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Monday, April 30, 2007

Lily's Baptism

Sunday was a wonderful day for the George family.

Lily was baptized.

She was so good. She was so sweet in her little Christening gown. In fact, she and Ann Catherine had matching dresses - both gifts from a friend when Lily was born. I wasn't sure how Ann Catherine would react when the minister sprinkled water on Lily, but she didn't make a sound. I think she was too mesmerized to do anything but stare.

Special occasions are still bittersweet for us. They are reminders that someone is missing. I felt Melissa so deeply Sunday. It's hard to explain. She is with me everyday, but there are times where I just feel her so deeply and I know she is with me. Sunday was one of those days. As we sang in church, after Lily was baptized, I thought about my angel and I am convinced that she was watching Lily's baptism from Heaven. She knew something special was going on with her family. She is always with us.

I feel so fortunate to feel her presence. I thank God that I will see my sweet angel again.

And I thank God for giving us Lily. Her baptism reminded me of just how blessed we are to have her in our lives. What would we do without her?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mommy Guilt

I was eating a bowl of cereal this morning when my eyes focused on those words in a headline in The Huntsville Times.

The article was about an interesting study that says moms today are actually spending MORE time with their kids than moms in the '60s did, when the majority of moms stayed home. I thought that was so interesting because more and more moms work outside the home these days. But, despite the findings, half of the moms interviewed didn't feel they spent enough time with their children.

What mother doesn't have guilt? And from what my friends with older children tell me, it doesn't really get better as they get older.

I'll admit I have some "mommy guilt" from time to time. I question if I short-change my kids by working outside the home. I question if staying home with me would be better for them than going to daycare.

The answer for me is, no.

That's not the answer for everyone. And when it comes to the issue of staying home or working outside the home, there is no right or wrong answer. I get very angry at mothers who feel their way is the right way. Every situation is different. It's a personal decision that each mother should make.

But here's why working outside the home is the best decision for me.

I get so much pleasure from my job. I love coming to work and tackling my assignments here at the Foundation each day. I love doing a job where I KNOW I'm making a difference. And this job allows me to be home in the evenings. One of the reasons why I left WHNT was because I wanted to be home at night with my kids - and I wanted to be home at a decent hour.

I also enjoy being with adults. I enjoy the laughs I share with the girls in the office over lunch and the help we give each other when working on projects.

I think I'm a better mom because I work outside the home. Now, some of you may be critical of that statement, but let me explain.

When I get home, my children have my undivided attention. I don't talk on the phone to people. I don't get on my laptop and check email or the internet. We eat dinner as a family and then Chris and I take the girls in the backyard and let them play or we go for a stroll. Then we give them their baths, read them books and put them to bed. After that is all said and done, we have our time. That's when I can hop on the computer and do stuff or watch TV. But until my kids go to bed, they have 100% of their mommy.

When I was home on maternity leave and home all day with Lily and Ann Catherine, it was all too easy to pop a video in for her to watch. Yes, we did read books together and spend time together, but after eight hours of feeding, changing diapers and watching Elmo, mommy needed a break and getting her to sit in front of the TV and watch a video was an easy way to get one. Is that quality time with your child? I don't think so. But more and more parents have started using videos as babysitters.

At daycare, she is stimulated everyday. They have music and motor skills classes. She's learning to share with other children. They read books. She does artwork and brings something home 2-3 times a day. Would I do all of those things with her if I was home with her everyday? Probably not.

All women - those who work outside the home and those who choose to stay home with their children - will probably always have some "mommy guilt." We'll probably never feel we are doing enough.

The important thing is that you do what is right for YOUR family and YOUR child. And don't let anyone else make you feel guilty for making that choice.

I couldn't find The Huntsville Times article on the internet, but I did find another one about this particular study in The Birmingham News. Click here to read it and let me know what you think.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Traveling with Children

One of the first things you learn as a parent, is that once you have kids, leaving to go ANYWHERE is a chore. You have to pack the baby bag. Make sure your child has milk and juice, a snack, diapers and wipes, a doll or book to keep their attention. Then you have to load them into a car seat and buckle them in. It's not an easy process. So if you have to go through all that just to go to the store, imagine what it's like trying to go on vacation!

We just got back from the beach. We had a great time, but I honestly felt like we carried everything but the kitchen sink! Each child had their own bag full of the "essentials" - clothes, shoes, diapers, wipes, tooth brush, bibs & burp clothes (in Lily's case). Then I had a cooler of just their drinks - Lily's formula, Ann Catherine's milk and juice. Then I had another small cooler with Ann Catherine's snacks and books to keep her occupied. Then I brought along 5 Elmo and Barney DVDS for the ride (which honestly are the greatest thing to ever happen to parents on vacation. Seriously, what did our parents do???) In addition to that, we took two pack and plays for them to sleep in, Lily's bouncey seat, a jumper and a stroller. I have never traveled with so much STUFF in my life! The days of just jumping in the car and going somewhere are definitely over!

The days of driving until you get there are over too. Kids get antsy along the way, so you have to stop from time to time. Thank goodness for fast food restaurants with playgrounds! The only problem is getting your child back in the car. And then you have the occasional cries because they are so sick of being contained in a car seat. Sometimes you're exhausted by the time you reach your destination!

The trip was great, except it was a little cool. Lily got a cold so I didn't take her to the beach. She had to settle for sitting on the balcony. Ann Catherine loved getting her feet wet in the ocean, even though the water was freezing!! There is nothing greater than taking your child to the beach and just watching her eyes in amazement. She would stoop to pick up shells that I would never have noticed. She loved to take her shovel and just brush through the sand. She loved to point at the sea gulls and say 'bird.' She was mesmerized by the waves.

It makes that long drive in a cramped car worthwhile :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Great Events for Melissa's Fund!

Okay ladies, if you're like me, you LOVE shopping for new clothes!

I have a way for you to see the very latest in spring and summer fashions and help premature babies at the same time.

Friday, April 27th, the duMidi Woman's Club is hosting a Talbot's fashion show with part of the proceeds going to the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund.

It's going to be a lot of fun! Doors open at 10:30 am for the silent auction with lunch served at noon. Tickets are $30 and to order call 534-8803.

I hope you can come out and support a great cause!

If clothes aren't your thing - but you have small children who love to play with cars - I have just the event! The Huntsville Quarter Midget Racing Association is "Racing for Life" this Saturday, April 20th. I didn't know much about quarter midget racing until they approached me, but I visited their website and it looks really cool! Kids ages 5 to 16 race in quarter midget cars that are a scaled down version of an actual midget race car on oval tracks that are approximately 1/20th of a mile. They even have pit crews and chief mechanics!

I was thrilled when they approached us about doing something for Melissa's Fund. Terry Maples is a Havoc hockey fan and was there the night of the jersey auction. His son races and he got the idea to do something for the fund. I was delighted!

The event is free, but all proceeds from racing fees for the competitors and t-shirt sales will go to Melissa's Fund. So if you're looking for something fun to do this weekend - head on out - and buy a t-shirt while you're there!

To learn more about the race, or get directions to the race track, click here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

5 Months Old!

Lily turned 5 months old Saturday! I can't believe my baby is growing so fast! Speaking of growing, she went to the doctor a week and a half ago, and she weighs 15 pounds 13 ounces. In fact, she was in the 90th percentile of height and weight! Chris and I got a good laugh out of that one. Ann Catherine was born so tiny and Lily is just as healthy as can be. We have truly had both ends of the spectrum when it comes to our children.

The picture above is a recent one of Lily and Chris. She truly is Daddy's little girl!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Working Moms & Sick Children

It's the classic struggle that all working mothers face. What to do when your child is sick?

We've experienced some of that recently. Ann Catherine and Lily have both been sick. One day last week I had to leave work to take Ann Catherine to the doctor. She finally started feeling better last week and then Lily got it! So in addition to not getting a lot of sleep (because the girls have been up in the middle of the night either with fever or coughing), I also had to face the question of how to juggle my work responsibilities and my family responsibilities.

First off, let me say, some of you have it much worse than I do. My parents live here, and I can honestly say I don't know what I would do without them. I haven't had to miss a single day of work because my children were sick. If they are sick, my mom keeps them. And is there any better piece of mind than knowing your mom is with your kids?

I am also very lucky that I have a very understanding boss who allows me to take my daughters to the doctor without feeling guilty. But those things - and the following instance - got me to wondering how other working moms handle it when their children are sick.

Monday I got a call from Ann Catherine's daycare asking me to come get her, because she had thrown up. Lily was home with my mother running a fever and all I could think of was 'please don't let Ann Catherine be sick too!' She had just recovered from a bad cold and now this! So, I explained the situation to my boss and told her I had to go get Ann Catherine. At this point, I was afraid Ann Catherine had a stomach virus. And I knew there was no way my mom could take care of both her and Lily. I called Chris and we worked out a system where he would come home in a few hours and relieve me and I would go back to work. Well, once I walked into Ann Catherine's daycare, it was obvious that she was fine. When children are getting over colds and still have some congestion, they may throw up when they eat. It's one of the only ways they can expel the mucus. But when a child throws up, the daycare has to send them home just to be sure. And I completely understand the policy! They can't take a chance that a child could have a stomach virus and pass it onto everyone else.

So I headed home with Ann Catherine and since it was naptime anyway, I fed her, put her to bed and went back to work. My mom told me not to worry, that she would take care of Ann Catherine. I called Chris and asked him to try and get home by the time she got up from her nap, so my mother could have some help.

When I got back to work, one of my co-workers asked, 'what would you do without your mother?' Good question. I laughed and said, 'I'd be at home right now taking care of a child who isn't sick.' Don't get me wrong - I LOVE being home with my girls. But I want to save those days of missing work for when they are REALLY sick.

It's hard balancing work and family. If Ann Catherine or Lily get sick, I feel guilty if I'm not home with them. But, if I need to take them to an unexpected doctor's appointment or pick them up unexpectedly from daycare, I feel guilty for leaving work. But when it comes down to it, my kids are my first priority. I'm very lucky that I have a boss who understands my commitment to my family and doesn't make me feel guilty for being a mom! On the flip side, I never use my children as an excuse or a reason to get out of anything work-related and I always make sure my work is done.

It's a balancing act. And I think every working mom has to learn how to juggle those balls. It's not easy, but if you make a choice to have children - and work outside the home - you have to learn how to honor both commitments.

I am also lucky that my mom is around to help out. Other mothers aren't as lucky.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter!

The "crud" that's been going through the George household finally made it's way to Lily. She caught Ann Catherine's cold. I was up all night with her Friday and Saturday, so we decided not to go to church Sunday. Lily was too sick, and the last thing she needed was to be outside in the 30 degree weather in her Easter dress. So, I don't have any of the traditional pictures of the girls in their Easter dresses. However, I do have some other cute ones. The Easter bunny brought AC a new Elmo DVD and a chocolate bunny and Lily got some teething rings (you didn't know the Easter Bunny was so practical, did you? :)

Sunday afternoon while my parents watched Lily, Chris and I took Ann Catherine to our friend's house and she hunted Easter eggs with the kids. She had so much fun and since she was the youngest, the other kids were so good to help her. We filled the plastic eggs with candy and at one point, Ann Catherine had so much candy stuffed in her mouth, she could barely chew! Boy, did she have fun!

I'm also including a picture of something her daddy bought her this weekend. They left to run errands Saturday while I was taking care of Lily, and they came back with this plastic picnic table! She was so cute - she would sit there and color and watch her Elmo DVD. We tried to let her eat there, but I realized it's still a bad idea for her to be able to get up while she's eating. So, we promptly moved her back to her highchair :) The table came with a little umbrella, so once it gets warm, we'll move it to our backyard so she can play out there.

So despite the sickness in our house - and the freezing temperatures outside - we had a great Easter! And since Lily and Ann Catherine were also going to wear their Easter dresses at Lily's baptism in a couple of weeks, the dresses weren't a total loss. I'll be sure and post pictures from that so you can see how cute they look :)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Mommy Can't Get Sick!

I thought I was safe.

It had been 4 days since Chris had been sick, so I must be in the clear.

No such luck.

Around lunchtime Monday, it hit me. I too, had the stomach bug.

And here's the worst part. Ann Catherine was sick too.

Not with the stomach flu. She had a fever and terrible cough. In fact, I was on my way to take her to the doctor when I began to feel sick. When we got there, the nurse started to take her temperature and she started to cry because it scared her. So, I told the nurse to take mine and I said, 'Look Ann Catherine. She's taking mommy's temperature. It doesn't hurt.'

To which the nurse replied, 'Amy, you have a fever too.'

So my mom drove me home in my car and my dad drove Ann Catherine. And I went straight to bed.

Anyone who has had the stomach bug knows how miserable it is. But do you know what also made me miserable?

The fact that my daughter was sick and I couldn't take care of her.

No matter how much little girls love their daddies, they want their mommies when they are sick. And for 24 hours, I could barely get out of bed. It broke my heart that I couldn't take care of her. Yes, she had her daddy and her mimi and poppy. But she wanted her mommy.

I'm back to normal now and Ann Catherine is starting to feel better too. I've tried to spend extra time with her. Tonight, we had the best time in her playroom just reading books and playing.

I guess it must be one of the hardest parts about being a mom. You want to be EVERYTHING to your child. And then you realize, you're just human too.

Monday, April 2, 2007

A Party to Remember!

Saturday was such a great day!

It was something Chris and I have looked forward to for two years.

It was Ann Catherine's Preemie Reunion Party!

Let me explain. The Preemie Reunion Party is an annual party for 2-year-old NICU graduates. That means ALL of the babies who were admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children were invited to this event.

It was so incredible watching these little miracles run around. I say 'run around' because that's exactly what Ann Catherine did. She was on the move! Chris and I chased her all over the gymnasium! She had so much fun!

The concept of this party is so neat. It's a chance for parents to reconnect with the doctors and nurses who took care of their babies during such a critical phase of their lives. I have often said, it is such a helpless feeling when your child is in NICU. All you can do is sit and watch while these doctors and nurses care for your child. But because of that, you develop such a bond with them. Once you leave the unit, you may not see them much anymore. So this party is a great chance to see them and thank them again for all they have done.

The funny thing is the nurses and doctors don't recognize the babies because they have changed so much. They've gone from one to two pounds to full grown toddlers running all over the place. But they do remember the parents.

The Preemie Party is such a milestone. I can remember sitting at Ann Catherine's bedside while the nurses told me about it and showed me pictures. It gave me so much hope that "one day" we would get there.

Well, "one day" came for us Saturday. As I watched Ann Catherine play, I could only think of how blessed we are. The NICU journey wasn't an easy one, but we made it.

On the way to the party, Chris and I told Ann Catherine that it was HER day. We told her this party was for her and for all she did to be here. She fought so hard to be part of this world and we feel so incredibly blessed to have her!

To watch my story about the Preemie Reunion Party that aired on NewsChannel 19, click here.