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Has it really been 3 years?

I woke up yesterday morning to see the coverage of the Twin Cities Marathon on my social media feeds and couldn't believe it had been 3 years since I ran it. It wasn't a PR, was a cold-then-hot miserable day, and oh that uphill to the finish line in St. Paul! But it still sticks in my head as one of my favorite races for a variety of reasons. Happy memories of being at the start line with a very pregnant Mama and her custom-made race shirt. Using the Metrodome bathrooms and trying to stay warm. The beautiful run through downtown, the various parks, across the Mississippi River, and seeing the giant American flag hung across the last few meters near the state capitol. (And walking uphill to where the car was parked!)

A week later, I'd be up at an ungodly hour to volunteer at the Chicago Marathon start line. After my shift was over, I walked up Michigan Ave. to one of the final course markers and watched the elites. Then I hopped on the L home and we casually decided to go for a family deep dish pizza up the street from where we live. That part is something we commemorate each year now in honor of The Mama going into labor and the start of what would become an ordeal over the next month.

It was the start of many visits to the hospital...this first time my son was along and I had to stay with him in a distant waiting room until they finally allowed him back to say goodbye when it was obvious mommy would be in the hospital for awhile. Our greyhound, Kieran, was still with us so I had to worry about getting her walked. I had to arrange an emergency babysitter via one of my co-workers. My daughter was nearly born that evening via emergency C-section, too. She hadn't turned yet, but a last minute flip would eliminate a 10pm scheduled surgery into time for my mom to fly into town the next morning.

Many of you were not readers back in the early days of the blog, but feel free to pull up some of the posts from our month in the NICU. Our daughter was born at 34 weeks and we barely got a chance to say hello before they whisked her to another hospital floor without much explanation. The next time we saw her she was hooked up to machines, alarms, needles in very uncomfortable-looking places, and we spent until after Halloween fighting doctors, staff, making multiple trips to visit each day, etc..

To this day, we tease Leda that she's always been difficult. Literally since the day she was born. She turns 3 on Friday...still small for her age but with no other obvious signs of being born a preemie. We're thankful. Though she's still most likely to be the child we complain about. She's always been a little bit of an attention seeker, had stubborn behavior, and still is most likely to be the one you find demanding a snuggle or being afraid of us leaving her behind. Some of it, I think, is bitterness on both sides and not getting the casual, relaxed getting-to-know-you that my son received. I got to give him his first bath in the nursery. He was held often in those first few days. My daughter--not so much.

In hindsight, that's probably why I have a nearly-3 year old who still wants to curl up on the couch with one of us...demanding so, really. The circumstances of Leda's birth are so complicated for us as parents that this time of year always brings out a mix of emotions. We blissfully enjoyed this week between the Twin Cities Marathon and her birth unaware. Her birthday was not supposed to be until around Thanksgiving.

Yet here we are are 3 years later. With her Mickey Mouse chocolate cake and requested purple frosting with sprinkles. She's getting an easel with magnetic letters on Friday and I can't wait to see her face because she can't stop herself around the display version every time we go to the toy store. Yesterday, she asked if she could watch football with me when she got up from her nap. And I sat and spread peanut butter on Wheat Thins for her...she only eats the cracker when it gets soggy. She sat next to me telling me what team she is rooting for based on jersey color. Then she helped me bake brownies and sat on the floor in the kitchen pouring ingredients and stirring.

Sometimes it's hard to reconcile that little preemie with the tangle of wires and my little girl who giggles while she jumps on the bed or climbs in a cardboard box wearing a cape and witch hat.