2011…Can it be topped?

I heard a news report this morning about the emotional state of Americans in 2011. A survey found that more than 70% of Americans felt that 2011 was the most depressing year, emotionally, for them. How sad it is that so many people feel this way and for what is possibly the first time in my life, I’m in the minority on a poll. I am a part of the 30% that found 2011 to be the most promising, the most uplifting, and the most joyful year on record, at least for my record.

I spent 3/4 of 2011 pregnant, riding the wave of emotions, discomfort, pain, and weight gain that accompanies such a blessing. 2011 found me starting this blog, excitedly writing to all of you about my adventures in first time mommyhood. 2011 found me growing closer to my husband, seeing him in a new light, a way I never thought possible. I’ve loved the man for a very long time, but it wasn’t until I became pregnant that I saw him as my savior, my soul mate, and as cheesy as it may sound or read, my knight in shining armor.

2011 found me glowing with anticipation at each kick I felt or hiccup inside of me that signalled that my husband and I had indeed created another life, a true gift. I fell asleep at night feeling my son’s nudges and movements.

In 2011, I heard the most magical thing in the world, something that I never thought could bring me to such an emotional state as to genuinely cry with happiness. I experienced my first ever ultrasound and heard the wondrous beating of a heart that represented my husband and me, our love joined together.

In 2011, my mother became a different person, once she warmed up to the idea of becoming a grandmother. She released a lot of her old hatred and demons from my brother’s death. Her heart slowly melted and for the first time in almost 5 years, her heart has felt mended.

2011 saw the birth of my son, a magnificent event that far exceeds anything I could ever imagine in my life. When I heard his cries and then saw his face, I never thought it was possible to feel so overwhelmed with love for something else that you feel like you could just break.

2011 brought the first genuine happiness I’ve had since my brother died. There was a peace that rolled through my parents, husband and me. For the first time in a really long time, I’ve felt whole. I’ve felt fulfilled. I’ve felt like my life had some meaning and some purpose to it. And for the first time in my life, I’ve been more than happy to NOT be the center of attention and not have everything revolve around me.

In 2011, I experienced my first Christmas as a mother. We started new traditions and held strong to the old, but with a new little member to the family, a member that has brought all families closer together. It’s amazing what the birth of a child can do.

So, I have my doubts that 2011 could be topped in my book, and I’m truly sorry for all of you who felt cheated in 2011. I can only imagine what 2012 will hold for all of us. I can’t wait for a new year of firsts with my baby boy and who knows maybe you’ll be reading about the expectancy of a baby brother or sister for Davey before the end of 2012.

Thank you, all of you, for reading my blog, for following my adventures, and for encouraging me along the way. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and a prosperous 2012.

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Our First Christmas

Christmas is always a special time. I can recall as a child the excitement I would have as I wondered about how good Santa really thought I had been during the year. I struggled many times to stay awake long enough to hear the click click of reindeer paws on the roof in the hopes of possibly seeing good ole St. Nick himself. As I’ve gotten older, Christmas managed to lose a bit of its luster. No longer was it shiny, new, and exciting. No longer was I filled with anticipation. Christmas was just like any old day of the week.

This Christmas held a different meaning for me and became a lot more magical than I ever thought possible. I once used to wonder if I could get back that same excitement from my childhood days. Would I lose sleep at night at the thought of all the wondrous things to happen? I had pretty much given up hope, but this Christmas, my first as a mommy, brought back all of the emotions of my childhood years and then some.

My son is officially 3 months old today. He’s much too young to really understand Christmas, so my husband and I agreed that this year we could get away without much in the way of gifts. Next year is a different story, but let’s take it one year at a time.

Christmas this year revolved around my son. We took pictures, something that we haven’t done since my brother’s last Christmas alive almost 5 years ago. This year we rejoiced in not only the birth of our savior Jesus Christ, but also the birth of our beautiful baby boy.

My parents spent the night with my husband and I on Christmas Eve, a complete change of tradition. And this year, my mother didn’t cry at another Christmas without her son. Instead she smiled with happiness at the new addition to our family. Christmas for us helped to fill a hole in our hearts, and I knew that my brother was smiling with us. I even felt his presence alongside my son.

There’s a part of me that’s looking forward to next Christmas, but another part of me wants to cling tightly to this Christmas, to stop time and continue to live in that moment alone. I don’t know if it’s possible to replicate the feelings from our first Christmas as a new family. And right now, those feelings are quite possibly the greatest ones I’ve had in my lifetime.

Baby in the Digital Age

Times are changing, and well times HAVE changed especially since the days of my parents having babies. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed, as well as my parents, is the HUGE advantages of having a baby in the digital age.

My mother still carries a wallet with plastic sleeves to hold pictures, as does my father. They are of the old school generation and have not jumped on board the digital picture band wagon. I’ve attempted to explain to them how wonderful text messaging is with a cell phone, not to mention learning to use your cell phone as a camera. After all, your camera is ALWAYS with you if it’s a part of your cell phone. It can serve as your portable photo album. Alas, my parents refuse to learn and prefer the antiquated methods of actual wallet photos that cost money to print. To each his own I suppose.

Another little perk about the digital age, aside from the constant information available at your fingertips via the worldwide web, is a little thing called “email”.

The day my husband and I checked in at the hospital to welcome Davey into this world, we started an email address for our son. Immediately, my husband mass emailed and texted out the address to our friends and family in the hopes that they would leave little notes for Davey or perhaps send pictures of themselves or my husband and me. At this point, I’m the only one to take advantage of this, I suppose that’s because I’m the writer (or pretend writer) in the family. I’ve used this as a way to tell stories to my son, to chronicle all or our adventures together, or to send him videos and pictures. I send him emails on a regular basis, so that should something happen to me, my son will have a piece of me with him…my words. And I’ve found that I do a much better job of conveying my emotions via the keyboard as opposed to verbally. I can paint a picture for him with my written words that he can read over and over again, and he’ll never have to wonder how I felt when he was first-born, or what my reaction was the first time he spit up on me. And for those family members who may read this and don’t have my son’s email address, message me and I’ll shoot it over to you! 🙂

Then there’s a little service known as Skype which allows for us to video chat with my in-laws in NY. I laugh when I think about seeing my husband’s grandparent’s face when we first Skyped with little Davey. The wonder and awe at such inventions that allowed for them to see their precious great-grandchild as if he were right alongside them, made me smile. I’m sure the thought of such a thing as skypeing never once entered their mind when they were raising their children in the 50s.

Again, the times are changing and I can’t imagine what new invention will arise during the course of my child’s life that will serve to make our memories so much more special and happy. For those first time mothers, please make sure to take advantage of everything the technological world has to offer and don’t miss out on any opportunities. Life is much too short.

What a Way to Start a Monday

I already hate Mondays, which makes me feel bad about that day of the week, if only it had feelings.

I suppose my husband and I have gotten spoiled with my son, at least to a certain extent. The kid is not even 3 months old yet and he’s sleeping through the night, on average about 8 hours. I’ve finally decided to NOT go to bed when he does now, in the hopes of trying to get my mundane chores accomplished. Unfortunately, I wish I hadn’t followed that routine on Sunday night. Of course, how was I to know that my son would decide to wake at 2:45 am and not go back to sleep?

I don’t know what happened and why he wouldn’t sleep, but when he does something against his normal routine it immediately sends up warning flares for me. What is wrong with him? Does he have a cold? Is it an upset stomach? Does he have an ear infection? What about a fever? Is he hurting? I start treating my son like a lab rat as I attempt to hypothesize and create causes and effects as I try to determine what could possibly be wrong with him.

By 4 yesterday morning, I was nearly at my wit’s end. He had eaten and didn’t appear to be hungry, but he also wasn’t happy. He didn’t want to cuddle, but preferred to stretch out and stiffen his body as I tried to cradle him close to me in the hopes of rocking him to sleep. He didn’t smile or want to play, nor did he have a dirty diaper. I took him downstairs, made a pot of coffee and attempted to find ways to soothe my baby. And here’s where I started hating myself as a mother.

My son’s constant fussing had me stressed and I could feel my patience starting to dissipate pretty rapidly. My blood pressure never really rises, but my frustrations were starting to boil over and I could hear a voice inside my head getting angry with my son for not being able to tell me what was wrong and for just being downright inconsiderate as to my feelings and what I had ahead of me for the day. I started to worry that I was going to lose my cool with my son and it scared me. It made me fearful of myself and I immediately high-tailed it upstairs to my husband. I told him he had to take the baby, that I didn’t know what I was going to do and I needed to step away. He quickly jumped in and saved the day, taking our son off my hands, but should he have done that?

All day yesterday, I spent every moment beating myself up as a mother. A mother shouldn’t get flustered. A mother shouldn’t lose her cool. A mother shouldn’t hand off her child so that she can compose herself. A mother should be a super woman, a nurturer, a savior, and a protector. Have I failed in my parenting responsibilities? Did my son pick up on this stress and become afraid of me? I certainly hope not.

I look back at my mother and I can’t recall ever a time when she was aggravated or flustered. I can’t recall a time when she was so irate and stressed that she started to panic and actually spaz out. What does this mean for me and my son? I have a lifetime with him and I’m not even going to be able to survive the first year without some sort of panic attack brought about by a wave of impatience.

Am I the only mother who’s lost her cool at such a young age?

Skyrockets in Flight

It’s a magical moment, one that melts not just your soul, but also your entire body. When it happens, any stress kept caged up inside a mother’s body seems to evaporate. What was primary, is secondary. What was a distraction, becomes a focus.

I’ve heard mothers speak of this phenomenon, but I was always unsure as to whether I would actually experience it and when I did step into this phase of motherhood, how would I react? Would I just smile at Davey? Would the wave of love travel throughout my body crashing upon the shores of euphoria and awaken feelings inside of me I never knew existed? Would I cry? Would I laugh? Or worse, would it not even register with me?

Here’s the kicker, though, you never know when it’s going happen. It’s not something that can be planned or staged. This is real life, not a Lifetime movie special chock full of enough drama to make you vomit. You can’t exactly prepare for it and react the way you want as if on que from a director. Basically, you don’t know what state of mind you’ll be in on the day it happens.

Last night, as I fed Davey, I watched his eyes open and close. His eyelashes were long and flowing reminding me of the wings of a butterfly. He has this one little indentation on his head that has just started being covered with new hair. I like to place my thumb on that little crater and then rub my hand over his fuzz ball head. These are all little intricacies I take advantage of when feeding my child, regardless as to whether it’s night or day. All of these make me happy and put me at peace.

When he pulled away from me last night, taking a brief respite from his feeding, he smiled up at me. This was nothing unusual, as I get the occasional smile from him during every feeding. But when he took a deep breath and latched back on, that’s when it happened. That’s when everything in my life was magically altered at least for that brief moment. Every bad thing from the day, every scar, every wound, was completely healed and forever deleted from memory.

What happened? My son opened his hand and reached high up to my face and placed his palm on my cheek. It took my breath away and I’m convinced my heart skipped a beat or two. It was as if my son were saying to me, “let it all go, mommy. Life is good.” And with that, I was so overcome with emotions that I couldn’t help but cry. It was my son’s way of telling me, “I’m ok, you’re ok, we’re all ok.” It’s like he knew that I had spent days beating myself up for being sick and feeling like I was a failure of a mom.

Sometimes I underestimate the intuitive nature of my son. I can’t possibly know how his brain functions and I have to admit that I’ve had doubts as to his abilities to comprehend such things at a young age. Last night’s touch proved me wrong and it was such a magical, exciting event I’ve continuously replayed it over and over in my head trying to revisit the calming effect it gave me.

Last night our roles were reversed. My son became the giver and his mother the receiver.

Sky High Baby

Before I became a mother, I wasn’t a big fan of kids. Well, perhaps that is a little extreme. It’s not that I disliked kids, I think it was more the parents that I disliked because they were the ones allowing little Junior to run amok. Take flying for example. I loathed getting on a plane with kids especially infants. They scream and cry the entire time and would push me to the point of jabbing out my eardrums. I never said anything to the parents, but I must admit I did think some un-Christian like thoughts about the them. Not cool, I know!

So, when Davey’s first plane ride came up, I tried to stay positive and hoped that the people on our planes were not like me pre-baby. I was worried, mind you, considering the fact that the weather wasn’t exactly acceptable for flying and we were under a high-wind advisory. I spent the good portion of my day at work, biting off my nails and trying to calm my anxious stomach as I thought about the fact that we may be stuck on the plane on the tarmac for hours while the winds died down. When my husband finally picked me up, I put on my best poker face and hoped that my son would not sense my anxiety.

Fortunately, our plane left on time and the best part…my son slept the entire first leg of our journey!!!! And as a matter of fact, while my husband and I sat in our seats on the plane while everyone else de-boarded, comments were tossed around by our fellow passengers about how good Davey was and that they never knew a baby was on board. I smiled like a proud mother and thanked everyone like I had just won the mother of the year award. Of course, I did give my child his proper credit, perhaps not in front of everyone. I was even willing to share my baby-whisperer trophy with him.

The next three hours found us sitting in Charlotte with a lay over and once again I was forced into a state of anxiety as I wondered how Davey would do during our wait and then on the final leg of our journey. Oh ye of little faith I am, I know. Needless to say, my worries were unfounded and my son is a professional flyer. And not only that, he also holds the gold medal in the sport of people watching in the inaugural Baby Olympics. He sat and watched with much fascination all the passengers as they exited the planes and walked through the terminal. He even managed to draw in a few awes and smiles from our fellow flyers as he attempted to engage them in conversation. I know, such a precocious little one I have.

The second part of our flight, my child slept once again and there was peace in the land of flyers at least for the night.

What I Dreaded the Most

After last night, I am leaning more and more to taking advantage of the opportunity to be a stay at home mom. What exactly happened last night that has propelled me into this decision? Basically my typical OCD, frantic, spazzed-out, worrying self.

This afternoon, my husband and I are flying up to Rochester, NY to visit his family. Normally, I’m already pretty stressed about travelling just because there’s the packing issue, the issue of making sure our dog is cared for, and the fact that I LOATHE leaving a house in disarray. I hate chaos. Last night, not only was my house in chaos, but so was my aura.

I found that I couldn’t focus on spending time with my son because I was stressed about all the packing that needed to done, the clothes that needed to be washed and folded, the kitchen that needed to be cleaned. I couldn’t enjoy my time with my child, because basically reality was stepping in and I didn’t like it! What I’ve dreaded the most about becoming a mother is feeling like I’m a bad mother and nothing made me feel more like that than last night.

I work all day, come home and then have a small window of opportunity to spend with my son before he goes to bed, then I have a very limited amount of time to actually get chores accomplished around the house. My life is disorganized, its chaotic, and I can’t function. I nearly had a melt down as I almost cried to my husband.

Want to know what’s worse? The fact that I acted like I’m doing this all on my own, which I’m not. I do have a husband. My son does have a dad. I have a partner in this new life and yet I’m refusing to see this. I’m being melodramatic and focusing on what I CAN’T do and how crazy my life is as opposed to thinking about what WE CAN do together to make our family life happy and harmonious. Have I always been this selfish and if so, I can’t let that mentality seep into my child’s brain. I don’t want him spastic and flying off the ledge like I do. This is what I dread most.

So, this morning as I’ve listened to the weather reports and heard that there is a high wind advisory for our flight, I’m taking a step back and trying to not stress about. I’m throwing in a positive spin. Hopefully this flight will provide good meat for my next blog.

Houston, We Have a Discovery!

Each morning immediately after I feed Davey, we have a little routine. It consists of me asking him if he has a smile for mommy. He’ll look at me for a couple of moments, he’s blue-gray eyes probing everything about me. I’ll beg him and say, “Please, mommy should could use a smile. Don’t you have one that mommy could borrow? Just a small one that she can keep in her pocket and pull out when she needs something to get her through the day.” And almost as if on cue, Davey will duck his head as if he’s a turtle, even a little shy and the next thing you know, that big ol grin spreads across his face. And mommy then takes it and puts in her pocket for the day.

Today, his smiles meant more to me and actually brought tears to my eyes. I even asked my husband if we could just freeze time and keep Davey the age he is now.

Davey had his two month old shots today and with the remodeling of the doctor’s office now complete, we were able to have a room that actually had a mirror behind the table. After Davey was weighed, his diaper back on, he and I sat up on the table and looked into the mirror. I think today was the first day that my son actually discovered himself and realized that the baby in the mirror was him! I laughed so hard with him as he looked into the mirror, the left side of his lip curling up as if giving an Elvis smile and then his mouth quickly forming an “oh” as he realized that it was himself making those faces. Once that was realized, it was all down hill.

I spent what felt like an eternity watching my son as he flirted with himself in the mirror, talked to himself, watched as his feet met each other in the mirror and the giggle that followed. I laughed when he pointed at himself, when he reached out with an open palm and smacked the mirror and then threw his head back as he attempted a fit of hysterical laughter. I was so intoxicated with my son and his every little movement, that I actually made the doctor wait until we were finished playing!

I dreaded this afternoon for weeks, the afternoon that he would be forced to get his two month old shots and the pain and suffering that I would have to go through with him. What I didn’t anticipate was the magical moments I would have with my son, moments that I eagerly tried to record on the memory card in my brain. I don’t want to forget this day, his first “ah-ha” moment of discovery. Nothing gave me so much joy and I found myself fulling engulfed in an intense belly laugh watching my son.

Christmas Portraits

Any parent will tell you, it’s a pretty tricky situation getting family portraits completed. We had our first official family portrait when my son was 11 days old and it went pretty flawlessly. Of course he was much too young to smile, but he also didn’t cry. I think he was still a little shell-shocked from being emptied out of the womb and into this crazy world.

Our second go at professional pictures occurred when my son was 4 weeks old, and we quickly found that there was a window of opportunity that we had. This window lasted approximately 15 minutes and the portraits turned out pretty well. He was much too young to actually smile at that point, too, but he did have a personality more so than at the 11 day old portrait.

Today, we decided to have another shot at a family portrait. Davey now smiles, most often in the morning hours. I can only assume that in the late afternoon or evenings he’s pretty tired and frustrated with the events of his today. So, when I scheduled the time I shot for early afternoon in the hopes that he would be pretty laid back, but still offering up a smile. What I didn’t plan for was him deciding to take a nap a half hour before we needed to leave, which resulted in me waking my child to put his adorable little Christmas suit on him. From that point forward, it was game on in the crying baby arena.

He slept in the car and in the stroller as we walked around the studio. Once the photographer was ready, we woke him yet again and our luck ran out. Not even the photographer, who seemed to degrade my son by whistling to him as if he were a dog, could coax out a smile. What should have been a 15-20 minute photo session quickly evolved into a 45 minute fiasco as we not only had to deal with a crying baby, but also one that we had to feed and one that wanted to spit back up his milk almost as quickly as he ate it. Thankfully in this day and age photographers can edit a lot and make pictures more presentable. I can only imagine what my parents had to go through each time they wanted to do portraits of me and my brother.

Now, here’s the real kicker…as soon as the photo session was over, my son decided to crank out that smile. It started out shy as he tried to duck his head back in his shell, before moving to an all out giggle. What a little devil! He played us and boy did he play us well. It’s almost as if he knew how important it was for us to have these pictures, and he wanted nothing more than to have a little fun at our expense.

Fortunately, the pictures turned out well and I’m more than thoroughly pleased with our Christmas cards. Let’s just hope that next time we have professional portraits done, Davey will actually not take a page out of his mother’s book and be stubborn and hard-headed.