'There's lots to celebrate' Party at the Cattons

Over the years we have held some really great parties... if I do say so myself. Usually they are fraught with intense preparations and a bit of drama but always resulting in something memorable and something fun. Nelson Bay has been the scene of baby showers, 1st and 2nd birthdays, an Italian 30th, huge Christmas dinners, Saturday BBQ's and very late housewarmings. To end them all we held our going away party cleverly disguised (to ensure no tears) as the 'There's lots to celebrate' Party. The name was technically valid as we had recently: had a baby and our birthdays, built our house, moved into our house, sold our house and accepted a new job in Canada...Lots right?

Instead of roping Levi into hanging fairy lights from the roof, we left the house as is, invited everyone we know and ordered 25 pizzas. Easy, fun and perfect. Our house was packed with people from every part of our lives. People that we love. People that have made the last four and a half years in Nelson Bay so memorable, so perfect, so life life changing. It has been the best time in my life and I can't really believe I am going to have to say goodbye. My eyes are welling up at the thought. If I could put on my ruby slippers and be in two places at once I would.

Everyone loves Aunty Courtney

My sister Courtney. The ying to my yang. Her strengths are my weakness and her weaknesses are my strengths. It's perfect really, just being with her makes me want to be better.

Courtney recently returned from serving an 18 month mission for the church in Hamilton, New Zealand. It was no easy thing for her to make the decision to go and I feel so proud of what she has accomplished and how she has grown. It was amazing to watch her progress as she grew to love the people she served and the message she taught. Miracles truly happened every where she went. I have rarely heard of a missionary who had so many people to teach and baptisms to organise.

You can't help but be changed by serving a mission and I can recognise some really profound changes in Courtney. She is open. Open to people, opportunities and direction. She has a testimony and it is evident in her very being. She is fearless in overcoming fear. She is hopeful. She is still Courtney! Loved by all who meet her. Favourite Aunty and prized sister.

Bud to Bloom

I was whole heartily shocked to have given birth to a girl. But there I was, daughter in arms, having just gone through one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I just couldn't believe any of it had really just happened. 

This pregnancy was completely different to my first. My naive belief that positive thinking was the secret to pregnancy health was categorically contradicted. I struggled through with a cocktail of symptoms that left me dreaming of life in a wheelchair - I kid you not. But it was all in the name of a new baby! A much wanted and anticipated addition to our family. Finley ensured that it was a family affair. He carried a pumpkin in his belly which miraculous turned up in his bed one morning, and Levi a pizza, which is yet to materialise.

It's difficult to grasp hold of a shred of control in the birth process. I knew full well from experience how impossible it is to predict how things will go but I was determined to give a natural VBAC and a positive birth experience, no matter the outcome, the best shot. I had never imagined before Finley that I wouldn't have the opportunity to birth naturally and although I had to reconcile myself to that possibility, I held out hope that I'd get that chance this time. I gathered all the support possible. I chose a different hospital - Maitland, hired Gwen, my amazing Doula, my mum was going to be there and Levi and I, with the help of Gwen and past experience, were ready. By the time the birth came around we were a solid little team ready to make things happen.

I went into labour naturally on the 19th of May in the middle of the night but it was just the prelude. The hospital turned us around and I struggled through the next day and night. Feeling at the end of the rope we went back in on the morning of the 21st determined to have this baby. The stars most certainly aligned that day. I had a room with a beautiful outlook of green pastures and rolling hills, Gwen was there, mum was on the way and my midwife Leah was exactly the person for me. She wrote on the board 'today we are going to have a baby!'. I felt empowered...exhausted but empowered.

Unfortunately for me and any assigned medical staff, I struggle with anything medical. I pass out having my blood taken, feel woozy at the sight of a needle and want to run a mile when anything gynecological comes up. Despite my greatest efforts to see things rationally, I struggle. The need to get things moving was obvious and the only way ahead with this birth required all the uncomfortable stuff. I had a really incredible obstetrician who made light work of my fears. Quickly and easily, canula was in, waters were broken and cintocinin on. Time to breath, this is really happening.

The first few hours proceeded with increasing but manageable pain. At first I could laugh and chat with Team Baby between contractions but soon enough I was screaming with each one and trying to come down from the pain between them. When things stepped up a notch I felt myself break. I wanted out. Epidural. Please. Now. Help. I tried to visualise myself hiking the 6 foot track, the endless mountain one foot in front of the other...nope...I tried to think about how much I wanted to experience this naturally... nope...I tried to summon the anesthetist with my mind, I begged the midwife to drag him from the lunch he was obviously eating hence his absence...nope. Then I felt it. This primal urge take over my body...the urge to push. There was no way I was letting anyone know what was happening. I suddenly realised I was petrified to push a baby out! I needed that epidural. The anesthetist arrived but miraculously, divine intervention from a Heavenly Father who knows me better than I know myself, I was having this baby naturally, like I always wanted.

It really is the most amazing thing to feel your baby decend. Time stood still for me then. Nothing hurt like I thought it would. It was intense and carnal but my body wanted the baby out and was working in every way for it to happen. As soon as my mind gave over to the process it became instinctual and beautiful. I felt her head crown and her body twist and slide from me. I felt every part of it and was completely overcome by the miracle of it. They laid her on my chest but I could hardly process her. I had given birth, something that I was prepared to never experience naturally. I was given this amazing, miraculous gift and I could hardly believe it. Then for Levi to tell me we had a baby girl. I was beyond shocked. I had been so sure I was having a boy and here I was holding my baby girl, my daughter. My mum cut the cord and as the moments ticked passed, my emotions settled and the next 20 years of parenting flashed before my eyes. I had a girl. Dolls, dresses, headbands and pink. Teaching and preparing her for the world and the women she will become. And then I knew... what I'd just been through was the easy bit.

Our First Rose: Primrose Anne Catton. Born 21st of May 2015 at 2:03 pm.

Canada Eh?!

We are moving to Canada! And soon... the end of September. I can hardly believe myself when I write that. I want to jump up and down, dance and cry all at the same time. It is really happening. We are trading sunny Nelson Bay, New South Wales for snowy Halifax, Nova Scotia. And I'm pretty sure we have no idea what we are in for!

Truth be told we had to leave The Bay in September anyway. I was in pretty deep denial so I mainly kept that information to myself. Levi's work wraps up here then and with no real work for him in this area we were planning to move with the company to Adelaide. I wasn't particularly excited about Adelaide, especially considering how much I love Nelson Bay, how happy I've been in Nelson Bay, the amazing people in Nelson bay - you get the idea. This place is amazing and you'd be crazy to want to live anywhere else...unless the anywhere else is somewhere you have been dreaming of living your whole life.

Dreams really do come true - us moving to Canada is proof. To fully understand you have to go back 20 years to 10 year old Jade watching, daydreaming, play acting her life as Anne of Green Gables. Anne (who I do realise is fictional, despite what you may be thinking) lives on Prince Edward Island. We are moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia, a mere 3 hours away! Not only are a little girl's dreams being realised but the very real career aspirations of one talented Naval Architect are too.

Levi and I have always wanted to work overseas. We knew that different shipbuilding projects around the world would likely afford us that opportunity at some point in the future, We never expected that Levi would be approached for his dream position and that the timing would work out so perfectly with work closing out where we are. Levi is thrilled. He is coming in at the early definition stages of a huge ship building project and will have an influential and exciting position. It is undeniable that the hand of the Lord is at work here. He knows our hearts and can orchestrate life more perfectly than even we could imagine.

Finley is excited. Mainly about going on the plane and dressing up in 'jacket, scarf, gloves, hat and ice skates'. We are all over the moon to live a short flight away from our dear Canadian doubles Jen, Stew and their little boy Emerson. Telling them we were coming was a highlight of my life - Jen screamed, cried and starting writing lists! It was wonderful. Knowing we have them so close and to show us the ropes is hugely comforting.

I am excited about living in a new country, exploring the country and culture, the travel opportunities and snow. I am nervous about not having a clue regarding basic life skills, driving on the opposite side of the road, settling Finley in and snow. I am sad to be leaving a place and people that I love but very happy that planes, skype and unbreakable friendships make the world that bit smaller.