Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I woke up at a ridiculously early hour. Six thirty or thereabouts. This might not have seemed so early, except I couldn't fall asleep last night, not until close to two, maybe even a little later. Matthew was out early, with the start of a cold and a shot of Nyquil. Dory nursed and fell asleep before midnight. But I- I, who thought, at eleven thirty when I had wrapped my last present, had attached my last Santa tag, I'd be asleep before I even made it to the bedroom- I sat in bed and couldn't close my eyes. Instead I knit a Christmas hat for Dory (a sort of hybrid elf's hat/stocking cap) and I watched Friends at midnight and then one of those Lara Croft movies after that and I knit the whole time, waiting for exhaustion to overcome me. The hat won first. I felt no urge to stop, to lie down, to close my eyes. I felt... excited. I felt exactly like I felt when I was eight and still entirely believed in Santa Claus and reindeer and the little story they always played on the news about tracking Santa's course through the world.

I woke up at six thirty this morning and the feeling had not subsided. Just like when I was eight waking up the next morning and feeling that fuzzy anticipation steal over me. I remember I would lie in my bed, this unexplained sensation of enthusiasm moving through me, not sure why, until bam! I remembered. From that point on I was up and going and lemme at that tree and the rush that followed for the next hour or so could have carried me through days of sleeplessness.

My adult mind did not propel me out of bed like my kid heart did. No, it spoke gently of small to-do's still to be done, getting a jump start on the day, the promise of arriving on time. As all my mornings begin0, three dogs of boundless energy hurled themselves around me as I threw on a coat and shuffled outside with them, leaving a sleeping husband and baby inside. By this time it was a little before seven, and standing outside in our front yard, while they did the tangled leash tango, a little voice whispered in my brain "thank you for this baby, thank you for everything, thank you." I understood immediately. Thank you for this baby, thank you for this little one, who doesn't yet understand the day, but who one day will. Thank you for what is to come, letters to write, cookies to leave out, explanations of a baby in a manger, of oil that burned for eight days straight, explanations of the spirit of this month, the feeling of holiness and mystical and magical and Love that permeates this time of year when we're not lost in gift getting, grocery shopping, traffic jams, bad weather, delays, one more damned party...

I imagine, I'm no different than most people. I could look at a lot of what's not going right, fear around jobs and economy and will it get worse and how will we make it... Except I stood outside in my pajamas and coat, watching the fingers of dawn separate first pink then yellow then blue over the mountains that surround this little valley in which we live and I felt absolute joy. All those thoughts of what is to come, they were of a future, my future, a future I know is even brighter than that perfect, foolish moment. I stood still, tears in my eyes, hugging my arms around myself, and whispering thank you, thank you, thank you. It was exactly like a scene from a movie or novel, where a character "gets it" at some crazy moment, feels for one second, "I know what God thinks and it is GOOD" those moments that send goose bumps through the viewer and cause critics to role their eyes.

In the next few days, I'll write about what Christmas brought, the physical manifestation of love and excitement and joy. Already I have stories to tell over how blessed I am, the remarkable people in my life who take such good care of me. I'll post pictures of Dory and report on the spoils of her first Christmas conquest. I'll let you know how Matthew fared, if he beat down the cold or the cold beat down him (right now, hearing the change in his breathing this morning and knowing him, I'm betting on Matthew). But this morning, all I can think to write about is standing outside, for about four minutes, in the early morning chill, sleep still in my eyes, and knowing with absolute certainity that Well Being abounds for all of us. There is a sleeping baby girl in my house and she is a miracle. There is a husband who is kind and generous and thoughtful and he is a miracle. There are parents who are healthy and thriving and love me and they are miracles. There are friends who are warm and funny and they are miracles. There are miracles running through every second of my life, of this I am sure, and as my dictionary says miracles are "considered to be the work of a divine agency," how can I not trust, how can I not KNOW that the future coming will far outshine the past?

I know God is in everything, in us, in the details. I know that. But I can't help but think, He's especially in the sunrise. He's especially in that early morning moment of promise, that thrill of what's to come. That good morning kiss, that person buying coffee for a friend, that sunlight breaking over the trees, that school bus leaving earlier and earlier every year. I think that must be His time to revel, to soak everything in, and if occasionally I'm lucky enough to be up and standing outside in my pajamas, three silly dogs dancing around me and sharing in that moment with Him, how can I not whisper thank you, thank you, thank you?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some Christmas Spirit

Hello Internetland!

It's your favorite baby blogger! And I've got a lot to report.

First- thumbs! They are the best.

Why did no one mention them earlier? There should be a sign right when you come out- "Welcome Baby, check out the the short, stubby finger, you're going to like it." I can't get enough of mine!

What else, what else? Well, I've been doing a little of this...

a little of that...

I'm a baby. It's basically my job.

Hey, I'm pushing up! It's not easy, not my favorite pose, but I make the best of it.

Oh! And feet! I found them. They are fantastic.

You can grab 'em, you can wiggle 'em around over your head. And if you're really lucky, you can pull off a sock and chew on it. But that takes practice. Don't you 3 monthers try this at home, OK? You've got plenty of time. But feet are good. I mean, they're no thumbs, but they're good.

Just to go back to the thumb thing. I'd have a second sign. It would say- Guess what? You've got two of them!

That's about it for now. Just hanging out, doing my groovy baby thing. Oh, and here's a funny shot. I might have overindulged on milk, been a little silly...

Christmas! It's just the best, isn't it?

Monday, December 15, 2008


Last Wednesday we went to a reunion of our Bradley Method class and it was fantastic. Bradley Method is a natural approach to childbirth, rooted in the idea of "husband-coached childbirth." Did you know that? Me, I had no idea, until friends (who had recently birthed a child this way) told us about it. The only class on natural birth I knew was Lamaze, with its odd, but effective breathing techniques. But we didn't stay with friends who'd done a Lamaze birth. We went to visit these friends with their Bradley experience and after hearing the birth story of their second son I thought, yep, that's for me. Forget your drugs, forget your doctors, forget your hospital nursery. At that point, nine weeks in, I was ready for it. Bring on the home birth!

Matthew put the kibosh on that idea.

However, he did get on board with the natural childbirth idea. He particularly liked the Husband part and he really, really liked the Coach part. I think it fulfilled all sorts of dreams for him. I imagine visions of a delivery room with a grassy surface, him gigged up in a ball cap with a whistle around his neck and everyone else- doctors, visitors, myself- wearing some kind of Lycra uniform danced in his head.

We found a Bradley Method instructor in Knoxville. The course ran twelve weeks, every Wednesday night from 6:30 to 8:30 and was around the same cost as a plane ticket (much thanks to Dory's Grandpa and Granny Suzanney for assistance with that). The price made sense, I realized later, as we settled ourselves on the floor, shoes off, mildly pregnant women propped up against pillows with flustered, uncertain husbands settling down next to us. We were on a journey not many take.

Not having a baby, of course. Seems like everyone is doing that. But having a baby this way, intending as little medical intervention as possible, relying mostly on the strength of ourselves, individually and as a couple, to carry us through a truly stressful experiences. A wife saying, I'm going to be in the most vulnerable, moving, terrifying, exhilarating, intense experience of my life and you're the one I want in the room holding me up. A husband who answered, I'm your man.

Almost no one understood.

Only a few people I knew (specifically my parents, especially my mama, and some friends) supported us. Pretty much everyone else, when they heard we were going, as they thought of it, the no-drugs route balked. Some went farther than balking. There were lots of opinions about our decision, ranging from, "are you sure?" to "are you *#@$^!& crazy?" I had one family member who, every single time I spoke to her, approached the subject from the angle, "Are you still planning to..." followed up with "Take the drugs! You want the drugs, get the drugs, take them!"

It was trying. *#@$^!& annoying might be the other to say it. But I should be grateful. As with so many responses in life, the more people disagreed with us, the more it shored up our decision and firmed Matthew and I up as a team, the two of us planted strongly on the side of preparation, forethought, and intention and everyone else on the other.

Yet having our Bradley class, every week, for twelve weeks, was a cool, refreshing glass of water in a desert of people with too many opinions they couldn't keep to themselves. We started the class talking about that week's pregnancy changes, who was having what test, how far along, any thoughts, concerns, problems with the medical team? Then our teacher, the funny and fantastic Lisa Paul, guided us through our thick Bradley Method manuals, videos, and books, all generated toward convincing and reassuring women that birth the way God intended was a viable option.

I loved this class and the end of it was difficult for me. First, because I enjoyed the people in there with us and who knew when we would see them again? Second, because the end of the class meant I was almost thirty-seven weeks pregnant and at a to-be-determined, not-so-distant date, I'd have a baby. Odd how we spent so many weeks going towards this goal and I still felt like I'd been snuck up on by Fate and Fortune when the class actually ended.

Well, the second premise happened first. My labor did start, we had it pretty much as we intended, at a birth center, with no medication and the most wonderful midwives. Our baby arrived, we found out she was a girl and Life as we knew it changed irrevocably.

The first came back together about four months after that. One couple hosted, we all RSVPed Yes and we came bearing brand-new babies and potluck Italian dishes. It was a good time.

I wasn't surprised to see the dads (once known as husbands) as involved with their babies as they had been with their wives' pregnancy. You know you have five good men, when each in his turn, says, "You go ahead and eat. I've got Little One." We had great conversations about recovering from the birth, who did you call when you were in labor, who brought you food when they came to visit, was it good food, how completely changed is your life? You know, light chit-chat.

Over the period of the evening everyone relived snippets and pieces of their baby's birth. Of the five couples, two did have Cesarean deliveries due to unexpected medical complications. Regardless, both couple agreed what they learned in class went so far beyond only the birth. Watching each couple, I could see, regardless of Baby's preferred entrance, how much the class strengthened their bonds and belief in each other.

Whatever the intention going into your birth, a baby arrives at the end. And it is, to say simply and yet to understate it, a miracle. But what I found, the unexpected gem, hidden away in the mysterious due date, broken waters, sweat, contractions, deep breathing, blood, various medical strangers, encouragement, potential problems, the great gasp before a baby appears... what I discovered was my husband and I were exactly the right people for the jobs at hand. Maybe an obvious thing to realize, something many, many people could have told us. Yet it was a tremendous, joyful, silly delight to know as they placed our girl on my chest, when Matthew said I'm your man, he was right. And it was a point of pride, a glow in the deepest part of my heart, to realize I was, not just the only, but the best woman for it.

Now, fingers crossed, if we can just come close to being the parents this bright little girl deserves...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thumbs Up Check-Up

Dory had a four-month wellness visit last Friday. Let me take a moment to mention two things I am highly grateful for: 1) I really like our pediatrician and 2) we hardly ever need to see her, except for these wellness visits.

A visit to Dory's doctor isn't like any doctor's visit I can remember. First the office is a delightful place to be. The walls and floors are painted to look like bright, colorful environments. There's a jungle room, a wilderness room, a rain forrest room (though I can't tell you the difference between this one and the jungle room), all decorated with appropriate wildlife critters. It's incredibly cheerful and I would think friendly and inviting to a little one. I had a great doctor, but he was my family's GP, which meant a waiting room decorated in that classic color scheme "bluegrayblah" and filled with elderly, sick people, many of whom came with oxygen tanks. God love their hearts, they were neither friendly nor inviting (though this might have been extra incentive to stay healthy).

Second, all her clothes came off, but no cover-up was offered. After watching Dory on the exam table, naked legs pulled up to naked belly, I will never again complain about the "does this go front ways or back ways?" paper gowns to which I am accustomed (sidenote: whichever way it goes, I always do the opposite- I have some backwards sixth sense about this, much like how I can walk into any new room and reach for the light switch on the wrong wall- but I digress). Dory, in her cheery baby way, seemed delighted to wave her bare bum about while we waited.

Once all the clothes were off, which, with the cold weather, took a few minutes, Matthew carried our naked babe out into the hallway with the nurse to be weighed and measured. Dory was remarkably sanguine, considering all her bits and pieces were on full display to the world. Can you imagine? I get grouchy when the nurse weighs me with the woman who takes payments sitting ten feet away.

After her weight, height, and head size were taken, we put her back down on the exam table and then- get this!- all her measurements were put into a computer and her growth chart tabulated and figured into their percentile system. The doctor explained the system shows where she would rank, on average, among ninety-nine other babies. And (here's the wild part) being bigger is fine. Seriously. I ask, again, can you imagine? "Well, you weigh more than seventy percent of the room and the really good news is, your head is in the ninety-eighth percentile!" It's all very cool, this baby world.

At a little more than four months, Dory is twelve and a half pounds and around twenty-five inches long. She's alert and strong (the pediatrician's words) and gorgeous and perfect (mine). And currently she's resting. Sleep helps babies grow and our girl's an expert at growing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Face of Victory

This is just a quick update for anyone needing a hit of Dory magic. Have you read this post? You might want to catch up if you haven't.

Because it will make this all the sweeter.

Take that Mr. Weird-Rabbity-Thing! You dangle above her head no more, hahaha. VICTORY!

Our girl officially has her grabbing skills down. And by "down," I mean every one in five to ten tries she catches whatever she sets her pretty blue eyes on. After taking Mr. Rabbit down from his high horse, Dory was caught paraphrasing a recent SNL skit:

" 'Cause I'm a baby! And I'm bigger than you!"

As far as entertainment value, I hear she's slated to appear during halftime of the Superbowl...