Thursday, November 29, 2007

Newspaper column

Sometimes life can change in an instant.

Especially when you have an infant.

My husband, Jerry, and I joined the first-time parents club Nov. 15. Our daughter -- who after nine months of intense debate ended up being named Allison Grace in the delivery room -- is a whirlwind of flailing appendages, vocal chords and a full head of hair.

She was born five excruciatingly long days after her due date, so we were more than ready for her arrival.

Or so we thought.

Now I know that even if humans had a two-year gestation like elephants, we wouldn't have been ready.

The hospital staff did their best at easing us into the weighty responsibility of caring for someone who is fully dependent upon us for her survival, but unfortunately, we don't have a little red button with a nurse symbol on it attached to our bed at home.

Every little task is an adventure. It took us more than an hour to figure out how to get Allison into her car seat for the first time, and even that required a quick tap on the red button to make sure we didn't completely screw it up. A nurse gladly confirmed our handiwork, but our daughter begged to differ. She announced her displeasure to everyone within a 10-mile radius.

The first night brought another wake up call -- literally. I'm not exaggerating when I say we were jolted awake almost every hour until sunrise. If getting a baby to fall asleep was a competitive sport, we would've been benched.

Diaper changing brought a whole new set of challenges because neither one of us had dealt with the apparatus in more than a decade. Fortunately or unfortunately (I'm not sure which), it didn't take too long to figure it out because she gave us plenty of aromatic reasons to practice. But the first few mistakes lead to an entire load of dirty laundry and an exchange of very shocked expressions.

Perhaps the most difficult change is our inability to go anywhere without intense planning and preparation. It seemed to take us days to get out the door for Allison's first doctor appointment. Granted, we packed the diaper bag with enough gear to survive a 10-day trek in the wilderness, but we figured it was better to have too much than not enough.

When a nurse popped her head into the waiting room and called our daughter's name, it seemed surreal. There's suddenly a whole new person in our lives. After we realized she was referring to us, we began the lengthy process of gathering Alli and all of her gear.

"Sorry, it takes us forever just to walk a few feet these days," I said.

The nurse laughed and offered some words of comfort: "You'll get the hang of it."

It's a slow process, but we're learning. Probably because Allison is a good teacher and lets us know when we're doing something right. We've already discovered it's not completely ridiculous to carry around 10,000 baby wipes at all times because they take care of all types of mini catastrophes. And we never underestimate the power of switching from one set of arms to another.

But the biggest change of all can't be found in any parenting book. Forget charting feeding times, counting soiled diapers and trying to focus through the sleep deprivation. More importantly, a newborn brings so much love to a household. Everyone told me my heart would instantly swell with affection the moment I laid eyes on her, but it's so much more than that.

We've had an influx of visitors since Allison came into our lives and our walls have never felt more like home.

Sometimes change can be a very good thing.


emma said...

There's no better way to learn than practice, it'll get easier lol.

Have a very enjoyable and lovely weekend!


Kate said...

Y'all make such a cute little family, Toby included! Don't let negative people into your cozy love-bubble; we get too few cozy-love-bubbly times in life. (Anyway, what kind of sad person does it take to be negative about a newborn, especially one so loved and wanted...)

I have been a reader and admirer for a long time now, and we used to correspond a little bit when I was on xanga ("Thrippsy," just to id, not that I'd really expect you to remember, especially now that it's been a couple of years.) I have kept up with reading although I haven't been a good commenter. But it seems like past time to start again, as a thank you for sharing your writing with us - I'm cheering happily for you from down south a bit!

julie said...

This post both terrified me and made me sigh with desire. I'm so scared, yet can't wait to hold my little one.

its_just_ang said...

You guys are doing great with your "changes"! Every day is going to bring something new! Yippee!

gorakagaz said...

that's such a sweet sentiment. my friend recently had a baby, and she was beaming. it's so nice to see you enjoying motherhood, although i don't doubt for a moment that it's difficult. =]

Anonymous said...

I only stop by occasionally, after a friend mentioned your site. You have an adorable daughter, and you can just see on everyone's faces the love and excitement. The pictures are beautiful! Congratulations and many warm regards.


Jessica said...

I love this post, very well said. My daughter, Addison, will one one tomorrow (!) & even though I was so exhausted part of me wishes I could go back to those takes-forever-to-get-anywhere-or-do-anything newborn days for just a few moments.

Enjoy Allison!

Fiona said...

From the second the doctors pulled Katelyn's little foot out, until Brian held her in his arms, he had tears streaming down his face. Due to the drugs and the surreal feeling of having someone tugging and cutting on me, it took a while for me to realize she was out so I didn't cry until they placed her in the warmer. It was at that moment that I felt as if my heart would explode from joy and a love I have never felt before.
I told my mom, "as I sit here and look at her, I think that no one has ever loved their child as much as I love mine just as no one's baby is as beautiful as mine."
Her response was, "welcome to motherhood."
Congrats on your beautiful, healthy baby girl.

Alexandria said...

I'm sorry you have to deal with those immature losers. Probably some 13-year-old trying to get a rise out of you.

As for motherhood, just remember that practice makes perfect!

Celcia from Xanga said...

Yeah, babies are awesome even if you aren't sure what you are doing. It gets easier & they just keep getting better!

Joe said...

What a great article! What paper do you write for??!! I'd love to read it!

Tiffany said...

That's beautiful, Kelly :-)

You two are obviously great parents, Alli is a lucky little girl.

Take care!

Ray from Xanga said...

Brilliantly written. I can't believe you actually wrote this for your paper on your time off. You're awesome.

And the part about not having a red button to call the nurse was funny. You also almost made me cry when you wrote that, ever since Allison's arrival your walls have never felt more like home. Beautifully put. I know she'll love to read this when she's older.

Take, care. <3

Janice said...

That's so wonderful, practice makes perfect :)

sarahhhh said...

awww. it makes me want to play house with my cat. haha

i love it. it's such a special time.

Anonymous said...

i think we need to see more pictures of allison.
she's just too cute!

liz said...

i feel the same way about my baby newphew i love him so much. i am so attanched! it means the world to me i am a 1st time auntie and i am loving every minute of it!

The Plainsman said...

You two have got the essence of the parenting thing down already; Alli is doing her her part to give you all the practice she thinks you need!

And yes, we readers get that warm feeling too, by just reading your words.

Randall said...

My mom always said the she and my dad had absolutely no idea what they were doing... and it all turned out pretty darn well.

You'll learn something (or 54 things) new everyday!

Suzy said...

I love how each post of yours is so honest and real. Esp now that I'm expecting a baby, reading your posts is weird b/c it's where I'll be in 4 months. Ok..not married to a DJ, but you know..the whole adjusting to baby thing. :) You guys are doing a great job!

jsi said...

Merry Christmas
You are now the padawan and she is the master. May the Force be with you!

Jen said...

Its just like I told you, mother's are not born, they are made. You are in your learning stages momma, and soon, you are going to be an expert.

Think back to the story you told us when you held a friend's baby in your arms recently. How you felt like her little head would snap off. How you envied the other mothers who held the baby with such ease and security.

Now look at yourself today... how you feel holding your own child. You quickly become an expert in that area. You are now one of the women just recently that you envied! And every day you get even better. See how quickly things change?

You are learning and you are doing an awesome job. Remember we ALL make mistakes sometimes, and when that happens (and it will eventually) don't beat yourself up for it. Just learn from it and move on.

You are a mom in training! I'm so happy for you! Everyone says how a child will change your life forever, but its not until you have your first that you understand the real meaning of that statment. It changes you in ways you could never fathom. I know my life wouldn't be 1/2 as meaningful if I weren't a mom.... its everything to me.

Emmy said...

I think you both are doing great even though you two don't think so quite yet. And sweet little Allison is a very lucky baby to have you both as parents.

Enjoy the weekend! <3

Jennifer said...

I just wanted to thank you for sharing your lives with us. I've been reading your blog since you were planning your wedding so it feels like in some small way that I've been through it all with you.

We're about the same age and I can only hope that when it's my turn I can be just as lucky as you are.

Congrats again!