Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's a Wonderful Life

Our first Christmas with Jane was great, if not a bit stressful. It seems most people forget what it is like to have an infant and have a lot of expectations for what we should be able to do! When your baby's fussy time is in the evening, it's difficult to sit at a holiday gathering. It's also hard for people to understand why she gets crabby when she's passed around from person to person every few minutes. It's no fun for her and not really that fun for us, either.
That said, we did have a good Christmas. My favorite part of the weekend was our little family Christmas with just the three of us on Christmas morning. I wish we had had more time with just our little family, but other obligations mean that isn't possible. It is still so hard for me to share my daughter with others! I just want her all to myself.
Here is the column I wrote this week about Jane's first Christmas.

As you can imagine, my daughter was the center of attention this Christmas. It’s almost as fun as the good old days when yours truly was the center of attention. Or maybe it’s even better.

As expected, Jane’s first Christmas was much more exciting for the rest of us than it was for her. She did get some new toys that she loves, including a sock monkey from her nostalgic parents.

She did not get her first Barbie, even though her Grandma Janet thought she might need one. I told her there was no way a two-and-a-half-month-old would like a Barbie. Imagine my surprise when Jane’s eyes lit up at the sight of her cousin’s new Barbie! She just might take after her aunt, who never did like baby dolls and much preferred Barbie! The story of how she wrote all over her new baby doll’s face because she wanted a Barbie instead is legendary in our family.

Since I can say whatever I want here, I’d like to take this time to brag on my niece and share one of the sweetest gifts Jane received this Christmas. My niece is in third grade, and up until October was the baby of the family. You would think she might be a little bit jealous, but she adores her new cousin.

Morgan used her own money to buy Jane a Christmas gift. She bought her a card, and wrapped the gift herself. It makes me tear up a little bit just thinking about it. What a thoughtful, wonderful thing to do!

We still have two more Christmases to attend this week, even though we have already attended three and had our own little celebration at home on Christmas morning with just the three of us. Normally I’d be all Christmassed-out by this time, but I don’t think I’ll ever tire of celebrating with our little girl. Every moment has been truly priceless.

Even though I know there will be many wonderful holidays to come, I’m not ready for Jane’s first Christmas to be over just yet. There are some moments in live I could live over and over again, and this is one of them.

• • •

Having my own little girl brings the memories of my own childhood Christmases rushing back. Those magical Christmas Eves spent at Grandma Scherbart’s. Our family gift opening on Christmas morning. Heading out to Grandma Widman’s in the afternoon. All of these combined to make for many special holidays.

One of the most memorable Christmas mornings was the year I came downstairs to discover that Santa had not only brought me several Strawberry Shortcake dolls, he had set them up in the living room for me! It was like walking in on toys who had been playing amongst themselves and stopped when I entered the room. I think if I could recreate this today for myself, I would still think it was neat.

Now that I’m a parent, I can start planning such things of my own. I can’t wait to make Jane’s Christmases as special as mine were growing up!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A tough week

Jane has had kind of a tough week. She's been dealing with some congestion that makes it hard for her to sleep, and then yesterday she had her two-month shots. The congestion isn't too big of a deal. It really only bothers her when she's laying on her back, so we've had her sleep sitting up the past couple of nights. I'm thankful that she's on breast milk, which I'm sure is to be credited for the fact that she's not sicker than she is. Her daycare provider even said as much. It is nice to have her support on that! I've heard horror stories about daycare providers trying to push formula and rice cereal on parents.
Her two-month appointment went well. Well, it's more like two-and-a-half months. Originally her appointment had been scheduled for a week ago, but it worked better for us to do it yesterday so we were a little behind. Jane now weighs 13 pounds, 12 ounces, and is 25 inches long. A very healthy girl, in the 95th percentile for weight and 100th percentile for height! She handled the shots relatively well. We had given her a little acetaminophen ahead of time, so she really wasn't even crabby afterward. She screamed bloody murder when the shots were given, of course. She had a little more acetaminophen before bed and slept well, but was feeling pretty rotten this morning and was running a slight temperature. Hopefully she'll be feeling better soon. We'd hate to have a sad girl on Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh, the anticipation!

Our first Christmas with Jane is fast approaching and I can hardly wait. Of course this Christmas will be more fun for us than for her, but it's the start of our traditions for our little family. My husband and I used to be so good about getting and wrapping presents for one another, but in recent years we have kind of gotten away from that. This year we are going back to it, and will get up on Christmas morning to open presents together. We'll take lots of pictures and videos to let Jane know how much fun we all had. The best part is that it will be just the three of us, celebrating together in our own way. I can't imagine anything better!

I wrote another column about Jane this week. Some of it was actually recycled from this blog, but I'll use it again anyway!

One thing I’ve noticed in my years on this Earth is that when you reach an important milestone in your life, it brings with it a barrage of questions. The same exact questions, from everyone you see.

When you are graduating high school, there are questions about college. When you’re in college, everyone wants to know how school is going and what you’re going to do when you graduate. Not too bad, right?

Well, when you get married, it gets worse. If my husband and I had a dollar for every time someone asked us “How’s married life treating you?” in our first year of marriage, we would have been rich. It drove us crazy. We so badly wanted to reply, “It’s terrible! I think we’re going to call it quits.”

Then there was, “So when are you two going to have kids?” As if that were anyone’s business! I was tempted to say that every time someone asked me that, it meant another year that we were going to wait.

Finally it settled down a bit. It became obvious that married life must be going well, and that we weren’t in any hurry to add kids into the equation.

Just when everyone had given up on that ever happening, we finally did decide to have a baby. It’s a funny thing, pregnancy. Get pregnant and suddenly people like to comment on your weight. It’s probably the only time in life it’s considered acceptable to do so. Fortunately for me, I did not receive any, “You’re huge!” comments. I personally believe that any pregnant woman who does has every right to pop the person who made it in the nose.

I did get the usual chorus of, “When are you due?” and “Is it a boy or a girl?” I didn’t mind at all. I was excited about our coming arrival and wanted to share our happy news.

Now that our daughter is here, the questions fall more into the, “If I had a dollar …” category. The two most-asked questions we have received as new parents have been, “Is she a good baby?” and “Does she sleep at night?”

The former brings to mind good old Veruca Salt and Willy Wonka's "good egg/bag egg" detector. I picture babies dropping down, with the good babies going on their merry way and the bad ones going down the chute. Honestly, what would someone say if I responded with, "No. She's a terrible baby."

Maybe the fact that I find this question somewhat ridiculous means that I really do have a good baby. Sure, I joke around about driving her to Grandma Janet’s in the middle of the night, leaving her in a basket on the doorstep, ringing the doorbell and running away. After all, we can’t be good all the time. I can’t. Can you? Grandma Janet, by the way, doesn’t seem to mind crabby babies at all.

I never know what to say to the second question. Of course she sleeps at night. She sleeps during the daytime, too. Does anyone really expect a newborn to sleep through the night? (Actually, for babies the definition of “sleeping through the night” might surprise most people—it means sleeping for five to six hours at a stretch.) I certainly do not and had no such expectations. I’m not that good at sleeping through the night myself.

As a new mother, I’ve gotten acquainted with late-night television. One evening recently I was watching a late-night show and the host was visiting with an actress, who happens to have had a baby this year. What did he ask her? You guessed it!

I wonder how these became the standard questions to ask new parents. It’s an interesting sociological matter.

I suppose these questions are better than what people will be asking us next. I’m just waiting for, “So, when are you going to have another one?” If you plan to ask that one, have your dollar ready!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Adventures in parenting

My boss has asked me to start writing a weekly column about my experiences as a new parents. Here is my first one, published this week:

Nine weeks ago when I left work, I had the distinct feeling that I should clear my desk. My husband had the same feeling that afternoon. Sure enough, just over two days later, we became parents for the first time. Jane Olina, named in honor of her grandmothers, was born on her due date, Oct. 8, 2010. She was nine pounds, six ounces, and nearly 23 inches long.

After 10 years of it being just the two of us (and various pets), our lives have changed drastically. Becoming a parent is one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done.

Stepping out of the hospital with our new daughter in tow was a shock to the system. We’d been in our hospital room with lovely nurses to help us, and now we were being thrown out into the world with a new, tiny person to take care of. To make matters worse, we couldn’t even go straight home. We needed to stop and pick up a couple of prescriptions first.

The first thing I noticed when we left the hospital was how stupid everyone else was. Couldn’t they see that we had a newborn here? Don’t you idiots know how to drive? Watch it with that shopping cart! I was hyper-aware of everything going on around me.

The first few days at home were exhausting and a complete blur. Of course when we should have been sleeping, we were taking the baby to meet great-grandma and entertaining visitors. I was torn between just wanting to be left alone and wanting to show off our new daughter.

The new hyper-awareness also continued. The first night, my poor husband was up every few minutes checking on the baby. I finally told him that he really needed to stop, or none of us were going to get any sleep.

Thankfully we became much more relaxed as the days wore on. Diaper changes and feedings became second nature. We say “good job” to burps (no one says this to me when I burp) and have deep discussions about whether it’s poop or just toots. We have lots of snuggle time, too.

Little Jane has gone from being a newborn who does nothing but eat, sleep, and poop, to an engaging two-month-old who coos and smiles. She thinks I’m one of the most hilarious people on the planet, a genius at peek-a-boo.

There have already been many firsts: the first time she smiled, the first time she reached out to grab a toy, her first time trick-or-treating, first Thanksgiving, and first visit with Santa Claus. Each of these moments has been captured with a thousand pictures and videos, which I’m all too happy to share with anyone who asks and even those who don’t.

Next up is baby’s first Christmas. It’s going to be the first of many wonderful Christmases to come. I think back to the magical Christmases of my childhood and cannot wait to recreate that experience for my daughter.

Every day I feel like I’m viewing the whole world for the first time again through my daughter’s eyes. The next year is going to be one of amazement, laughter, and tears, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A visit with Santa

Jane had her first ever visit with Santa yesterday. She seemed highly unimpressed, looking bored throughout. I'm sure next year will be a different story!

Back to the real world!

My return to work went much better than expected. Leaving Jane the first day was very hard, but once I actually got to work, I was fine. It helped that I was surrounded by people and a place I am comfortable with. I enjoyed seeing my coworkers again. It was gratifying to learn that the people I work with in the public missed me while I was gone. It was nice to get dressed up again. Jane seems to be adjusting pretty well to daycare, though she was a bit clingy after I picked her up. I'm sure before long she will be excited to go and see the other kids. I'm glad she will have that social interaction.
My boss wants me to start writing regularly about my parenting experiences in a column for the paper. I'll give it a shot. I hate to talk too much about my personal life in the paper, for fear that I'll bore people to death, but he seems to think it will be popular! We shall see.
Our house is all decorated for Christmas and we have our tree all ready to decorate. We just need to find something to put it on. We bought a four-foot tree this year and plan to put it up on a table in the hopes that the cats will stay out of it. We also bought unbreakable ornaments. I'm excited to see how Jane's first Christmas tree looks!