May, 2012 Archive

The Good Ol’ Days

by Alison Friedman in Baby Land, Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings

Have you seen the movie “New Year’s Eve?” The one with basically every actor that ever happened who all play characters that are somehow and ridiculously connected and all end up solving their problems to try to make New Year’s Eve the best night, like, ever? It’s a very mediocre movie. Another incarnation of “Valentine’s Day” which had the same tricks up its sleeves (ride that pony, Garry Marshall!). And, really, neither of them come close to my all-time favorite that mastered this concept, “Love Actually.” They’re dumb and predictable movies, but totally satisfy a date night and a need to consume a bucket of popcorn. Okay, so back to “New Year’s Eve.” It’s not that good.

I cried. Big tears. Warm fuzzies.

We watched it at home this past weekend. We were comfy in our PJs, dirty dinner plates still on the coffee table, feet up, Madelyn long asleep in her crib, and there’s a scene with a couple (in what universe would Seth Meyers score Jessica Biel for a wife?) who just have a baby (I promise I’m not giving anything amazing away). So there’s Seth and Jessica, holding their brand new and very perfect looking baby all wrapped up in that famous hospital blanket — you know, the flannel one with the blue and magenta stripes on the ends — and that’s basically the whole scene.

Yes, I cried. I don’t think Bryan noticed. He was probably too busy trying to calculate Seth’s algorithm for locking in such a hot wife from another league and solving for X (Answer: X = out-of-touch casting directors). But there I sat in the corner on my side of the couch and I had to pretend I had to sneeze so that my watery eyes and flushed nose wouldn’t give me away. You know, FOR CRYING DURING “NEW YEAR’S EVE.”

This kind of bothered me. This wasn’t “Schindler’s List.” This was a seasonal rom-com that featured a not-as-cute-anymore, teenage Abigail Breslin and served as a platform to give Lea Michele an opportunity to sing in a film.

Then it dawned on me. The scene with Jessica Biel holding her hours-old baby (who’s actually probably three months in real life) made me really nostalgic for a time in our lives that was only a blink-of-an-eye ago, and so, so significant. Our time in the hospital with Madelyn was extremely sacred and special. Sure, maybe it was the gallons of drugs pumping through my body — and clearly, my brain — but those two days that turned into four while we were in the hospital were days that I — we — experienced the purest form of love and support from each other, strangers (like the hospital staff), and our families (like our parents).

It blows my mind that we went into the hospital as a clueless young couple in our late 20s and in one moment, suddenly there was a baby. No, I didn’t forget that there was a fourteen hour labor and the sudden change of plans to have a c-section and the prep and process to get me settled into the O.R. But just like anything — you take one step to go from inside to outside; you take one bite to go from famished to satisfied; you take one kiss to go from single to married — you go from one thing to something else. A physical metamorphosis, if you will. Sorry for the graphic-ness, but this is how we welcomed our daughter into the world, it took one slice to meet our baby. One moment she was inside me. Another moment, we were breathing the same sterile hospital air.

Moments after that, she was in my arms.

And many moments after that, she was wrapped in that same hospital blanket that the “New Year’s Eve” baby adorned as Jessica and Seth’s new kid on the block.

That blanket symbolizes newbornhood to me. The moment everything changed for us. I see friends become new parents on Facebook — because isn’t that how we all know what’s going on? — and people I haven’t even spoken to since high school; friends of friends from college — and that same blanket makes an appearance and my heart flutters as I long for that same wonder and awe that a new baby brings. I’m jealous that they’re experiencing that same newness and excitement that we enjoyed. I’m happy for them. Friends, strangers, whoever is reading this: embrace this hospital time. I know, I know, Madelyn is not about to get her driver license any day now. The girl just learned how to stand up. But, as gradual as babyhood into toddlerhood is and teenhood into adulthood as I remember, there’s nothing like the first few days of a baby’s life when it seems like life begins — again — for everyone.

I miss our days in the hospital. It’s crazy to even utter — or write — that I enjoyed our time with the beeps and the pulses and the wires and the pain and the interruptions. Bryan and I were treated with the same fragility as our newborn Madelyn. The nurses were patient, tender, and kind. Our families were full of emotion and pride. Our nooks on the Internet poured the love like we never could have imagined. And, the best, Bryan and I were both so new to the same thing and learned together what it felt like to be parents and mutually love our baby, crossing over together from one moment to the next.

Every day with Madelyn gets better and better. Yesterday I thought that I could love her no more than I did, and then today comes and my assumption is ruined and I’m proven wrong. And the nerve she has to get cuter and cuter — my eyes can’t handle such a feast! And that brain that grows as she learns and becomes smarter — I love watching her discover everything new. I can’t even fathom what tomorrow will be like. And don’t get me started on what may be in store next year at this time. My mind can only handle so much explosive love for this kid.

But I’ll always have a special place in my heart and fond memories of those four days in the hospital when the three of us were tucked inside a comfortable and snuggly cocoon with no distractions, and love that poured from every angle. It was kind of like the way we feel when it’s 12:01 a.m. on January 1st and we just had a kiss and Champagne and the rest of the year is ours to own. A new beginning.

Like one that the white flannel blanket with the blue and magenta stripes knows.

Last Call!

by Alison Friedman in Photo Eye Candy

Okay, everybody! Next round’s on me! (hiccup!) Let’s keep this party going! Whoooooo!!!

The Name Game

Before we knew what we were having — other than a, you know, baby — I thought “oh my goodness! What if I have to have a c-section (I did) and I have a hard time recovering (I did) and I have to plan a bris for a boy? (I didn’t.).” At around 20 weeks, when we saw the ultrasound that showcased a hamburger and not a hot dog, I admit I let out a sigh of relief that I would not have to have a mohel on standby or put in a deli platter order at Brent’s seven days after I/Dr. Fiiiiine delivered a baby. Instead, Bryan and I knew right away that we would love to honor our baby girl with a naming ceremony.

Shortly after, we joined a reform temple in town and fell in love with the musical influences that reminded us of our Sunday school experiences and my summers away at camp. It was important to us that we raise our kids with a Jewish identity. We are not planning to force feed the Torah down our kids’ throats, but we thought giving them the foundation and allowing them to choose how they celebrate would be a good idea, especially since we took it upon ourselves as young ones to bring our Jewish heritage to our lives. Of course it’s only fitting that the only two pre-teens I know who actually ASK their parents to go to Hebrew school would marry each other. That’s us!

So instead of going to sleep at 6:30 p.m., Madelyn got gussied up and we did our best to keep her awake and seemingly pleasant way past her bed time for her March 30th baby naming ceremony. It was a wonderful and special evening. Our closest family and friends schlepped and gathered on a Friday night for Shabbat services with the rest of the congregation. Midway through the service, Rabbi Riter called us to the bimah and blessed us as parents and blessed our daughter as a newcomer to the Jewish people. We then said some words about Madelyn and her namesake and shared why we adore her so and how her name has so much meaning.

Up on the bimah with Rabbi Riter and Cantor Shukiar. When I was younger, I thought the bimah was for performing tap dances.

Madelyn's thinking, "In 12.5 years, that Torah is ALLL MIIIINE."

Madelyn’s Hebrew name is Shana Meira (Shay-nuh May-eer-uh) which means Beautiful Light. The Meira is the feminine translation of Meir, which is Hebrew for the name Robert. Robert was Bryan’s maternal grandfather and the only grandfather he knew. He had a wonderful relationship with him that revolved around jokes, food, and their beloved boys in blue, the Dodgers. Bryan remembers enjoying the company of his grandpa Bobby for as long as he could remember, and continues to miss him since he passed away in 2005, shortly after Bryan and I met. I only got to meet Grandpa Bobby just once when we visited Bryan’s grandparents in Las Vegas a few months after we started dating. I, too, remember him as a very kind and warm person. I’m looking for pictures to share of our visit with them, but unfortunately, I don’t think I took any, which is a rare and bad move on my part.

Shana is also Madelyn’s middle name, but we incorporated it into her Hebrew name as well. The “S” in Shana is for my dad’s father, Sidney, who passed away when I was a senior in high school. It’s difficult to admit, but I realized in the past few years that I was starting to forget him. The many photos of us help to freeze him in time, but his voice, his funny antics — I know they happened — but they can’t really find a place in my current mind. That makes me mad because, really, at 17, I was old enough when he left us that I should have these memories going strong and I don’t, but it’s also somewhat comforting to know that his memory lives in Madelyn’s name. I do, remember, though, that my Poppa Sid and my Granny, who is still alive and going struh-ooooong, used to call me their Shana Maidela (Shay-nuh May-duh-luh) when I was little, which means “beautiful girl.” So now, Shana also describes Madelyn, and, oh look, Maidela kind of sounds like Madelyn. We didn’t really do this on purpose, but when Bryan and I were solidifying our daughter’s name and then her Hebrew name, we saw this link and knew it was meant to be, b’shert.

I love that two men, Sid and Bobby, who never knew each other or the fact that their granddaughter and grandson got married to each other, are linked in their great-granddaughter’s name and the legacy she’s beginning for her own future and the generations that come from it.

But then also the meaning of Shana Meira is so delightful. She’s our beautiful light, literally. Blame the mommy goggles, but this girl blows me away with her beautiful long eyelashes, her rosebud lips, her silky skin, her deep and cavernous eyes, her silly putty cheeks, and her delicate fingers that tug at my heart all day long. And she is the light of our lives. Bryan and I feel more in love than ever and we know it’s because of Madelyn and the light she brings to our marriage and our home. And when I think of light, I think of brightness, and anyone who ever meets and falls in love with Madelyn always comments on her bright eyes that are so aware and thirsty to see everything around her.

After the naming ceremony, Shabbat services finished up and a lovely oneg with refreshments and mingling followed. Whenever there are big parties for special occasions, it always seems impossible to really chat with everyone at length (ahem!wedding!ahem!) and I wish I could have slowed down the minutes of the evening so I could have spent more time with some of Madelyn’s biggest fans! I realized now that Bryan and I didn’t even get a family photo of us with our mini guest of honor. Re-do please?

Madelyn's cake!!!! that.she.can'

Madelyn yawns through the oneg. It may be all about her, but we're ignoring her needs! Oops.

Madelyn always loves hanging out with her Auntie Phis! Tonight: Naming Ceremony. In 18 years: Pinning Ceremony!

Uncle Brian holds Madelyn, who is hanging on for dear awake.

You know you're an aunt when: you hold your wailing niece and you still enjoy it.

A quick smile for Grandma and Mimi and then it's lights out, people!

By the late hour of the oneg, Madelyn was turning into our little baby zombie. She was just oh-so tired, but did a great job during the service. Perhaps it was the constant milk, Mum Mums, and walks around the sanctuary that helped keep her content.

It was special evening that we’ll always remember. We are so glad that we worked with our amazing Rabbi Riter and Cantor Shukiar to learn about how to choose a Hebrew name for our daughter that would provide depth and meaning for her parents and grandparents, salute her ancestors, and build a foundation for her future descendants.