(Before beginning, I'd like to invite you to check out some of Isabella's first photos with her family: http://video214.com/play/p4SgVlw1FP7EXLUrGVF5Sw/s/dark ).
I have to admit, I had my doubts. I doubted that "it" could be as memorable, moving and magical the second time around. I doubted that I'd again be filled with awe and wonder at the beauty of it all. I even doubted whether I'd feel the same overwhelming and immediate connection in that one profound moment - and that I could possibly love another child as much as I love the first.
And then she arrived. And those doubts just disappeared.
Isabella Marie officially joined our family a little over a week ago. And every minute since then, I've found myself falling deeper and deeper in love with a baby who, along with her big sister, already means most everything in this world to me.
Yes, it has been as blissful and beautiful this time around as it was the first. (And I have only to read the blog I wrote upon Grace's arrival to recall how wonderful that time was: http://www.kare11.com/news/blogs/article/850877/320/Yes-Its-a-Girl).
It seems the miracle of childbirth simply doesn't disappoint. And my husband and I again find ourselves overjoyed by every day with our new daughter. Still, Isabella's arrival didn't come without some drama.
When I first met Isabella, she was both beautiful and bruised - as purple as the most die-hard Vikings fan. I'm told her quick journey to meeting us took its toll, and her fragile little face bore the brunt of the impact. Fortunately, the bruises did not last long... the purple subsided... and she never, apparently, felt their discomfort.
And then there was the drama involving her mom. About an hour after Isabella's birth, I experienced what was, for me, unbelievable and indescribable pain. Within minutes of the first painful stabs, the talented staff at Methodist Hospital rushed me into emergency surgery. The rest of the night is a bit of a blur, but I believe I now understand what happened (to the extent someone without a medical degree can do so). It seems the same quick journey that caused Isabella's bruises also tore one of my arteries. The result: internal bleeding that doctors needed to quickly find and repair. And while the whole ordeal may have been painful for me to endure, I suspect it was even more frightening for my family - my husband, parents, sister, even toddler-daughter - waiting for me outside.
Of course by now, we've had time to both heal and reflect on exactly what happened. And I believe that newly found perspective has left my whole family with a sense of gratitude. Gratitude - for me - that it was her mother, and not Isabella, who experienced the complications. Gratitude - for all of us - that we live in a country where sophisticated medical care is available (I'm told a woman in a country without that quality of care would have suffered a far different outcome than what we experienced. It reminds me again of the unfortunate disparity in our world). And gratitude that after an extended stay in the hospital, both Isabella and I are now home... healthy... and healing.
And that brings me to today, only a few days into our new "normal" as a family at home. I'm thrilled, delighted, exhausted and overjoyed by life as a mother of two. My daughter Grace could not be more sweet with her baby sister, even as I do sense that the newly donned "big sister" is ever-processing her new position in the family. Meantime, Isabella is wide-eyed and searching - checking out her sister, recognizing her parents, and delighting us in her ever-changing sighs, squeals and expressions (one of which reminds me exactly of her sister as a newborn: the old-man, milk-drunk, furrowed-brow look that makes me smile every time she wears it).
Yes, the family is different indeed. I have only to reflect on my attempts to write this very blog - as first one, then the other daughter has consistently and frequently interrupted with cries for attention - to know that that is true.
And so those now distant doubts will remain but humorous memories. Our new life has begun, and the new life that marks that beginning is every bit as cherished as the one who came before her. As veteran parents realized long ago, it's absolutely as good the second time around. Life is good.
And with that, I'll sign off. Thank you to all those who've sent us such kind words of congratulations and greetings. Isabella will one day be amazed by her warm welcome! I do hope to stay in touch via my blog during my leave, but please feel free to also connect with me on Facebook (Karla Hult); or Twitter (@karlahult). I'm sure I'll have updates to share (and I always love reading about the revelations and adventures of others).
In the meantime, please take care of you and all those closest to you. And in the words of Mike Wallace, "do well, and do good."