Something wonderful happened on February 15, 2005. I went in to the hospital with my 5th or 6th case of false labor, and my doctor once again sent me home with instructions to come back at 7:00 a.m. so they could induce me and end my pregnancy suffering once and for all. Instead of obeying him, I went home and then commanded Tony to take me back to the hospital about 90 minutes later. My ever-frugal and insurance-minded husband tried talking me in to waiting another 4.5 hours so it would be after midnight and we wouldn't be stuck with a full day's charge for the 3.5 remaining hours of February 15. I was pretty insistent, though, and assured him that if he wouldn't take me, he'd be delivering his second child any moment. For those of you who know Tony, you know he is a creature of the law, obeying all commandments (usually...we won't talk about two specific instances in Menagha since we've been married...). He usually drives about 5 miles below the posted speed limit. But not that night! I was so proud of my husband as he was tearing down the darkened streets of Park Rapids going what seemed to be 80 mph. I egged him on, telling him if any cop tried to stop him, they could just follow him to the hospital and he could deal with them there while I dealt with the pretty much non-stop labor pains. Thankfully, that's not a situation he had to deal with...and it was a situation that I got to deal with (the labor--for me--not the cop).
He dropped me off at the ER entrance while he parked and I waddled in, commanding the first person I saw, "Get me up to maternity RIGHT NOW, this baby is coming!" They did have time to call my doctor (again, at my insistence...they were going to wait and try to find the hospital doctor to check me out first...I told them they better call MY doctor and they better call him NOW -- I wonder how many nurses have to deal with patients like me? But...I was right). Doc Fredell arrived 20 minutes later, and he told me it was just a short matter of time. I remember, not too long after he arrived, that he told me, "don't push, it isn't time yet," as I was sobbing, "I'm sorry, I can't help it!" and felt that terrible pain finally cease as a baby cried and my doctor called out, "It's a girl!" Tony told me later he thought Dr. Fredell was going to drop her...the doc wasn't ready, apparently from what he told me I really shouldn't have had her quite that soon, but there was no stopping our Susanna! (My doctor told me later he highly doubted I'd make it through the night before delivering, but he didn't expect me back so soon...but was waiting for the hospital to call about my being back in and ready to deliver.)
Susanna has been a little whirlwind ever since. She loves to spin, to go full-force, to be on the move (unless a Quigley's Village video is on or Cinderella, either of which will stop her and hold her attention for the entire time it's playing). She is a sweet pea, a living doll, a joy and delight, and a strong-willed child who, thankfully, has a tender heart.
Like her brother, Susanna had the type of jaundice that comes from certain blood types, especially when different from the mother, where nursing initially increases the billiruben, which was really hard on me emotionally...knowing that the nourishment I was giving her was raising her levels the first several days while going through the horrid swings of hormone fluctuation (that only another woman who has given birth can truly understand), getting to go home from the hospital with her only to go back in with her the next day was not very good for my sanity. However, it was easier to understand and live through, since I'd gone through it not much more than a year before with her big brother.
From the time Susanna has been able to show any kind of preference to anything, she has always favored pink, dresses, frilly things, dolls, and anything pertaining to the stereotype of little girls. But she also loves tractors, farming, and almost everything that boys enjoy, too. She loves to draw and I'm amazed at the tiny circles and little detail she deliberately does, especially given that she is only two (and started doing this before her second birthday). I've found life is much easier if I give her a crayon or pencil than when I have to discipline her for taking pens and markers from wherever she can find them. She's learned not to write on walls (hand spankings and having to scrub her art work aren't very fun), and she has finally learned to ask if she can write on something before actually doing it.
She loves music (usually) and for the last six or so months, she's taken to humming as she goes throughout her day. She'll also make up songs or sing others that she knows, but she actually stays on key and has a slight vibrato to her songs and humming. Nothing deliberate, just natural...and beautiful. And while she'll sometimes tell others to "stop singing! No music!" she'll often tell Luke to sing "Banjo on my knee," a song she's heard since the first time Grandpa Carter first saw her.
Susanna loves Disney Princesses, but especially Snow White, Belle, and her beloved Cinderella. She often insists she IS Cinderella, but she is falling in love with Barbie, too, no matter how much we tried to discourage this. One of the girls from church babysat this summer, and Susanna immediately took to her, something that is pretty unusual, until it dawned on me that pretty, blond Katherine looks very much like a teen-age live Barbie doll. When she is around other children, they almost always flock to her and immediately start taking care of her, babying her, etc. She soaks it all in, as if it is her due to have a royal court waiting on her every whim.
One of the roughest things I've had to deal with regarding Susanna is that for almost the first six months of her life there would be times she'd look at me and immediately start crying. So when she did the same thing upon seeing her doting Papa and a few other family friends, I assured them she did the same to ME...and I was responsible for just about every aspect of her life at that point. We also went through the jealous stage where she would cry and scream any time Tony and I would show affection to each other. That was HER daddy, and no other female was allowed to go NEAR him!
When we came home from the hospital, there was a very curious little boy who wanted to see what this thing was that Mama kept close by. I worried that there would be jealousy, that he wouldn't take to her very well, but it was all for naught. He was and remains quite fascinated with her. I'm not sure who has more influence over the other, but I know that it just makes my heart sing when I see them coming down the stairs or walking at church or home or anywhere hand in hand, without anyone telling them to. They are very protective of each other, but they are definitely siblings, too! There are fights and arguments that I need to break up every so often, but when I remind them that by hitting the other or by saying unkind things it hurts the other, that causes the offending party to really stop and think...and almost always cease what he or she was doing. I love hearing Luke tell her, "Susanna, I love you. You're my favorite girl."
My Susanna is a bright girl, and I crack up at some of the things she comes up with. Luke has always been up to the challenge of trying new and difficult words. With Susanna, I'll ask "can you say harmonica?" And she'll just reply, "no." I'll try pointing and asking, "What's this?" Luke will come up with his usual pronunciation of "harmogiga" while she responds with "Music." Any difficult word you get her to say, she'll think of a synonym in place of the tongue-twisting word. Just amazing.
And this little girl is sneaky and at times very devious, unlike her brother who cannot lie even if knowing the truth with get him in deep trouble. However, Susanna is learning the painful way that telling a lie is not the best option. Then there was this morning....she didn't want to finish her cereal that Daddy gave her, although she was more than happy to eat the pears. However, as I was cleaning up, I encouraged her to eat "three more bites, because you're almost three!" "Two, Mama, only two!" Thinking I could out-smart her, I told her, "Okay, only two and then one more." Her mathematician brother piped in, "But Mama, that would be three!" Thanks, Luke. But it was a good comprise, and I was pretty gleeful and sure of myself when she agreed "okay, only two then one more!" So I was even more surprised when a few minutes later she asked, "May I be excused please? Look at my bowl, Mama!" She had her cereal bowl and her pear bowl neatly stacked, empty, with her spoon atop them." I asked, "where is your food?" And she proudly announced, "in my tummy! I did it, Mama! I ate it!" I gave her a big hug and kiss, high five, and excused her from the table as I took her bowls over to the sink and went to put them in the dishwasher and found......an empty bowl on the top, and a bowl with milk and cereal still in it right below the empty bowl. Hm. "Susanna!" "What, Mama?" "Come here, Susanna, and tell me what this is." A horrified look on her face as if saying "good grief, what IS that???" then her matter-of-fact reply: "Um. Oh! That's just cereal, Mama! Bye-bye." Huh. Lil bugger!
She is one stubborn girl, and motivation does not work with her. Forget the stickers or treats or anything when it comes to potty training. If she wants to go in the potty, she will. If not, she won't. And there are many times I'll tell her to go do potty only to have her sit for a few minutes before hopping up and shouting, I DID IT! However, I've learned that the quickest way to find out if she REALLY did potty is by saying, "Luke, go look in the potty." If she continues on her merry way, it's a guarantee there is something in the potty, but more often than not, it's a race of children over to the potty, usually with one showing a bare butt and screaming, "NOOOOOO!!!!!!" as she pushes her brother out of the way to sit down before he can look in.
She is pure girl and happiest when she is wearing a dress. If I give her a choice between dresses, I can expect to have to wait for quite awhile while she decides which one. "ummmm, that one. No, that one! No, wait, that one." She loves to put on play jewelry (most of which is stored away now), and she'll often insist on "putting on make up" before leaving the house (and is quite happyand satisfied just brushing a make up brush or pad along her cheek). She will also inform you that she is BEAUTIFUL (I booteeful!), but I'm thankful that she really doesn't know what the word means. And I can also assure you as beautiful as she truly is, she is even more so inside where it counts. And yet, she also comes up with the funniest, silliest faces you'd ever imagine. Although Tony doesn't like it, I call her my little "Jim Carey" as her face is just as rubbery as his with all the ways she can contort it.
And that girl is just like her Mama....she enjoys her food, but she's picky about what she eats (but not as picky as many other kids). She's also hilarious in that she doesn't like to have dirty hands, but she won't hesitate to get right in the dirt and "help" on the farm or with my flowers. She also melted my heart (again) one afternoon a few months back when I laid down beside her on the floor and asked, "Susanna, what would YOU like to do with Mama today?" She looked at me quite seriously then told me, "Bake in the kitchen, Mama, with you." So we made cupcakes.
It's been about three weeks since this has started, but something triggered Susanna to start referring to herself and Luke as "the little ones." It's adorable, and the only thing I can think of that has precipitated this is the line from Jesus Loves Me "little ones to Him belong..." We were talking about Christmas one day, and I asked them "who is excited about Christmas?" to which there was a loud chorus of "MEEEEE!" from two short people in our home. I then asked, "who knows why Christmas is special?" Now, they know, but I didn't know if they'd put Christmas together with the celebration of Christ's birth yet. There was silence, then a little high-pitched voice firmly stated, "Mama, the little ones don't know." That phrase has popped up several times in the past few weeks, and it brings a smile to my face each time.
Susanna...she is our princess, she has her daddy and brother and Papa wrapped firmly around her little finger. I don't know who has more pain....Susanna when disciplined by Daddy, or Daddy when having to discipline Susanna. And that little sweetheart gets away with alot when it comes to her Daddy. And I understand more now why I got away with so much when it came to my Daddy, too....
She brings joy to the lives of everyone in this household and many others who come in contact with her. Ah, Susanna! How we really love you!
(there are more photos of Susanna down below in "Out of the mouth of Babes")