Four Years Ago Today (part 4)

Just before 1:00 a.m., a crowd of nurses burst into the room and turned on the lights. My eyes had never left the monitor, as the numbers jumped and fell erratically with each contraction. Somehow, I thought if I stopped looking, even for a moment, I might lose her.

“Okay, dear, we’re here to get you prepped for surgery,” one of the nurses said, matter-of-factly. “The baby has had enough. It’s time to get her out of there.”

Steven sat up on the couch and listened as the nurses talked us through the procedure, letting us know what to expect. It was a flurry of activity. The next thing I knew, I was being wheeled out of the room, leaving Steven to change. He would have to wait in the hallway outside the operating room until after the anesthesiologist administered my spinal.

The operating room was so bright and white that I had to close my eyes for a moment. Sitting on the table, the anesthesiologist told me to lean forward and hug the pillow in my lap. There was a small pricking sensation in the middle of my back, and then what felt like a sudden jolt of electricity running down my spine and into my legs. The doctors told me to lie back on the table, and stretch my arms out straight from my sides, where they were secured to the table with straps.

By the time Steven entered the room, the lower half of my body was completely numb. Steven pulled his stool up near my head, after the doctors explained that was the best place to sit if he wasn’t interested in seeing what was going on behind the curtain during the surgery.

Everything seemed to happen all at once. Steven and I gave each other nervous smiles as we listened to the doctors talking on the other side of the curtain. The spinal medication had done its job. I wasn’t feeling much of anything at all, except perhaps the slightest sensation of pressure in my abdomen.

“This is it,” the anesthesiologist said suddenly, tapping Steven on the shoulder. “Stand up if you want, and you’ll see your daughter being born.”

From the moment we first got the positive pregnancy test, Steven adamantly insisted that he wanted to see absolutely nothing in the delivery room. Hell, just watching the videos in the childbirth class we’d taken had traumatized him so much that to this day, he still shudders just thinking about it, so I was shocked when he actually stood up and peered over the curtain.

“Uh-oh,” the doctor said loudly, and Steven sat right back down again, his eyes wide. I watched as the color drained from his face.

“You okay?” I asked. He nodded, but didn’t speak.

I gasped as there was suddenly an enormous amount of pressure on my chest. It felt as though one of the doctors had climbed up and was sitting on my ribcage. I couldn’t breathe, and I was being rocked back and forth on the table. Steven squeezed my hand.

“You okay?” He asked. I gasped and nodded.

“Nothing to worry about,” the doctor said from behind the curtain. “Looks like the reason Baby Girl was delayed was because her head was stuck, but she’s comin’ now.”

Suddenly, there was a short cry, and a flurry of activity.

“Here’s your baby girl!” the doctor said, holding her up just high enough for me to see her for one short minute before a nurse whisked her away. “Congratulations Mom and Dad!”

“You want me to go?” Steven asked. I nodded, and he took the camera over to where the nurses were cleaning and weighing our daughter.

“Oh my God!” Steven exclaimed, as he snapped photo after photo. “She looks just like Beau! And she’s got a ton of black hair!”

I craned my neck and could just see her tiny red feet waving as she cried. The nurses swaddled her snugly and handed her to Steven. I almost laughed at loud at how gingerly he held her as he walked over to me.

I stared in awe at her tiny, perfect face.

“Hi Cadence,” I whispered, kissed her soft white cheek. “Hi my baby. We’ve been waiting for you.”

Steven and I smiled at each other, and at our tiny daughter. Then it was time for the nurses to take her and Steven to the nursery while the doctors finished my surgery. Lying on the table, staring up at the bright white ceiling, I smiled to myself as I tried to imagine what our lives would be like now that Cadence was part of them.

Sitting here now, four whole years later, all I can say is that life has gotten infinitely better.

First, there was a year of firsts for all of us. There were first steps, first words, a first tooth, a first bloody boo-boo. Steven and I were pooped on for the first time, puked on for the first time, and got sick as a family for the first time. We slept through the night for the first time, heard that infectious baby laughter for the first time, and have gotten so frustrated we had to put Cadence down and let her cry for the first time. We took our first road trip vacation, traveled on our first airplane, and mastered walking in a first pair of shoes. We saw the first of many unique dance moves, tried dozens of first foods, and wished our beautiful baby girl Happy Birthday for the very first time.

And since that first birthday party in 2011, life has only gotten more interesting. Our tiny baby has grown into a sweet, sassy preschooler who wakes every morning, singing and bouncing to get up and go conquer the world…or at least start the day with a concert, blasting her favorite songs on the iPad and singing along. And the favorites these days are Try by Pink, Hold On by Alabama Shakes, Firework by Katy Perry, and I’ll Stick Around  and These Days by the Foo Fighters.

Girl has a style all her own, and we love it.

We started to notice last year that Cadence is a force to be reckoned with. She has some strong opinions and she’s not afraid to make them known. She’s a stubborn little chicky with a mind all her own, and even if I sometimes lose my temper in the midst of a battle of wills, I can’t help but burst with pride knowing that my little spitfire is going to be the sort of girl who refuses to let anything stand in the way of what she really wants.

Yet even if she has a stubborn streak 10 miles long, Cadence is one of the sweetest, kindest, most genuine souls I have the pleasure of knowing. She loves to see people happy. She is kind to her friends at school. She is always happy to share (even when chocolate is involved). And she will do just about anything to lighten a mood and make people laugh.

Last week, we attended her preschool parent/teacher conferences and received a glowing report. Steven and I sat smiling so hard our faces hurt as we listened to Cadence’s teacher talking about what a wonderful little person she’s becoming. She’s smart as a whip, rocking her assessment test by reciting all of her colors, shapes, numbers all the way up 30, upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet, spelling her name and even starting to write it. She love to sing in the classroom and music class, and loves to exercise in gym. And apparently she is “geared for management” because she is always mindful that the rest of the kids are doing what they are supposed to.

She’s a dirt-loving tomboy who can go from tearing around the backyard in a pair of dirty jeans and sneakers to gliding daintily around the house in a dress and slippers in six seconds flat. She loves sports and snuggling, movies and music. She can spend hours painting or running around in the sunshine. She has a wicked sense of humor and a flair for the dramatic, acting out favorite scenes from her favorite movies and TV shows until she gets it just right. She even rocked the end of her Christmas program by raising her little arms up to the heavens as she belted out the last note of the Alleluia chorus.

Yeah, that’s our girl. 🙂

She knows the words to more songs than I can count, everything from Skidamarink and Twinkle, Twinkle Shining Star to Castle on a Cloud and Do You Hear the People Sing? from Les Miserables to the Foo Fighters and AC/DC and the most recent favorite Hold On by Alabama Shakes. She loves sitting on the front porch swing and eating apples or popsicles. She loves jumping on beds, off the couch, and into mud puddles. She loves school and reading and watching cartoons and movies and going out to eat in restaurants. She loves life and laughter and chocolate.

She’s amazing.

And every single day, I feel infinitely blessed that I get to be her mother.

It’s been four years of craziness filled with laughter, tears, frustrations, surprises (both good and bad), sleepless nights, early mornings, trial and errors, bumps, bruises, triumphs, failures, new beginnings, changes, road trips, lazy days at home, a whole lot of memories, and a whole lot of fun.

And here’s to many more!

Happy 4th Birthday, Cadence LaRue!









Elf on the Shelf 2013 – Day 11

If there is one thing in this house that there will never be a shortage of, it’s music.

Steven and I both started playing percussion in 3rd grade–playing everything from tympani and mallet instruments to snare drums and drum sets. We traveled miles in marching bands and logged hours in practice rooms.  During our college days, I had a short stint with a band called the Dirty Green Apples my senior year, while Steve played in just about every band that performed on campus between the years of 1995 and 2007.

Even outside of our drumming, music is part of us. Our lives are punctuated with songs, like soundtracks. We debate our favorite bands. We broaden each other’s horizons with our wide range of musical tastes. We crank up the music in the car and sing along, loudly. Without music, we wouldn’t quite know how to define ourselves.

So, it should not have come as any surprise that we christened our daughter with a musical name.

Cadence: a rhythm; a measure or beat of movement.

In our marching band days, it was the rhythm the drummers played to keep everyone marching together in formation when the music stopped.

Steven and I knew–the moment we saw our little girl bouncing in time to some unknown beat on the ultrasound–we knew she was our Cadence.

And even then, it was obvious that our girl had the music in her, too.

At three, she not only knows the words to well-known children’s ditties like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, You Are My Sunshine, and Jesus Loves Me. More importantly, she routinely belts out renditions of the Foo Fighters These Days, Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain,  Katy Perry’s Roar, and she can sing half the songs on the Les Miserables soundtrack.

There’s not much that can slow down our little Energizer Bunny. But a beautiful piece of music? That can stop Miss Cadence dead in her tracks. And she is not above practicing, practicing, practicing until she learns the words and gets them just right.

So, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that Cosette has tapped in to the Romano music vein. She’s one of the family after all.

And this family believes, as Mama Cass once crooned, “You gotta make your own kind of music…”






Baby, You’re a Firework

The first time I ever heard Katy Perry’s Firework, I loved it. Hell, I may have even gotten a little misty-eyed listening to the lyrics. If you’re not familiar, take a moment to watch the video. If you are familiar, watch it anyway, because it’s just a good one.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been there–at the end of my rope, rock bottom, in hell, whatever you want to call it–that a song like Perry’s hits a little closer to home. If you know me now, you might never guess my life was ever so miserable. Hell, if it weren’t for the battle scars, I might not believe it myself.

But the truth is, I spent a lot of years dancing very close to the edge and hoping for a miracle.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that there was no miracle. There was no magical elixir, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, no miracle cure that I could hunt and track and chase down anywhere outside of myself. What I didn’t realize was that there was nothing wrong with my life or the world around me. The problem was me.

See, life has a way of getting you down if you let it. It’s easy to play the victim when the deck seems to be stacked against you. It’s easier to just roll over and wallow in the pain than to stand up and deal with it and fix things. And somehow, the pain just gets comfortable. You wrap it around yourself, like a blanket, insulating yourself from the rest of the world. It keeps you from getting too close to people. It keeps you from feeling much of anything at all.

At some point, we’re faced with a choice–let the pain overcome us and quit trying, or muster our last ounces of strength and courage and fight.

It’s amazing how different life looks after you’ve come back from the dead with a second chance.

There’s so much beauty in the world. So many good things to be thankful for. So many people who can teach us valuable lessons, if only we’d take the time to really look and listen. Perry’s right. We’re all fireworks. We’ve all got a uniquely beautiful spark within us. We’ve all got something to offer. We’re all here on this earth, right now at this moment, to do something extraordinary. We’re here to learn, to love, to listen, and to let our lights shine.

Anything less, and you’re wasting your time. So get out there people, and shine.

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