Its hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone and 2009 is quickly creeping up! The whole holiday season has taken on a whole new feel with a precious little infant in the house. As I read the story of baby Jesus to Kayden, I could not help but think about how horrible it must have been for Mary while riding the donkey or how dirty it must have been to give birth in a stable. The whole birth story hit a little closer to home this year for sure! Shane's family has been out here for Christmas, enjoying Kayden and the sights, tastes and lights of Lille. We were so lucky to be able to dedicate Kayden on Christmas Eve. The church had a "Crib Service" which was pretty much an interactive living nativity while the Christmas story was read. I was Mary at one point and Kayden was Jesus. So, with little kids dresses as angels and "shepards" surrounding Shane and I and the rest of the family, Kayden was dedicated to the Lord. It was such a special evening, a very memorable first Christmas Eve for Kayden!
The last three weeks since we have been home from the hospital have completely flown by in a sleep deprived blur. Each day is a new challenge/ adventure in how to get Kayden to sleep, reading her cues and just trying to figure out how a new baby fits into our lives. After frantically reading every book in the house regarding babies and paniking when Kayden did not match perfectly to the suggestions, I am attempting to embrace the fact that she is an individual. She did not read the books or get the memo on how she is expected to behave. Therefore, as the parent, I can come up with my own routine for her, using books as a reference, rather than the ultimate authority.
All that said, this week has been quite the week of firsts, at least as the new parent! This week for the first time, Kayden has... puked, peed and pooped on me.... hung out at her first coffee shop with mommy and daddy... visited the pediatrician and has grown 2 cm and over 1/2 pound... stopped screaming with every diaper change... used the Baby Bjorn and LOVES it... been quiet for a whole dinner!... had her first bottle... smiled when I read "The Polar Express" and Santa was mentioned (it was probably gas,but a smile none the less) smiled during our little family prayer (again, a bodily function- spit up followed all over Shane) listened to Coldplay, the Eagles, and U2 lullabies to go to sleep... had her boogies cleaned out with the blue suction thing and SCREAMED... went clothes shopping and Christmas shopping with mommy... had tummy time on her play mat and was amazed by the squeaky toy... peed and pooped all over the changing table at 5am...
It was a great week.
In the stress of a newborn, I also have realized that sometimes I forget to just stop and enjoy our beautiful little daughter. In a book I just finished, the author concluded with these thoughts... "So here you are, trying to figure out if you have what it takes to be the mother your child needs, the mom God intended you to be., What do you get for all the diaper changing, sleep deprivation, headaches and worries? You get glimpses of God every morning, and giggles under the covers every night. You get more love than your heart can hold, sticky peanut butter kisses and arms that fit perfectly around your neck. You get a hand to hold, and someone to remind you that clouds look like dinosaurs and that dandelions make beautiful bouquets. You get to blow bubbles, fly kites, bulid sand castles, and jump in mud puddles without caring about the mess."
In case there were any confusions, Kayden Joy Matlock is a San Diego Chargers fan. In this picture, she's currently dreaming about the Chargers finally firing Norv Turner and hiring a real coach. She's also dreaming about how she doesn't like the NY Giants, and if she saw Eli Manning, she'd punch him in the mouth.
Why is she a Chargers fan, you might ask? Because her Daddy is, and Daddy trumps everyone else!
Home. It feels so wonderful to be home after spending 5 days trapped in the hospital. Though the 5 days were a great way to make sure everything was ok with Kayden and myself before sending us off, I was incredibly ready to leave the confines of my little room and face the world.
It is still hard to grasp the concept that I am a "mommy" and Kayden is my "daughter". Those words sound so grown up, belonging to my parents or our friends. As I try to wrap my mind around the concept that my life has taken a turn towards parenthood, I am so greatful to posses the title of mom. Before I had Kayden, I was scared that she would not fit into the life that Shane and I share together or that she would just lay there and we would have no idea what to do with her. On the contrary, Kayden is incredible and the love that hit the instant she came out is overwhelming and amazing. She not only fits in to our little family, she has bonded us even closer together. Seeing Shane hold Kayden, rocking her, changing her numerous poopy diapers and constantly loving on her is the best sight I have ever seen.
I had no idea how emotional I would be after child birth. At any given moment I am prone to tears of joy or of some other unknown emotion. Hormones. Oh so fun!
My family was all here this past week and we were able to spend some great quality time with Kayden. We were also lucky to all be together to be there with Kayden as she experienced her first Sunday full of football, a favorite passtime. There was hardly a moment that she was not in someone's arms. She is a huge snuggler and loves to just curl up and take a nap on your shoulder. We are in awe of how much time we can spend just staring at her and laughing at her littlest facial expressions. Or watching in dread as her face signifies another dirty diaper!
After having been a pediatric nurse for 5 years, I have often wondered how my medical background would affect my parenting. Well, it seems that I have completely forgotten how to function as a nurse and have buried any common sense in the back of my brain. I AM that emotional mother who cries, ok balls, when told her baby has jaundice and needs to go under the lights. I shook the first time I gave her a bath. At the same time, I did check out her veins to make sure they seemed easy enough when the nurse had to draw blood. As time goes by, I am hoping that the nurse in me will continue to rise to the surface, objectively processing the daily changes in Kayden.
My favorite times of the day are after she feeds and takes a nap on my shoulder. She is so precious and peaceful, I wish I could sleep like she does! Every night is a new adventure- how much sleep will we all get??? Living in a constant state of exhaustion is a blast!
We took her out on the town where she was lulled to sleep by the cobblestone roads. This worked out perfectly, allowing us to have a quiet dinner out. She also went to her first Thanksgiving celebration with all of the Americans here. Though she did not get to have her first bites of turkey, I think she quite enjoyed being passed from one warm embrace to the next.
These are my rambling thoughts of the moment. Maybe after a little more sleep, I can come up with something a bit more cohesive. Moral of the story, I am so blessed to have Kayden Joy Matlock in my life!
Family and friends, the time has FINALLY come. On Tuesday, November 18th, 2008, at 1038 pm (France), Kayden Joy Matlock entered the world. She was a 6.8lbs, 49 cm, and is the most incredible thing that we have experienced. We fell in love with her the moment we saw her, and have fought on who gets to hold her more. She is a supper cuddly, beautiful girl with a full head of dark Matlock hair and big blue eyes, accented with the Abrahamsen face and nose.
Here is the brief run down of events that led up to this incredible moment (through the eyes of Shane, since Karen's still in the hospital). If you just want to see pictures, scroll down. I'm currently blogspot retarted, and trying to post pictures throughout isn't working out too well.
We went to the hospital Tuesday morning, thinking that Karen would get a cream to help her dilate, then would get induced on Wednesday. Not so.
Karen was apparently far enough along that the medical staff felt she could be induced that day. After waiting a while for a birthing room, off we went to the 'war zone', as I now like to call it. The first few hours, Karen was given and epidural and everything was set up in the room. They then broke her water, and she went from 3 to 10 cm dilated within 2 hours. A little while after that, 'Team Delivery' came in, and had Karen push while they suctioned. 15 minutes of that, and the most incredible little girl was born into this world.
Karen and Kayden are both doing very well, no complications, and all the memories of the long, frustrating days of waiting for this delivery were gone. She hasn't cried much (yet), and any time she's gotten ready to cry, being cuddled in her dad's arms is what works best. I'm glad to she she's already a daddy's girl...and rest assured, she already has me wrapped around her finger.
In France, that have you stay in the hospital for 5 days for your first child, so Karen and Kayden will be there a little while longer. We really couldn't have asked for a better delivery, once it finally came. The language barrier was very minimal, and the doctor who delivered Kayden spoke great English. We are so thankful for the prayers and support from our amazing family and friends across the globe. Karen and I are so happy to have Kayden in our lives and have can't wait for you to all meet her.
Today we ventured to our first movie in France. As an attempt to take our minds off the impending arrival of Kayden, we thought it would be good to see the new James Bond movie and let our minds get lost in the action. In France, most movies are dubbed over but there are a few showings in VOSF (version original, subtitle French). We arrived to find the theater in mass chaos and two little old ladies cut us off in line. In fact, there were old people all over the place trying to get tickets. Neither of us had seen so many people our grandparents' age pushing to catch a Sunday afternoon film. We waited in the line, got our tickets and then attempted to get to the actual theater. Well, a massive crowd had gathered and were all pushing to try to get to the ticket collector. From our understanding, they would only collect tickets for certain movies at certain times. We almost got trampled, but managed to make our way unharmed. It was at this point we noticed people bringing in pizza boxes, drinks from the cinema bar, duffle bags and even a rolling suitcase. I guess next time we just need to bring our picnic basket and load it with goodies for the movie! The final part of our movie experience that made us laugh the most was a commerical for a French recording artist. It showed a sneak peak of his new music video.... hmmm, French are weird. It was a white screen with this guy in the middle. Then, sperm were swimming on one side of the screen and then a pregnant belly on the other. WHAT??? So so strange! Anyways, after getting through all the randomness of theater, we enjoyed Quantom of Solace and now are veteran French movie goers!
November 7th. Just another day on the calendar. Also known as my due date. Unfortunately, Kayden did not get the memo that she was supposed to be out and as I write this, seems completely content to never show her face to the world. Its amazing how much faith and hope can be placed on one random day chosen by the medical system on which a child should be born. The French due date is Novemeber 14th, but I keep trying to tell her that she is American and should be true to her roots and come out now! I realize that most babies are not born exactly on their due date, but Kayden could have been the exception. It is a strange holding pattern that I am in- waiting for labor to start, wanting to feel pain knowing that it will lead to something wonderful.
So, in the meantime, Shane and I continue to wait, trying to occupy our time with long walks in the park, eating at new restaurants, shopping in town and some Mario Kart. The nursery is ready, the bedding washed, the clothing folded, the diapers stacked, bags are packed. Now all we need is our precious daughter!
As the calendar draws near to my official American due date (39 weeks today), each day possesses a sense of mystery. Is today the day? Should we go on a road trip or stay close to home in case something happens? How far does one have to walk and how much castor oil must one drink to go into labor? I find myself experiencing a plethera of emotions, feeling completely ready to hold Kayden in my arms to absolutely terrified about finally meeting my daughter. These thoughts vary hourly, making the day a rollarcoaster ride of extremes. It has been entertaining telling people I am due in a week, because everyone has a piece of advice about when they think I should have the baby, what their grandma always says, or a personal experience. Kayden will come when she is fully cooked... the doctor swears it will be before Christmas!
I saw the doctor on Monday and he guessed that Kayden would greet the world in the next week to week and a half. Wow, deep breath, I can do this!
SO, with that in mind, Shane and I have been trying to spend as much quality time together in our quiet home and its surroundings. It has been a terrific week and I must say that I have the best husband in the world. Not only is he super supportive, adorable and handsome, he puts up with mood swings, decorating projects, my obsession with baby clothes and helps when I just can't seem to get on my shoes :) Its a blast being married to your best friend!
We took a day trip over the border to Belgium to explore an old town called Tournai. As with most European towns, it had some amazing churches to discover. To get into the fall spirit, we also attempted to carve pumpkins while watching Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin. The pumpkins turned out way better than last years (which were supported by tooth picks and falling apart before a candle could even be lit!). Shane made a scary Elivs and mine was a silly bat. We were so excitied to light them for our neighbors, but no one shared the same enthusiasm, as Halloween is not celebrated in France.
In the last week or so, we have found a new hobby of looking for antique/ European furniture at second hand stores across Europe called "Troc". They have some amazing items for excellent prices. Shane is like a kid in a candy store, getting more and more giddy as we weave through the rows of dressers, armoires and unidentifiable objects. I think almost every car ride we have taken in the last week or so has landed us at a new Troc. That said, we have are still searching for our perfect European pieces. They will be found... we do have 3 years!
The wait continues... Our doctor is out of town lecturing in Lebanon until Saturday and I really want to watch the Giants play the Cowboys on Sunday, so, maybe Kayden, could you come on Monday??? (If it were only that easy!)