Friday, November 28, 2008

My missing link

Ahh, the holidays. A time of light strings, scented candles, and lots of rich, yummy food (I think stuffing would be my last meal). It's also a the time of the year of family. People travel across miles (or drive down the street in our case) to spend time with those people where love is unconditional and you can unbuckle that top button comfortably when you eat too much. You can reminisce about old times or make plans for the future together. The key word here is "together." I just love the holidays. At least, I used to until it unfortunately became a time of great difficulty for me.

On December 18, 2001, my father passed away after a fast and furious battle with myelodysplastic syndrome
. After our last Thanksgiving together, he entered the hospital with a lung infection. While I was taking my final exams at school he went to the ICU for breathing assistance and the night I came home from fall semester was the last time I spoke to him awake. Suffice it to say, his passing gave the holiday season a completely different feeling to me.

I knew that having a child would be hard when I thought about the gaping hole that my father would not fill in Julian's life but I didn't realize how hard it would be for me to have a son that would never know my father. It's hard enough that my husband never had a chance to meet him, but now my own son? Granted, Julian doesn't realize there is a hole but to me there is a huge one. A great, big cavernous hole that we can only attempt to fill through stories and photographs but know it will never be enough. It is a pain beyond one I've ever felt before to think that our family will never truly be together again (leaving any discussion of life-after-death for another time).

Last night when I got home from Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's (pictures to follow, I left my camera there) I was the saddest I think I've been since my father's passing. As an eternal optimist it is uncharacteristic of me to think of the things that I am missing from my life....but really, how can it be the holidays without the number one man in my life to share it with us?

Thad is such a trooper. He sits with me while I talk about my fond memories of my father and he hugs me when I cry (which, since I became pregnant last year, has been quite often!) and does his best to understand me when I say that my life will never be the same.

My father loved the holidays as well. He loved hosting family and sharing memories with me and my brother. I spent every new year's eve with my parents in high school, eating miniature hot dogs and singing karaoke until the ball dropped. It may sounds geeky that I preferred to spend time with my parents than my friends (most of the time) but now that he's not here, I am so grateful I did as those memories are what carry me through my rough patches.

Oh, he would have loved Julian. He would have loved teaching him about music (I still know too much about music from the 50's-70's for not having been alive during those decades), how to play tennis, how to dribble a basketball, and how to grill when it's snowing. Boy did he love grilling during winter. What is it about men, an open flame, and meat that makes them so happy? I'll never understand it but I will have the image of my dad grilling in the rain holding a beer emblazoned in my memory forever.

Ultimately, he was my hero. I'm sure I'm not the first to talk about a daughter's love of her father and I reach out to my fellow females who understand the absolute love a girl can have for her dad.
My father was a great that's the understatement of the year. He was the benchmark by which I have compared every man I have ever met and will continue to be my guiding light. I will continue to live my life in a way that I know he would be proud and now with a son, I will do my best to raise him with the same love, humor, and wisdom my father raised me.

So to all of you who have your families near and dear this holiday season, give your parents a great big hug for me. If they are not near, well, I pray that you will have the chance to give them that hug the next time you have the opportunity. I love my father and while this holiday season will be tough without him here, I look forward to showing Julian a season my father would have been proud of.

I love you, dad.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yes, I wear my child.

I proudly admit that I wear Julian almost everywhere I go and we love it. In celebration of the inaugural International Babywearing Week (yes, this is real: Babywearing International) there have been emails flying around the various list serves to which I belong (among them DCCDs- DC Cloth Diapers-, Nursing Moms of NOVA, and Babywearers of DC/VA/MD) about baby wearing celebrations. Also this week, Motrin intentionally launched an anti-babywearing ad campaign. I was absolutely shocked when I saw this ad because how could anyone see babywearing as something negative? Oh, Motrin is barking up the wrong tree on this one....most people (many men wear their children, too) who wear their children are absolute believers in the benefits of babywearing, so much to the point that they are almost militant in their beliefs of it. Motrin just pissed off a lot of people.

I knew before I ever got pregnant that I would wear my baby. I love the photos I've seen of women in other countries wearing their children while they did their daily chores. The kids always looked so snug and happy and I am a big proponent of touch so it just made sense to me that wearing my baby is the most natural thing I could do. If you have not heard about it before, check out the wiki page on it: What is babywearing?

Julian loves it. He can check everything out in the safety and comfort of our "arms" and then explore on his own terms. He can nap when he wants, play when he wants, and it's incredibly convenient for grocery shopping and dog walking.

We own 4 different kinds of "slings." I borrowed one from a friend in the beginning and we loved it until Julian rapidly outgrew it and we needed something with more support for both of us. Here are some reviews:

1. Moby Wrap- While it seems difficult at first I found this to be the best thing to wear until he reached about 17 lbs (when it would stretch after prolonged wear). He LOVED being snuggled up when he was a newborn and when he was strong enough to hold his head up he loved facing out and looking around. This can be worn in a variety of different ways and Julian loved almost all of the holds.

2. Cabin Baby- This is the one I borrowed from Jessica. It is VERY easy to put on and very comfortable for a sleeping newborn. It was great for bringing around to errands and the quick in and outs to stores.

3. Maya Wrap- This is probably the most 'stylish' of the bunch. It is more light weight so with the hot summer it was the most comfortable to wear, and it is very easy to wear, although once it is fitted I wouldn't mess with the settings anymore. I unfortunately had to unwrap mine to let it dry after I spilled a bottle of water on it and it hasn't fit the same since. I also like how I can wear Julian on my hip comfortably on this one the most out of the other slings.

4. ErgoBaby- Oooo, this is my FAVORITE. It is very easy to put on and off and to transfer a sleeping baby out of it into a bed or into the pack 'n play. He is cuddled up nicely against me for winter but by summer he'll be able to ride comfortably on my back to check things out. This distributes the weight GREAT on my small frame and I just couldn't live without it.

5. BabyBjorn- Thad wears this more than I do as I feel like I'm pregnant all over again with how his weight is held up. It's more comfortable on men, I've found, once the babies get a bit heavier, but to each their own. It's still the most well-known baby carrier and we are happy to support the brand if it means spreading the good word of the benefits of babywearing.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Father's Rambling Perspective

Hi everyone,

I know I don't post very often (or ever, I guess), but when Pamela (and I) started this blog, it was always our intention that I would also contribute. Work has been extremely busy and blah blah blah so I haven't been adding anything, but I have a couple moments now and something just happened that I think is worth sharing.

I failed.

It's hard to swallow that, being an achiever and generally successful at most of what I undertake.

It's also probably just a gloomy way of looking at the situation, as there really wasn't anything else I could have done to make things better. I guess I'll explain and all Pamela's loyal readers will be the judge...

Thursday nights there is an exercise class at 7:30 that Pamela likes to attend, and this particular evening she was also scheduled to speak at a Team in Training event beforehand. It would fall to me to get Julian ready for bed, feed him his nighttime bottle (which he generally takes without issue) and rock him to sleep. I've done this plenty of times in the past and wasn't concerned.

Pamela left as I was turning down the lights, etc. in his nursery - that's when things went downhill. He started fussing, which I assumed was due to his being hungry. The fussing turned to outright howling as soon as I presented him with the bottle, which he refused. Not good. I tried again, and still no dice. I squeezed a little of the breastmilk out so there could be no doubt of the bottle's contents, but he was completely unwilling to even consider it, howling ever louder. I gave up and stood up to walk around the room, which usually calms him, but that also did nothing.

Long story short, we did this for 30 minutes, and nothing I did had any effect whatsoever. Walking. Sitting. Different rooms. Light. Dark. Tried the bottle again at least ten times. Music. No music. Teething rings, toys, the animals, put him in the Bjorn... he would not stop crying.

Finally, I gave up and called Pamela, telling her that he would not take the bottle and she would need to feed him.

When she arrived home and I saw his reaction, I immediately realized two things: one, that there was nothing I could have done to make things better, and two, that I had failed nonetheless. As soon as I handed him to Pamela, teary eyed and red faced, he quieted and started smiling at me. When she came to give him back so I could say goodnight, he immediately started crying again until he was back with her. Not the best feeling in the world, let me tell you. I know he loves me, and 90% of the time he's so very excited to see me, but tonight was just not one of those times.

Anyway. Pamela is coming downstairs and Julian is off in dreamland, so I'll leave it here. Hope other new fathers (my friends Josh and soon to be dad Graham) can see this and know they're not alone when things like this happen.

Night all.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A lot changes in a year....

Thought it'd be fun to post these two pictures....taken approximately 12 months apart.....

Taken at a wedding in October 2007 in Des Moines, IA....we were pregnant already but were not telling anyone yet.

Taken this past weekend at a wedding in Norfolk, VA.

My how our little family has grown....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween!!!

Yes, we dressed him up. No, we didn't go trick or treating. Yes, he's sitting up on his own but not perfectly yet. We assume by Thanksgiving he'll be a sitting machine.

Julian in his skeleton outfit I got for $6. Go go BRU.

He "chose" this pumpkin at our outing to the pumpkin patch. And when I say "chose" I mean it's the one I grabbed as he was having a fit when we were leaving the patch. Done and done.

October in Fairfax

Ahh, October. It's my favorite month of the year for the cooler weather, my favorite colors everywhere, and the fun opportunities to dress up unsuspecting babies.

First off, October is my brother's birthday so here's a pic of Julian with Uncle Brian on Brian's 30th birthday! Happy birthday, Brian!

Of course October wouldn't be complete without a trip to a pumpkin patch. Kathleen, Jessica, and I went to the Burke Pumpkin Playground in an unseasonably hot fall day. Although the kids were too young to enjoy the hayride, slides, petting zoo, and other fun kid rides, they were tolerant enough for us to prop them up with some pumpkins and make silly faces at them in an attempt to catch 'the perfect shot.' Here's a sample of what we got. Poor Julian looks wedged between 2 pumpkins and the flash made the kids look blue but I only had so much to work with....

In the end of the month, as a family we ran the Goblin Gallop 5K. This was Thad and Julian's first race ever!! They did great; Thad pushed the jogging stroller and Julian slept the entire race. My friends, Lauren and Maggie, also ran. It was a perfect running weather and hopefully this was the first of many family races.