Sweeter than Candy on a Stick

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When I was pregnant with Annabella, we had a little nickname for her: Lollipop. At least that’s what Valerie thought we should name her when we asked. (We only consulted Val, who was just 3, because we knew she’d probably say something cute, funny, or scatological.) <o:p _moz-userdefined=””></o:p>

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I didn’t always think I’d have two children. In fact, having Valerie so flummoxed us that for a while we were pretty convinced we’d only have the one. Valerie was a great baby, don’t get me wrong. In hindsight, she was pretty incredibly easy! She ate well, she slept through the night at eight weeks, she smiled, she cooed, she was developmentally on track and all that. I was just totally unprepared to be a mother. We were living in Bloomington, but I was the first one of all my friends to have kids. <o:p _moz-userdefined=””></o:p>
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After Val was born, I was completely overwhelmed and not exactly happy to be a mother. In fact, for a while I questioned why I ever wanted to be a mom. I met some other first-time moms, but it was not a love connection. They were all so totally thrilled by every aspect of motherhood—it was all they had ever wanted and more!—that I knew we’d never be close friends. I needed a mom friend with a dark side! Someone who would admit it’s not all sunshine and flowers and fresh-smelling baby necks. Who would admit they kind of missed their old carefree life. I eventually met those moms, and we’re still friends today.<o:p _moz-userdefined=””></o:p>
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A few years passed, we were totally in love with Valerie of course, but something was missing. I believe that “something” was Annabella calling us…I really do. We decided to try again for another baby. Her pregnancy was different from Val’s—I had morning sickness, I had heartburn, I was huge (OK, I got huge with Valerie too, but with Bella I was immense!), I thought I might be having twins. It wasn’t twins, but it was a very big healthy baby girl–all 9 pounds and 6 ounces of her. And when I met her I knew my little family was complete. Sounds corny, but it’s true. <o:p _moz-userdefined=””></o:p>
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Of my two children, I must say that Annabella has caused me the most worry. At two weeks old, the pediatrician detected a heart murmur that turned out to be a hole in her heart. We met with a pediatric cardiologist from Riley Hospital for Children who was pretty certain it would close on its own. And it did.<o:p _moz-userdefined=””></o:p>
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While still a baby, she had pneumonia so many times that she had to take asthma breathing treatments daily. She eventually outgrew that.<o:p _moz-userdefined=””></o:p>
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At 15 months, she had a grand mal seizure and was diagnosed with primary generalized epilepsy, which her neurologist thinks she will outgrow. I’m not so sure considering we keep having to up her dose of Lamictal and she had a big seizure during the Swine Flu Suckfest of October 2009.<o:p _moz-userdefined=””></o:p>
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By age 2, she still wasn’t really talking. In fact, she didn’t say “Mommy” until well after 2. She’s in speech therapy now and making a lot of progress–but she’s still pretty hard to understand if you don’t know her.<o:p _moz-userdefined=””></o:p>
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Through it all, though, my little Bella Boo has shown amazing strength and resilience and sheer impishness. She is so delightfully, deliciously happy that I just have to shake my head and wonder where she gets that. (Not from me, for sure.) But I sure am glad she has it. She’ll have an amazing life, that I know.<o:p _moz-userdefined=””></o:p>
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One of Annabella’s favorite songs right now is Lollipop—here’s to you on your fourth birthday, my darling Bella Boo! <o:p _moz-userdefined=””></o:p>
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