Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day for the Fatherless

When Michael passed, I wanted pictures for the memorial service, so one of his brothers helped me find Michael's personal photo collection in our garage. Most of the pictures I'd never seen. They were from before we were married and so some of the people and places in the pictures remain a mystery to me. There were several of him with babies and little children, and they were hard to look at. They still are.

Here's one with him and his niece Kiana:

And here are the ones of him with other people's babies:

He was a natural with kids. His warmth and his own childlike nature just drew them to him. It is beyond unfortunate that he invested himself for so many years in another relationship with a woman who had a negative perception of marriage and family. It is also beyond unfortunate that he remained in that relationship once our paths crossed and we saw marriage material in one another.

This is part of our past that is a thorn in my side. Sometimes I am angry with him because of this, and now that Michaela has come to be, I hurt for her and that she has to wait to know her daddy. I just pray that she will grow up feeling some positive connection to Michael, and I know it's up to me to encourage that. Already, several times a day, I refer to him when I'm talking to her. I tell her that her daddy loves her. I comment that she looks so much like him. I mention little things he did or liked. It doesn't seem like much, but that's all I can do - paint a picture with words throughout her childhood of who he was. That and help her have an eternal perspective so that she knows that he is a part of her future.

However, I do wish we were celebrating this, what would have been Michael's first Fathers Day, as an intact family of three. I wish the day included cards and gifts for him, and a photograph of him holding his beautiful baby girl.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Michaela @ One Month Old

Our first month together has just flown by!

I'm guesstimating that Michaela weighs between nine and ten pounds by now. She's a very good eater. I give her three ounces of formula every two or three hours. We are going through at least twenty-four ounces of formula in a twenty-four hour period of time. I feed her on demand, and when she's hungry, she's very hungry! She does not like to wait for her bottle. We were having problems with excessive spit-up, and so I've tried some different formulas for that. The one we are using now has rice starch in it, and she is spitting up far less now. Michael's mom joked that of course she needs rice with every meal!  That's the way Michael grew up, and once we got married he always had a fresh batch of rice in the rice maker for us.

And, because input equals output, I change an incredible number of diapers each day. I haven't actually counted how many, but I'm thinking that to say ten or twelve a day is being conservative. She has graduated from the newborn size, and is now wearing size 1. I'm happy that I learned about Amazon Mom and their subscribe and save program because it is a great way to save. I was able to order 284 diapers for just $33 the other day, and two-day shipping is free. Can't beat that!

Michaela's temperment is very easy going. She seems to be like her daddy in that regard. The only times she fusses are when she's hungry, needs a diaper change, has a gas bubble, or is resisting a nap. I can usually figure it out quickly and give her what she needs. When she's resisting a nap, I either swaddle her or I hold her tight. That does the trick every time!

Michaela is a very good sleeper. Overnight she will sleep anywhere between three and six hours at a time. Some nights we only have to get up once, and other nights we get up a couple of times. I'm getting more sleep now than when I was pregnant! During the day, she may take long naps or she may take cat naps. There's just no telling. On the days she only takes cat naps, I don't get much done. But most days that's not the case. I continue to swaddle her overnight, and she's still sleeping in her bassinet right next to my bed. I love that she's so close, and sometimes I just watch her sleep. Sleeping babies are precious.

Last week, I put together a little floor gym for her that was a baby shower gift. She is able to kick the ball and reach out and touch the toys with her fists. I've noticed that she is developing hand-eye coordination. She likes to try to hold her pacifier and her bottle.

In the last couple of days she has begun to smile at me in recognition and pleasure. I haven't caught her smile on camera yet, but each smile makes my heart soar! She's also differentiating me from other people. While visiting at my sister's house a couple of times in the last week, she watched me while others held her. She definitely knows who her mama is!

We have transitioned from sponge baths on the changing table to semi-sponge baths in the sink. She does not like baths anyway-which-way they are given to her. I've got a cushy foam liner for the sink, and I cover her with a towel for warmth, but she's just not into it. So, I try to keep bath time really short, and I only give her a couple of baths a week at this point.

Lastly, this past week we succeeded in trying two new things together. I successfully got the Moby Wrap on, and we were able to go for a little walk with the doggy and get some chores done. Also, we've ventured out for a couple of walks with the stroller. Yesterday we walked up to the market and the party supply store. Michaela slept the entire time!

What a wonderful month it has been! I'm sure the coming month will bring more changes and fun, too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wish You Were Here

Three weeks old today! I know she looks kind of grumpy in this picture, but she was just resisting her afternoon nap. Now she's slumbering away peacefully.

Michaela has brought so much joy, and so much change, into my life since her birth three weeks ago. Life as I once knew it is no more. Now it's all about her, and that's actually a welcome diversion from the way my life has been since Michael went home. That's not to say that she has replaced her father in my life or my heart, but she has filled part of the void that was left when he had to go.

Even so, there's not a day that goes by where I don't have this strong sense that he should be here. He really should. At least that's how my heart feels. Everything that Michaela is and has brought into my life should be something that Michael and I are experiencing together.

I should be able to see the look of love and devotion on his face while he holds her and tends to her.

I should be entertained by his choice of nicknames for her.

I should be able to hear him say her name.

I should be changing half as many diapers, and getting up half as many times in the night with her.

I should be able to eat my dinner while he holds her, and vice versa.

And so on...

And then there's everything that Michaela will not experience with him, as well. He was so good with children. He would have been such a loving and fun daddy. Why did he have to take so long to realize what was important in life? He missed out on the very best thing, and we're missing out on so much because he's not here.

Anyway, I've just found myself mourning what can never be in this lifetime for our little family. But it's something I need to process and come to terms with - in time. That's the thing about grief. There's always the chance that something new (or old) will bring up grief-related issues that need to be felt deeply and thought about carefully. This is just one of those things.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A New Opportunity!

I have been wanting a change at work for several years now. Admittedly, I haven't worked much in the last year due to Michael's illness, then his death, and most recently my pregnancy complications. Nevertheless, after being at the same school location and in the same grade level for twelve of thirteen years, I have been ready for something new.

Then, sadly, there was a lot of controversy amongst the parent community and my colleagues regarding my need to be out on medical leave this year. When I left in February, I felt like a pariah. It was awful. So, I was dreading my eventual return, and had put in yet another transfer request for the coming school year. The trouble was that just as interviews throughout the district were being scheduled, I was having a baby! I had some anxiety about what would be, but then a couple weeks ago I just prayed about it and asked that the Lord would either change my circumstances, or give me what I'd need to venture back into that environment when the time came.

He is faithful and good all the time!

Last Thursday, my phone rang and the Caller ID showed that it was coming from my school district. However, I thought it was my current principal, and I really didn't want to talk to her because I'd heard that she had not honored my request for a grade-level change once again. As it turned out, it wasn't my principal. It was the director of human resources, and she was calling to offer me a position at another school in the district! Granted, it is for the same grade level I've been teaching forever, but the opportunity to be in a new environment with new colleagues was just too wonderful to pass up. I gladly accepted the position. I even told her it was an answer to prayer! It really is.

Now I can enjoy the rest of my time off without worrying about what's to come in September. What a blessing!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Getting Into Our Groove

We have managed all week without any overnight help! I feel like this is a huge accomplishment for me. Now that Michaela is well-fed, she will sleep three or four hours at a time during the night, and this makes the whole overnight thing doable for me. I'm actually getting more sleep, and better quality sleep, than I did when I was pregnant.

During the day, it's a little more challenging. The more she is awake, the harder it is for me to do much more than mix up formula, wash bottles, feed her, and change diapers. I'm not complaining, though. Still need to figure out how to get a shower every day. The showers I had this week were when a family member was here to help during the day.

I had my two-week check at the OB on Wednesday, and I was happy to learn that I'm already down twenty-four pounds from my highest pregnancy weigh-in! And, I'm happy to say that my edema is history. My feet and ankles are no longer painfully swollen. I'll be able to wear cute shoes again. Yea!

Michaela also saw her doctor this week. She gained just three ounces, but she has grown an inch since her birthday. The pediatrician was not concerned about her slow weight gain, and we don't have to return for another visit until her two-month appointment. Yea!

She is just such a good baby - mellow like her sweet daddy (unless she has a wet diaper!). I am simply enchanted with her. Here she is earlier today: