Hey there! I’m Chaparro, which means “short.” Personally, I don’t think people call me that because of my stature…I think it’s my name because I’m nothing short of…
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Hey there! I’m Chaparro, which means “short.” Personally, I don’t think people call me that because of my stature…I think it’s my name because I’m nothing short of…
This is a post I never imagined I’d have to write. Some of you may have already seen my update on Instagram yesterday. For the rest of you, here it is.
On Tuesday morning of this week, Emmett’s 7 month birthday, he was diagnosed with a rare, serious form of Epilepsy. The only symptom was an occasional random head nod he’d had on and off for a few days that we decided to have checked out by his pediatrician, just to be safe. Long story short, after an immediate trip to a pediatric neurologist and an EEG, we were given a diagnosis, and spent the rest of the week in the pediatric unit of Northwestern/CDH hospital.
The prognosis for this specific type of epilepsy is very poor for the vast majority of the cases – but most of the tests we’ve had done, along with the facts that Emmett is developmentally where he should be for his age and we caught it very early, are positive signs. They have also found no cause for this with Emmett (which is actually a good thing with this specific disease). His time in utero and life up to this point have been perfectly healthy.
We are now giving him twice daily injections at home of a powerful medicine that, while not without extreme side effects, will hopefully help end his seizures soon and thus give him a chance. How he reacts to the medication over the next couple of days is crucial in determining what the outcome will be.
Whatever your beliefs, please channel good energy, pray, manifest, meditate, focus on healing vibes for our little boy. I believe in the power of positive collective energy – I have seen it work. The more people sending love and light his way, the more people praying, and the more people envisioning a positive outcome, the better I believe his chances are. We are so grateful for the support and love of our friends (internet friends included) and family right now. We feel lucky to know so many kind, compassionate people who care about our family and our son. I am terrified. This is hell. But I believe. Just like I had a strong maternal instinct that told me something was wrong when it looked like absolutely nothing, I have a strong instinct telling me that Emmett is going to pull through this and be one of the exceptions.
For right now, Bubby and Bean will remain silent of regular posts while we make sense of this. My number one priority right now is to focus on Emmett and his sister. I also ask you to forgive me for not being the best communicator right now, and not in the head space to answer questions or to be able to handle much more than just good vibes. I will update as I can.
Thank you in advance for sending any love you can our way. Emmett is a fighter, and I believe in him with all my heart.
I’m sure that just about everyone has seen the footage of the Tibetan fox. Its blocky head is really unique among canids, and one theory about why it has such an unusual head is that the head actually makes the fox more camouflaged around rocks as it stalks its prey.
If you’ve not seen the footage, here it is:
The Tibetan fox is found in the Tibetan and Ladakh Plateaus, and it pretty much found only in high grasslands. It is a specialist of this environment.
The mitochondrial genome of this species was sequenced recently. Preliminary studies had indicated that its closest relative is the corsac fox, which ranges in the steppe country that runs from the eastern edge of the Caucasus to northeastern China. It lives in arid, semi-arid, and grassland habitats to the north of the core range of the Tibetan fox.
The corsac is the basic fox. It is smaller than most red foxes, and it comes in gray or reddish brown.
And to be completely honest with you, I have a very hard time telling corsac foxes from North American swift foxes (Vulpes velox). I should note that even though the two look alike, the corsac is more closely related to the red fox, while the swift fox* is very close to the arctic fox (Vulpes lagogpus). Both swift and corsac foxes are adapted to grassland ecosystems, so their similarities can be chalked up to simple convergent evolution.
The researchers who sequenced the Tibetan fox mitochondrial genome also looked at other dog species and found that modern dog species radiated very rapidly. The authors estimate less than 5 million years separates Canis species from the maned wolf, which is actually quite about half the time that has been estimated for the divergence between Canis and its allies and the South American wild dogs through the sequencing of the dog genome.
Mitochondrial DNA studies can lead us astray, but this is still an interesting find.
The researchers found that the corsac and Tibetan foxes split from each other about 1 million years ago. Although they don’t say so in the paper, it’s pretty likely that the corsac is the ancestor of the Tibetan fox. Maybe it happened like this:
A population of corsac foxes, whose range had been pushed south during the Pleistocene, were able to roam into the Tibetan Plateau during a warming period. They were then cut off by glaciers and began their journey toward speciation, adapting the high grassland habitat in ways that made them quite different from their ancestors. The squared off heads gave the foxes marginal advantages in hunting in the high, rocky grasslands.
The authors didn’t find any genetic evidence of any sort of adaptations in the mitochondrial genome for higher altitude living among Tibetan foxes. Those genes probably do exist, but they don’t exist in the mitochondrial genome.
So what the researchers found is that Tibetan fox is very closely related to the corsac fox. This is not a surprising find, but I have wondered where this fox really does fit in the dog family. It’s from such an isolated area that virtually no studies have been done on it.
The squareness of its head makes the Tibetan fox a bit of a celebrity in the digital age. If BBC cameras hadn’t filmed it (twice!), it wouldn’t really be known. I’d only ever heard of it from a children’s book, which included a bad painting of one. It was just a nondescript fox as far as I was concerned.
So the Tibetan fox is a modification on the basic fox.
It evolved from the banal to the bizarre.
Bizarre enough to be on the BBC.
*The study looked at kit foxes. Kit foxes are closely related to swift foxes. Both are very closely related to the arctic fox.
Hang on! Wait! Just because your dog tests positive for Lyme disease in the vet’s office does NOT mean you need to treat with antibiotics!
My sister and two friends of mine recently took their dogs to their vets for an annual exam. All the dogs seemed totally healthy and had no complaints at all. Their vets did a quick office SNAP blood test for Lyme disease (the tick borne disease endemic across the East Coast and much of the country) and the dogs tested positive for Lyme. All three of their vets prescribed those dogs a month’s worth of doxycycline to “treat” the Lyme disease.
But those dogs probably did not have Lyme disease!!
Dogs that do have Lyme disease show some or all signs of the illness: lameness, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, lack of appetite, lethargy.
I continue to be frustrated and baffled that so many dogs who are tested for Lyme (as they should be) are often prescribed drugs that they do not need 95% of the time.
As you will hear in the interview below, Dr. Donna Spector explains that experts in the field estimate that 70-90% of all healthy dogs in areas with the disease will test positive for it – without having Lyme disease.
Only 5% of dogs exposed to the bacteria will ever get clinical signs of it – in which case the dog would need those antibiotics to clear the bacteria from his system.
I urge you to listen to my conversation with Dr. Donna Spector – the board certified veterinary internist who is my co-host on our Radio Pet Lady Network show The Expert Vet. She came on Dog Talk last year to help clarify widespread confusion by owners and vets in how to interpret and manage test results.
Lyme Disease: What You Need to Know
Dog Talk (05-02-2015) #419: “Everything you need to know about Lyme disease and might have to educate your own vet about.” Dr. Donna Spector, Tracie’s co-host on the Radio Pet Lady network show THE EXPERT VET brings everyone up to date on the when/why/how of Lyme disease.
As you will hear in this interview, Dr. Donna explains that a positive test generally means that a dog has been exposed to the bacteria that causes Lyme (because you live in an environment that is endemic to the ticks that carry it) and their body has mounted a successful immune response to the bacteria. That’s actually a good thing!
She also explains that experts recommend that you test the urine of a dog with a positive Lyme test to make sure there is no protein in their urine. That can be the earliest sign of the illness and can actually result in kidney failure and even death if not diagnosed and treated.
Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.
Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.
You never know what you’re going to see on live television, including an adorable stray kitten crashing a newscast!
According to Buzzfeed, that’s just what happened in Detroit one Monday morning when WXYZ-TV Channel 7 reporter and anchor Nima Shaffe was wrapping up a segment in front of the local sheriff’s office.
Shaffe was surprised to look down and see a tiny marmalade and white cat boldly approach him and begin meowing incessantly. “She was scurrying about underneath cars and meowing really loud,” Shaffe told Buzzfeed.
Shaffe reached down and picked up the little cat and became instantly smitten with the active roly-poly girl they named Lucky Seven. “She likes to talk,” Shaffe told Buzzfeed. “She likes to tell people her life story.”
Read more about Lucky Seven.
I almost can’t believe I’m saying this, but Essley starts preschool in just a few weeks. (Wait, didn’t I just give birth to the kid, like, last week?) And while I suppose I can’t really use the term “back-to-school” to apply to us, since this is technically our first school adventure and it’s not like we’re going back to anything, we’ve been getting into back-to-school mode around here. The preschool Essley is attending is part of the public school system here, so it follows the same calendar as older grades and has some of the same requirements in terms of school supplies, etc. So while it’s only a two day a week program and the students are all two-and-a-half and three year olds, it feels pretty official.
I’m admittedly both excited and nervous, as I always tend to be with “first times” when it comes to my kids, and we want Essley to look forward to going to school, so we’ve been practicing a routine that, naturally, begins with our mornings. I work from home so we’ve gotten pretty used to leisurely mornings that often involve moving slowly, making semi-elaborate breakfasts (especially when Robbie, our house chef, is home between the band’s tours), and lots of time spent in pajamas. Recently we’ve breaking out of that mold in preparation for school by getting dressed and washed up right away, and eating nutritious but simple breakfasts that take less time, like Essley’s favorite, Cheerios with organic fruit. After breakfast Essley usually runs directly to her backpack, puts it on, and loudly proclaims that it’s time to go to school. Establishing this morning routine has been beneficial for all of us. It’s actually kind of fun.
We’ve also been preparing for the back-to-school mornings (and school in general) by shopping for breakfast and after school snack items at Costco. In addition to having everything we need, Costco is currently running a really cool Box Top special called the Golden Box Tops Challenge, where, by purchasing specially marked General Mills products with 8 Box Tops (like Essley’s beloved Cheerios), you can enter to win an additional 100 eBoxTops (!!!). This may be our first year but we’re already well aware of how Box Tops help raise money for and bring major classroom benefits to schools, so this is a really wonderful way for us to get ourselves prepared for getting involved, even at the Pre-K level. And if you don’t have a lot of extra time or money to devote to your kids’ schools, Box Tops are an incredible way to contribute through items that you already have on your grocery list. We’ve also been teaching Essley how Box Tops can help her school, and together we make a game out of cutting them out and putting them into a basket that she’ll be able to bring to her school later on. We have also, of course, entered the Golden Box Tops Challenge. You can enter too! Just click here to learn how, along with more about the prizes and participating products. We think it’s pretty great.
While I’m by no means a back-to-school expert (you honestly can’t get more “beginner” than me if we’re being honest here), for my fellow new-to-school preschooler moms and dads, I highly recommend getting a head start on your school mornings if you can. Even our simple routine of getting up at an established time, getting dressed, making and eating an easy but healthy breakfast, brushing teeth, and encouraging Essley as she pretends to head to school for the day, along with other back-to-school activities like participating in Costco’s Golden Box Tops Challenge, has made the whole experience feel like a something to get excited about instead of dread.
Do any of you have kids heading to preschool this fall? Who else collects Box Tops?
Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. This post is sponsored by Costco Golden Box Tops and Acorn.
New Leash on Life, an animal welfare organization located in Lebanon, TN, is dedicated to improving the welfare of companion animals in the community through shelter, placement, spay/neuter, education and awareness. In addition, they provide pet food assistance to citizens in the community who are in need and assure their animals have what they need.
Here’s what New Leash on Life had to say about a recent Halo Pets donation:
“We had a single mom that had been out of work and though she is back at work, she has only found part time employment. She and her daughter care deeply for their animals and without pet food assistance may have been forced to surrender their pets.”
Thank you, New Leash on Life for making a noticeable difference for pets in your community!
When you choose Halo pet food, made from natural, whole food ingredients, your pet won’t be the only one with a radiant coat, clear eyes and renewed energy. Halo feeds it forward, donating over 1.5 million meals annually. As always, Halo will donate a bowl to a shelter every time YOU buy.
Hi! I’m Charlie Brown, and while I may be named after the protagonist in Peanuts, on the day I get adopted I’ll probably look a lot like Charles Schulz’s famous comic strip canine,…
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It took me four months to share Essley’s birth story, and I remember thinking that was way too long to wait, and that I’d never wait that long if we had another babe. Well here we are, nearly seven months past Emmett’s birth, and I’m just getting around to sharing it. Sitting down and writing out the details of a baby being born is a mental and emotional commitment, and I think you really have to be in the right mind set (and have a few hours to set aside) – and that’s the simple reason for why, in my case, it’s taken a while. I should also inform you, before you even start reading it, that my labor and birth with Emmett was much less intense than with Essley (and I’d also given birth before), so the story will probably be less exciting (and certainly less dramatic). But it is, of course, just as significant to me. As with Essley’s birth story, I want to again state that hundreds of thousands of women give birth everyday, and no matter how emotional I may be in talking about my experience, the reality is that the reason my story is so special to me is that it’s mine. Each one of these women has their own story too – and each one is equally important. Thank you for choosing to take the time to read ours.
My pregnancy with Emmett, like my pregnancy with Essley, was fairly uneventful until the third trimester (unless you count the first trimester’s crippling fatigue and frequent barfing episodes, of course). With Essley I began having serious issues with high blood pressure in the final weeks that ultimately led to me having to be induced a week before my due date. I religiously took my blood pressure when I hit my third trimester with Emmett because I was so worried about repeating that scenario (which quite honestly, thanks to a 30 hour labor, was pretty awful). Fortunately it never rose above normal levels. I did, however, experience another complication, this time with my heart. I noticed a couple of months before my due date that I was having trouble catching my breath even walking up short flights of stairs. Sometimes I would just be leisurely grocery shopping and my heart would start pounding out of nowhere and I’d begin to feel dizzy. Every now and then, I’d even start to faint. I spoke to my OB, and after subsequent visits to both the hospital and a cardiologist, along with multiple series of tests that included EKGs, an echocardiogram, and a 24 hour Holter monitor, I was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia and PVC and PAC heart arrhythmias. Basically, my heart was both “skipping beats” and speeding up to dangerously high levels. The “best” case scenario was that it was being caused by the pregnancy and would resolve after birth (just like with my blood pressure issues in the previous pregnancy), and the worst was that the pregnancy was just opening the door to an underlying issue I already had. Either way, it could not be ignored. I was prescribed beta blockers by the cardiologist, but after talking about them with my OB (who is an incredible person; I feel ridiculously lucky to have been able to have such a compassionate, knowledgable, pro-mother doctor by my side on both of my pregnancy journeys) and learning more about how they could potentially affect the baby, I declined. Instead I was ordered to walking bedrest, which meant I could still do most daily activities on a small scale, but I couldn’t exert myself – at all. Since by the last few weeks of pregnancy I could barely make it up a few stairs without having to instantly sit (or lie) down, I was okay with taking it easy. I just didn’t want to have to be induced again.
About a week before my due date (January 9th), things started worsening with my heart. I was being woken up multiple times a night by what felt like it beating out of my chest. Even getting up to go to the bathroom would cause me to lose my breath. I’d already been experiencing contractions for a couple of weeks at this point, and I was already dilated. But after a long, emotional discussion with my OB, a decision was made to induce once again. This time the induction would not be early but on my actual due date (if, of course, I didn’t have the baby on my own before then). In truth, this was a bummer, as my induction experience with Essley was difficult, and I was really hoping to avoid it this time. Now let me digress for a minute and state that for the record, I am a firm believer that no one way of giving birth is the right way. Whether a woman has an unassisted home birth that consists of aromatherapy and floral baths and Tibetan singing bowls playing the background or a hospital birth that consists of all the pain killers and intervention one can get, that is her decision and anyone who judges anyone else for how she chooses to birth her baby (as long as it’s safe, obviously) is a jerk. Let’s also not forget that many times (probably most times) no birth plan goes exactly as one hopes (neither of mine have), and a lot of times how a baby makes its way into the world doesn’t even end up being a matter of choice. So while I had hoped for a “natural” birth with Essley, I had to be induced for both her safety and mine, and I was completely at peace with that. The reason I did not like being induced was simply that Pitocin-induced contractions are incredibly intense, and while, again, I needed to birth her immediately because of my blood pressure, my body was not ready to give birth that early – so my labor ended up being excruciatingly long. I didn’t want to repeat that scenario, so the decision to induce again was not made lightly, and I was a little sad about it. I tried to focus on the positive though – I was already in early labor, so even if Emmett didn’t come on his own before then, my body was clearly ready to give birth, even if I ended up needing a “boost” to get it going for the sake of my health.
As the days progressed, my contractions intensified and became more frequent. By the day before my due date, I was almost certain I’d have the baby that night and not need to be induced. I set my alarm for 5 AM (our appointment at the hospital was 6 AM) and crossed my fingers, but when I woke up (or more accurately, got up, since I couldn’t sleep all night) I was not in active labor. I was disappointed and incredibly nervous, but I was also overwhelmed with excitement. Robbie’s parents were in town, and plans had been made for them and my parents to take turns caring for Essley (we were in the hospital for 5 days when I had her, and we had no idea how long this stay would be), so we made our calls, ate a light breakfast, grabbed our hospital bags, and headed out to have our baby. My little sister, who was my unofficial doula during my first birth, also hit the road from Indianapolis to drive up to assist me again.
When we got to the hospital, my heart arrhythmias were out of control. I’m sure a huge part of this was due to my nerves, but it was scary nonetheless. My contractions were consistent but not close enough together to consider it active labor. I was dilated, but not much. So we got settled in and waited to see if things progressed on their own. After a couple of hours, they hadn’t, so we agreed to start on a small dose of Pitocin. Thankfully, because I was already in early labor, we didn’t need to use Cervadil or start with a high dosage of Pitocin this time. On top of that, I’d already gotten used to contractions since I’d been having them for weeks, so when they started to intensify, it didn’t feel like a shock. I walked the halls and bounced on a birthing ball incessantly, which brought some comfort from the pain and also helped speed things along. Unlike my labor with Essley, where I initially did not want an epidural (but did eventually get one), this time I planned to get one once my contractions got to be 2 minutes apart. (Because this time I knew what kind of contractions accompany Pitocin and there was no way in hell I was going through 30 hours of that kind of pain again, thank you very much.)
The day actually went along without much action (I mean, aside from the fact that I was, you know, in labor and stuff). I was feeling okay, so Robbie’s parents brought Essley by in the afternoon, which was so great. I loved getting to see her for a while and get some snuggles in. She thought the hospital bed was the coolest thing ever, and she was thrilled that her baby brother was going to be coming very soon. It was a wonderful distraction for me, and also a nice break to have right before I became completely consumed by labor. My sister and Robbie were life savers again, constantly refilling my water, stealing me broth packets and jello (both of which only taste good when you’re in labor) from the nurses station, massaging me, and being my cheerleaders.
After my water broke (which once again had to be helped along by my OB but, THANK THE UNIVERSE, didn’t explode and hit him in the face like it did last time – true story), things started to progress rapidly. I continued to walk the halls (where the remainder of my water broke all over the hallway right in front of the nurse’s station – good times!) until the pain became so unbearable I could no longer stand. My sister and Robbie took turns rubbing my lower back (we once again used the three-tennis-balls-in-a-sock apparatus and it basically saved my life, man) as I moaned and rocked on the birthing ball. I laughed a lot too (which hurt, but I couldn’t help it), mainly because they kept making fun of me for saying,”when the contractions get to 2 minutes apart, I’ll get the epidural,” over and over again, for hours. (FYI – the contractions never got to 2 minutes apart. And to this day, I get random texts from both of them saying, “Hey, when the contractions get to 2 minutes apart, you should get the epidural.”) The hours passed and eventually the shaking and involuntary crying took over, so I finally requested the anesthesiologist.
It was evening by the time I finally got the epidural. I was exhausted, hungry, and starting to fear I was in for a repeat of the 30 hour labor I had with Essley. We’d expected this to be a much shorter labor with baby being born in the afternoon. I was, after all, already in early labor when I’d gotten to the hospital that morning. It was also my due date so it wasn’t early like last time, and it was my second baby. So I was feeling a little defeated. And while the epidural helped with the pain to a degree, I’d asked for the lowest dosage and could still feel the contractions pretty intensely. I considered asking for a slightly higher dose when I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to poop. Now, my epidural with Essley must have been an incredibly well placed epidural, because I had no idea she was about to come when she did. I felt nothing (which after 30 hours is admittedly the best thing that could happen). But those of you who have given vaginal birth know what it means when you suddenly feel like you have to take a massive poop during active labor. It means you’re about to have a baby.
And just like that, here we were again. Robbie held up one leg and my sister the other. In rushed the team of nurses and my OB, and as I watched them prep the baby area of the room for Emmett’s arrival, my eyes swelled with tears (similar to the one I’m getting as I type this out). Unlike last time, where I was so delirious and physically sick from such a lengthy, strenuous labor that I was terrified to push out my baby, I was absolutely thrilled. Emmett was coming! This time I made sure to focus on every detail. I closely watched in the mirror as the top of his sweet little head, full of thick black hair, became visible. I also paid attention to all of the sensations. While I only pushed for 12 minutes (!), I felt everything. I mean everything. Holy shit does pushing a baby through your vagina hurt when the epidural isn’t effective. (According to Robbie and my sister I vocalized this pain through plenty of profanity.) And then, suddenly, there it was – that beautifully familiar high pitched cry. Our little boy was here.
Emmett Hunter Williams was born at 9:22 PM on January 9th, 2016. He was 8 pounds 10 ounces and 21.5 inches long. Just like his sister, he was swollen and purple and wet and covered in vernix. And just like his sister, he was beautiful and perfect and my dream come true in ways I could never attempt to put into words. Here he was, this tiny human who had lived inside of me for close to 10 months. It was him all along. I didn’t think I could ever possibly love anyone the way I loved Essley, but at this moment, my heart grew. I mean really guys, it did. What a wonderful, cosmic, surreal feeling it was – one that continues to this day. Emmett (which we found out after choosing the name means “complete”) was finally here, and our family was, indeed, complete.
After Emmett and I had a chance to nurse and snuggle and kiss and bond, I devoured two sandwiches, a bag of chips, two cookies, and a candy bar. Then I took a few minutes, before we were moved out of the labor/delivery room into our recovery room, to reflect on what had just happened. While the pain had been even more brutal than with Essley thanks to what was admittedly a pretty crappy epidural, both the labor and delivery were so much shorter that it felt like nothing in comparison. I also, unlike with my first birth, did not vomit or poop on the delivery table (bonus!). But more than anything, I felt very grateful to have been able to feel coherent and alert enough to watch myself giving birth – something I didn’t get to experience the first time around, and something that was intensely powerful.
I could sit here and spend even more hours writing about the days that followed. I could compose an entire post about the moment when Essley got to meet her baby brother for the first time. I could probably write a full novel about when we first brought Emmett home (after only two short nights in the hospital this time) and spent the next week completely blissed out as a family of four. I could also devote several posts to the hard stuff, like how Essley decided that throwing books at her new brother’s head was the best way to react to this transition, or how Robbie had to go back on the road for work when Emmett was two weeks old and I was suddenly taking care of a newborn and toddler on my own, day and night. But instead I’ll end things here and just say that I am grateful, and I am happy. The love I feel for my babes is beyond comprehension. It’s a love that is so far beyond worth the horror of pregnancy complications and the excruciating pain of labor and birth and the hard days/nights when we all end up in tears that it’s almost not even worth mentioning any “bad” parts.
Essley and Emmett, thank you for making me a mother, and for making me your mother. It is the greatest thing I have ever done, and everyday with you is the best day of my life. I love you with all my heart.
Oh, and speaking of hearts, my heartbeat almost immediately went back to normal, my heart issues disappeared, and I haven’t had any problems since. I went back to my cardiologist for a six month postpartum follow-up a couple of weeks ago and my heart, for now, appears to be perfectly fine. Pregnancy is strange.
Wow. That was long. Thank you for reading, friends, and letting me share the story of one of the two best days of my life. If you’ve shared a birthing story, please leave a link in the comments. I’d love to read yours too!