Apple Juice with Ice Cubes (Cayleigh turns 2)

Apple Juice with Ice Cubes - Cayleigh turns 2 (orig. published 7.21.11)

Who would've thought that apple juice with ice cubes would hold so much meaning to me. Who would've thought that apple juice with ice cubes would bring back so many memories in just one single sip. And yet here I sit, drinking apple juice with ice cubes and reflecting on some of the most amazing days of my life.

My beautiful daughter Cayleigh Jean turned 2 today. "I 2 Happy Birthday Ladybug Cake!" has been the phrase for today. Her name holds so much meaning - Kay is my mother-in-law, so we have Kay - however, it's spelled as Cay for the Cayman Islands because my grandparents enjoyed going there and it was the first trip I ever took somewhere. Leigh - that's my middle name. Jean - that's my mother's middle name. So there we have it, Cayleigh Jean. Beautiful.

Two years ago at this very same time I was laying in my hospital bed, slowly recovering from the C-section, and doing nothing else but drinking apple juice with ice cubes and staring at my beautiful little baby girl snuggled in my arms. Her tiny little fists clenched. Her tiny little eyes were puffy and squeezed shut. Her tiny little toes sticking out from her hospital onesie. She was snuggled in as close as she could get and I did not let her leave my side. She was perfect. She was amazing. She IS perfect. She IS amazing.

I dreamed of who she would be. What type of things she would be interested in. What she would look like. I wondered if her and her brother would be friends. I wondered what he would think of her. And most of all I dreamed for an amazing life for her. I clung to this tiny infant, so fiercely protective of her. So intensely worried about her. I wouldn't let her leave my sight most of the time. And when I did, panic would set in that something may happen to her and I needed to know about it and back in she would come to snuggle in at my side.

I listened to her breathe, I watched her sleep, I held her close and shared her heartbeat. Through "Kangaroo Care" I warmed her up and I cooled her off. Four amazing days we laid in that hospital bed snuggling. Four amazing days I spent doing nothing but drinking apple juice with ice cubes and snuggling my most beautiful tiny girl.

When Colson was born he was rushed to the NICU. I didn't get to hold him all day. I didn't get to cuddle him. I didn't get to sleep by his side. I got sick. Very very sick. Had it not been for the insistence of my loving husband that I see a doctor, they say I probably wouldn't have made it through the night. Eight days we were there. There were even days that I couldn't even see my amazing newborn boy because I was so sick. I think that's why I was and still am so fiercely protective of Cayleigh. Even though Colson is the differently-abled child, I am far more worried about Cayleigh than I am of him. Colson showed me how strong he was since the day he was born. He had his first ever casts at 1 day old. He had his first physical therapy session at 2 days old. By the time he was 2 he had gone through 3 major surgeries and months and months of casting. Cayleigh, on the other hand hasn't so much as scraped her knee or bumped her head.

I can't explain it, but I was intensely worried about Cayleigh. Psychologists might say it's because of Colson. Or because of Baby Gage. Whichever the reasons, my tiny Cayleigh never left my side.

We brought her home at 4 days old and she slept by my side every night until my maternity leave was over 12 weeks later. Snuggled next to me, she would always scoot closer and closer just until she was touching me some way. (She still does this when we have slumber parties now.) I awoke at every move she made. Sometimes I didn't sleep at all and I would just stare at her and watch her, making sure she was OK. When 12 weeks later came, it was time for her to sleep in her very own bed. It broke my heart. She didn't handle it too well either the 1st couple times, but she grew into it and she eventually found her way to her room. This was just the 1st of many times I'm going to have to let her go. But for now, I'm going to continue to hold on tight, snuggle her all I can, hold her hand, give her kisses, help her dream, help her learn, help her lead this amazing life. She is my Sunshine, she's gentle, funny, cautious, and incredibly caring. She cares for her brother and misses him so much when he is in Pennsylvania for doctor's appointments. She loves the color pink, kitty cats, bunny's, shopping, dancing, hair bows, and being a lunatic toddler. She loves her Mommy and Daddy and Brother, and we love her. Happy Birthday to our little sunshine, we love you Cayleigh.

Much love.



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