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I am a new parent. My interests are secularism, learning, parenting, religion, career planning, and adult education.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Two Months

Dear Natalie,

I bet you thought you thwarted my efforts to take a picture of you in the dress Auntie Sheri gave you for your two month photo shoot by letting me dress you and then going to sleep for 12 HOURS! But you were wrong! I let you sleep in this cute little outfit, and when you woke this morning, we snuggled while I fed you, and then we had an early morning photo shoot. I need a faster camera though, by the time our camera takes the picture, your smile has faded. You're still cute and sweet as a button though!

This month started off with an introduction to your first social smiles. Let me tell you how fun it was for your father, grandmother Lupita, and I to see you first tentatively lift the corners of your mouth, then break out into a full-out, open-mouthed, bright-eyed, dimpled smile in reaction to our exclamations, smiles, and excited baby chatter. The first time it happened, I literally started jumping up and down! This happened over the New Year's weekend, and the quest was on to capture this delightful new development on camera!

We also received a very generous gift from Grandma Pam: your father likes to call it the escalade of strollers or da' bomb. It is a Mountain Buggy. We christened it by taking you for a stroll through West Edmonton Mall, where you briefly enjoyed the spectacle of new lights and sights before settling into a nap.

By the way, you are an excellent sleeper and I feel very lucky that you fall into the average number of hours of sleep for a newborn. From birth you have continued to sleep for about 15 - 18 hours per day, making this whole parenthood thing a very easy transition so far. I'm actually starting to worry that I won't know what to do with you once you become more alert and active.

Of course, having Grandma Lupita around for weeks 3 - 6 also made it very easy on me - what with all the help she offered in making meals for me and your dad, generously contributing more than her fair share to groceries, and snuggling and caring for you so I could take naps, clean the house, and do errands. Initially I was a little bit worried about having my mother-in-law stay for so long, especially since I don't speak Spanish and she speaks very little English. However, we communicated just fine, due to her efforts to learn and practice her English skills, and by the time you turned one month old, I actually started to worry about what we going to do without her when she left on January 10.

Thankfully, you remained the easy, happy, sleepy baby your are after Grandma Lupita left, but we sure do miss her help and I'm sure you miss her snuggles.

You continue to grow and develop on schedule and it is a treat to watch you discover your hands and feet. Yesterday you were so cute as you couldn't take your eyes off your flailing foot in the bath tub. You have been taking swings at the hanging toys on your rocker chair and sometimes you even make a hit, surprising yourself. I can't believe how much you've grown since you were born, you are almost too long for your 3 month outfits and I have already retired two outfits. But then I see you in your father's strong arms, and you seem small again and I am reminded that we still have time, precious time, to enjoy you as our little baby. No matter how fast that time flies, I am grateful for each moment.

This month was all about learning to get out of the house with you. And Grandma Pam helped us along by being in a situation that really required us to go and visit her every day. You were a highlight to the dreary days she spend in the hospital, but snuggling with you on a daily basis helped her get well and hopefully soon she will resume her habit of coming to bring me coffee in the mornings and enjoying your smiley time of the day.

Speaking of smiley time of the day, I got it on tape.

Thank you for lighting up my life this month. I love you so much!


Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Horror of Sexual Abuse

Today, as I was reading through some recent blog posts of The Friendly Athiest and came across a post devoted to the suicide of Bill Zellers. This is the first I've heard of Bill Zellers, but I was incredibly moved by his suicide letter because it shows so vividly how child sexual abuse destroys and disrupts the course of healthly mental, sexual, and interpersonal development.

Here is Bill's letter.

I truly wish that Bill had been able to trust someone in his family, social circle, or most importantly a therapist that could have helped him work through and process what happened to him. Therapy cannot take an abuse away, but it can provide tools to contextualize and deal with the aftermath. And I hope anyone dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse will reach out to someone they can trust, or a therapist who specializes in working with sexual abuse victims, because there is hope for normal relationships and a normal life.

Bill found a way to end his pain - but it is an option I hope others in similar circumstances will avoid.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

One Month

Let's see how good I am at committing to a montly letter to my daughter. This is not an original idea - I originally saw this done at and thought it was wonderful.

Dear Natalie,

You are now one month old, I can hardly believe how lucky your father and I are to have you in our lives. You are such a sweet baby and we really appreciate how calm and content you are. You have many nicknames now, and are referred to as: bebo, boo boo, chiquitita bonita, precious, bright eyes, sweetums, baby girl, and button. Sometimes I call you Natalie.

You spent the first week of your life in the hospital. You had quite the stubborn case of jaundice. Of course, you had three strikes against you - first I had gestational diabetes, then you and I have a blood type incompatability, and then you had quite the pointy bump on your head from being poorly position against my cervix before being delivered by c-section - all of which contributed to your bilirubin levels being so high. So we spent the first week of your life with me trying desperately to increase my milk supply and recover from a c-section and with you spending hours under LED phototherapy. You were a little princess and I appreciate that you took the treatment so calmly - resigning yourself to only being cuddled while you ate every 2.5 hours and sleeping peacefully in your little "tanning" bed. You only gave your father and I a couple of heart attacks by pulling your eye guard off a few times, but because you were sleeping and had you eyes closed, the nurses and doctors assure us you weren't going to go blind. You seem to see just fine, so I'll trust them on that - you'll probably end up with poor eye-sight anyway due to genetics on my side of the family.

We brought you home from the hospital exactly one week after you were born. We were thrilled to be home with you. I was really happy with the support and help I recieved from Grandma Pam (my mom), who brought me coffee in the mornings, snuggled you, and did housework for me in preparation to recieve my inlaws.

You have charmed all your grandparents - and you are very lucky to have three sets. My mom and her husband, my dad and his wife, and your father's parents. You also have two great grandfathers - my dad's dad and your father's dad's dad - and a great-grandmother, my mom's mom. When you were born, there was a second great-grandmother, unfortunately she has passed away. We attended her funeral together on Christmas eve, and I am very sorry you didn't get to meet her. She really would have been thrilled to meet her first great-granddaughter. I promise to tell you stories about her as you grow up.

While we feel very lucky to have you in our lives, I want to tell you that you are also a very lucky little girl. You are loved so much by your parents, your grandparents, your parent's cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends of the family. You are snuggly, but not demanding to be held. You seem just as content in our arms as you are in your sleeper chair, car seat, and crib. I hope you keep your content nature - your father and I are certainly committed to keeping you happy, safe, and content and have no plans to fail you in this regard.

So my little one, we have begun our journey together now and I am looking forward to every minute of it. We are so happy that you have made us such a happy little family of three. You have already grasped my heart - and while I won't speak for your father, I can't imagine sharing such a wonderful man with anyone but you. I'm sure it is true love between you two.

Your father's favourite picture

Love Mom