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

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 hospital 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 member 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