Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas with Baby Max

He is just a month old and already has his first Christmas under his belt. For the most part it was a typical Minninger holiday weekend. Very low key. I don’t think our family will ever be compared to the Griswold’s at Christmas. Not that we don’t have our traditions.

Shannon and I always begin the Christmas holiday by taking a drive to look at houses all decorated with Christmas lights. We get into the car and load the cd player with all of our seasonal favorites. I like the Elvis Christmas cd the best. Depending on the weather we will get coffee and hot chocolate. Then we drive all over Chattanooga neighborhoods looking for festive displays.

This year we took our son. He got all bundled up in his favorite jammies and then we put him in his car seat. I could see the anticipation in his eyes as we loaded him into the backseat of the car. In fact, Max was so overcome with excitement that he fell asleep before we left the driveway. I’m sure he’ll appreciate more in the next few years.

Christmas Eve is always spent at Shannon’s Mom’s house. Shannon’s brother, sisters and their families meet at Granny Alice’s for nachos, chili, hotdogs and presents. It is always a good time. Max got dressed up in his best Christmas outfit. He wanted to make a good first impression on the family members he hadn’t met yet. Plus, he has a reputation to uphold as the adorable new grandbaby.

He was very well behaved. Max fell asleep on the ride over and then didn’t wake up for two hours. (Shannon and I even had to open his presents for him.) He wasn’t very social when he first woke up either, because he was very hungry. Shannon took him in the other room and “topped him off” and changed his diaper. When they emerged from the bedroom he was ready to visit with relatives. We laid him on a quilt in the middle of the floor. Max smiled and babbled and kicked his little legs while his Granny, Auntie Jill and Momma hovered over him. “What a ham,” I thought. Before long it was time for everybody to head home.

Later that night Max had trouble going to sleep. I think he was too excited about Santa Claus coming to town. That’s okay. He and I sat on the couch together and watched the movie “Elf” starring Will Ferrell. It’s one of Max’s favorites. Mine too.

On Christmas morning it is tradition for Shannon and I to get up early, make some coffee and start a fire. (I actually just flip a switch on the gas logs.) Then we open our Christmas stockings and presents. This year was an exception. There were very few presents under the tree. Shannon and I decided that having a happy, healthy baby boy was enough of a gift. We spent most of the morning talking about what it will be like when Max is old enough to get excited about Santa and toys. I can’t wait. For the record I bought Shannon “the clapper” as a present.

Because my parents are out of town, Shannon, Max and I spent the rest of Christmas day in “comfy” clothes watching movies. I made French toast and bacon for breakfast. We had pigs in a blanket for a snack. That night I grilled steaks and made twice baked potatoes. (Max had boobs for all three meals.) It was the perfect way to spend a day as a new family.

Generally, after opening presents in the morning, Shannon and I would relax a couple of hours and then head to GiGi and Grampie’s for a big Christmas dinner. (by relax I mean eat breakfast and go back to bed) “Uncle” Dick and “Aunt” Nancy are always there. It is fun to have a big meal and then sit around and play games or talk over coffee. This year Grampie and GiGi went to Florida to visit Carole and the boys. We are going to celebrate when they get back. I can taste the standing rib roast already. (My mouth is watering.) I know Max is eager to see his grandparents. I would be willing to bet there are some hugs, kisses and gifts in his immediate future.

Next week is New Years Eve! I’ll bet we get crazy and party ‘till the wee hours of 10 PM.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Max's First Bath!

We gave Max his first “real” bath on Sunday afternoon. His mother had wiped him down a couple of times, but this was the first time he would get the full treatment. Shannon was worried how he would react. I may have mentioned before that Max doesn’t seem to like being naked. (He gets that from his mother.) Like any new mom, she doesn’t want to see her baby upset. I, on the other hand, have been dying to give the kid a bath since I watched him being born. Sure he looks and smells clean, but I saw how dirty his apartment was before he moved in with us. Of course, we had to wait until his umbilical “stump” fell off and healed. With that accomplished, it was time for a proper scrub.

First thing I had to do was decide where this delicate dance would take place. My options were the kitchen sink, the bathtub or the sink in the bathroom next to the nursery. I hadn’t finished cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast, so I ruled that out. (Of course, I briefly considered how I could wash the baby and the skillet at the same time.) I settled on the bathroom sink.

Like the child care books recommend, I got out everything we would need and put it in arms reach of the sink. I put a couple of towels on the counter next to the sink. I didn’t know how much water we were going to have to wipe up. I could easily see this thing getting out of hand. All I need now was a baby and a video camera.

I filled up the sink and put in some Johnson's baby shampoo while Shannon took off Max’s clothes. When she was ready to lower him into the water, I grabbed the video camera. I wanted to make sure and record his first bath for posterity. That and so I can embarrass him as a teenager.

As we predicted, he was not very happy about being naked and wet. He began to squirm and fuss. Shannon tenderly let me know that she was having trouble holding our slippery son, and that I should put down the camera and help her. I took Max’s head and neck in my left hand and hooked my thumb under his arm. It was like trying to hold a catfish one handed. I gently washed his head and body with a washcloth. I thought I was doing a great job because his cry dulled to a whimper. It was then I noticed the stream of pee shooting out of the water. It had to be a foot higher than the counter. I cupped my right hand and attempted to block the spray from getting everywhere. All I could think was “This is the kind of stuff that should be on the video.” Shannon wrapped him in a towel while I drained and refilled the sink. I put him back in the water and rinsed him off. To my surprise he didn’t fuss when I slowly poured warm water over his head.

When I was done, we dried him off and then greased him up like a bodybuilder. I put a fresh diaper on him and then some tiny, footie jammies with a puppy on them. He smelled and looked fresh and clean. I swear he was smiling at me. I held him in my arms and declared, “First bath complete.”

It was at that moment I felt him poop his diaper.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Living with a new baby in the house is definitely different. For months our friends and family (even total strangers) have been warning us how much our life would change. “Oh, just wait” they would say. They were right about it changing. It’s great! In the morning I don’t want to leave and at night I can’t wait to get home from work. I am amazed at my feelings for little Max.

I love to hold him at night while we watch TV. Last night we watched some mixed martial arts. We discussed the strengths and weaknesses of various fighters as they entered the octagon. I explained how it really helps when they have a strong wrestling background. He just stared at me blankly. (Funny, that’s the same thing his mother does when I watch Ultimate Fighting with her.)

I love they way he can sit there quietly with a diaper full of poop and then scream his head off while I change him. Apparently messy and stinky is better than clean and naked. That’s okay because I am super fast at changing a diaper. I look like a rodeo cowboy in the calf rope competition. I should get Shannon to start timing me.

I love the way he smells. The kid hasn’t taken a bath since we brought him home from the hospital and he still smells sweet and cuddly. I go a day without a shower and I smell like an old shoe.

I love the way he looks while he is sleeping in his crib. At first he is kind of “squirmy” but then he settles down. You can tell when he is asleep because he puts his arms over his head like he is signaling for a touchdown. I hope that is a sign that he will be a great football player and not that he is planning on being a referee.

I love to watch him fall asleep in his mother’s arms while he is nursing. He looks so peaceful with his tiny arms and legs dangling. He is warm and safe. Shannon looks pretty content herself. I’m sure glad we outgrow the ability to eat and nap at the same time.

I’m crazy about this kid and eager to see what the future brings.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Happy Two Week Birthday!

We had our check up today and our Little Charmer is up to just over 9 pounds. Even the pediatrician says he's perfect!
Look at that face! It's all we can do to put him down for even a second. He's sooo sweet!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Max and his paternal grandparents ...

Max is very lucky to have his Gigi and Grampie living close by! And with four male cousins, he should have lots of playmates when this side of the family gets together. He's counting on Meier, Aaron, Nate and Cole to teach him all their favorite games. And his Autie Carole, Auntie Suz and Uncle Rob may not have met him in person yet, but they're sending their love in heaps. And Max is hoping they can all come to visit from their various locations as soon as possible.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Life as a new Mom ...

I know, I know, I never write! I’m sorry but if you had a husband who wrote like Dan, you’d hesitate to write to. Isn’t he wonderful? Many of you have commented about how great his entries are and I completely agree. I love reading them and am so thankful for his ability to appropriately share much of what we are going through. I seem to become little more than a sobbing mess when I even try to put my feelings into words these days.

However, sometimes a mother’s perspective is required.

First of all, Max was born on November 28 at 6:07 by cesarean section. He weighed in a 8 pounds 5 ounces and was 21.3 inches long. His head evidently was a little larger than most at 14 centimeters, as the nurses taking all the vitals double checked their measurements a couple of times before committing them to fact.

Max and I both are doing great. I feel wonderful (all things considered) and have really had minimal discomfort. The IV was the worst of the entire delivery process and while I’m moving a little slower than usual, I’m pretty much up and about as usual. The nighttime routine hasn’t bothered me too much. I’m not a great sleeper to begin with so getting up for an hour or two a couple of times a night, hasn’t left me feeling all that tired. It’s kind of normal for me to do that anyway. The nursing thing is going surprisingly well, too. I just can’t do it without getting naked. So, until I figure that one out, I guess I’ll be confined to Max’s room. Dan has said that it just won’t do for me to take my shirt off in the Outback or any other restaurant that we would frequent. Oh, well, I guess Dan will just keep getting some good practice sessions in the kitchen to pass along to Max someday.

Max has a very agreeable disposition so far. The only time he cries is when we’re changing his diaper. He HATES that. Otherwise, he sleeps peacefully, and patiently waits on me to feed him, then lies awake and alert for a short time usually filled with some meaningful conversation with his Daddy who is promising to teach him to play all kinds of sports, to learn all sorts of useless trivia (that came up during Jeopardy) and to cook because chicks dig it. (And when Dan says “chicks” he really means moms since we all know that my son is not going to be worried about impressing any silly girls for a long, long time!)

Now, let the faucets run as I write how truly overwhelmed with joy and happiness I am. I knew that having a child would be unlike anything else I had ever experienced. And I know the adage that you’re never given anything more than you can handle, but honestly, I always thought about that phrase in terms of dealing with negative things. I never dreamed I’d have to worry about being dealt more of a good thing than I can handle. I feel like I’m close to the edge, though. As if the birth of a completely healthy baby boy wasn’t enough, the sweetness and love of my husband for both him and me has completely taken me aback. Dan is just amazing and I cannot begin to express how this experience has strengthened what I already believed was a pretty strong relationship. Then, there’s all the love and support of our families as we have entered this new phase of our lives. They’ve all been so kind and helpful and we all know that sometimes family dynamics can be a little challenging in the face of stressful situations but everyone has made such an effort to be non-intrusive while we have tried to include them as much as possible in this joyous occasion. And of course, we have been shown incredible generosity by our friends in their desire to be encouraging and supportive. We honestly could not have made it through this experience nearly so well adjusted without all of you. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.

Enough of my babbling for now. Trust that I will be making sure that Dan keeps up the good work on the blog and I’ll post occasionally, too. Maybe after some of the hormones return to more normal levels, I’ll even be able to do so without going through an entire box of Kleenex!

Life as a new Dad ...

We brought Max home from the hospital on Saturday afternoon. Shannon and I were excited and scared at the same time. For three days nurses and doctors hovered over our new baby like hawks. The checked vital signs and monitored him. They made sure all his needs were met. They would one by one remind us of the cardinal rules of child care. “Don’t ever shake the baby,” one nurse would say. An hour later another nurse would be in the room for something and she would say, “Don’t ever sleep in the bed with the baby and do NOT leave him alone for any reason”. At shift change, another batch of nurses would continue to point out things that I considered obvious. “They have already mentioned not shaking the baby, right?”. I would just nod my head. “What about fireworks?” I always wanted to ask. “Is it okay if he holds the roman candles while I light them?” (I’m not sure they would have appreciated my sarcasm.) I find it ironic that none of them ever mention useful tips like preparing for the stream of pee that comes flying out just as you reach for a clean diaper. Then, before you can really grasp the concept of having this little person who is solely dependent on you, they send you away.

So, anxious and eager we bring little Max to his new home.

The last four days have been terrifying and wonderful. I can’t believe how much you can love someone you have known for less than a week. I don’t want to put him down or leave him alone. At night, I just stand there looking in his crib, watching him sleep. I want very badly to take him to bed with us but I remember what all of those nurses said.

Max is eating well and his digestive system is working perfect. Trust me. My favorite part of the day is holding him right after he has eaten and had his diaper changed. He is awake and alert. His eyes looking up at me. It is this father/ son time we use to discuss his future. “Grampie would like you to play football at Notre Dame but I was hoping for rugby at the Naval Academy,” I say. He just stares at me. I don’t think he has settled on a college yet.

I love being a dad.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Max and his maternal family!

His Granny Alice...

His Aunt Donna ...
His Aunt Kerrie ...
His Uncle Brian and Aunt Jill ...

His proud Dad with his cousins, Allison and Daniel ...