Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mr. Baby

So...Mr. Baby is three months old today! I know I'm not alone in truly not being able to believe that! He is such a sweet baby, and I'm proud to finally post his first video introduction. It took a few tries to get little Charlie to do his typical babbling on camera, but I think you'll agree this one's a (yeah, I know it's long!) keeper...

See, Sophie IS his favorite toy!

We are so proud to be parents to this amazing little boy. We get comments all the time about how alert and strong he is for his age, and although I may be biased, I tend to agree. His smiles and laughter are contagious, and he adds so much joy to both our lives. This is definitely one of those times when words utterly fail me. There simply is no way to capture the flutter my insides do every time I hold him close and smell his sweet baby smell. He is precious, and I am one heck of a lucky mamma!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Emotional Again

As I'm looking at our sweet little boy today and realizing just how fast he's growing, I can't help getting a little emotional. He's going to be a whopping three months old in only three more days, which is unbelievable to me! Summer is coming to an end all too quickly. I have truly cherished this time with him, and I'm not at all ready for it to be over. This has been the summer of my dreams, and I feel so blessed we have little Charlie with whom we can share our lives.

Sometimes I forget. Never that he's our son, but more that he's really here to stay. I keep having these tiny moments where I realize over again that we have a son. Watching two mothers in the parking lot last week, holding their little boys as they pointed up to airplanes in the sky, it hit me again. Tears came to my eyes as I realized I have a little boy that I will do that with someday too. And then I think about the holidays...what will Christmas be like this year, with our little one sharing in the joys of the season? And then his first birthday, first hair cut, Easter...there are so many firsts and milestones! All these amazing moments that will now come our way because we have a son...moments I've been waiting for my entire life! Truly, it humbles me, and I am so thankful for Charlie's enchanting presence, his comforting warmth against me as he sleeps.

For a while after we brought our baby boy home, I cried every single day, sometimes multiple times a day. I would look at him or kiss the top of his head, and I just could not believe that he was real...that he was our son. Those moments have faded as he's grown, but the feelings haven't. In fact, my feelings for him continue to grown stronger every day, which seems as though it should be impossible, given how very much I love him.

I don't know where all this is coming thoughts are sort of a jumbled mess today, but I'm overflowing with awe and amazement as I look at Charlie. I wish I could freeze time and just sit and hold him forever...but then of course, I want to see him grow up to be a strong, healthy, and happy man too. I guess it's the inevitable yin-yang of motherhood, who knows?

And with that...I leave you with a couple more pictures of the sweet little man. These were taken last week, by one of my best friends, Molly. She and I were playing in the studio that I set up to do portraits of her daughters. She captured some great shots of Mr. Baby and me!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Never Alone

Hey Friends!

I recently found another new blog to follow, or rather Rachel found me! She's new to blogger, and she and her husband are getting ready for their home study this weekend! Rachel recently wrote some posts that really brought back some of the loneliness and pain associated with this journey. I know she could use some words of encouragement and support right about now. Pretty what you do best, and show some love to my new friend! You can find Rachel on her Barren Woman blog.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Michael's Grumbling

OK I tried to post a comment but couldn't ... so I'm going to write a Blog entry...

Mommy Melba way to go for some husband bashing ;0)

Oh dear what have you stirred up?

Can I really let a comment like:

"Michael has a tendency to get home and go about his business, forgetting the fact that we have a baby boy for whom we need to care."

pass without rebuttal?

Seriously how could anyone forget about Charlie? ;0) I'm merely acting on standing orders from Mommy Melba... something along the lines of

"when you bring Charlie in leave him in his seat for a few minutes and don't wake him up let him sleep"

It's not my fault Mommy Melba hasn't countermand the directive ;0)

This also goes for those chores... the ones that Mommy Melba said that she is doing... the ones she hasn't quite got around to trusting me to do... like laundry of the diapers etc.

These chores are the ones that Mommy Melba has specifically told me she wants to do... So when I ask about them she says she'll do them.. I can help but No I'll do it wrong... I actually like doing laundry...

DO I complicate things?? In my defense what Mommy Melba misses to point out is that my 'over complications' are made to make my time with Charlie more effective...

I have to make use of the time I've got. So I roll feeding, changing, playing and bonding into a late night power block when I get home. Sure it's a little unconventional but so is my schedule. I fit everything in before Charlie goes to sleep.

If I have to stop and think about it.. you know it does actually work for us... including letting Mommy Melba have time to catch up with her blogs while Charlie and I bond.

It doesn't bother me that I have to figure it out by myself it just means I don't have to trip up on all the pre-conceptions and padded baggage of what the latest care an advice is.. BTW I don't like Sophie the Giraffe...

All I know is that I can get up at 4am go to the kitchen make a fresh warm bottle of formula for Charlie and be back to feed him all within two minutes... I do it my way and I just get it done...

I'm not saying who taught Mommy Melba how to get all the air out of the bottle before a feeding but I'll just say its way easier and more effective way than the method I was taught ;0)

Grumbling Daddy Michael

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Life After Baby, Part 1: The Marriage

There are a handful of truly significant changes in life, the birth of a new baby among them. Ever since Charlie's sudden, yet joyful entrance into our lives, there have been a number of change-related posts I've wanted to write. Now that we are beginning to settle into our new reality a bit more, I've decided to write a series of posts about how our lives have been transformed. The first topic on my mind, also perhaps the most important, is our marriage.

Please note that I am writing from the heart here, and sharing our experiences as I have lived them...I hope none of this comes off as though I'm complaining, because nothing could be further from the truth!

When we brought Charlie home, we had been married almost exactly 12 years and four months. That's a long time with just the two of us, which has turned out to be both sweet and sour. On one hand, the fact that we've got such a solid foundation upon which to stand has meant that our transition has been easier. We have a lot of happy times and good memories to lean on when we are missing "us" a little bit.

And it's true, I do miss us as a couple sometimes.

I love and cherish every moment with Charlie, but I also miss the time just hanging out with my husband and doing nothing...or just going with the flow without having to consider how our decisions will affect our little person. Especially as "Mommy," the primary doer where Charlie is concerned, I find that I'm almost always preoccupied with what's going on with Charlie at least a little bit. Unless I'm sleeping, I'm rarely completely relaxed anymore. I do relax, but even when I'm in downtime mode, I'm contemplating what's coming next in Charlie's world, if that makes any sense. All that being said, and without tooting my own horn too much, I think I'm one of the more laid back moms out there.

We have been on one "date night" since Charlie's birth, when he was about two months old. We had a good time, but Michael actually surprised me that night by saying he didn't understand why we needed a night for just us, when Charlie could have just as easily been with us. At the time my feelings were hurt. There I was, trying so hard to balance myself between wife and mother, doing what I thought I 'should' do, and my husband was basically telling me he thought our date night was stupid. But...that was an enlightening moment for me at the same time that it was hurtful: Wake up call...Michael is missing Charlie! I get so busy going about my days with Charlie that I forget Michael is missing time with him while he's away at work. We try to meet for lunches when it works out, and sometimes I take Charlie to the library to visit Michael while he's working, but that's still not enough.

And that brings me to my next point - the whole work versus home balance. One thing has become crystal clear since Charlie's arrival, and that is that Michael and I are drastically out of balance where this is concerned. He works two jobs so that I can continue my education, while I do most if not all of the work around the house. This was a joint decision we made years ago; however, my educational path has been longer than I initially anticipated. I am at the point now where I am frustrated, and I really can't wait to have a "real" job again. Even though I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now, I do carry a lot of guilt over the fact that I pull very little financial weight in our marriage. And it's me who makes me feel this way, not my husband. He works way too much, and he is often exhausted when he gets home at night, but he's rarely got a chip on his shoulder about our situation.

Why is it that women struggle with guilt so much...or is it just me?

The other part of that package is that I also feel some resentment over the fact that the weight of all the chores is on my shoulders. In particular since Charlie's birth, mowing the yard and taking care of both outside and inside has become overwhelming for me. Things aren't getting done, and it's piling up. I feel as though we need outside help, but that's most definitely not within our budget at this stage of the game. I think Michael and I both feel unappreciated by one another at times, and we could both stand to work a little harder at finding and naming the value we each add to the mix. Sometimes I feel as though we are a house of cards, and if either one of us stops doing what we're doing, it's all going to come tumbling down. Perhaps that's a bit melodramatic, but I have felt it a time or two these past couple of months.

I think I'm almost done with this installment of "Life After Baby," but this post wouldn't be complete without me mentioning my observations that when it comes to babies and child care, men and women are very different! When Michael first went back to work, we had a slight glitch because when he would get home at night, I was handing Charlie over the second he walked through the door. I was under the assumption that's what Michael would want, since that's what I feel like I would want if I was working outside the home all day. It took one serious discussion, and a few more hurt feelings before I understood that what Michael wants/needs when he gets home is to have a few minutes to himself before he takes Charlie. It's not that he doesn't want to see the baby, it's just that he needs that few minutes of debriefing time first. Now that we've sorted this out, we have a pretty workable routine, but it took effort on both our parts to get to this point.

There are also differences in the way we interact with and care for Charlie, as well as how we prioritize. I try to take a step back and let Michael do things his way, but sometimes I have to bite my tongue a bit as he's figuring it all out. As he put it during one of our "discussions," I've been preparing for this time of our lives since I was 12, while he's only just getting started. Sometimes I feel that he over-complicates things, or makes them more difficult than they need to be. By that same token, I was feeling that Michael was being somewhat oblivious to the things that needed to be done around the house and/or for Charlie. After we've been out and about, Michael has a tendency to get home and go about his business, forgetting the fact that we have a baby boy for whom we need to care. I don't think this is intentional at all, I think it's just a habit born of so many years as just the two of us. There was never anyone else to consider before, and we are both having to make mental adjustments to find our harmony. I have fond myself increasingly falling into the role of director where I'm constantly asking him to do things when what I really want is for him to look around, see that there are dirty bottles on the counter (as one example) and voluntarily do something about it.

The good news is that things are smoothing out a bit...slowly but surely we are getting there! We are becoming a lot more adept at discussing these matters without one of us having our feelings hurt, or getting angry. Communication is so very important in marriage, and especially where children are concerned. In August, Michael will be starting a new schedule at his second job where he will work several less hours per week. We will still have to work hard to strike a balance between time for us as a couple, time as a family, and individual time for each of us, but this change will make a significantly positive difference for us. Then will come another big transition when I head back to school full time this fall. I'm nervous about the logistics of all that, and incorporating child care into our mix, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

For now, we are taking things one day at a time, and enjoying this special time in our lives as new parents of the most wonderful little boy on the planet. Even though the change has come with it's fair share of upheaval, we are happier and more fulfilled than we have ever been. We are so grateful for the precious gift Charlie is, and we will never become complacent, or forget what it was like to be without be longing for him with every ounce of our being, every day of our lives.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ballgame...

Hanging out with the big cats

Tonight was Charlie's first Detroit Tiger's baseball game, which we were treated to by my amazing parents! We had a great time, and it was really fin to take the little one to such a big event. We even got a free "first baseball game" certificate with his name on it from the guest services booth.

Charlie and Mommy enjoying the game

We got so many friendly comments and looks. Even from a distance, I could see people pointing at us and commenting on the cute baby. There were a couple of people who got too close and wanted to touch little Charlie, but I politely put them in their place. People are so funny when it comes to babies. The normally well-placed social filter most people have seems to vanish when they see a baby. I don't mind people talking to him, and even getting a little closer so they can look at him...but I do draw the line at touching his face, hair, and hands. That is just too much for me because I don't know where these people have been with their creepy hands!

Definitely the cutest fan...maybe the youngest too!

Surprisingly, we didn't get any questions about adoption, although I know some people were wondering. We did, however, get a lot of comments on what a good baby Charlie is, and it's so true! It's easy to love every aspect of being a new mom with this little boy, because he is such a laid back little guy. We got lucky in more ways than one where Charlie is concerned. I've been around fussy babies, so I know we are very spoiled with our little man.

Certainly the star of my show!

I love taking him to so many places, and broadening his horizons. Even though I know he won't remember these times, we will have some great photos for him to look at when he's older...and these are times that I will cherish always. Charlie's Auntie Maggie is visiting from Scotland right now, so we've been hitting the big city quite a bit. Charlie has been to the Edsel Eleanor Ford House, the Rouge River Factory, and the game this week. Tomorrow we will either go to the Celtic Festival in a neighboring town, or to Elvisfest, which is occurring in our hometown. Then on Sunday we're heading to Independence Lake for a big family picnic. I'm excited about taking Charlie swimming for the first time, and I hope everyone has fun.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Charlie's Cousins

All throughout our wait, I was counting the time based on the age of my sister's two youngest children; my nieces, Ava and Lydia. One dream I have always had is for my sisters and I to have children who are close in age so they can grow up together. Charlie's timing was perfect for us in so many ways, but this was a big one. Ava is two years older than Charlie, and Lydia is five months older.

Toward the end of our waiting period, I was beginning to fear that having cousins close in age to my children was going to be a dream I wouldn't be able to fulfill. It was one of the many reasons I was becoming very restless and impatient right before we found out about Charlie. Now when I see the kids playing together, it puts a smile on my face because I know they will grow up and have many opportunities to get to know one another...and hopefully to become close friends.

To round it out, I also have a nephew who is 16. Nick and I have always had a particularly close and special bond. When he was a baby, I took an active role in helping my sister care for him. I remember rocking him, and singing to him when he was just a little older than Charlie is now. We were best friends before he could talk...and in fact, it's because of Nick that the majority of my family and friends call me "Melba."

About a year ago, Nick moved to Indiana to live with his dad. I have been sad about this, but I also know that Nick needs to branch out and explore the world on his terms. Even though we see him a lot less now, and that trend will continue when Nick goes away to college, I am still hopeful that Charlie will come to know his oldest cousin well. I hope Nick will be someone Charlie can look up to and talk to as he grows.

I am also hopeful that our family will continue to grow, both with siblings for Charlie, as well as more cousins from my younger sister's wing. If that is not to be the case though, I still feel immensely blessed with the children we do have, and so grateful for the fact that Charlie will get to grow up with his cousins.