Thursday, July 29, 2010

Loves and Misses

I love babies; I always have. I love how perfectly peaceful they look when they sleep. I love the dozens of faces they make while they’re dreaming. I love wondering what they could possibly be dreaming about at such a young age. I love their tiny noses, fingers, and eyelashes. I love their chubby cheeks and their gummy smiles. I love their little coos and gurgles and the way they wave their arms in the air while they’re cooing and gurgling.

I love the way they nestle into my arms or against my neck and just fit perfectly, like a puzzle (when they’re content, that is). I love the way they smell after a bath—thank you Johnson & Johnson and Burt’s Bees baby washes. I love the way they smell anytime; milk breath, or even spit-up breath, it doesn’t matter. It’s the best smell in the world. I love how soft their skin is, especially the bottoms of their feet. Only babies’ feet could ever be so soft.

And then there are the particulars to my baby: *my* baby. It’s still so incredibly awesome that I can say that—that I have one of my very own. I love his adorable double chin and the innumerable rolls on his arms and legs. I love the funny balding pattern that leaves an ever-shrinking semi-circle of newborn hair around the back of his head, like a man with a receding hairline. I love the look on his face when he’s been fussing and suddenly realizes that he is finally about to be fed. I love the way he clutches at my shirt while I’m feeding him, and his other little meal-time mannerisms.

I love the way he smiles after he dirties his diaper, and how pleased with himself he looks when he misses his diaper. I love his infatuation with our living room ceiling fan and that he can at times have a fifteen or twenty minute happy conversation with it, regardless of whether the fan is on or off. I love how cute he is when he wakes me up in the middle of the night smacking his lips and turning his head back and forth without opening his eyes, as though it would be too much trouble for him to open them. I love the funny swirly shape of his belly button. I love that lint collects in the palms of his hands and between his fingers because of how tightly he clenches his fists most of the time. I love that, oddly enough, rock music seems to settle him down. I love that dazzling grin that he is bestowing more and more generously every day. And I LOVE that I am his mommy.

All of this love doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that I miss from before Charlie was born. I do, of course, miss sleeping through the night. I miss being clean, as I’ve discovered that being the mother of an infant is about being dirty—between being spit-up, peed, and pooped on and barely having time to take a shower myself. I miss going grocery shopping, since we’ve found that it’s way too difficult to take Charlie out at this age, so I’ve been staying home while Daniel does the shopping. I miss riding in the front seat of the car with Daniel and holding hands when we go somewhere.

These things are all pretty simple, although not an all-inclusive list, but when I am overtired they can sometimes feel a lot bigger than they are. Thankfully, Daniel and I are able to talk with each other openly about what we miss without judgment, and with the security of knowing that no matter what, neither of us would change a thing.

It’s already been six weeks, and things get a little easier with every passing day. Besides, the loves totally outweigh the misses.

P.S. Happy Birthday (Thursday) to my wonderful husband, Daniel! I love you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Earthly Dearest

I recently came across the following quote from C.S. Lewis that I had never seen before:

“When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving toward the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.”

This quote really struck me as a reminder that although I find my time taken up more than ever before by others (namely, Charlie), I shouldn’t allow my faith to fall by the wayside. Even though I don’t have a lot of free time, it is more important than ever for me to remember to pray throughout my day and to offer up in service to God every seemingly mundane task done in service to my “earthly dearest”—my son and my husband.

My new prayer is going to be, “Lord, teach me how to love you better so that I can become the very best wife and the very best mother that I can be.”

In other news, Daniel and I have chosen wonderful godparents for Charlie and set a date for his baptism: September 26. Also, Daniel’s brother and sister-in-law are going to be in town from Alabama that weekend for a wedding, so they will be able to be there to see him baptized—an added bonus. We are so excited! September still feels like so far away, but I’m sure it will be here before we know it…

Monday, July 19, 2010

Home Improvement

Charlie is one month old today-- I can't believe it! We had his one month checkup this morning, and the doctor says he is perfect. He has already grown an inch and a half and is three and a half pounds heavier than his birth weight. And for the last two nights he has given us a four to five hour stretch of sleep at night, which has made Daniel and me very happy.

For the past week, my little family has been staying at my parents' house (about ten minutes down the road from ours) because last Thursday we discovered a leak in our hot water heater that was flooding the closet in which it was located and spreading out into the nursery. It was a very slow leak that we never noticed before, so it must have been like that for a long time.

Anyway, Daniel had to shut off the water at our house, remove the old water heater, tear out the laminate floors that had soaked up water and the drywall that was covered in black mold, scrape the mold off of the particle board subflooring and bleach what was left, then set up fans to attempt to dry it all out before a new water heater could be installed. The drying took a couple of days and it seems like all the mold was killed; Daniel installed the new water heater on Tuesday. Since then he's been putting things back together, including laying new flooring where it had been torn up.

We are going back home tonight, which I am very glad about-- although it has been quite nice to spend the week with Charlie's aunts and uncles, who are always happy to hold him to give me a break. The timing was pretty good, actually. We slept in my sister Marie's basement bedroom for the first few nights while she was in Florida babysitting our cousins, then moved up to my parents' bedroom when my parents and two of my siblings left for Nashville, TN. They've been gone all week, so Daniel, Charlie, and I have had a place to stay while helping to keep an eye on things at my parents' house.

Since Daniel went back to work last week, I have had a lot of time to get used to taking care of Charlie on my own. Daniel has been off at his full-time job, his part-time job, and his summer course, plus working on fixing the flood mess at our house while we've been at my parents' this week.

That pretty much covers how things have been for us-- pretty crazy. Soon, though, they will hopefully be less so. Daniel only has two more weeks of class before he is finished with his master's degree completely, and he will be starting a new job on August 4th that pays better and should allow him to work from home some of the time...

I guess that's it for now!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

…there was a land where people went to bed at night, slept for a while, and then woke up in the morning. I know this to be true because I spent many happy years calling this land home—now I am beginning to wonder whether I will ever be able to return.

Daniel’s time off has come to an end. He went back to work today and I am embarking on that journey I have so long dreamed about but never quite been able to imagine: stay-at-home-motherhood. My days are now going to be spent feeding, burping, changing, and playing with my son as he grows a little every day. And at this point Charlie eats so often that I feel like my time is almost completely devoted to feeding as I spend very large portions of every day glued to the couch.

These early days have been so special as Daniel and I have attempted to settle in as new parents and get acquainted with the brand new little person God has put into our lives. It has been such a blessing that Daniel has been able to be home with Charlie and me for over two weeks; I really don’t know how I could have gotten through that time without him.

I went into labor on Tuesday June 15, just as Daniel and I were going to bed. At 11:30 I had one contraction that hurt significantly more than any of the Braxton Hicks that I had been having for several weeks. I fell asleep only to be woken up by another contraction at around 1:30 a.m. and another less than ten minutes later.

I stayed in bed and began timing them using my cell phone; they lasted between 30 seconds and a minute and came every five to ten minutes all night long, but I didn’t think I was really in labor since they weren’t consistently getting stronger or closer together. Still, they hurt enough that I wasn’t able to fall back asleep that night. Daniel woke up around 3:30 and he stayed awake with me, but we didn’t get out of bed until around 6:00 when we remembered that if they were real contractions, they would hurt less and be more productive if I wasn’t laying down. So, I ate a breakfast of waffles with strawberries and whipped cream sitting on my exercise ball as the contractions continued to come.

We had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for 11:20 on Wednesday, so we made sure our bags were all packed and brought them with us just in case the doctor wanted us to go into the hospital that day (which we doubted). I had a sonogram when we got there since I was past my due date, which showed that the baby was doing fine but that my amniotic fluid level was very low. For that reason, the doctor said she would like to see me have the baby that day and asked whether we would be able to go to the hospital that afternoon for an emergency induction. I was hungry, so we stopped at Panera for lunch; I got a bowl of chicken noodle soup since I was supposed to avoid eating anything heavy, and I ended up eating only a few bites of it since I was so nervous.

When we got to the hospital, I was hooked up to an IV and monitors for my contractions and the baby’s heart rate. The doctor on call wanted to see how my contractions were doing on their own before inducing me. After about two hours, she said that although I was not even two centimeters dilated, my contractions were pretty consistent and I might be able to go into labor on my own if I walked around the hospital for an hour. I was happy to get out of bed, so Daniel and I walked around for around 45 minutes and my water broke while I was in the bathroom (very convenient).

After that I was really in labor; my contractions started coming every two minutes and within another hour I had gone from two to five centimeters. It somehow wasn’t quite as bad as I had imagined labor to be, but it still hurt—a lot. At five centimeters I got an epidural, and from then on we watched the movie Freaky Friday on TV until it was time to push.

At that point, it was just another couple of hours before our son was born. Daniel was an awesome labor coach. He held one of my legs, and he was the one counting to ten with every push. I thought that June 16th sounded like a nicer birthday than the 17th, so I kept asking Daniel how much time I had left—and I made it! Charles Edward was perfectly healthy and placed on my stomach at 11:24 p.m., with 36 minutes to spare. Daniel cut the umbilical cord. All three of us cried. I’d never been so happy, or so relieved, in my life.

Thus concludes my labor and delivery story, and thus begins my new life.

By the way, it turns out that my fluid levels hadn’t been low after all—they figured that out after my water broke. God is so good! If I had been waiting at home until my water broke, we would have had to drive the half an hour to the hospital with my contractions coming every two minutes apart, and I would have been miserable. Just an interesting side note…