Ryley is my preemie and my firstborn. Ethan is my youngest and my angel child (except for the climbing….I could do without the climbing!). And then there’s Grace. My middle baby. My surprise baby. The pregnancy I feared and struggled with the most. The baby I was not supposed to be able to get pregnant with. I cried for a week when I found out I was pregnant with Grace. Ryley was 4 1/2 months old at the time. I was six weeks along. They would be less than 13 months apart. We hadn’t planned it that way, but there you go. I remember the doctor asking me what I wanted to “do” about this new pregnancy. I had essentially a newborn sitting in his infant carrier at my feet when this discussion occurred, a “newborn” who had already spent most of his life in the NICU, who just barely weighed 7 pounds when we found out a new baby was on the way. What could I do? My belief system would not allow me to end the pregnancy. So, we were having another baby. My family’s reaction was laughter. Not mean laughter, but laughter nonetheless. Michael’s mom laughed as well…..we had beaten her “record” of one year, one month, and one day between her two boys.
As soon as I resigned myself to being pregnant, I started hoping for a girl. We were going to find out with this one. I felt a strong need to. I needed to know she was a girl so that if the same thing happened again, if we ended up with another preemie in the NICU, a girl would do better than a wimpy white boy. Tada!! A girl!! WAHOO!!!!! A closet full of pretty pink clothes, pink blankets, pink socks, cute little girl shoes, and even a tiny pair of pink tights, along with a yellow Suzy’s Zoo room, and we were ready for her to appear. I made Michael get her room ready early just in case. We chose the name Grace because after all the fertility treatments to get pregnant the first time, and all that we went through with Ryley, it was only by the grace of God that we had any children. Her middle name is after my m-i-l who has been a Godsend in my life through so many things. After all the fear, all the tears, the counseling to control my emotions, Grace was born 8 days AFTER her due date. Ironic, isn’t it.
She came out with a pout on her face. We should have known then we were in for it.
Many people treat Ryley and Grace as one unit. We have been guilty of this ourselves sometimes. The little boy across the street from us even called them Ryley-Grace for a long time. Ryley was 9 mos old corrected when I had Grace. They are not twins. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be to have multiples. I do know that our first couple of years with both of them are a blur. Grace is very different from Ryley. She’s more courageous in many ways…..she climbed when Ryley wouldn’t; she learned to crawl up the stairs before Ryley did, and triple-backflip down the stairs when Ryley never did; they really started to talk at nearly the same time; she played in the toilet (disgusting I know, but there ya go!) when Ryley never did. She’s more cautious in other ways, not doing things until she knows she can do them well. She stood up at 8 mos old, but didn’t walk until 13 months, however, she never fell when she did start to walk. Grace has suffered the brunt of Ryley’s boyish behavior. I am afraid to admit that she’s had 5 black eyes, one broken arm, and three bloody noses in her young years. She is finally getting to the point where she doesn’t want to do all the boy stuff anymore, and is girling-up (I made up a new word!).
Grace is a princess. She’s my middle child, but my only girl. She has ruled her father and her grandfathers since day one. She can be the bane of my existence when she starts the whining and throws her fits. She has earned the well-used title of drama queen. She is also the most loving little girl I know, running back out of her preschool class to get one last hug and kiss everyday.
As of 3:19 this morning, Grace is four years old. Where does the time go? Four years ago, I was happily snuggling her in my arms, dreaming about all the girl stuff we would do together, thanking God for a full-term, healthy baby. Today, we are getting ready for Princess Birthday parties, going to ballet, painting our piggies, and preparing for our first sleepover.
Happy Birthday, Princess Grace. I love you with all my heart.