was a little different, however, when we would share the news with our co-workers and even strangers who asked what we were having. When I said we were having another boy, I almost got sympathy, like I should have been grieving over a death of a family member or close friend. People would say, “Are you okay?” or “So do you think you’ll ever try for a girl?” First of all, of course I was okay! I was pregnant and had a very healthy baby! Secondly, if I had a girl did that mean I wasn’t allowed to have anymore kids—two is the limit?! And what does that say to the 2nd born?! Sorry kid, not only do you have to be the middle child but we had another one because we really wanted you to be a girl. Oy’ vey!

I went home that night and really contemplated about this pregnancy and how it was going to change the dynamic of our family. “Will I ever have a girl?” I thought. I have no idea how many kids we will have, but I am pretty sure we are done at two (that was ALWAYS the plan because of the financial side of raising a family). But even if we aren’t done at two, does it really matter if I have a house full of boys?! Why does society care what I have? After that long self-discussion I decided to accept.

Before I go any further, I don’t want anyone to think that I was upset that I was having another boy—it was a matter of me battling my happiness against societal pressures of what a ‘perfect family’ looks like.

Anyway, I accepted that I was meant to be a mother of two boys. I must not be meant for hair bows, dress-ups, make up and other girlie things (again, if my boys wanted to play dress ups, I’d totally let them!). Instead I am meant for trucks, trains, dirt, mud and all the super hero conversations. I am meant to raise two gentlemen who are kind, generous and compassionate.

As I delivered Cohen and he was placed on my chest I realized how “right” it was—that my family WAS perfect and that God designed my family this way and that I am totally ready, willing and completely able to raise two boys. My epiphany was made even clearer when Deacon met his baby brother for the first time. There is just something about the love a brother has for another brother.


Two months later I am beginning to see that Cohen is returning the love by the way he follows Deacon with his eyes and how he can just smile for miles when Deacon makes a funny face or coos and talks to him. It is heart warming to see the amount of love and pride Deacon has for Cohen. He hangs on tight to Cohen’s car seat and when we go anywhere and he is the first to introduce his little brother—and he does so with a prize winning smile—it makes this momma’s heart so happy!


Every morning starts with a peek in his brother’s crib to check on him. Once Cohen is awake he is showered in hugs and kisses from his big brother—it is amazing. Deacon also loves to help me with his brother, except when it involves a poopie diaper. He just understands why Cohen needs a lot of attention and care, and he wants to be apart of that. Having Cohen has also allowed me to focus my time and energy to Deacon as well. I make it a point to do trips to the store or other errands with only Deacon. Sometimes I’ll wake him up and we’ll take a “pajama run” to the “donut store.” It’s just our time together and I love it so very much. I am sure I’ll have that same time with Cohen and I do now—once Deacon is asleep, Cohen and I just get to cuddle, play and relax. I scan over him a thousand times and just continued to be awestruck by this tiny (well not so tiny anymore) miracle that is now apart of out family! It’s funny how when I first came home from the hospital, I was frantic as to how I was going to divide my time in order to show the boys that I care about them individually (as well as them together) but now it just is so fluid—its just a part of my life.


I couldn't feel any more blessed—my joy is pouring out of my soul and I am excited to see where this journey takes me. I am excited to watch my boys grow up and to see how they interact with each other. I am ready for the sweet times they will share, along with the fights that are inevitable—no matter what gets thrown in my direction, I am totally ready.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cohen's birth story

June 17th, is a day my world got bigger, brighter and much happier. It was the day that Cohen George came into our lives. It was the day Deacon became a big brother. It was the day I became the proud mother of two boys. It was the day my heart grew 10 sizes.

I have written, deleted and written again this story--scared to post it for fear I'd forget such beautiful moments of Cohen's birth, but I have to trust that everything that needs to be read will come out of my fingers and onto the page.

So here it goes.

It was a routine, weekly Doctor's appointment. I had an early appointment and I was eager to get in and get checked out. I was three days away from my due date, and was not the least bit happy about it!

"Anne Wolking" the nurse called. I got up and waddled to the door with the wandering eyes following the 'big pregnant lady'. I am sure they were following me with empathy but I honestly felt like I a Peabody duck. "Step on the scale." I'd say those are the 4 most hated words a pregnant lady can hear! after that drama, I was asked to provide a urine sample. Talk about going from dramatic to comedic, trying to actually catch a sample over my big belly into a tiny cup was hilarious.

After all of the standard appointment agenda items I was put in a room to wait for my doctor. Within a few minutes she knocked, came in and said, "How ya doin' Annie?" "How am I doing?!" I replied. We both laughed. Her laugh. Oh how do I describe it? It's contagious, comforting, consoling and therapeutic all in one gust. She has such great empathy and understanding that can be blanketed all by her wonderful laugh! After a conversation of next steps, she decided to try and speed up the process by "stripping my membranes." Don't worry, I'll save you the details. She said it would maybe take a few days, I said, "I'll see you tonight." Again, she laughed, but sarcastically and said, "Ok, Annie!"

So that was that, I went back to work and plugged away at my to-do list. My contractions didn't waste any time and definitely picked up to where after a few weeks of wondering, "was that a contraction?" to being totally confident in knowing what a contraction felt like. They weren't painful, they were just there. They almost danced across my belly making their presence known in a beautiful labor tango. "Cake, piece of cake." I thought. I could handle those contractions all day long! By lunch-time those contractions, still not pain-filled, became more regular. So regular that my friends (how lucky am I that I can call my co-workers, friends?!) could actually correctly guess when a contraction would come on. One friend kept saying I was going to have the baby that night. I nervously said, "no no, Dr. Vormbrock said it wouldn't be for a few days." But I knew she was right. By the end of lunch I knew I wasn't going back to work that I would be going home to get things accomplished "just in case".

I walked, rested, did some laundry and even thought about what I'd fix for dinner. I then drove down to Deacon's school, and even joked with his teachers that I was in labor, little did we know.

On the way home contractions turned from a dance into a stampede--still not painful, just annoying. So annoying and consistent that I thought I should call my doctor. Instead I called Doug and in a irritated, indecisive, nervous sweep I asked him what I should do. That did me no good because I was just as clueless as I was. However, he came home, took one look at me and said, "call the doctor."

UGH. I was annoyed by his answer (I really don't know what else I wanted him to say!!!) but I called anyway. Dr. V answered and I told her that my contractions weren't painful but had been consistent for 90 minutes. She instructed me to go to the hospital for peace of mind (she knows me pretty well!) With that, Doug called his mom and she came over to watch Deacon. Before I knew it I was making tentative plans for her to stay the night, "just in case". Phone calls were being made, "just in case." Then panic struck. I sat, bags packed, contractions kicking my butt, just staring at my beautiful son. Praying that I spent enough time with him, that I prepared him to be a big brother. I kept hugging him, kissing him and just saying how much I loved him. For a moment, I grieved. I was saying goodbye to the beautiful life I knew and was going to enter into a chaotic world, that I knew I'd be so happy with, but it was the unknown that was causing the fear. I told Deacon we were going to the hospital to get checked out and he said, "You are going to have my brother, mommy?" I said that I didn't know but that I loved him so much. Tears streamed down my face as I hugged him, I wouldn't let go. He wriggled out of my grip and said, "mommy, be happy, I love you." With that Doug and I were off to the hospital.

Contractions were 5 minutes apart by the time we got to triage. Within 10 minutes they were 4 minutes apart--only this time they were being monitored on paper. However, no progress--I was still 4 cm. Dr. V told the nurse to let me walk for an hour. So in the sexy hospital gown Doug and I had a date. We walked the Labor and Delivery floor. It went from a dreamy date where we'd joke about my contractions to me having to sway through them. A few laps more around the unit I had to actually stop, breathe, sway and concentrate on the contractions. A few more laps and I had to do all the above and get my back rubbed.

Through it all, even in my moodiness, Doug never left my side. He timed every contraction, coached me, consoled me, comforted me--he did everything right. 40 minutes into my walk with him I told him we needed to get back to the triage room and that I wasn't going to make it the full hour. We went back to the room and he got the triage nurse. She checked me and I was a 5cm--can you say ADMITTED!!! It was baby time. However, we all thought it would be a few hours. So around 9:20 phone calls were made. My sister Kathy made her way to the hospital, as well as my sister-in-law (she was going to photograph).

Boom, within a few minutes of the phone calls and the nurse aide getting me ready to be transferred I was in full, hard labor. The breathing techniques weren't going to work and I knew that if I wanted to have this baby medication free I would have to "Let go and let God." I handed it over and told myself that I needed my body to do what it needed to do. With every contraction I would moan in pain, it was the only way it provided any relief. The aide was getting annoyed by this because I wasn't able to answer questions (excuse me, I'm trying to labor here!!!) I also kept asking if my doctor was on her way, and they said, "we left her a message." I should have taken that as a big fat red flag!

Kathy came into triage and immediately relieved Doug of stop watch duty so he could focus on me. She would tell me exactly when a contraction was going to happen, bingo, there it would be. She coached me through the peak of them and tell me when I was almost done--she was amazing.

Cathi, my nurse, FINALLY came in at 10:10 and said my room was ready. Kathy asked that I walk down to the room...dang her :). Walking during a contraction is just about impossible. The pain is so great--it is paralyzing. I had Doug run to the car to get my bag (I refused to bring it in before hand just in case we'd have to do the walk of shame back to the car). I got to the room and the nurse began to admit me into the hospital. Coleman came rushing in with her camera as I was struggling to answer questions, so my sister answered them for me and Cole immediately started capturing memories. With one heavy contraction, my body took over and pushed. Cathi, the nurse looked at me and said, 'Are you pushing?!" I said, "no, my body just did." a few questions and one hard, PAINFUL contraction later I pushed again. "No no no honey, don't do that, you'll hurt yourself." I said, "I'm not pushing on purpose, my body is doing it on its own." She then asked for me to lay on the bed so she could check me out. "Well it's a good thing, You're almost complete." Oh how I wish I knew what I looked like when she said that. "complete?! as in, like I'm ready to push?!" Doug wasn't back yet, my doctor wasn't anywhere to be found and I began to panic.

Everything after that was a blur. The nurse quickly called in for back-up. An army of nurses flew into the room to get ready. I began to cry and looked at my sister with such fear, she knew I was scared. "Annie, this is what happens when you go natural--things move very quickly, you're going to be just fine." She asked me if I wanted to pray, yet the only words I could speak were, "Lord, come quickly, I need you." Over and over. In my head I kept thinking, "I'm not ready, please, God, I'm not ready."

Well ready or not, Cohen was definitely ready. Doug came back into the room unaware that I was practically pushing. He rushed to my side. Then within minutes Dr. Vormbrock came in and laughed and said, "well, you just didn't want to wait, huh Annie?" I said, "I told you I'd see you tonight." She kicked off her shoes to show that she didn't even have her socks on--that's how quickly she tried to get to me.

Now with normal deliveries there is a climax right before a woman pushes. Her bed is raised, the blue cover is draped over her midsection, the doctor is wearing a huge garment and mask, the lights are on--almost like a stage for a performance, not for me. Doug and Kathy were kneeling beside me, Dr. V was sitting on my bed, in only her scrubs and the nurses were holding my legs back. There wasn't any time to get ready for the big production. Cohen was coming and quickly! And unlike my first delivery and not knowing when to push because of the meds, I knew EXACTLY when to push and as a matter of fact, Dr. V just told me to push when I wanted to, "Annie, PUSH!" I just kept hearing the battle cry, "push push push. push push push." I locked eyes with my Dr. and she said, "Annie, draw your legs back and give me one push, Cohen will be here!" I beared down, took a deep breath and pushed...pushed and PUSHED. The burning I felt turned into cool relief as she placed my beautiful, healthy boy onto my chest.

Tears of joy rushed down my face as I looked at Doug in amazement. I looked to my right and saw my sister with tears streaming down her face. I looked to my right again and saw my wonderful sister-in-law who never stopped shooting once I delivered Cohen. Birth is a true miracle, and being able to experience it is one of the most beautiful, emotional moments one will ever have.

Dr. Vormbrock was so sweet and let me hold Cohen for what felt like hours (but I am sure it was just a minute) so I could just hold him, love him and finally meet him. It was time for the cord to be cut, after that, he was whisked over to the warming bed to be cleaned up, stamped with ink and to get his apgar done. Doug was by his side the entire time, while Kathy held my hand during the afterbirth process.

The nurses and Dr. kept talking about how perfect the delivery was and that I made natural child birth look easy.

*let me say, it wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination.

The one thing I didn't expect was the shock my body was in afterward. I shook and shook and shook, it was very frightening that I didn't even want to hold Cohen for fear I'd drop him. Dr. V looked up while she was stitching me up and said, "Annie, if you hold him, I'm pretty sure you'll stop shaking." And sure enough, the moment I held on to him was the moment my body calmed down. It was almost as if my body knew that it needed to be with my son, that it was what was natural.

Once the commotion of the birth settled, my parents came into the room--what a beautiful moment. They blessed him and me and the tears came pouring down again. I felt so blessed that I was able to give them their 20th grandchild and that they were able to be apart of the birth. The greatest thing about my parents is that even after all those grand kids they still get excited, nervous and anxious about each one. They waited in the hallway like kids on Christmas to hear Cohen announce his arrival to the world.

Once the first round of visitors came and went it was time for us to just take it all in. Doug and I just kept looking at each other like, "did this really happen?!" We stared at Cohen thanking God for the blessing he gave us and we vowed that we'd do our absolute best to raise him, to love him unconditionally and be the best parents we could be for him. We didn't sleep much that night, I for one, was anticipating Deacon meeting his little brother, but also because how can you sleep after such an amazing event taking place?!

Before I knew it, morning came and so did the hustle and bustle of the hospital. The nurses weren't as quiet as they made their rounds, food was being rolled through the unit, visitors paraded down the hallways and a new day of deliveries began. The pediatrician came by to check Cohen out and gave him a clean bill of health (what I love to hear!) and as he was leaving, my first-born was sheepishly coming down the hallway to meet his brother.

I got out of bed and knelt of the floor so that I could grab on tight to him and hold him. I cried. I was just so happy that he was there, and that he was a big brother. He went over to the bassinet with his daddy and just peered in to check Cohen out. He got the cutest grin on his face and looked at me and I just said, "what do you think, Deacon?" He wasn't talkative or overly excited, he was just processing it all. He didn't like that I was in the hospital and he wanted to know what we couldn't come home right away, which broke my heart. But what Deacon didn't realize was when I saw him meet Cohen, was when my heart burst into the most pure, intense love a mother can experience. Here I was, a mother. Deacon and Cohen made me a "mother" how lucky am I?! Having kids is like having your soul go walking outside of your body--it is just a really amazing feeling.

I know I will never do that moment justice, that I'll never be able to fully explain what I feel in my heart, and that is okay, I almost am happy that a part of the story will be with me and only me forever. Giving birth is the most wonderful thing in the world and being able to feel it, all of it, even the pain was such a gift I'll cherish forever. Yes, I did just say that I'll cherish natural child birth forever. Why?! Well, It is one of the only moments that I think I will ever feel so connected to God. It was in the midst of my pain that I handed it all over to Him and said, "I trust You."

And that I believe sums up parenting. We may not always know what we are doing, nor think we'd ever be able to figure it out--and it is in those times where we have to just say, "I trust You."

I know I have many photos that I could put on here, but instead I'll post a slide show of images--it just makes it a heck of a lot easier--I hope you enjoy!