But we were in love. Every yawn, stretch and reflex movement- we thought she was the most talented baby girl in the whole wide world. Because the chord was wrapped around her neck through the 24 hours of labor, she had a strong neck and was able to hold her head up from day one. I made sure to tell everyone that. I was just so proud of what a trooper she was. The nurses karo-syruped a little bow to her head and swaddled her like a burrito and we took about 800 pictures of her this way because at every angle we couldn't imagine anything more precious. She made us parents. And boy, were we proud.
I remember the nurses seemed really nervous sending us home with Caity. Probably because we looked like we were in high school still. They talked to us frequently about shaking baby syndrome, like, they made watch the video two times and it was the last thing the nurse reminded us as we pulled away from the hospital with our baby buckled in her newly-inspected car seat. No wonder though, we were so young! We had no clue what we were doing and gosh, were we in for an adventure.
When Caity was about a week old, John returned to working the farm fields and my mom hopped on a plane returning to Washington. It was just Caity and me. We both caught some sickness that was going around. I had a C-section and was still recovering, so every time I coughed, I'd feel a fit of pain. It was hard to walk, to bend over and to even lift Caity, let alone nurse her. For the first time since her birth, we were completely alone with each other. She kept crying. I didn't know what to do, I tried feeding her, changing her, rocking her, but she just cried and cried and looked up at me like I was the one that was supposed to do something about it. I remember sitting in my rocking chair and setting her on a blanket in front of me, causing her her to scream harder. I was exhausted, covered in spit up and sore all over. I looked helplessly down at her and I just cried and I prayed, pleading with God to make her stop crying. "Just please, please, make her stop..." I remember repeating it and crying and I knew I was in completely over my head.
I remember feeling a peaceful assurance and an answer to my prayer that almost sounded like, "I won't fix this for you, but I will strengthen you so that you are able to learn this yourself so that I can work through you." And like that, I felt peace and I felt capable. I don't remember details, but I remember feeling a sudden strength and ability to accomplish what was ahead of me. I picked up Caity, got her fed and changed and happy and I rocked her to sleep. I showered. (Yes, that deserves it's own sentence!) I went back to watch her sleep and I realized Caity wasn't sent here so I could teach her the ropes of life, but she was sent here to teach me. I imagined us being up in heaven together as close friends and her saying, "You go ahead and I'll come down later and teach you how to become a mother. Don't worry, I'll be patient with you." She is our special little girl. John walked through the door a couple hours earlier than I expected and I felt so grateful I could just smile and tell him everything was going OK. We went on a walk and he went back to work.
I have gleaned from that experience time and time again, as it has become a foundation to my testimony of the enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know it's power real and I know that through my Savior I am capable of anything he needs of me. I know Christ lives, and I hope I can live worthy that He can work through me to accomplish His work on this Earth. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Caity turns six next Wednesday and I suppose that is why I am in the nostalgic mood. Today I dropped her off at school for her third day. She told me her teacher specifically said that parents can't go to the play ground with the kids, and since she gets a rush from following rules- she was determined to follow through. We got to the door by the kindergarten play ground and she looked up at me with a bit of "stage fright" and said, "I just don't know anyone, can you come and help me meet friends?" I told her I couldn't, but I would stand by the door until I thought she was OK. I gave her a big hug and said, "No matter what happens, in three hours we'll be waiting for you in front of the school and we'll be so excited to see you." She nodded. I don't know how I did it, but I let her walk timidly away from me and towards the playground all by herself like a big girl. When she turned back I just smiled as big as I could and gave her two big "thumbs up." She awkwardly made her way to the slide and when she reached the bottom she smiled at me and mouthed "You can go, now" and gave me a thumbs up. She was going to be alright.
Then, I turned around to find Johnny running full throttle into the cinder-block wall...and I realized, thankfully, my work was just beginning.