A muffled cry pierced the night and woke me from a deep sleep. In a state of pure exhaustion, I bolted from my bed and ran towards what sounded like a wounded kitten trapped beneath a pile of blankets.

“I’m coming honey!” I called out.

Bumping into walls, in the pitch black of night, first hitting my face into a door jam and then slamming my big toe, I finally found my way to the crib. It had been less than twenty-four hours since I brought the oldest of my four children home from the hospital. Literally, over night I went from being a self-centered individual, whose only thoughts were about my own personal needs, to becoming a sentry standing guard over this most precious gift.

“I’m here sweetie,” I whispered as I gingerly picked up my soggy, hungry baby and cuddled her in my over protective arms before laying her on the changing table.

Carefully disrobing this creature of perfection, I wiped, powdered, diapered and dressed her into one of her new, velvet smooth nighties. Turning on her Mickey Mouse night light, I wrapped her up tightly in her fuzzy pink blanket and proceeded to nurse as we gently swayed  back and forth in the rocking chair in that quiet early morning hour.

“Don’t worry,” I cooed into her delicate ears as I lifted her to my chest. “I’m going to be the best mom in the world.”

Remembering babies get bubbles in their tummies after a feeding, I carefully patted her back to ease the building pressure, but nothing seemed to happen. “Come on Michelle, give mommy a burp so we can both go back to sleep.” With a little more force, I tapped her between the shoulder blades…and still nothing happened. Rocking in perpetual motion I found myself getting impatient.  I was half asleep, a lump was now forming on my forehead from where I hit the door and my toe was beginning to throb. I knew it wouldn’t be long before we had to do this all over again and I needed rest.

“Any time now Michelle,” I whispered agitated.

Then it happened!  A disgusting reverberation detonated causing me to panic. Her tiny frame morphed into a miniature replica of Mt. St. Helen and exploded from every orifice in her body.  First, the night time snack ejected all over my face and hair. Next, her itty bitty bowel ruptured and poured through the diaper with a light brown curdled substance that oozed down her legs and saturated my chest.

“Oh God, this is gross,” I thought as I looked down at this child who, in one moment was an angel sent from heaven, then the next transformed into Linda Blair from the “Exorcist”. What had been a tranquil moment was now filled with over wrought sobbing – and soon Michelle joined in the chorus with her mother.

“What ever made me think I was cut out for this?” I wondered wiping the tears away as I made my way back to my bedroom to change into something dry. “I don’t think I’m prepared for this part of motherhood.”

Bringing calm once again to our small home, I finally crawled back into bed. Hunkering down, knowing round two was probably in about three hours, I was hit with the realization that the idealistic fantasy I’d always held about motherhood could go in one of two directions. Michelle could either be the epitome of the Gerber Baby, sweet and innocent, or she could turn into a creature of the damned who’d leave me with endless sleepless nights and constant doubt over my parenting skills. No matter what the future held, most certainly, my life was changed for good.

In every relationship we encounter, we are improved by that experience. If we’ve been changed for the better it means we started somewhere, something happened and we grew from it.  The quality to our life is enhanced.  When we are changed for good, then there is no going back. The life as we knew it will never be the same. There is a transformation and we’re permanently altered in mind, body and soul.

When I think of all the people who have come into my life, I marvel. Some were wonderful, some caused me pain, but each changed me beyond my wildest expectation. No where is this feeling summed up more clearly for me than in the words to a song from the musical “Wicked.”

“I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason bringing something

we must learn and we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let

them and we help them in return. Well I don’t know if I believe

that’s true but I know I’m who I am today because I knew you.”

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for all our blessings. There are the gifts of health, financial security and those special talents that make our lives richer, but the most rewarding are the people who touch us everyday. These are our families, our friends, our co-workers, even the stranger in line at the grocery store who smiles and shares a pleasantry. It is through their love, warmth and kindness that we are led.

Twenty-seven years ago I was drastically changed with that first poopy diaper. In motherhood, four incredible human beings enriched my life and have taught me everyday that true joy that comes from loving and sharing. I’m the woman I am today because of them.

This holiday, ponder the idea of where you’d be without the people you love. Just like George Bailey, in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the life as you  know it would be completely different. Give thanks for their gifts – and be sure you tell them too!