Sunday, May 31, 2009

Perspective of the Expectant Mother

My guest blogger this week is Fran - the expectant mother. I think that Fran has provided an insightful look at the mother-daughter relationship along with the normal concerns that first time mothers-to-be have as the due date gets this close.

I am Fran, the pregnant one. I have never needed my mother more then during this pregnancy. Early on I received weekly ultra sounds to check on the baby due to my history of three miscarriages. I needed her with me for support. She was with me when we heard his heartbeat for the first time. I’m full term now and two and a half weeks away from my due date. I also am so scared of all the unknowns related to labor and delivery. I’m ready to hold him in my arms and be the mother but I am so scared of not knowing what will happen. I know every labor and delivery is different. But I had asked my mom to be there if Josh has a hard time being supportive and she clearly takes that as a compliment.

We have always been a close family, as you can probably tell. As my mom and I have different personalities leading to the usual mother/daughter issues, we also very much love each other and are close. My dad and I were talking yesterday about family support post baby. He said that while both him and my mom loved their parents, they really only had each other to rely on. I’m lucky. Both sets of grandparents live in the same town so Zach will be able to get to know them really well. The only grandparent I got to know well was my mother’s mother. I wish I knew all of them better. We are lucky to be able to provide for Zach the opportunities to get to know all of his grandparents well so a long time from now when they are no longer here, he’ll remember them and those memories will carry with him. I truly feel that this is a gift we are able to give him. On Tuesdays I eat lunch with my parents, and this will continue once Zach is born and provide time for him to spend with grandma and grandpa. On Saturdays Josh visits his parents and will bring Zach with him to spend time there too. We also still have weekly dinners with my family where my dad has claimed that Zach will sit next to him. These dinners are a very important part of my week.

The name debate. In my dad’s post he mentions what he’ll be called. There actually is a story behind that. My brother and I called my mom’s parents “Grandma” and “Grandpa” (grandpa died a year before I was born). We called my dad’s parent’s “Nana” and “PopPop”. For me, I have always loved that we had different names for the different sets of grandparents. For as long as I can remember I wanted to do that for my kids. Problem: Josh’s parents have four grandkids already and they refer to them as “Grandma” and “Grandpa”. My mom’s grandparents were “Grandma” and “Grandpa” and that’s all she is willing to respond too (my stubborness, which Zach apparently also possesses was inherited from her). My dad’s grandfather was called “Pop”. He would prefer to be called “Pop”. Since “Grandma” and “Grandpa” are taken I wanted to go with “Pop” and “Nana”. My mother does not want to be called “Nana”. One thing I have learned to do is pick my battles so against my preferences but for the sake of family peace my parents will be called “Grandma” and “Grandpa” since it’s important to me the names at least match.

It’s looking like Zach is going to be on the bigger size so we don’t want to pack clothing for him just yet even though clothing in Newborn, 0-3 Months, and 3 Months are all clean and ready for him to wear. I decided to give my mom the honor of choosing his hospital clothes after he is born and we know his actual weight and height. I hope my mom feels that this truly is a special thing since I think most new moms like to make the choice themselves.

My mom and I have gotten closer with this pregnancy and I hope we continue to get closer as we share the experience of both being mothers. I know one thing about my mom though, it’s not easy for her to think of me as a mother but this experience has encouraged her to reflect on her experiences in becoming a mother. I am do grateful to have her help and support through this. Josh is wonderful, there is no better and more supportive father to be, but sometimes in life, no matter the age, a girl just needs her mother. While I’m in labor but before delivery I know one thing, I will need my mom to help me. When we hear Zach cry for the first time, whoever is with me, it will be not only the start of a new generation in our family but a creation of a new bond between us. A bond she will never share with my brother but always will with me, the bond of motherhood.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Perspective of the Grandfather-to-Be

My first guest blogger on this blog is my husband Hugh - the grandfather-to-be. Here is his story of anticipation as he awaits the arrival of his first grandchild.

I’ve daydreamed about grandchildren in recent years and now it’s becoming a reality. I was a very happy and involved father and I expect to find a suitable role when my grandchild is here. Exactly what that roll is will depend. But the first step for me as for everyone else will be to bond. I expect to hold him or her often and to talk and hum tunes and smell smells and generally get used to each other. And I hope to especially have that privilege at mealtimes when the family is gathered all around.

Sitting down together for meals has always been a cornerstone of our family life. No matter how busy we are we put special value on that particular time. Marion and I did from the earliest time in our marriage and we built on that with the children and have carried it on to this day. It isn’t just a meal. It’s special time together. The food may be plain or fancy (I prefer fancy). Conversation may be serious or silly (usually silly). Opinions may come together or be far apart (no comment). But no matter what, that time is our time. We are what we are and we share it and enjoy it. And now we will have a special new person at the table. My guess is that he or she will steal the show!

A little further in the future I look forward to swinging my grandchild on a swing. I know it will take time to get big enough and he or she may or may not be interested. But I hope that will work out. There’s something special about pushing a child on a swing and being outdoors together and singing songs like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” or “Row Your Boat” or “Zippity Do Da”.

I wonder what my grandchild will call me. I prefer Pop, which is what everybody called my mother’s father. But Pop, Grandpa, Granddad, whatever, it’ll be a wonderful sound coming from my grandchild.


Marion's Note: This picture of Hugh is at the 40+ year old swing frame in our backyard that Hugh plans to paint and buy a new baby swing for. Fran always loved to swing as a child and we think the love of swinging will undoubtedly be in our grandchild's genes. I'd love to have your comments about grandfathering - please leave your comments to share with our growing cadre of readers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Baby Shower – What a Glorious Day!

The baby shower was wonderful - we had perfect weather and were able to spread the event inside and outside. Everyone seemed to have a good time - I’ve added a bunch of pictures to the story – I hope you enjoy the report.

The Preparation and Food
On Friday night my niece, Sonny and my son, Hugh W. - both the designated godparents – did all the decorating. The place did look festive and there was no doubt that it was for a baby shower. Sonny also made the most beautiful diaper cake. What? You don’t know what a diaper cake is? Neither did I until recently but they are all the rage at baby showers these days. See the picture below. You can actually buy instructions on how to make one – and it is a project.

I enjoyed the cooking and preparation and my husband Hugh is the best sous chef on earth. He sliced and diced an incredible amount of vegetables on Friday. Josh’s Mom made 80 deviled eggs – all gone like greased lightning and a huge amount of spinach balls which were so popular people were still eating them for dessert. Brushetta and vegetable platters were spread across the living room and outside on the patio and in the kitchen. Other appetizers were here and there. I was surprised that good old fashioned punch (non-alcoholic – it was Noon after all) was the drink of choice for so many. The punch was especially popular with the younger people as it is apparently a novelty for them. The main course featured Ham, Chicken Caesar, Wraps and salads. I made Fran’s favorite pasta salad and a signature dish - rice salad. Aunt Clare made her famously delicious potato salad. Fran’s aunts and cousin contributed to a delectable choice of desserts.

The Gifts and the Surprises
I can’t believe all the presents Fran got. They are certainly well equipped and ready for when the baby comes home. Everything from the travel system, car seat and baby monitor to diapers and bibs are ready to go. Whoever said that they don’t have cute boy baby clothes was wrong. Take a look at these. Helping with the gift opening were my niece Sonny who is the designated godmother, Fran’s godmother and Fran’s Maid of Honor.

The baby shower itself was not a surprise but I did have surprises that I could not give away in an earlier post. First of all I had contacted and invited a childhood friend of Fran’s who she had pretty much lost contact with. Maggie was one of the first people Fran saw when she came in the door and it was great to see them catch up with each other. Along with the invitation I had added a note encouraging books as gifts. Books are an essential in my book (okay a poor pun) and none were on the registry. Now the nursery has a wonderful library – what a brilliant set of books she received as gifts. Goodnight Moon, Nursery Rhymes, ABCs and much more......

40 Women Connecting with Each Other
Family, family friends, childhood friends, college friends, neighbors plus three men - the “Shower Staff” – Fran’s Dad, Josh – the Dad in Waiting, and brother-godfather designate. People were spread across the living room, dining room, family room and patio and there was a joyous buzz as people connected with those who they are close to, new friends and reconnecting friends. New Facebook friends were made for sure. Opening baby gifts is really a lot of fun and comments on cuteness, usefulness and general convenience not know in the past was of course among the chatter.

The Activities
We had three actvitiies that had strong participation and were lots of fun. One table in the family room was set up to decorate onesies with fabric markers and write notes on diapers. Another table had Advice Cards for Mom for people to write their advice on. While the presents were being opened we announced the winners. Josh’s Mom (The experienced Mom) has three grown sons and Josh’s cousin (The Young Mom) has two young sons and they each selected their favorite. The men got to take a break from their chores and joined the women as they each selected a favorite winning onesie. Josh had the right idea - he chose the one by my niece Clare which said “My mother is gorgeous!” What a creative group of guests. Check out this picture of some of them hanging on display.

Summing Up
I am so grateful to everyone who helped and came to Fran’s baby shower. It was a truly wonderful day for Fran and Josh. Preparing to welcome a baby to the world truly “takes a village” and the karma generated was nurturing and joyous and enhanced once again our readiness to receive and nurture a new life. Now Zach – I am really ready for you!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hold Your Horses Zach!

Fran’s baby shower was last weekend and we had beautiful sunny, warm weather here in NJ. So we were able to celebrate with 40 people comfortably inside and outside. I planned to write about the shower during the week but by the time I was recovered and clean-up had progressed to everything was washed but not put back in its place, we had more baby excitement.

On Wednesday night after dinner Fran began to have regular contractions. When she called her doctor, he told her to go to the hospital and she was there until Friday. She had contractions from Wednesday night until late Thursday afternoon. They were pretty regular but not that intense and she did not dilate. She had magnesium sulfate intravenously to help stop them. On Thursday morning Fran looked exhausted and pretty awful, but by nighttime the contractions had stopped and she was able to eat dinner. She looked much better and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Josh also had to go through this and spent both nights in the hospital with Fran.

During all this she was pretty well hooked up with IVs, fetal monitoring on one side and monitoring of her on the other side. It was quite a project when she had to go to the bathroom.

The main concern at this stage of development - 33 weeks - is lack of lung development. So Fran also had 4 steroid shots at 12 hour intervals in order to aid lung development. Fran came home on Friday afternoon but has to be on moderate bed rest.

All was quiet most of the weekend until this (Sunday) afternoon when regular contractions began again. However, another trip to the hospital and Fran still was not dilating. The doctor sent her home and said that they would not try to stop labor again. If Zach insists, he will be born. There doesn't seem to be any chance he will wait until his due date - June 17th. The doctor guessed that she would deliver in not more that 5 to 10 days.

On Saturday I went shopping and bought Fran a blue nightgown at Macys to wear in the hospital after Zach is born. It will be a Mother’s Day gift if she holds out that long. I also have a pretty blue flowered silk robe which was my mother’s for her to use in the hospital. I feel like I still have some adrenaline flowing from the week’s activities but I also feel more confident about how I’ll do being there for her, Zach and Josh.

I’m ready Zach, but please - Hold Your Horses!!!!! - As long as you can!