When I get home in the morning, my little girl will be two years old. My wife probably didn’t intend on making me cry, but she sent me a picture of her sleeping in her crib with the message “Last picture as a 1 year old,” but she did.
I wish I had taken the day off tomorrow. I didn’t because I had to save my PTO time for a surgery I am having this month. I want to spend the entire day with her. I want to celebrate HER! Sadly, I have to work tomorrow night, so I will probably miss most of her day.
As I look back over the last year, it is amazing to see how much she has grown and just how far she has come. Some highlights:
First birthday at the Sea Life Aquarium
Amazing professional First Birthday/Cake Smash photoshoot
First haircut with Miss Sherry
Family Easter Egg hunt
Finding out she was going to be a big sister
First time eating corn on the cob
First time bowling (with big brothers)
Family visit to the Detroit and Saginaw Zoos
First trip to the library
Drawing her first picture
First surgery – ear tubes
Outside adventures (trampoline fun, walks around the neighborhood, sidewalk chalk drawings, sandbox fun, visits to the park, playing on the splashpad, swimming in her kiddie pool, playing in leaf piles, sledding and making snow angels)
Arrival of Little Brother and official promotion to Big Sister
Family visit with Santa at Cabella’s
Daddy/Daughter trip to Bronners to buy the annual Christmas ornament
Visits from Aunt Margaret, Cousin Marissa, Papa and Grandma, Uncle Chris, and so many others.
What a One-derful year it has been!
The “terrible twos” don’t scare me. I just hope that time slows down a bit.
Yesterday, I kissed my one year old for the last time. When I get home in the morning, I will kiss my two year old for the first time. I can’t wait to see her….
At midnight tonight, we’ll start a brand new year – 2022. Some have compared a new year to a book. The book with 365 blank pages – one for each day – and said that the book is ours to write. There is truth to that.
As I looked back over my “book” entitled “2021,” I see that (despite the pandemic and all the crap that came with it) I really did have a good year. Bear with me, he’s the recap:
January started with some snow. It actually looks like we should be getting snow again this week. Ella absolutely loved being outside in the snow. It was fun to watch her try to figure out just what all the white stuff was. Today, when she sees it, she get’s excited and yells, “Snow! Snow!”
In mid-January, we scratched our heads and wondered just how Ella was 11 months old! I mean, it seemed like she was just born!
The pressure was on as we closed in on her first birthday. With Covid, we weren’t quite sure if we’d even be able to have a party for her.
As we got closer to Ella’s birthday, Sam was just not feeling right. 3 days before Ella’s birthday, we found out that baby #2 was on the way!
This took us both completely by surprise! There was great excitement all over again. The hardest part was keeping it a secret…
Ella’s first birthday was a fun and busy day. We ditched the pink blocks and marked the birthday with a HUGE number “1” balloon. This was followed by a trip to the Sea Life Aquarium, the Build a Bear place, and cake at Nana’s house.
We were glad to be able to get some professional “1st Birthday” pictures, too!
In March we got our first look at the baby we now know as Andrew/AJ and announced Ella’s promotion to big sister.
Ella also got her first haircut
March also consisted of many walks around the neighborhood and stops at the park.
Big brother, Dante’ turned 19 this month! Before that, Easter fell on my mom’s birthday. We got Ella all dressed up in her Easter dress, stopped at the cemetery to visit grandma on her birthday and then went to Nana’s for an Easter Egg hunt!
Ella is so very blessed to have wonderful people in her life. Aunt Margaret is one of them! (She will kill me for posting this picture, but I just love this!!) She and cousin Marissa came to visit and the highlight was watching them read books together.
We also found out the baby’s gender, but that wouldn’t be revealed until May.
Birthday’s have never really bothered me, mostly because I opt for the Jack Benny attitude and say that I am stuck at 39. However, in reality I turned 51. 30 was big. 40 was tough. 50 a bit hard to swallow. Over 50? Well…..I examine my own mortality every day.
The month started warm enough that Ella got to spend lots of time in her sandbox and pool.
We revealed that Ella was having a baby brother and got another look at him on an ultrasound.
Ella and I worked on a special project for Sam for Mother’s Day and we got to visit the Detroit Zoo.
May also brought Ella her first taste of corn on the cob!
My second oldest boy celebrated his 14th birthday in June. We got to spend Father’s Day together by visiting Crossroads Village. They had a Classic Car Show there and we walked the village and rode the train. It was such a great day with my kids!
It was SO hot that day!!! By the end of it all, Ella was physically exhausted. June was a hot month and we did get to get out and enjoy walks in the park and a day at the splash pad.
By July, Sam was 5 months pregnant and was so sick. The pregnancy was a rough one on her. The heat didn’t help things. Despite that, the middle of summer was packed full of amazing things and our family had loads of fun.
We celebrated America’s Birthday, Ella had her first visit to the public library and bowled for the first time, and we all visited the Saginaw Children’s Zoo.
As Summer drew to a close, we continued to squeeze as much into it as we could. I got to spend a perfect day doing a daddy daughter picnic, my name was finally on the board at the Corner Cone for a free ice cream, Ella spent lots of time drawing with crayons, and our stress levels were through the roof as we took Ella in for her ear tube surgery. We also got another peak at AJ and had a visit from my brother.
Fall! My favorite season of all. I was glad to be able to get together with Margaret, Walt and my buddy Chris at Margaret’s house. Since she’s already mad at the one picture I posted, I’ll just share the one she told me I could share. Hopefully, that makes things a little better….
We always love going to get pumpkins and decorating the front of the house for fall. Ella seemed to like it, too.
Ella and I also got to take one last trip to the Saginaw Zoo before it closed for the season. It was a great day for us, and Sam actually got to relax a bit.
We had been told more than once that there was a possibility that the baby would come before his due date. He held out almost until the date! Just two days before he was born, Ella and I got to go outside and enjoy the fall colors.
On October 11th, AJ entered the world. I watched in awe as my son was born and all the pride of being a daddy again filled my soul. We weren’t sure how Ella would handle it, but she welcomed him with open arms.
They still did not have a photographer at the hospital, so we went to JC Penney to have some newborn pictures taken. AJ looks spiffy in his outfit!
While this wasn’t Ella’s first Halloween, it was the first real Trick or Treating adventure for her. She was happy that big brother was there to walk with her. AJ was obviously way too young to attempt to go out this year.
Fall walks are among my favorites. I love looking at the colors. Ella and I took many fall walks and there were many instances where she’d just play in a pile of leaves! AJ kept us all busy and so it was just Ella and I making the trip to Bronner’s to get his ornament for the Christmas tree. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving at home and got the house ready for Christmas.
The final month of the year brought many happy memories. Professional Christmas pictures, my annual reading of Dickens, AJ turned 2 months old, a visit from Papa and Grandma, Christmas Eve with my boys, Holiday lights at Crossroads, our first Christmas as a family of four, and the anticipation of a brand new year.
Blog highlights included my entries to the 2021 Song Draft, salutes to Soupy Sales, my grandpa, and Ernie Harwell, a guest blog from my pal Max, silly blogs about hats and Bernie Sanders’ mittens, fishing memories, my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, and a blog about an amazing cartoon Dog Dad.
There were many sad moments in 2021. I lost classmates and friends to cancer, heart disease, and of course, Covid. If the past two years have taught me anything, it is that life is precious and another day is not promised. You never know when it will be the “last picture,” the “last phone call,” or the “last visit.” It takes me make to that quote that my band director wrote on the grease board my senior year. I have quoted it many times. “Live every day as if it were your last. Someday, you’ll be right.”
Life is too short. Live. Laugh. Love.
As we welcome 2022, I pray that it is a good year for all of us. May we find it full of happiness and good health. May God bless you and yours in the upcoming year.
Get ready. The Book of 2022 awaits. Grab your pen and turn to page (January) 1.
Our son made his entrance into the world this week! As you know, there were a few times that we actually thought he’d be arriving very early. Needless to say, there was a lot of stress.
For the past three weeks, every time Sam had her OB/GYN appointment, I was ready with bags at the door. I knew that at any time, the doc could say that he was going to induce. Sam had a rough go this pregnancy. She had high blood pressure, and a few other things that may have led to an induction.
Thursday – Last Week (10-7)
The doctor visit the week before had the doc on the fence. Do we induce or not? After this appointment, he was pretty sure that the baby was going to come that weekend. Just to be safe, he scheduled an induction for Monday morning (10-11). Sam called me on her way home from the appointment and told me she was coming home.
I worked Wednesday night, so I stayed up anticipating us going to the hospital. When she got home, I went to sleep so I could get some rest before work. Every night last week, I was on edge, I had my phone on me awaiting the call. The doc had already told us that if the water broke, things were going to progress quickly. I work an hour away, so I was very worried. The last two nights, I only had one patient, so that if I had to leave, my coworkers wouldn’t be overwhelmed.
It became very obvious over the weekend that Sam was struggling. She was not feeling well and was in more pain than she had been in. We debated taking Ella to Nana and Papa’s Sunday night so we could just get up and go, but we elected to keep her home. Ella must have known something was up, because she spent lots of time snuggling mommy on the couch and daddy in my chair. It was wonderful.
After Ella went down for bed, Sam and I gathered what we needed and had everything ready by the door. Sam got very emotional, as any mom would. Things were going to change. We were going to have another little one at home. The “what ifs” start running through your head and those only make you a nervous wreck. It was all we could do to actually fall asleep.
Monday – Induction Day
We were all up at 4:30am Monday. Induction was set for 7am.
We got Ella up and took her to Nana’s. We got to her house at 6am. We had to call the hospital at 6 to make sure that they were still going to do the induction. Thankfully, we were still set. When we left, Ella really wasn’t sure what was happening, but she did well.
We stopped to grab a bite to eat, because once you get to the room, Sam wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything except ice chips. We arrived at the hospital about 15 minutes early and they checked us in and got us to our room. By 8am, the induction process began.
Sam had been dilated to 2 or 3 for about three weeks and nothing happened. They checked her again and she was still the same. Once they got her IV in (which was a challenge because she was so dehydrated), they gave her some pill which was supposed to thin the cervix and help kick start things. The pill takes about 4 hours to work, so they really never even came to check until then.
At about noon they came in and checked her and things were progressing. She was actually starting to feel some contractions toward the end of the fourth hour. They did not start Pitocin yet. They wanted to wait an hour or so and see how things were going. About 1pm they came back in and said that they would need to start the Pitocin. At about this time, Sam was given her epidural.
When they checked her she was still dilated to about 2 or 3. The waiting was driving me crazy! At one point, they knew she was contracting, but couldn’t really tell the intensity of them, and they added some sort of pressure thingy that went up next to the baby’s head. This showed the staff exactly what they needed.
A little after 6pm, she was dilated to 4. Most OB/GYN’s will tell you that you kinda “stall” at 4 and are there for awhile. I was watching the little strip that the fetal monitor was printing and I could see the contractions getting more consistent and more intense. Sam was actually starting to feel them, unlike with Ella. 40 minutes later they checked her and she was obviously ready, because the nurse looked surprised. She told one of the other nurses, “get him on the phone and tell him we’re gonna start pushing!”
My rock star wife went from 4cm to 10 cm in 40 minutes! As they got the rest of the room ready for delivery, we got ready to start pushing. The doc walked in just as Sam was getting ready to start. Once she started pushing, it became pretty clear that it wouldn’t be long. As the baby started to come out, there looked like there might be a problem and the doc told my wife that he was going to need the vacuum to help get the baby out due to the fact that he was turned a bit and that his hand was up next to his head.
As he mentioned this, she started to have another contraction and the nurse told her to push through it. She did and that was all our son needed and he was out. It was truly amazing to witness. My wife only pushed for 7 minutes! 7 minutes!!!! The doc handed me the scissors and I cut the cord, which is always a memorable moment. I noticed that the baby wasn’t crying. That freaked me out a bit. It freaked Sam out even more.
As they were cleaning him off, I heard a little cry, but nothing like I had heard with my other children. Once he was cleaned off, they brought him over to Sam for skin to skin time. There was our second little miracle and he was perfect!
While I was pacing the floor, I posted on Facebook that people should give their guesses as to what time he’d be born and how much he would weigh. My friend Sharon from high school almost nailed it! She was closest with her guess of 7:11pm and 7 pounds 11 ounces. She was only off by 4 minutes and 4 ounces.
When she was born, my daughter looked just like Sam. My son, however, tends to look a lot like me. I say that because he was making what I call “Grumpy Old Man” faces. One of the first pictures I took of him, he has the funniest grumpy look on his face. Even in the picture above, he looks a bit angry. The picture from his birthday that just cracks me up, and reminds me of a look I would make, is this one:
I love that look and pose!
They keep you in the hospital for 24 hours and then they want to discharge you, as long as nothing is wrong. My son was jaundice and so they kept checking levels. The same thing happened with Ella and she would up being readmitted to the hospital after discharge. We wanted to avoid that at all costs if possible.
They came in at about the 24 hour mark and said that the levels weren’t bad and that we could go if we wanted to. They said if we left, we’d need to follow up with our pediatrician in the morning and have blood drawn again to check levels. We opted to stay one more night so they could check levels first thing in the morning.
Wednesday morning the levels were fine and we were discharged. It was time for the little man to meet his big sister! We had video chatted with her a couple times and showed her the baby. “Baby!” she would say, but not really comprehending that this baby was her brother and would be coming home with us.
We were lucky that we were able to get discharged fairly quickly that morning. We headed straight to Nana’s to pick up our little princess. She hadn’t seen us almost three days. When we walked in the house, she screamed happily and clapped her hands. She was SO happy to see us. Then it was time to introduce her to AJ.
I’m sure that there was a lot of confusion at that particular moment. She had a lot to process. Nana and Papa got to hold their grandson before we left to go home. The ride home was unusually quiet. For me, it was weird because as I looked in the rearview mirror, it was the first time that both kids were back there. It was an eyeopener!
When we got home, Ella seemed a little more comfortable. I know she still really has no clue how to process it all, but she seemed generally happy to have the baby home. I will be framing this picture – I think it is just marvelous!
We were up early again today for well visits for both kids. They both are doing great!
The events of the past week only reinforce what a lucky man I am. I am so blessed!
There was so much more I wanted to write, but AJ kinda sums up what we all feel like over here….
Technically we are about 8 weeks away from the arrival of our baby boy. He is due on October 13th. I have a feeling, though, that he will be arriving earlier than expected.
I have to give major kudos to my wife. Sam has had a very difficult time with this pregnancy, I won’t go into all the details, but we had a few scary moments along the way. She is in much more pain this time around. She hasn’t really been sleeping well. It is much more difficult for her to do some of the things she was able to do when she was pregnant with Ella. It’s been very hard for me to watch some days. I help when I can, but sometimes, there is nothing I can do to help her.
Because of Covid protocols, I haven’t been able to go to any of the OB appointments with her. This in itself drives me crazy. I feel “disconnected” this time around. One of the highlights of the OB appointments was getting to hear the heartbeat of the baby. We have a doppler thingy at home that we can use, but because of the position of the placenta, it is hard to find it.
They literally just lifted those Covid protocols at the OB and on Monday, I will be able to go and see the Ultrasound with her. I am beyond excited. There is something special about seeing our baby on the monitor together. As silly as it sounds, I love being able to be there and watch my wife smile at the baby. It is one of those “moments.” I hope that they will print off some pictures for us to add to his baby book.
The old wives tale is that baby boys tend to be low in the belly during pregnancy. That would certainly be the case with our baby. The doc even said that the baby is much lower than he expected. Now, whether he meant that he is dropping and getting ready to come early, he didn’t say. However, he does seem to want to deliver a week or so early.
In the meantime, we are well aware that the baby will come when he decides to come. So this week, we had the conversation about making a checklist. Not only do we NOT have a bag packed for the hospital yet, this time around, we also have to have a bag ready for Ella. She’ll be staying with Nana a couple days while baby brother is in the hospital. I actually found the “Birth” book they gave us when we did birthing classes before Ella was born. I plan on going through it and making sure I have all the stuff on the check lists!
My wife has been such a trooper through this pregnancy. I can tell she is ready for the baby to arrive. She’s kind of over the pain, the fatigue, and all that has come with this pregnancy. Through it all, she remains beautiful and radiant. She is such a wonderful mommy and amazing wife.
Ella is excited to be a big sister. Mommy is excited to hold her first son. Daddy couldn’t be more excited to have the chance to be a dad again. Thank you, God, for all you have blessed me with!
In the past few months, I have had many new followers to this blog. For the benefit of them, here is a brief introduction to where this blog is going.
Prior to 2017, my life was a shambles. I suffered from depression. I was unhappy. I was lost. I was not “me.” Because of years of unhappiness, I didn’t even know who “me” was. Enter my (now) wife Sam. My entire life turned around.
Today is our third wedding anniversary. Over the course of our friendship, courtship, and marriage, my life has done a complete turn around. I have been the happiest I have ever been. She is my true soul mate. This is the first miracle I wanted to focus on. You can read what lead up to our relationship here:
Now that you are all up to speed, I can continue. First, I want to send a message to my wife and then I will share some exciting news.
Happy Anniversary, Sam
Dearest Sam –
Today we celebrate 3 years of marriage. It’s hard to believe it has been that long, and at the same time it doesn’t feel like it has been long at all. I cannot imagine my life without you. Thank you for all you have done for me. You may not think that you have done much, yet, you have done everything. You have never left my side. You have always been a support and have loved me unconditionally. I am so lucky to have you as my wife and partner.
I have loved those special moments that we have been able to share together. Our trips to Nashville, Cleveland, Kentucky, and of course, to Florida. Those memories will forever warm my heart and bring a smile to my face. You have added immense joy, bliss, and happiness to my life. I discovered what true love in our years together. I fall in love with you over and over each and every day.
You are an amazing mom to our sweet baby girl. I love to watch the two of you interact. I love the way you two look at each other. I will never have to worry about whether she will be raised right. I know the bond that you two share now, is one that will grow and last forever! Thank you for not only being special to me, but special to her. We certainly have been blessed with a wonderful family.
The old saying goes, “The destination doesn’t matter, the journey does.” What good is the journey, however, without a wonderful partner? Sam, I look forward to the years ahead with you. I look forward to the journey ahead and the memories we will make in the process. I love you forever!
Breaking News …
The second miracle was our daughter, Ella. Doctors told me I had a very slim chance (about 4%) of ever having children again. When we found out we were expecting, it was just amazing. You can read about that here:
Ella turned one year old in February and is our pride and joy! So rather than me let the cat out of the bag, how about I let Miracle #2 tell you about Miracle #3 …
You read her shirt correctly! Ella is going to be a big sister!!! We are expecting another baby in October and we are just thrilled.
We found out that Sam was pregnant three days before Ella’s birthday. It was the one year anniversary of her going into labor. She was laying in bed and she hadn’t been feeling well. She was uncomfortable and crampy. I had already asked her if she thought she was pregnant and she said she didn’t think so. At some point. she got up to use the restroom, and there was an extra pregnancy test under the sink. She took the test and it almost immediately popped up that she was pregnant. So from the bathroom, she simply yelled to me, “Well….we’re pregnant!” I thought she was messing with me, but she brought out the test and there it was.
It was such a surprise to both of us! Naturally, we are very excited. Sam had her ultrasound at the OB today. Because of Covid, only the patient is allowed in the office. I had planned on sleeping a bit, then getting up and going to the doc with her, but when we found out that she was the only one allowed in, Sam told me to make sure I slept before work. She texted me this afternoon saying that all went well. Baby’s heartbeat was 174 and the Due Date is October 14th. She also texted me the ultrasound picture.
Just like Ella, the baby moved around a lot during the ultrasound, so it was hard to get a good picture.
Willa Cather once said, “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.” There is GREAT love in our family….and the miracles continue!