Wednesday, November 25, 2015

In the Trenches. . .True Love at 3:14am

Three weeks in and I'm still going!  In this short period of time I've learned a lot and am simultaneously well aware of how little I know.  Humble pie is not a bad thing to eat while you're learning the ropes to caring for a newborn, it appears.  The other day I panicked when my mother-in-law fed my son twice within a 3 hour period because she said he was hungry. I explained that the doctor said we should strive to keep him on a feeding schedule to maintain his steady weight gain. She smiled and assured me that he would be fine, that he was hungry and she fed him. I mean, this woman who my husband and I deem, "the baby whisperer", has only raised a slew of babies over the last 50 years or so. Seeing the look of anguish on my face as I held Makana and imagined him becoming obese or suffering from dire gastrointestinal consequences, my father-in-law chimed in, "doctors not always right!". And how can you argue with that bit of wisdom?

24 days in and I've learned quickly to what and to whom I can turn to for help. Some are material things that make a parents' life much easier, but most come from humans. In this day and age, the material things are plentiful and have been created by people who, no doubt, once had an infant at home and thought to themselves, "how the hell can I create a solution for this?". 

Here's a short list of Delia's Favorite Baby Gadgets (all available online and delivered to your door in 2-3 business days):

1) A sterilizer (13 minutes to clean bottles, pacifiers and baby toys and no boiling water on a stove!)
2) A bottle warmer/cooler system (warmer heats up bottles in 2-3 minutes and the cooler keeps 2 bottles cool overnight so there's no blind stumbling to the kitchen to grab a bottle from the fridge and warm it up-set up perfectly on my nightstand!)
3) A video baby monitor (streams live video and sound, has night vision, you watch from a small, hand-held device anywhere in the house and you can speak into the device to soothe your baby from afar!) I'm using this now as I write this blog at the kitchen table.

Glory be to the creators of such wonders!

But even with these glorious creations, nothing and I mean nothing, can compensate for the type of help that comes in the form of people you can count on, most particularly in the form of a spouse.  I've always been grateful to Fosi for being the kind of husband and father who is hands on-cleans, cooks, shops, and serves his family and loved ones with selfless giving and so I guess I just assumed that he'd do the same when we brought home our little one. And I was right.

When I've left the house during my short maternity leave stint, I've had at least 3 people tell me, "you look well-rested, that's great!", to which I responded, "thank you, my hubby takes the 2am-6am shift."  The responses I receive range from, "you're lucky" to "good for him"to raised eyebrows and again, I take for granted that all partners do the same for their wives. Through discussions with other women, apparently this is not always the case.  This, in and of itself, could be the focus of a blog, but I prefer to keep this entry positive, lol.

For all you parents out there who've raised children, you know how challenging it can be.  Raising children is a blessing but it's hard work! I bow to the mothers out there who raise 2 or 3 (or more) little ones and primarily do all of the hands on stuff themselves. I pray for those whose partners are temporarily or permanently absent or, worse yet, who make life even harder with their presence.  To women (or men) like my mother who raised six children on her own after our father died, there are no awards or accolades great enough to praise and thank you.

I am blessed because I know what true love looks like in a partner. It looked different when we were dating or first married. It matured and grew through the years and went from taking just a romantic form to taking the form of family, friendship, sacrifice, hard work, generosity, kindness, humor and forgiveness.  I've seen the face of true love in a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand acts and more importantly I've FELT it. I've seen it take another shape, yet again, in the last three weeks. True love appeared this time at 3:14am, as I raised my head up from my pillow at the sound of my baby's cries.  Through sleepy eyes and ears, I saw my husband's back as he changed a wet diaper, then heard him speak lovingly to his son as he prepared his bottle, fed and burped him, and lay him back to bed.  That last part I didn't see because I had drifted off to sleep, grateful and secure in the knowledge that both baby and daddy were enjoying themselves.

Those moments I just described and hundreds more, are the moments that define what true love is for me. The crying child at 3am, the phone call from school saying that your son is hurt, finding out your loved one just died, not knowing how you'll pay the bills, going through hard times-that's what I call being "in the trenches". That's when you know who you can count on. That's when you realize who has your back, who you want on your team, what a true partner looks like.  Raising kids with someone, with a village of someones, is all about being in the trenches together.

I have a team of people that I can rely on in these proverbial trenches and I am forever grateful.  And always, at the top of my list, next to me in the trenches (as well as sharing in the beautiful landscapes of life's vista), is my hubby. Thank you, my love.

I got the next 3am feeding.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

In the Midnight Hour (aka Babies and Blogs)

So my life drastically changed 5 short days ago.  Before November 1, I slept when I wanted to, for as long as I wanted to.  Before November 1, I could never have dreamed that a 2 oz. bottle of ready-to-use, disposable baby formula would be the thing that I desired most to stack up on instead of quarts of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.  Six days ago you would hear me talking about how difficult it was to balance a demanding schedule of full-time work, part-time school, family and church responsibilities, while still enjoying some semblance of self-care and a social life.  Those days were a walk in the freakin' park.

Five days ago I became the mother of a precious new-born son.  Who knew that something so small could be so much work-require so much care, feeding, changing, fretting over, worrying about? I certainly never anticipated that I'd sit up in bed that many times a night just to make sure this tiny treasure was still breathing!  That I'd stand at the door to my home to welcome well-meaning guests with an over-sized bottle of hand sanitizer and ask them to 'disinfect' themselves before they touched the baby. Who could imagine that trying to dress an infant in a onesie could bring such angst?!? Studying for Torts on the Bar Exam didn't take this much mental concentration!

Six days ago, the only reasons I'd be up at 2am involved very self-centered (and most likely very enjoyable) activities, like being out with friends or watching Netflix and other 'stuff', lol.  And now, as I write this blog at 1am on a Friday night (Saturday morning), the fact that I managed to put this sweet baby to sleep successfully is more exciting to me (and much more of a personal triumph) than any other Friday night festivity I can remember.

Not even a week has gone by and I've learned so much. . .and had so little sleep! My son's name is Makana. On the second night of his arrival to our home, we had a discussion at 3am and it went a little like this:

Me: "Makana, we need to have a little talk."
Makana: *gurgles*
Me: "Do you notice that you and I are the only ones up? I mean, the whole household is asleep except for me and you. Do you see a problem with this?"
Makana: *smiles*
Me: "Hmmm. So I'd like to propose that we figure out this whole sleeping schedule thing. How about you stay up during the day more and sleep throughout the night like the rest of us do?"
Makana: (avoids eye contact)
Me: "I'll take that as a 'no'."

At the present moment, Makana and I are still negotiating the terms of his sleep schedule and let's just say that he has the upper hand thus far in this bargaining process.  And so, I've decided to make the most of his newborn nocturnal schedule and make a list of possible things to do while we're both up in the wee morning hours and he's staring at me like I'm supposed to provide entertainment with his 1am feeding.  So here's my list:

"Things to Do Between 12am-6am When Your Newborn Is Awake" (but already tended to):

1) Blog  (check)
2) Eat yummy things (check check)
3) Watch Netflix (I have yet to select a new series-any suggestions?)
4) Work on my papers for school (pending)
5) Exercise (next!)
6) FaceTime or Skype with friends in Japan (yes! yet to be scheduled)
7) Watch DVR'd shows (pau)
8) Clean (I think there's a cultural ban on cleaning at night, at least that's my story. . .)
9) Read (yes! any good book recommendations?)
10) Engage in other 'nocturnal activities' with other household members (I'm working on it, lol)

I'm determined to make the most of this midnight hour thing! I refuse to relegate this prime opportunity to mere bottles and diapers. I mean, the possibilities are endless, right? From these midnight sessions could come the next great novel out of Hawaii, or an "A" in my Master's class, a trim body, "bonding" activities with my hubby or catching up on all my favorite (and new favorite) shows! But alas, Makana has just drifted off to sleep and he just flashed a contented sleepy baby smile and I feel a yawn coming on, so maybe I'll just curl up next to him and catch a few winks and get back to my list tomorrow. . .maybe.