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A Moment

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Life has been in full swing over the last 6 months. Elaine and I have had opposite schedules for the last few months so in case you haven’t noticed the blog has been put on the back burner.
A blog post is a blog post however I miss the time and creative process. Right now most of our updates are short and filled with photos… but it is still an update.
Here are some photos from last night after dinner. It was moment. A normal and routine time of our day, but so mundane that I decided to document it. Each stage goes incredibly fast and each phase means new moments.

Here you’ll see Mason was outside playing in the garden and Caleb cracking up with his baby giggles in the living room.

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End of an Era

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We’re coming to the end of an era. I have only 2 more evenings of nursing Mason. Thursday night will be my last night with this sweet little bedtime ritual we’ve had for the past 15 1/2 months. It’s so bittersweet. On one hand, I’m excited to have the range of foods returned to me, since I won’t have to alter my eating for Mason’s allergies… But I’m definitely sad for this chapter to end. I don’t know how often I’ll get to cradle him in my arm like that again, squirming, wiggling, energetic little boy that he is. I never really thought I’d be sad to see nursing end, but it’s just such a sweet, simple way of nourishing your baby. Of giving and being needed.
Little steps of independence, they come so soon! No one told me! I thought he’d be my little baby till at least junior high years, you know? Teenagers… I expect steps of independence from… but my little almost 16 month old? It’s one more thing he’s learned to do on his own, that he doesn’t need me for.
It’s so strange, isn’t it? We grow these little babies, our whole lives change, shift, rearrange so that they’re at the center of them because they need us for absolutely everything. They can’t eat without us, they can’t move without us. They can’t learn without us. So we nurture and feed and pick them up and carry them with us wherever we go, so that they can, little by little, step by step, no longer need us for any of it. So much single minded focus on these little baby bundles with the singular purpose of teaching them how to do all those things without us. It’s mind boggling. We grow so attached, and in some ways, the rest of their growing is learning how to release.
Not everything of course. Strings will always be tied to our hearts. And arms will always be open and welcoming, aching to encircle. Laughs will be had, and eventually, phone calls and visits will be made.

Such a trip. This parenting thing, hmm?

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In other, slightly belated Christmas news, we took down the last of our Christmas decorations this past weekend. Except for a garland and some white lights above our window that I’ve decided are winter decorations. I love Christmas, it’s always sad for me to see it pass (wow, what a sentimental lump I am in this post, huh?). BUT it does feel like the official signal of the new year.
Here’s a glimpse of our Christmas home that is no longer.

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2011 [a quick recap]

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A year ago when I looked forward to 2011 one thing that never crossed my mind was how often I would get peed on.

It is an understatement to call 2011 a b-i-g year. Monumental. Wow! Holy Moly. Looking back on my previous 32 years of life I can say with 100% confidence that I’ve never had such year. Change of all variety has been the constant from January 1st  to December 31st, a majority of it was great and some of it was darn tough. As the year comes to a close here is a post to highlight and capture some of the events.

Elaine started January 2011 on crutches from a broken bone in her foot from an injury that happened on her birthday in November. The short version of the story involves a slip off the curb and me carrying her the remaining 6 blocks to our house. {The longer version is a better story}  By mid January Elaine’s foot began hurting less and she stopped using her crutches on the 21st. Just two days later I would begin using the crutches after tearing my ACL at a pick-up basketball game with my co-workers. {Also a good story}

Oh by the way, we were also engaged and planning an April wedding all during this time. Not that we need an excuse to sit on our couch, but the two injuries allowed us time to get crafty on the wedding invitations. There were some stressful times during the planning ($, how to make everything fit us, and who, what and where) but there were also some really great memories of creating our future. I remember thinking, ‘If we can get through January, we can get through anything’. We did get through January but 2011 didn’t let up.

February equaled Hawaii for 6 days with my parents. It was great to get away but the injuries made it a non-active trip. We had a lot of fun at a goat dairy farm, touring a lavender farm in the rain, and eating some good food. The trip was a success and a great vacation from wedding, couches, and crutches.

March was also a big month. At one of Elaine’s follow-up appointments for her foot we learned that she was pregnant. I think we both sat in the laboratory waiting room for a minute as our eyes got wide and laughed awkwardly. Thankfully the workers were in good spirits and were able to laugh with us. Not wanting to jump the gun too much we bit our tongues, held our breath, and our brains got rolling. The Westside Neighborhood Clinic will always hold a positive place in my heart.

The end of March marked the opening of a new housing program for my work that I had been helping organize. The program got 15 former foster youth out of bad living situations and gave them their own studio apartment and case management to help them reach further goals. Our team put a lot of work into it but it changed my work load and routine pretty dramatically. On top of that we are also counting down the weeks/days/hours until our wedding at the end of April. The multiple to-do lists were growing at incredible rates.

April arrives! I know I am biased but I believe that we pulled of the best wedding weekend ever. Friday evening was a rehearsal and dinner at the Blue Agave,  Saturday afternoon was our ceremony at the Courthouse and reception at the Canary rooftop, and Sunday included brunch at Anderson’s and a get-out-of-town road trip along the PCH1. The whole week was a non-stop whirlwind but it was amazing! It was perfect.

In May we moved across town to our current apartment. Although it is drafty, and ants love invading our space, it has been a great upgrade. May also allowed us to focus on baby dreams. The reality of being parent began setting in and we began brainstorming names, reading baby books, and collecting baby necessities via Craigslist.

I had surgery to repair my ACL in June. The month was a blur to get everything covered at work and prepare for surgery. Following the repair I had 7 weeks for recovery. The first few weeks were unbearable but slowly I was able to get more movement from my knee and a little more energy. By end of the 7 weeks I was able to move around crutch free albeit slowly.

During July and August it was fun to watch Elaine’s belly grow, go to her doctor’s appointments, and have baby showers in Orange and Santa Barbara. The entire pregnancy went by so quickly (at least for me) and I am so glad that Elaine didn’t have terrible morning sickness or any serious complications. Today I was looking at some of the photos from the our entire pregnancy and most of them still blow my mind- I  can’t believe that was us!

I view September as the baby count down month and it included a lot of free floating anxiety. Some of that probably can be found on early blog posts and others are only for Elaine’s ears. On October 3rd Mason was born and here we are… In some ways life makes much more sense and everything is clear, however I often find life a little more confusing. What makes a good parent? How do I give the best to Mason and Elaine while still taking care of myself? How do I raise a well balanced child? Life’s questions have gotten more difficult recently but what I’m learning is that answers appear just as easily as questions.

As you’ve seen from previous posts October was a blur, November was full of food, and December was full of Holidays.

Life is profoundly different then last New Years. Last year we got together with friends, celebrated responsibly, and went to bed well after midnight. This year we are home, Mason is already asleep, and Elaine is explaining an article to me about how a group of women organized a breast feeding nurse-in at a Target. 2011 had a lot of challenges and I don’t know if I could have done it without Elaine. She has been nothing but lovely, supportive, and inspiring. Plus she teaches me a lot about current events that involve breast feeding.

I wouldn’t change this year’s one bit.

Happy New Year and be safe. Love, Mark

Coordination at One Month

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Last Thursday Mason celebrated his 1 month birthday! This was a monumental day (more for us than him) and we “celebrated” by telling him he was now one month old, we took some photos, and ate some old Halloween candy. Killer party but holy moly one month has flown by!

Over the month Mason has gained weight, he’s now around 10lbs, and we’ve recently noticed that he is gaining more control of his head and doing a better job of tracking us (and the ceiling fans) with his eyes.

He was born with a strong neck but recently he has been lifting, turning, and making more intentional and controlled movements.  A couple of times last week Elaine put him down for some tummy time- from what I heard the first time was not successful but the second was much easier. No photos were taken of the first attempt 😉

Mason’s love affair with the fans has continued but like I mentioned he is now much better at following us as we move around. His eyes are open a lot but until recently they were just open. Now they are looking and he is gazing at objects, seems more curious about things, and likes to be outside. His eyes still have a lot of blue in them and we’ll see how the genetic war plays out. Regardless it is fun to see him engage with us and see him grown in so many ways!

One last comment on his coordination.. Over the last couple weeks Ruby has begun licking Mason’s feet, hands, and loves to kiss his face.  If you’ve never met Ruby, she loves kisses and can lick and lick and lick. Poor, stationary, and uncoordinated Mason is a sitting duck for them. Their bonding has required our supervision mostly so we can advocate when he’s had enough bonding. Last night they were on our bed and she started to lick to his forehead much like she usually does. Well, Mason must not have wanted puppy kisses at the moment and he quickly swung his hands up and smacked her away. We all learned lessons in that moment – Mason is not Ruby’s licking toy and we might not need to step in as often now.  (Ida- we will not let Ruby lick him too much and yes he wore a hat to bed last night)

As promised here are some ONE MONTH photos. Smiles are coming! Thanks for reading…

PS the whole gaining an hour of sleep during day light savings is no longer valid

Ten Fingers Ten Toes

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Part2……

Just to recap from the previous previous entry. Elaine said that she was ready to go into labor, ate some magic waffles, and her water broke around 530pm and we were off to hospital about an hour later. Sound good?

So that Sunday October 2nd, we arrived at the Emergency Room in Cottage Hospital and we made our way to the L&D (labor & delivery). Elaine declined the wheelchair and thankfully we had a guide to help navigate the hospital maze. While walking there Elaine wasn’t in too much pain, we were both a little giddy,and you could say that adrenaline was our friend.

Once in the L&D we met Karen, our super helpful nurse. She got us comfortable in room #5, gave Elaine great attention, and then said that he shift was ending in about 30 minutes but she would be back in the morning  if we were still there. We were a little nervous as we both liked Karen and didn’t want a dud for our next nurse. A little later we met Michele who would be our nurse for the next 12.5 hours. Not only was she funny, but she was on top of Elaine’s needs, listened to our concerns and plans, and advocated for our every need. As a whole the entire L&D staff were amazing but it was Karen and Michele that made our delivery feel so personalized and supported.

We were fortunate to have three visitors at the hospital that night: Elaine’s parents and an excited Juliana were there to provide some comfort and support before our rest and lights out time. As the evening turned to night Elaine and I had some good alone time filled with laughs, photo time, and frequent visits from Michele and the hospital staff.

 

The pain from the contractions began picking up as it became Monday and during a visit around 12am we learned that Elaine had gone from 4cm to 5cm. Yep, 1cm in almost 6 hours of labor when they want you to average 1cm per hour. After some deliberation, a heating pad, and a few sips of coconut water Elaine decided to have an epidural. It took about an hour for the anesthesiologist to arrive but the relief was present on Elaine’s face almost instantly. It was gone so quickly that as soon as they shut their door and the lights were off she began sleeping for a well deserved few hours. While Elaine slept I learned how uncomfortable hospital chair/beds can be and anxiously thought of what could be next.

Around 530am Elaine was measuring around 8-9cm and our room quickly began preparing for delivery. Tables were prepped, lights tested, the room arranged, and the on-call doctor was phoned about the expected delivery.  At 6:45am the time was now and Elaine went into amazing mode. Her pushes went into breathes and her breathes went into pushes. In no time we could see the top of his little, hairy head and he began to move his way closer into our lives.

Around 7am Karen, the nurse from the previous night, came and relieved Michele. Not wanting to leave right away Michele did her case logs in our room and ended up staying an extra hour off the clock to help and try to be around for the birth. All during of this time, Elaine continued to push, breathe, stretch, smile, and push. She amazed me with her composure and attitude. She was focused on the moment, continued to stay in the moment and never wavered.

What happened at 8:56am on Monday, October 3rd cannot be put into words. This makes it hard for a written blog, but I’ve tried over the last 12 days to put it into words and I haven’t gotten close to capturing the feelings, energy, and peace of seeing Mason Robert Watson being born. The process is indescribable; partially because I experienced feelings I had never felt before. Never have I been so proud of Elaine or loved her more. Never have I fell in love instantaneously on meeting someone. Never have I felt peace around so many distractions and felt time slow down so much. This was a new reality.

This was our moment- our moment as a new family.

That was the beginning of us. Many people helped us get here and I hope you know that you are appreciated and loved. I’d especially like to thank our parents for their support, love and showing us that the beauty of being parents. From beginning to end thank you! Love Mark