Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Arrena's First Meeting

So yesterday was a big day for us - though we didn't know it when we started out. I needed to go to a store (the fantastic Pump Station), to pick up a few high priced objects (ugh) and stumbled upon a New Mommies Group(!). I decided to sit in and am very glad that I did. Mainly, I discovered that we aren't doing too poorly in our household. There are others who have had to resort to putting their child in the swing all night to get them to sleep. And others still are experiencing difficulties in feeding. I figure that, right now, I'm ahead of the game. Arrena is STILL alive (it'll be months before that stops being surprising to me) AND, though she tortures us to do it, she does manage to sleep some during the night.

Of course, she gets her best sleep while laying on Mom, having just feasted on milk. Is that the phone? No matter, Arrena can't be disturbed. Hungry? Gotta go? Well, you should have thought about that an hour before, when she first began to look hungry. The life of a baby is really pretty good. If I spent even one day of vacation sleeping until breakfast, eating, then falling asleep directly after - only to do that throughout the day - well, I'd be labeled the laziest person alive. Even on vacation, someone would have to ask, "Didn't you, at least, go outside? It was a beautiful day."

I'm looking forward to the time when my lovely daughter actually has an idea of who I am. One could argue that she knows me well enough now to know that I'm "the food". But since she often tries to get milk from her father's T-shirt, and just about anybody who picks her up, I'm not holding out much hope. I just hope the recognition happens sometime before she needs me to buy her $1,000 pair of jeans or she simply CAN'T go to school! She does manage to smile at me. I know it's gas, or unintentional, but I can imagine that it's for me, and that makes me feel great.

And did I mention that she's closing in on 4 weeks old?! So much to look forward to. Maybe we'll throw a party...................or not. After all, gotta save up for those $1,000 pair of jeans.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mom Chimes In

I guess it's time for me to get my two cents in. Considering how tired I am, this may only be worth a half-penny. Life with Arrena has been exciting! I fully plan to recount to her, time and time again, how I went through 15 hours of labor for her. I know that others have gone through more, but SHE doesn't know that yet, so I plan to milk it for all it's worth. Oh, the pain!

Now that she's here, life has changed dramatically. While Robert was home, we were able to tag team her - slapping hands and jumping out of the ring when one of us felt overwhelmed. Now, it's just me, and I think I'm doing o.k. First of all, the girl is still alive. I think that's a good first step. Second, I'm alive - though just barely. We fill our days with non-stop fun. We wake up, one of us is usually crying (but she calms me down quickly), and we move to the living room and put on some classical music. Yeah, she's snobby like that. We fill the day with eating (her), getting diapers changed (uh, HER), and sleeping (sometimes, I get to join in). We take walks, we visit with her friends on the activity gym mat, and occasionally we take a turn on the swing (it mainly puts us to sleep). That actually takes up a lot of time. I try to sneak some work in here and there, but it's hard to conduct a phone call when you have a baby threatening to scream at every second. I'm getting precious little done for work (i.e. less than I usually do).

Oh well, it's for a good cause. She's more amazing every day. Getting bigger, more brilliant, more beautiful. But, of course, I might be biased.

"So, who does she look like?"

This has to be the second most annoying question (right after "Are you getting any sleep?" The answer to which is, "Yeah, I'm sleeping like a baby -- I wake up screaming every two hours.) But the "who does she look like" question is annoying for a very different reason: I have no idea how to answer it. Not only do I not know the answer, but I feel like I should. Lord knows, everyone else has an opinion on it.

"Oh, she has your chin!"

"She has her mother's eyes."

"The top half of the face is mommy, and lower half is daddy."

I'm not Frederick Frankenstein, and the girl's name isn't Abbie Normal, so comments like that last one always strike me as a little odd. Reaching back to my high-school biology classes, I always thought of baby-making as a blending of the two parents rather than a patchwork quilt of one feature then another. Sure, certain traits and characteristics can and will emerge and be favored. But right now? I mean, have you seen a baby? A young baby? When they come out, they are a puffy, wrinkly, ill-defined mass of flesh. To wit:

Cute as all get out, but let's be honest. If I wasn't there at the scene of the crime, I never could have picked her out of a line up. And these people who so clearly see features of us in Arrena, I bet they couldn't do it either. You know, I wish I had an extra baby lying around that I could use to play tricks on these people who are just so convinced they see us in her.

Well-meaning visitor: Oh, yeah, that extra jowel she has is you. No doubt about it.
Me: Sucker! This ain't even my baby! I took this one from the hospital room next to ours.
Well-meaning visitor: You did what?

And then the cops are called.

Maybe that's not a good idea.

Thing is, I prefer to see our daughter as her own distinct person. A part of us, no doubt, but someone completely new and different. It's still a tad early, but I think it will help in building her self-esteem and confidence to instill in her this belief as well, rather than pointing out how much she's like me or her mother. It's fine to be "Daddy's little girl" as long as she is no "chip off the ol' block." So, when people ask me who she looks like, the only answer I can think of is, "She looks like Arrena." Seems like the only right answer.

Part of the reason we gave her the names Arrena and Ruth (the names of two of her great-grandmothers) is so that she would know from the beginning that she has a lot of family history behind her. That she is the new link joining two long and strong family chains, and that it was the coming together of these two families that created her. But what these families have created has never existed before. It is something entirely new, and that newness, that freshness, is our gift - and God's gift - to her.

A blank slate.

And, well, if I did give you my chin, then I'm sorry, Arrena. Look on the bright side, Bruce Campbell did pretty good with his.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Dad returns to the world.

The day we all dreaded. Back to work.

Leaving the abode this morning felt like chopping my arm off. Seems like the most unnatural thing in the world, to have a baby and just leave her and her mother at home to fend for themselves. But, hey, baby food ain't free... Well, bad example, but you get the idea.

The good news is we all survived, though I did so with the help of a lunchtime nap in the car. Arrena decided to take it somewhat easy on Mommy. Or, at least she decided not to completely take advantage of her outnumbered (one-on-one? score one for Arrena).

I returned home to find the little one newly knocked out on Mom's chest, both of them laid out on the couch. I wanted so desperately to snatch her up into my arms. But sleep, even for the baby, is hard to come by so I was convinced to be patient.

I'm told leaving will get easier each day. That's a scary thought. I don't want to believe I could ever get used to the idea of leaving my baby.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Welcome to Planet Earth, Arrena.

Two weeks and she has already conquered this little patch of dirt. Imagine what she could do if unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace? I think it wise that we keep her under wraps for a little longer.

For those of you who don't know, Arrena Ruth graced us with her presence on Sunday, August 7, at 4:33 am (5 days late, thank you). She weighed in at 7 lbs 4 oz, 18.5 inches long. A tiny thing. All the better to catch the big people off guard.

The first two weeks have been amazing. The usual lack of sleep, growing mountain of diapers, eardrum-piercing screams. She has thrown everything at us and we've taken it like champs. Arrena is starting to realize these taller creatures - the food-bearing one and me, the one who really shouldn't sing - we aren't going anywhere. If her plans to seize control of this little chunk of space rock are to come to fruition, she's going to have to deal with us.

Frankly, we don't stand a chance. The best we can do is hold her off and give the rest of the world a chance to prepare.

Mom and I will try to keep you all updated on Arrena's progress, perhaps give you an idea how much time you have left. It might be a good idea to get your affairs in order.