Happy Birthday Dani!

Dani was born on Labor Day weekend.  
I remember the weekend so vividly for two reasons.  The first is obvious, of course, since Dani was born.  Even though it was the last day of August (Sunday) it was Labor Day weekend since the first Monday of September was on the 1st of the month.
But the other reason I remember it was that weekend was because it rained from night time Friday night through Labor Day that weekend.  As a matter of fact, it rained so much that weekend that it rendered all the watering WE had done on OUR lawn ALL SUMMER completely irrelevant.  You see, before that weekend, we still had green grass that we’d cared for all summer by watering religiously and all the neighbors had brown grass because they had let theirs die.  It rained so much that weekend that when we returned home from the hospital on Tuesday, everyone’s lawn was green.
I worry that I sometimes overlook Dani, or don’t pay as much attention to her as the other children.  Whether it is with the blog, taking pictures or bragging…sometimes I worry that I easily forget about my Dani-girl.  
I don’t like to do that, though, so I am going to tell you all about my fantastic, second-born girl.
She was my fastest labor and delivery.  I went in to be induced (because I am always induced).  In Dani’s case, the late term ultrasound (38 weeks) showed that I had low fluid levels.  My doctor gave me the option that I could drive down to his office for NST’s every other day until I had her, or I could be induced.  He said I was favorable for induction and he wasn’t opposed.  So, 11 days before her due date, we entered the hospital on a Saturday night after attending Sunday Vigil Mass, receiving a blessing from our dear priest friend and dropping Sarah off at Grandma’s.  
The nurse placed the Cytotec and by 2:00 a.m., I was having regular and real contractions.  By 6:00 a.m., they were coming fairly hard and the nurse offered that I could take a shower or a bath.  I opted for a bath and when that was over, they checked me and said things were progressing.  I remember around 7:30 a.m. or so that the contractions were getting more intense.  Around 8:00, I asked for an epidural.  The epidural was in place by 8:20 (you see, when you have a baby on Labor Day weekend, you get crazy-fast service!)  Doctor showed up around 9 and checked me and I think I was around 7 cm dilated.
Craig and I were talking and hanging out watching the contractions on the monitor.  The nurses came in around 9:50 a.m. to check me and said I was getting really close to complete.  The rest is kind of a blur.  Doctor came in and they were telling me I could start pushing (I started pushing at 10:06).  He noticed that the baby was coming pretty fast, so he hurried out to scrub up and returned.  I pushed twice.  My Danielle Christine was born at 10:11 a.m.  She had a small little bruise on her face that the doctor said was a result of “rapid pushing” but she was perfect.  She had flaming red hair and screamed from the minute her lungs were clear.  She was 8 pounds, 10 ounces and 19 inches long.
From the beginning Dani preferred her Daddy.  At first this bugged me, but Dani and I grew to have our own relationship, too.  
Dani was my first child that had to have surgery.  Her tonsils and adenoids were removed just 2 weeks after her 3rd birthday.  But it made all the difference in my little girl.  She had adenoids so big they limited her ability to breathe properly and get adequate rest while sleeping.  Once removed, it was like I had a completely different girl every morning!
Dani lives in the present and it’s a quality I have always loved about her.  Dani is the sort of child who has never tried to be older than she is.  No matter what Dani’s PRESENT STATE is…she has a blast in it.  She has such a sweet and unassuming disposition.
I remember towards the end of First grade last year, I heard Dani telling Helen and her cousin, Mary, what was planned for the month of May.  She said, “I am going to have the most exciting May in 1st grade.  I have a couple of days that I don’t have to wear my uniform.  And we get to go to a day at the K and the Royals game.  I am just SO excited to be in First grad in May!” And she had the most excited, happy face.  
When Dominic was born, there was an instant connection between Dani and him.  To this day, I have to be on my toes and stop Dani from doing things for Dominic (so that he can learn to do them himself).  They play all sorts of games together.  Dani has been Dominic’s biggest fan while we’ve been potty-training him.  Dani was the first family member’s name Dominic said and recognized.  They have a very sweet relationship.
Dani often thinks of others.  When there was a severe storm that blew through our area during the day last spring, it was the first time such a thing happened when I was away from my children (I was at work, they were at school).  That evening, Dani came to me and said, “Mommy, there was a storm today.  I was very worried about you.  I was worried that you didn’t have a safe shelter to go to in the storm.”  After assuring her that I had a safe place to go while at work, I gave her a big hug and told her how it had pained me to be away from them during the storm.  I was glad they had a safe place to be, too.  But I was very touched by her innocent projection of her fears and her concern for me.   She often takes care of Helen like a good big sister 🙂
Some other braggable bits:  Dani is a speed-reader.  I have been amazed at how many pages per day the child reads.  When I questioned the reading log entry of 87 pages the other day, Dani informed me that she reads when she gets done with her work at school (while waiting for others to finish), she reads during D.E.A.R. time and she reads when she gets home from school.  I decided that until she starts having trouble with the comprehension questions, I won’t doubt her ability!  Dani’s a terrific speller and loves math, too.  She has a blast in Music and she’s quite an artist.  When Dani was in first grade, she checked out a library book that taught her how to draw cartoon characters and she taught herself how to draw three different cartoon characters with no guidance or assistance (that I knew of) from any adults.  Incidentally, Dani is my left-handed child…I love seeing evidence of the left-hand/right-brained creativity thing going on!
I pray that she will always have her sweet personality and her desire to put others first.

And, of course, I hope she has a wonderful 8th birthday today!


Vincent Gerard has arrived!

Vincent Gerard made his appearance after 27 hours of induced labor at 10:37 p.m. on Thursday, June 30, 2011. 
As I mentioned, my doctor was concerned about the size of Vincent.  Even though I had delivered four healthy babies, three of which were over nine pounds, he was still a little concerned.  He had me go in for an ultrasound on Monday, the 27th and he called me after 10:00 p.m. that night to give me his opinion that we ought to induce as Vincent’s ultrasound size indicated he was over the 90th percentile for baby size.  He admitted he hadn’t done the conversion yet, but that the ultrasound indicated 8 pounds 10 ounces and that typically converts to another half pound in-real-life size.
I had thought about whether I would take my doctor’s advice on an induction this go round.  In the end, I realized that he’d never steered me wrong with our decisions on what to do with the baby and the one (and only) induction he didn’t suggest (I had begged for one with Dominic) still went okay.  Perhaps I had always avoided C-sections BECAUSE of his advice to go ahead and induce when we did?  Either way, I knew that the way he approached inductions was very safe, as evidenced by my history, and effective.  So, I decided not to push back and to accept his advice and act on it.
I entered the hospital around 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night.  I was still “all closed up” but around 40% effaced (i.e., “thinned out”).  They started with a process that was very effective when I was induced with Dominic to prepare the cervix for labor.  And I settled in for the night expecting contractions to get going around 3:00 a.m. or so.
But it was not to be.  I think I had more forceful contractions sitting at home the week before I’d gone in to the hospital.  Kind of pathetic.  To make it more frustrating, Vincent kept kicking off the heart rate monitor and my poor nurse was in and out the whole time trying to keep him monitored.
Here is what it looked like outside my window.  
It was steamy outside on Thursday…highs in upper 90’s.  Maybe Vincent thought he’d be more comfy in momma’s belly, LOL.
Anyway, by the morning, when Doctor got to the hospital to check me out, I was maybe 1 cm dilated and about 70% thinned out.  A tiny bit better, but I was used to much more success than that!  So, he gave me a couple of options, one of which we had used when Dani was induced that had been successful getting labor going, so I selected that one (the other was to go straight to pitocin, but I knew we could always do that…)  The process was a four hour wait for the medicine to work that ultimately ended with me being dilated another 1.5 cm (total of 2.5 cm) and getting me to about 90% effaced which was a favorable circumstance to break my water. 
So, they did that around 1:00 p.m. and Craig and I settled in with our books, games and listening to some music.  I was in and out of sleep.  Craig went ahead and called his mom so the kids could know that we hadn’t had a baby yet. 
The thing is, through all of this, I was having contractions, they just weren’t all that intense.  But they were in a great pattern…every 3 minutes to every 5 minutes apart.  I kept figuring, it was just a matter of time before baby engaged and we’d have a baby.
The nurse informed me we could go ahead and start pitocin and this was close to the end of doctor’s workday, so I decided to get the epidural in place.  The epidural was placed around 4:30 or so.  The anesthesiologist was awesome!  So fast, and he was really great about saying, “Hey, I know this is your 5th, so you know all this stuff, but just to remind you…”  His bedside manner was refreshing (I’ve had a pretty bad experience with a real “jerk” of an anesthesiologist with Helen’s birth…) and he was really fast to boot! 
They started lower dosage pitocin to try and get the contractions to come a bit stronger and a bit closer together.  Well….they came stronger anyway.
My baby boy, Vincent, was all about a regular pattern of contracting.  He was just hanging out in there and didn’t seem to be getting in any bigger rush to be born.  It was kind of frustrating.  I was breathing through the contractions (yes, you still feel them if your epidural is done properly) and kept mentally willing them to come more quickly, but they just wouldn’t.
The pattern went on from 5:30 until about 10:00.  I was progressing…I was to 8 cm and I was 100% effaced, and baby was dropping slowly. 
At 10:00 the pain changed.  I told Craig it was different.  Now, my legs were still completely numb and even my perineum area was still completely numb.  But the contractions were coming and coming and coming and I was constantly having to breathe through them.  I started crying and it turned quickly to uncontrolled sobbing.  I told Craig to get the nurse and doc back in here because I needed to push the baby out…it HAD to be time to push. 
Looking back, it literally felt like Vincent had put his entire body into the birth canal at the same time.  The pressure was enormous.  And I was just sobbing and moaning and telling Craig that it hurt and I needed to get him out. 
The nurse came back in, checked and said I was complete, so it was time.  Doc was getting ready and I asked if I could push and he was like, “just do what you feel is natural…if that’s pushing, okay…”  So, I started pushing even though we weren’t really in position for that yet and I think the doctor could tell I was because after they put my legs in the stirrups, and told me to “push” he said, “Oh, she’s been pushing already…”
Basically five pushes after that, Vincent was born.  The relief in my lower abdomen was incredible.  I just started saying, “My baby!” over and over again (I seem to do this every time) and as soon as they could, they put Vincent up on my chest and I looked at him and talked to him.  Almost as soon as he was up by my face and I was saying, “Hi baby, it’s okay, don’t cry” he was silent and just lay there listening to me talk to him.
Then they took him over to weigh him and all and he just cried…
But then he calmed down afterwards..
Doctor collected cord blood for the donation program, but unfortunately, the volume wasn’t enough to qualify this time.  My doctor said, “Yeah, if you’re paying them boo-koo bucks to store the blood for yourself, you can send them any old piddly amount, but if you’re donating it for research, they have to have XX amount or they say don’t bother.”  I could tell he thought that pretty ridiculous, but what can you do?
They cleaned Vincent off and brought him back to me.  By now it was 11:25 p.m. or so, but Craig was on the phone to his mom giving her the news and he called my Dad who was up, still, too (since he knew we were having the baby).  He was gonna call my mom, but I told him not to that I’d call her first thing next morning.  She WAS NOT waiting up since she had no idea we had gone in for induction and would have been sleeping.
Vincent was 8 pounds 10 ounces and 20.5 inches long.  
He looks just like Helen did as a newborn only slightly smaller.  🙂
So, here are some more pictures:
This is almost immediately when the girls see Vincent the first time —

Sarah holding her baby brother the first time:
Dani holding her baby brother the first time:
Helen holding her baby brother the first time:
Dominic finally showed some interest.  But he really wanted to see Vincent’s feet and his diaper.  Eventually, he decided he’d like to “tiss” (kiss) baby brother and hold him, too.
As Craig said – “There’s all of ’em”
In the car seat, ready to come home!  Vincent Gerard – my precious baby boy!

About the name!  Vincent isn’t named after anyone (other than a saint or two 😉 ) but it’s a name Craig and I both liked.  I’m pretty adamant that I won’t allow “Vinny” as a nickname, though.  I like Vincent itself or maybe “Vin” or “Vince”.  

Gerard is my father’s name.  Dominic’s middle name is the same as Craig’s father’s name, so it seemed fitting to give Vincent my father’s name for a middle name.

I’m recovering okay.  Five babies in ten years can be kind of hard on a uterus, I’ve found.  I’m making my way through the recovery pains and all…offering up for special intentions and managing the best I can.  My husband is one-of-a-kind awesome and the kids are doing great, too.

Thanks for all of your prayers!

I Didn’t Know What I Didn’t Know

I became pregnant for the first time in October 2000.  I never got a positive home pregnancy test, though.  (I don’t think I knew how to pee on a stick very well.)  I learned that the doctor’s pregnancy test was positive via my step-mother when I arrived at my father’s house for a visit (Craig had called and simply told her to tell me, “the answer is Yes”).  
At that point, I really hadn’t put much thought into pregnancy, labor, delivery or being a mom.  The idea was like some far off fuzzy possibility that I never really believed would come true.  I mean on the outset, I believed I would get pregnant – and probably rather quickly – but the idea of another soul, another human being, in my care was kind of a foreign concept.  I can sort of liken it to the way a teenager feels about his or her mortality.  They know it’s a possibility that they might die if they behave recklessly…but still maintain the it-won’t-happen-to-me mentality.
Since I hadn’t put much thought into the real possibility of becoming a mother, I didn’t start doing it then.  I heard people talk about birth plans…but I didn’t make one.  People asked me if I would breastfeed the baby…I assumed it was a no-brainer…who DOESN’T breastfeed in the 21st century?  Was I going back to work?  You bet.  But Craig was going to be a SAHD – so no daycare issue for me.  
It’s silly and foolish, I know, but I didn’t even shop around OB/GYN practices.  I looked one up close to the hospital where I lived and went in for my first appointment.  I got all kinds of information and I read through it.  I started reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  I was turned off by a lot of it because it didn’t feel like it was applicable for me.  It seemed to have all kinds of things in it that could make me worry if I wanted to focus on them…so I didn’t like the book much.
The OB/GYN clinic I went to was rather large and they informed me that I should see a different doctor at each appointment so that when it came time to give birth, I should have met them all.  Yeah…that didn’t happen.  
The OB/GYN clinic I went to also pushed birth control on me from the sixth month of my pregnancy on.  I was asked over and over, “What birth control do you anticipate using after you have your baby.”  When I got brave and told the nurse at my eight-month checkup that I really wanted to look into Natural Family Planning, I got a lecture about how it wasn’t really reliable and I’d be back in their office within three months pregnant again.  I left my 6-week post-partum visit with a prescription for birth control pills.
We attended the hospital’s “birth classes” which focused on hospital policies and procedures and taught us what to expect.  I began the classes thinking they were going to help us learn how to labor naturally.  And they discussed relaxation techniques, breathing, etc.  But I ended the classes fully expecting I would be getting an epidural for pain.  Because I wasn’t going to want to handle the pain, you see.  Oh yeah, and all I would really care about in the end was having a healthy baby, don’t ya know? <sarcasm>
Labor with Sarah was induced at 41 weeks*.  I received a gel on my cervix overnight that was supposed to soften and ripen and prepare my cervix for labor.  At 6:00 a.m. the next morning, they began pitocin.  Contractions began a little slowly.  They broke my water sometime around 10:30 a.m.  I labored through some major contractions (my sister was watching the monitor and apparently I had some hell-A-cious “triple-peak-ers”!) after that and finally, I asked for an epidural around 1:00 p.m.  I played cards with my husband and my sister for awhile, then I nodded off to sleep for a nap.  Around 5:00, they came rushing in put me on all fours and attached a fetal monitor to Sarah’s head.  Apparently her heart rate had dropped quickly and they needed to make sure they were monitoring it and not reacting to the monitor simply slipping off my belly.  
The doctor on call was not a doctor I had met before. She immediately began talking c-section when she checked me out.  “This is a big baby…might have to do a section…”  Inside I kind of rolled my eyes.  I was bound and determined NOT to be cut open.  I hit 10 cm dilation at 5:30 p.m. and (finally!) I was ready to push.  No birth class prepares you for what you do when you push.  The nurses always remind you it’s kind of like a bowel movement…but just a little different focal point for the pressure.  
My first few pushes didn’t do much.  Okay….so the first 45 minutes of pushing didn’t seem to do much.  The nurse was assuring me that I was making progress…but the doctor (AGAIN!) mentioned doing a c-section if I couldn’t push the baby out.  Of course, I was determined to push that baby out, so I started putting more force into my pushes and Craig was counting to 10 for me to hold my pressure.    My sister was on one side of me, Craig on the other.  Craig was using a wet washcloth to cool my head in between pushes.
Finally, after an hour and forty-five minutes of pushing, my baby was laying on my tummy.  I was so stunned.  Sarah was laying on my tummy, eyes wide open quietly looking at me.  I said to Craig, “Look!  Her eyes are BROWN!”  I remember being so surprised at that because everyone says that a baby’s eyes are blue at birth.  And she was so quiet.  No crying.  I had to ask…”Is she breathing?”  Sure, she was and she was turning pink, but she was just so calm.  I touched her cheek before they took her to clean her up.  
One of my first mistakes was not trying to nurse her right away.  But I didn’t know that.  They brought her back to me once she was cleaned up and all that and we tried to nurse.  She wasn’t all that interested.  The memory is fuzzy right now, but she did latch on for a little while.  
I found out after the fact that the c-section-crazy doctor gave me a barbaric episiotomy.  I have suffered major pelvic floor problems since then, though I have been able to manage some of it through some physical therapy.  We also found out that Sarah’s collarbone broke as she entered the world because the doctor didn’t help me to wait once her head was out and turn her body…just had me push her right on out head and shoulders.  I was horrified to learn about the break, though it healed very quickly.
I didn’t end up breastfeeding Sarah.  That’s another post all in itself.  But after four weeks, she was exclusively formula-fed.
The thing is, at the time, I couldn’t have told you that this birth experience was horrible or wonderful or not exactly what I wanted because I didn’t know what I wanted.  And I didn’t know there was any other way.  And I didn’t even know I could question it.  And even if I know I could and had questioned it, I can’t say I would have asked the right questions!
I can tell you that my three subsequent labors/deliveries blow that one out of the water (even though I still use epidurals to manage pain).  My NFP-friendly/only doctor is one of a kind who treats my whole person (including the baby in my womb, when there is one) – as a strong Catholic, he is even able to give a spiritual bent on decisions I need to make and how to move forward with my (and the baby’s) care.  I’ve not been cut “down there” one more time and actually, through the births of Dani, Helen and Dominic, haven’t torn all that much.  I think I had one stitch with Helen, no stitches with Dani and maybe more stitches with Dominic due to his ginormous head. 
Were I to get a chance to have my first baby over again, some of my choices might not be different knowing what I know now.  I would probably elect for an epidural again.  But I for sure would shop around for an OB/GYN practice and ask questions like, “What is your c-section rate?” (let’s at least be below the national average, eh?) and “How many episiotomies have you performed?” (a doctor who would get my business would answer that they are so rare that he could count them on one hand).  And, I would take a REAL birth preparation class.  And I would enlist some REAL help for breastfeeding and not listen to all this nonsense of how it’s so “natural” to breastfeed (which makes you feel like a complete failure when your child is starving and you’re unable to get her to latch) that you and baby will adjust just fine.  I probably would have chosen a different hospital, too…because I didn’t research that either.
I’m not sure why I approached new-motherhood the way I did.  It’s obviously worked out fine in the way I have done it so far.  I don’t have a lot of regrets because I’ve been able to find ways that work for my family.  I guess in a way, that simply shows that sometimes, the Grace of God finds you whether you invite It or not.

*I have since questioned when I was due with Sarah.  Because I didn’t chart, I have no idea of conception date and I had irregular cycles from coming off the pill (we weren’t real well-Catechized and hadn’t come into full understanding regarding the Church’s teaching on sex in marriage).  Because she was 9 pounds, 9 ounces chances are she wasn’t “early” but since all of my babies since have been about that size, I might have just been 40 weeks.

Five Years Ago

Five years ago this week, I was miserable.  I mean, I was carrying around a big baby.  We didn’t know how big, but we could tell she was big.  She was so big, I had told the doctor, “This baby feels big.”
My due date was February 26, but the doctor stripped my membranes at my February 21st appointment and scheduled me to arrive at the hospital the night of February 22nd to begin preparing for induction.
We arrived late on the 22nd.  We had taken the time to go out to eat with Sarah and Dani, and tuck them in at their Grandma’s house.  So we arrived around 9:30.  Well, the nurses had expected me to arrive at 7:00.  Oops.
They checked me and I was already dilated to 4 cm, so they couldn’t do what they were scheduled to do that night.  And seeing how hospitals are not hotels, they sent me home.  We went back to Craig’s mom’s house and he slept on the couch next to me in a chair.  I was miserable, but we weren’t going to drive all the way home (the hospital was about 45 minutes away from our house) when I just had to be back at the hospital at 7:00 a.m. next morning.
We showed up at 7:00 a.m. after a big breakfast and they got things rolling.  Doctor broke my water around 8:45 a.m. and by 10:30, I asked for an epidural.  Something I have always done is labored as long as I possibly could without an epidural, hoping to avoid the stalling in labor I have always heard about with epidurals.  Well, the anesthesiologist took his sweet time…I think at 12:00, he still had not shown up to put it in.  Even the nurse was angry with him!  I had stalled at about 6 cm and was in a lot of pain.  Finally, I got the epidural (amid lots of shouts of, “this is my 3rd kid, don’t explain it to me, just put the **** thing in!”)  Within 30 minutes of getting the epidural, I was to a 9, and by 1:45 p.m., I was ready to push.  Epidurals speed my labor like nothing else. 
And at 2:06 p.m. on February 23, 2006, my Helen Olivia was born.  All Nine pounds Eight ounces of her!  She screamed from the get-go and had one-month-old’s thighs (as the nurses kept saying).  A side note:  I absolutely intend, should she ever complain about her thighs to be sure and tell her she came into the world with those thighs…God gave ’em to her so she better be nice!  🙂
Helen is a family name.  My paternal grandmother’s name is Helen.  My father’s only sister claims Helen as her middle name.  My first given name is Helen (my parents always called me by my middle name).  Helen is the perfect name for my third-born daughter. 
Helen is my “mini-me.”  I have often said that there are times when I just don’t know what to do with Helen because I don’t always know what to do with myself.  I want to scream at Helen sometimes and try to make her see that she is so stubborn she’s really going to blow it and nothing is going to save her.  And that’s because I know from experience. 
And then there are the times that I am amazed at how smart and kind and self-aware Helen is and I think…maybe she’s not that much like me.  Of course, she’s my cuddle-bug.  She is a “mama’s girl” through and through.  She has been from the day she was born.  She was the child I held all the time wondering if she would be my last baby.  She’s the only one I had the wherewithal and the courage and the perseverance to nurse for any length of time (5 months).  One of these days, I’ll have to scan in some pics I have of myself at age 5 and you all can see that she is the one of my children that looks the most like me (the others favor their father much more).  
Helen is sweet…
happy and funny…
beautiful and eccentric…
sometimes loud, assertive, but mostly cool and collected…
Happy birthday to my beautiful brown-eyed blondie.  

We Have A Birthday!

Two years ago, today, I’d checked into the hospital the night before to begin Cervadill and begin the process of inducing labor.  The night went by quickly with regular checks and contractions started sometime around 3:00 a.m.  The doctor stopped by around 7:00 and broke my water.  The contractions started coming a bit harder and faster and lasting a bit longer.  I was able to breathe through them ok, though.  My husband, my helpmate, my rock through all of my labors and deliveries was there with me.  We opened up the blinds and saw a winter wonderland in front of us…it had snowed during the night.
I asked for an epidural around 10:30 and was able to get one fairly quickly (for a Friday) and my husband and I commenced playing Cribbage and listening to the radio.  The nurse on duty was the same nurse on duty when we’d had Helen three years before.  She and Craig had known each other in college (her best friend and Craig’s best friend had dated for awhile) so we talked, caught up and all of that jazz.  
Even with the epidural, I could feel the pressure of the contractions.  I do not see this a failure of the epidural, I like still feeling some pressure…but it did remind me just how painful those contractions could be without the epidural (I’m not much on pain).  Soon, it was time to push.  As the doc arrived, he brought someone with him and asked could she observe (she was a med or nursing student, can’t remember which).  I just said, “Hey, I’m gonna do my thing…she’s welcome, it’s not going to change how we proceed.”  So, I pushed.  and I pushed.  My husband helped count to 10 through each push.  Finally, that head crowned and the body proceeded out with following contractions and my beautiful baby boy was born!  At 1:16 p.m. on 1/16/09.
We have been so blessed by Dominic’s presence in our lives.  The girls have a baby brother to care for, to hang out with and to learn from.  Dominic is one of those people you just have to experience.  He is fun, gentle, sweet-tempered, and laughs easily.  Dominic is the kind of kid that makes you want to have another baby.  The importance of his addition to our family is difficult to put into words.  All of our children are miracles, but they each bring a unique perspective to life, to our family, and Dominic is no different.  
Dominic’s smile, his very presence, illuminates the true meaning of the gift of life.  Thank you, God, for sending us our little Dominic.  He completes us all in ways that we never could have foreseen.
Happy Birthday, Dominic!!!