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    Mothers ... at Last

    continued...

    What she has made a priority: spending more time with Payton. Carrie, a marketing specialist, recently switched to a part-time job that she helped to create at her company, where she works Monday, Tuesday, and half days on Wednesday.

    Carrie: Having a baby does make you look at the world differently. Grass can be interesting. So can ceiling fans! Paty is pulling herself up in her crib to stand, and she thinks it's just the greatest thing. The other day I was cleaning her hands off in the sink, and she was using the vegetable sprayer like a drinking fountain — facedown, faceup, soaked to the waist. She had me laughing until I cried. I figure when we have our second child — perhaps when Paty's around 2 or so — maybe that one will be more like me, all over the place and bored easily!

    With three little girls who are only about a year apart in age, Carrie, Jenny, and Jody expect to spend a lot more time together. They got together for another pumpkin-patch outing in October and shared their costume plans for Halloween — Paty dressed up as a bumblebee, Nora was Boo from the movie Monsters, Inc., and Zoë was ... an adorable baby. And these good friends envision many playdates, picnics, and birthday parties to come.

    "This past year has really brought us closer together," says Carrie. "Early motherhood is so challenging, especially the first few weeks. You have this baby, and she's so dependent on you, and you know she's a miracle, but — "

    "But anyone who says it's not really hard is lying!" adds Jenny. "It's good to have people to talk to who know what you're going through and won't dismiss your feelings." And who can help with real-world advice on everything from cycle charting to breast-feeding.

    "It's been so much fun to go through the whole motherhood thing together, and have them to share things with," Carrie says. "That's the kind of bond that lasts."

    Redbook Photo of Two Women Holding Babies

    After all the angst that comes with assisted reproductive technology, you're finally pregnant. You should be ecstatic. But instead you're anxious that you'll miscarry, grumpy about the morning sickness ... and guilty that you're not a blissed-out expectant mother.

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