Monday, November 29, 2010

What we learned: 1 Month

Bennett is one month old today. Not to brag, but I would like to give my family a gold star for surviving this first month of getting to know one another. Running on little sleep, the inability to control limbs, and as ignorant first time parents, I'd have to say we didn't do too bad. In the past 31 days, the three of us have come a long way and we've learned a great deal, not least of which there are a lot of outtakes before you find the right one.

Bennett learned to turn his head.
Rocky learned not to drop the baby.

I learned how to do the laundry, answer emails, make lunch and clean the bathroom one handed.

Bennett learned that it is in fact possible to be awake and not cry.
Rocky learned that Bennett's hunger cry sounds like hung-gee.

I learned how to live on 4 hours of sleep.

Bennett learned how to use a pacifier.
Rocky learned sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

I learned that a successful trip out must include a pacifier, cell phone, keys, and ooh, the baby.

Bennett learned that being naked can be liberating.
Rocky learned to never leave a baby without a diaper for longer than half a second.

I learned that sometimes it is necessary to change your clothes and your baby's clothes twice in an hour.

Bennett learned to make eye contact.
Rocky learned the value of paternity leave. He didn't have to miss a sneeze, a hiccup or a squawk.

I learned that this is hard work. As he outgrows his pj's, his socks, and his diapers that as hard as this is, the good stuff passes just as fast as the hard.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Flashback Friday: Recount

Bennett's Mimi King wants a recount. She disagrees with Grandma Ski that he looks more like me. He has her nose. He has Big Rock's forehead. He has short legs and a long torso like all the King men. According to her, I only passed on recessive traits.

Exhibit A, Baby Rocky at 4 weeks.
Exhibit B, Baby Bennett on his 4 week birfday.
And for a recount in the bonus round, what is a toboggan, a sled or a cap?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I am a worry wart. I stress the small stuff. I dwell on the past and wish I could go back and do things differently. This Thanksgiving I have too much to be thankful for to let anything rain on my parade. I have a healthy baby boy and I am one lucky mom. I know too many people want the job of being a mother and there are factors outside of their control that prevent them from doing so. As my baby sleeps by my side, I know that I have more to be thankful for than I could ever express. But it is worth a shot.

I am thankful for the people who read my silly blog. I needed an outlet outside of work and a way to keep in touch with my friends and family. I had no idea other people would find my dribble so entertaining. Thank you.

I am thankful for our neighbors. We have had people bring dinner, offer to walk Atticus, and people just drop in to see how I'm doing while Rocky's at work. In a city full of transplants with busy careers, I am thankful for finding a little slice of normal.

I am thankful for Ellen. At that time of day when I might really get stir crazy, she totally pulls through. However, I am not thankful for the test of the emergency broadcast system or the power company technician with the bad timing.

I am thankful for our friends. I have never felt so loved and cared for as I have over the past month. From bringing dinners, emailing just to check in, flowers, cards and gifts for Bennett. My cup runneth over.

I am thankful for Atticus. He has been so good with Bennett. We'll eventually have to do something to break his obsession with the pacifier, but at least he has been very gentle with the baby. And I think Atticus would say he is grateful for Bennett's very lickable feet.

I am thankful for the hours I get to spend with Bennett in the middle of the night when he is curled up in my neck falling asleep. His skin is so soft and he smells so good.

I am thankful for our parents. Rocky's mom will call just to check in when she gets home from work and my dad will send random texts for baby updates. They may be far away, but we are all compensating for the distance with high cell phone bills.

I am thankful for another of Bennett's nicknames, Benny and the Jets. It proves all systems are a go.

I am thankful for Rocky's new job. He was able to take two weeks off of work to get us all adjusted to being a family of three. He is also home at a reasonable hour, and can take his time getting to the office. It is such a blessing to have him rescue me at the end of a long day.

I am thankful for Rocky. He was always a good husband, but he has been such an amazing partner through these early weeks of parenthood. There is actually an equal division in labor in our house these days, or at least as even steven as they can be. He will wake up with Bennett when he won't go back to sleep after his 5 am feeding, takes over diaper changes when he's home, is so gentle with the baths, the wardrobe changes and giving him that signature come over. I don't know how I got so lucky.

I am so thankful for this feeling of love and good fortune. I have been given this amazing gift that has brought me this moment in my life that feels like things couldn't be any sweeter. I hope I don't take it for granted and wish it away when I am frustrated and tired. I am just thankful that I get to spend this holiday season surrounded by love, hope and sappiness.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flashback Friday: Show and Tell Cowboy

I'm a city girl married to a bonafide country boy. Sure, he may be a litigator in one of the largest legal markets in the country. He might spend his weekends golfing at country clubs. He may like to shop at Brooks Brothers and Nordstroms. But when you bring a cow to "take your pet to school day," you'll never be anything but a country boy.

Rocky had to be the most popular kid at school that day. I almost feel sorry for those other kids who brought their labradors and schnauzers. Maybe Bennett can borrow #459 one day so he won't be embarrassed showing up with Atticus.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Selective Memory

Three weeks ago today I went into labor. It may be a cliche, but it is amazing to me how much he has changed and how much Rocky and I have changed. Somewhere along the line, our memories seem to have changed along with it. You hear that if it were not for selective memories of labor and delivery, women would only have one child. Everyone's experience is different and I am sure many women can't shake the memory, no matter how hard they try.

Just 20 days into parenthood, I'd have to say we already display the symptoms of selective memory. Rocky came in to check on me and the baby and as he turned to leave, he looked at me and said, "we have to do this again." Bennett was only a couple of days old. I was still tired and shaky from the birth, but I have to admit that I agreed with him wholeheartedly. With our sleepy bundle still groggy from the birth, how could we not want another? I think Rocky was even further convinced when I discovered that I could already button my favorite jeans.

We might already be blocking out the icky and painful parts of Bennett's birth, but I really do not want to forget the good stuff.

I learned that Rocky does a mean Ricky Ricardo impersonation. I had a couple contractions just after getting in bed. Rocky had instantly fallen asleep, so when he got up to go to the bathroom an hour later and I told him I thought I was having contractions, he screamed out "contractions?" Apparently in high stress situations, he does a very good Mrs. Lucy. Of course, he went right back to bed and fell back to sleep.

I discovered that we didn't have a bathtub plug at 4 in the morning. I wanted to cry.

I was pacing in the living room waiting for Rocky to take me to the hospital. I about exploded when I heard him MOVING FURNITURE upstairs.

Rocky forgot about the temporary parking for dad's and disappeared for twenty minutes to park while the security guard watched me pace the hall and frantically dial Rocky's cell phone. Guess who is operating better with the lack of sleep?

When we got there, I was convinced they were going to send me home because I wasn't far enough along. Either I am an idiot or have a stronger threshold for pain that I thought because I was already halfway there. They started tagging me and it became pretty clear I was going nowhere.

In Labor and Delivery, my nurses, both my doctors and my anesthesiologist were all women. It was incredible to be surrounded by all those capable, strong women. Even surrounded by iv's, monitors and machines, it felt so natural.
Rocky and I kicked everyone out of the room so we could have a moment before the big show. I hope I remember how special it was knowing it was the last time it would be just the two of us.

I never want to forget hearing my mom cry when he was born.

Bennett was placed on my chest right after delivery, blue and goopy and screaming bloody murder. I was so happy. It makes me laugh knowing my sister told me to wait to take the baby after they cleaned him up because they come out "so disgusting."

Rocky didn't leave his side as he was weighed, measured and given a 9 and another 9 on his apgars.

Our nurse Donna, her patience and persistence as Mr. Bennett learned to eat. Then later, watching Rocky using her techniques to help.

Our hospital gave us a "celebration meal." We got to order a special dinner brought to us on a cart with a white tablecloth. The celebratory root beer really hit the spot. Tre fancy.
When we came home, our neighbor came running across the street to meet Bennett. Seeing how excited a relatively new friend can be just reinforced what a special time this was for our little family and our little world.

As I rock our little boy who doesn't want to sleep, I know I will remember how much I cherished our time together and not the lack of sleep, the frustration of not knowing what causes him such anguish, or the pitch of his cry when we have the audacity to take off his clothes to change his diaper. I know that I will remember the smell of his skin, the feeling of his silky hair, and the look of those very chubby cheeks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What's In a Name?

Bennett had the honor of hosting his Grampa John this past weekend. They had a very nice time visiting and getting to know one another. My dad learned that Bennett has a good set of lungs. Bennett learned that his Grampa is going to give him a nickname whether we like it or not.

My sister is cursed with a variety of nicknames from my dad, perhaps the most embarrassing being Rumpkin. I have no idea where he came up with that one, but unfortunately, it has stuck. Maybe because I was always the more serious kid, mine was a little less offensive, The Allison-meier. Don't ask...
My dad was referring to poor little unsuspecting Bennett as...Benny. I unknowingly promoted the nickname by telling my dad how much I hated it. Then, over the weekend it evolved into several other manifestations, Benito, as in Mussolini, and is currently Bennihana. Ahh! If I had known that naming my child Bennett would someday get distorted into Bennihana I'd have given him a name along the lines of Chris or Matt. However, knowing my dad he'd call him Christopherson or Bathmat.

Rocky and I are one of those ridiculous couples that discussed baby names very early in our relationship. I had made it very clear that I would not be supporting an RWK, IV. Thankfully, his parents had no objection. However, both Rocky and I have a lot of family names that have been passed down over generations and I felt both a desire and a need to honor the men in our families. Growing up with a more distinct maiden name than King, I never considered how difficult it might be to find a name that wouldn't lead to him being one of one hundred John Kings or Bathmat Kings.

Bennett had been on our list for years. It wasn't on the Social Security list's top 100 names (or even the top 300 names). We liked the meaning, "Blessed." There may be another Bennett in his class someday, but there most likely will not be another Bennett King.
The name moved up the list as I drove past Bennett Drive on the way to the doctor's office in the early months of my pregnancy. As I've eluded to previously, I was one paranoid and scared pregnant lady. Seeing it each time I went in for an exam or a blood draw made me confident that things were going to work out. It was both literally and figuratively a sign to me that I would have a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby. Perhaps it is a little silly, but it meant a lot to me at the time.
We had other names on our list too, Aaron, John, Isaac, and about a dozen others. I really didn't want to commit to anything until I met the kid, but Rocky was sold and wasn't even considering the other names I'd tossed around over the last six months. When the doctor's placed him on my chest, Rocky asked me if I'd like to tell my mom his name. Whatever I spit out, he knew he'd be happy with. The other front runner really didn't fit the smushy red-faced and hairy baby I held in my arms. Bennett it was. NOT Bennihana.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Linebacker in the Making?

I feel like I cried wolf while bragging about Bennett's size. After hearing that Rocky's dad was twelve pounds at birth, I knew it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that we'd have a big kid. It didn't help that I was sporting a true belly pretty early in my pregnancy. In my fourth month, my male boss even commented.

From the beginning, the doctors and nurses were telling me he was measuring at least a week or two ahead, with his last sonogram indicating he would be 8-10 pounds at birth. Even the lead doctor told me that the sonographer took so many different measurements, she was never wrong. We started discussing induction dates, c-sections, and my physical ability to birth a ten pounder. I was convinced we had a linebacker on our hands and yet somehow I came home with a pint-sized punter.

We had our first doctor's visit when Bennett was five days old to take measurements, get his first vaccination and double check for any jaundice. The poor thing measured in at 51% head circumference and just 50 percentile height. When the nurse said he was just 15th percentile for his weight I cried, big nasty tears. I felt like I had failed him already. How could he be so below average? Where had things gone wrong?

Yesterday, we found vindication. The kid gained a whole pound in nine days. He's a whopping seven pounds, eleven ounces and grew an entire inch! Bennett and I are obviously both doing something right. It helps ease the pain of those every other hour feedings in the middle of the night.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I was kind of a big deal

Oh look, another bad hair picture!

I was "discovered" after I starred in a small skit in my middle school play. The school principal took me under his wing and nominated me for different projects, field trips and speeches at the Honor Roll breakfasts. In sixth grade, he came over the speaker system in my social studies class to call me to his office. Every kid in the class turned to look at me wondering what could the dorky kid with bad hair have done that was so bad that the principal himself was interrupting class. As it turned out, I wasn't in trouble. Dr. Young was casting me as the host of the Highview Middle School orientation video. I got out of class for a few days to prepare the presentation. It's really too bad that there wasn't a wardrobe budget for the production, because I remember I wore a Guess t-shirt and stonewashed jeans. Hot stuff. Perhaps even worse is that I don't have a copy of that priceless high school propoganda.

In eighth grade my friend Anne was doing the morning announcements with a couple of our mutual friends. I hadn't considered it since I felt like I was already over-exposed on campus and didn't want to wear out my reputation among my adoring fan base. Then I realized I could get out of class for fifteen minutes every day. Anne didn't need to say more.

One morning I was fidgety or developing late onset A.D.D. and was playing with Dr. Young's phone while one of the other girls was reading her part. I must have hit the speaker phone button because suddenly a blaring dial tone was broadcast throughout the whole school. I dove to the floor to frantically push buttons hoping I could just make it stop. Meanwhile, my friends were choking down giggles while trying to go on with the show.

For the rest of the year, my friends mocked my facial expression and they asked me to recreate the moment of shock and awe. The only way this picture could be more humiliating is if you all could see the skort I was sporting that day. Hot hair, hot clothes, one hot mess.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Birthday Boy

I was hoping I'd be able to give my dad a grandson for his birthday this year. Bennett arrived eleven days too early to make that happen, so Dad's stuck with a silly blog post in his honor instead.

My dad was a hands-on parent. He watched Sesame Street with me, did my hair on the days my mom left for work early, drove me to dance lessons and encouraged me to run for student council, try out for the tennis team and apply to Vanderbilt. This was perhaps a let down for the man who on the day I was born, asked me if I was going to Yale or Radcliffe. In his eyes, I would always be good enough, smart enough and capable enough to make big things happen. And he was always there for me through the good, the bad and the ugly. Thankfully, the very good has overshadowed the bad.

One Valentine's Day he read to my first grade class. He came to school dressed all in red to celebrate the occassion. I was so proud as he sat in front of the room and made sure I was seated promptly in the front row so he wouldn't forget which child was his.

When my girl scout troop went "camping" at a cabin in Minnesota, he helped chaperone the trip. As much as I am sure our troop leaders were totally capable of building fires and earning our badges without a man around, it was helpful to have someone there to chop the wood, start the fires and put my hair in pigtails.

Then there were trips to the circus. After he bought me a shriner's hat, I asked if it was time to go. I think he was able to trick me into staying by promising cotton candy.

He took me to my first NHL hockey game when I was still way too young to understand. However, I was able to appreciate it after he warned me that the players knew when a fan fell asleep and would send a hockey puck in their direction. Ok, maybe that memory is a bit ugly. But at least I stayed awake.

With all the neat things my dad made sure I was exposed to, I know he is looking forward to doing the same for Bennett. There will be trips to the zoo, baseball games, viewings of Toy Story and Peter Pan, sledding on the one day Nashville gets snow, and maybe one day college trips to Yale and Harvard.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Don't worry. Mommy is here.

I'd have to start out this post with a warning of the forthcoming cheese fest. However, I just had a baby and therefore cheese is to be expected in these here parts.

Last week was undeniably the greatest week of my life. It was so full of love and laughter. Certainly, there was a great deal of frustration and tears. Yet, with every bump in the road, I had a fabulous partner at my side encouraging me, picking up the house, running errands and becoming a swaddle master. And I had my mom.

After hearing about my own birth story and knowing how supportive my Grandma June was for my mom, I so wanted her here. However, when we first started discussing Bennett's birth plan, the logistics were a nightmare. Unless I ended up with a scheduled induction or c-section, it would be impossible to plan ahead and buy a plane ticket. With a twelve hour drive separating us, that option seemed unlikely to work at all. We also had her own job responsibilities to take into consideration. Depending on when he decided to make his appearance, she wasn't sure if she'd be able to be here more than a couple of days. I was heartbroken.

Bennett or someone else was paying attention to all of these moving parts when the little man arrived on a Friday, allowing us ten whole days with the new Grandma Ski. It was ten days of singing silly songs, arguing that every facial expression was really a smile in disguise, pretending his little legs were walking, posing him for pictures, walking Atticus, and all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and folding. Then there was everything she did for me to make sure I learned how to be a mom myself. There was no pressure and no judgment.

Time and distance have separated me from my mom for ten years. We are so good at emailing and talking on the phone that the distance was bearable. Being pregnant changed all of that. When I wasn't feeling well, or I was given a new reason to worry she was always the first phone call. She got numerous calls over the nine months that started with a choked cry. I just wanted her near me. It was so hard.

I fooled myself into thinking that when he was here, it would get better. But now I have entered the mom club. My mom and I share this new bond. So when we dropped her off at the airport yesterday it was so painful. It wasn't painful because I wasn't sure that we could care for a newborn without her. It wasn't painful because the housekeeping and all that comes with it now fell to Rocky and I again. It was painful because I already missed her.

For someone who wasn't sure she was ready to be a grandmother, she could have fooled me. She took to it like a fish to water, a bird to flight, a pig to mud. I loved every minute watching them together and I am counting down the days until we get to be together again.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It's been one week since you looked at me

I think it hard for a parent to give an unbiased opinion on who the baby most resembles. I think it may be even more difficult for a proud grandma. Grandma Kerry is obviously on Team Allison. Both pictures are taken on our one week birthday. What do you think?

And now some gratuitous pictures from his first week.

The boy does not like being nekkid, nevertheless wet and nekkid.
Open eyes and more piano playing fingers.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flashback Friday: Elephant Stampede

It has been a rough week between learning how to feed, learning how to sleep, and watching some of my favorite politicians fall to a GOP stampede.

I worked on Capitol Hill during one of the most politically divisive times in Washington. Despite the fact that I would eventually marry a Republican, my 9-6 job left little patience or understanding for those working on the other side of the aisle. But here I am, just a few years later surrounded by elephants. And it turns out that I have quite the history with the giant mammal.

It looks like I didn't always hate elephants. I look pretty happy dressed as the very rare and exotic Raspberrius Elephantitus. Don't ask me how they picked dance costumes in the 80's.
A decade or two later, I fell for the southern tradition of the grooms cake. Showcasing our difference in opinion only seemed appropriate on the day we vowed to stay committed, for better or worse.

Flashback to one week ago, right before we left for the hospital. I was playing the role of 38.5 week pregnant elephant. I feel a lot of sympathy for the mother elephant who would have to incubate for forty more weeks.

And little baby Bennett. Elephant hat. Elephant swaddle. Stuffed elephant from Uncle Bobby. As much as I tried to shelter the future Senator Bennett R. King (D-TN) from the stampede of elephant paraphenalia, it seems it is hard to avoid.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

After the First Returns

And how his dad feels about his voter identification:

Monday, November 1, 2010

From a ringing in my ear to wrapped around his finger

I was tormented by a ringing in my ear for the last two weeks of my pregnancy. I am not talking a little hum that would come and go. I had a four alarm fire alert blaring in my left ear twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. I tried not to wear out my sympathy by whining about the thing, but it was interrupting my sleep and I was having trouble concentrating at work. Several doctors told me to suck it up because I couldn't take anything while I was incubating. But I was nearing the end of my patience.

Rocky meanwhile had certain deadlines in mind when planning Bennett's arrival. If I could just hold out until the 15th, he might be able to stretch his paternity leave until December. Or, could I just wait until after the election, he had big plans to go watch the return of the GOP with friends over martinis. Or if I really had to go early, could I wait until after his golf game on the 31st. Everyone heard about this golf game, coworkers, friends, doctors and the checkout lady at the grocery store. He was so looking forward to it as a last hurrah and he really didn't mind if he had to hear about my campaign for martyrhood if I could just suffer with the ringing, the exhaustion and everything else until he swung his stupid golf clubs one more time.

Thursday night I walked the dog, went to yoga and sat down to watch Thursday night tv. During a commercial break I had a little talk with Bennett. Rocky listened as I tried to reason with my baby that I was ready to be done and stop listening to your dad. I wouldn't make this up, but 45 minutes later I had my first contraction. I thought it was just a particularly annoying braxton hicks and went and got ready for bed. I laid down and noticed that the ringing was no longer constant and maybe I'd actually get some uninterrupted sleep.

But an hour later I was struggling, so I went downstairs to walk through the twenty-minute apart contractions. I was googling false labor and talking myself out of believing it was the real deal.

Three hours later Rocky came down to check on me. I was no longer questioning it and did everything I could not to punt the puppy across the room as he got under my feet during my pacing. We called the doctor at 4:30. Called my mom at 5:30 and was at the hospital by 6:00.

Mom arrived at 10:00. I started pushing at 11:00. Baby Bennett was here at 11:26.

He has beautiful dark hair. Tiny ears. And ten very long fingers, not enough for all the people that are already wrapped around his fingers and in their heart.

He listened to his mommy and now I have no more ringing in my ears!