What is that say­ing about how God laughs when we make plans?

The Covington News - - ONE TANK TRIP -

One of the most valu­able things I’ve learned work­ing with youths is to al­ways be open to change and to en­joy life as it comes.

Last Sun­day I was pre­par­ing an im­pos­si­bly long list of things to fin­ish in my last month of work be­fore ma­ter­nity leave and think­ing we prob­a­bly ought to start set­ting up the nurs­ery.

To­day I’m headed home from the hos­pi­tal with my hus­band, the proud new par­ents of a 4-day-old baby.

Another les­son this week has re­in­forced is how good it is to be “home.”

Like so many of my 4-H’ers, I hit a point where I couldn’t wait to leave Cov­ing­ton. And like so many of my class­mates, I even­tu­ally re­turned.

One nurse was sur­prised when I told her that Au­drey Anne Fuller­ton was the third gen­er­a­tion of her fam­ily born in New­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter and the sev­enth gen­er­a­tion born in the com­mu­nity.

In fact, my own birth was an­nounced in my grand­mother’s col­umn in this news­pa­per 35 years ago.

So there’s some­thing that just feels right about writ­ing this one last col­umn be­fore tak­ing a few months off from work and writ­ing to fo­cus on Au­drey. Birth was a whirl­wind dur­ing which we had no time to think, with less than two and a half hours be­tween the mo­ment at home I knew some­thing was hap­pen­ing and the time we laid eyes on the 7-pound, 4-ounce baby after emer­gency surgery.

But as my hus­band and the 5-week-early Au­drey went off to NICU and the nurses took me to my room, re­al­ity hit as I spent a few mo­ments alone.

I didn’t fin­ish ev­ery­thing at work, and I had only taught one club meet­ing this month. Half my dishes were clean in the drainer, the other half were still un­washed. Not a sin­gle baby item had been washed; in fact, I owned nearly no cloth­ing since the baby shower had not hap­pened yet. The dog needed food, the car seat needed to be in­stalled, noth­ing had been packed for the hos­pi­tal bag, and, oh, we still had a half dozen names to nar­row down to just one.

If I’d lived far from home, no doubt I’d have con­tin­ued down this path of panic. In­stead, the nurse popped out to the wait­ing room to find my par­ents and brother al­ready here, quickly fol­lowed by my mother-in-law and even my high school 4-H spon­sor who also vol­un­teers at the hos­pi­tal.

A steady stream of fam­ily and friends not only kept me dis­tracted the last few days while Au­drey re­ceived ex­tra care in NICU but also dis­ap­peared and reap­peared like fairy god­moth­ers, tak­ing care of ev­ery­thing from my dishes and laun­dry to clothes for Au­drey to wear home.

The only ma­jor decision we had to worry about those first hours was what to name the baby.

I guess we did things a lit­tle dif­fer­ent than many par­ents to­day, wait­ing to let the new dad an­nounce the gen­der as the baby was born. And as we ex­pected might hap­pen, she didn’t quite fit any of the names we pre-se­lected, so we re­turned to our big list and found just the right name about 12 hours after she ar­rived.In ad­di­tion to fam­ily, though, I’ve also re­al­ized it seems like I know half the hospi- tal staff al­ready. Neigh­bors have sent well wishes after spot­ting the bal­loons on the mail­box and 4-H vol­un­teers have stepped up to help fill in all those un­fin­ished tasks at the of­fice.

Au­drey is blessed to have our fam­ily here, but also so many more peo­ple who make up this com­mu­nity.

I’m thank­ful for the in­cred­i­ble level of care and pro­fes­sion­al­ism from ev­ery doc­tor, nurse, staff mem- ber and vol­un­teer at both New­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter and at Cov­ing­ton Women’s Health Spe­cial­ists.

And in the end, I’m glad I’m not the one in con­trol of plans after all.

Terri Kimble Fuller­ton is a New­ton County 4-H Agent through UGA Co­op­er­a­tive Ex­ten­sion. She can be reached at tkim­ble@ uga.edu.

TERRI KIMBLE FULLER­TON COLUM­NIST

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