In 2008, I went to General Conference, headed back to Asbury University for finals, and got married three weeks later. My amazing family and fiancé cared for details at home while Dad and I attended.
But 2012 is the most unique of all. This time, I am a mom. And (sorry male readers), a nursing mom. Eric is with us and works from the hotel. Mom is watching Emmalyn all day, and they are cooped up in a hotel. Poor Mom! Poor Eric! They are truly sacrificing so much for us! Emmalyn has been a huge trooper in the midst of this - all while getting two teeth! She has tried more new foods in the past ten days than ever before, and she LOVES seeing all of the people around.
As a sidenote, Emmalyn loves any person who has darker skin than her oh-so-pale parents. When our friend Grace visited from Uganda, Emmalyn was obsessed with her and couldn't stop staring at her (at only three months old). This has been very apparent this week. I had Emmalyn at the convention center during a break and while I held her, lots of people were around us. One of the translators, who is an African woman, came up to us to see Emmalyn, and our baby girl dove out of my arms to go to her. It was very clear who she preferred in the group! Throughout the week, we have been spending time with Jorge Acevedo, and Emmalyn cannot stop staring at him. It's actually pretty comical, and is teaching me to be in awe of the uniqueness with which God has created us. Emmalyn's definitely a sweet little ice-breaker.
When I was very pregnant with Emmalyn, I was elected to General Conference. We didn't know what we would do with her when the time came. I planned on nursing until she was at least six months old, but Emmalyn was not ready to quit and neither was I. General Conference kept looming in my mind. Through a combination of pumping, rushing to the hotel during breaks, and meeting Mom here when I couldn't get away, it has been much better than I imagined. Since I don't see Emmalyn much during the day, it is great to have a few minutes to bond with her and it definitely gives her the mama time she needs during the day. Today for instance, I have been able to get to her during every break and I think it's helped both of us have a better day!
There have been moments when I have felt like I am doing a dis-service to General Conference by skipping out on worship or showing up five minutes late after a break. But thankfully, I don't believe I have missed any votes. I am sure that people have judged me sneaking out a bit early at times, and a few nights ago, that wore on me as I walked out before the end of worship. But as I left the convention center at 8:30 p.m., I saw a woman pacing on the sidewalk. She was on her cell phone and I thought she was talking in a different language until I realized she was singing. She seemed a little embarrassed, and I wondered why she would sing on her phone. As I got closer, I realized that she was singing a lullaby to her child on the phone. It was so precious to me and affirmed that my primary responsibility is, even in the midst of General Conference, to be a mom. What a great privilege that is!